Membership sites and subscription offers are amongst the most lucrative models online. Yet it remains largely untapped by most online businesses. A lot of possibilities are overlooked for providing the best value for customers and in the process, a lot of profits left on the table.
Here we will take a look at 45 different types of membership sites and subscription offers and how to use them for your business.
Free newsletters can just be a weekly or monthly newsletter that talks about latest news associated with the company, any changes in the company and updates. It could also be about new products and services, discounts (sale), new offers, important announcements about the products, etc.
Paid newsletters have content that the subscribers paid for. Like investment advice, analysis of stock and commodities, news articles about a certain (specific) topic, marketing tips/advice, health, business advice on any topic, research information, views of recognized experts, etc.
Newsletters are exceedingly common in finance and investing. The sub-niches are stock market investing, commodity investing, emerging markets, etc
There are also newsletters in health, travel, business (almost every sub-topic that you can imagine), education, fitness etc
Most newsletters are weekly and monthly. There are also premium newsletters that are quarterly, bi-annual and annual. Generally you get a discount if you pay for a year.
If it is an expensive subscription, there are other privileges and benefits that the subscribers would get clubbed together with the subscription.
A magazine is a type of periodical. Usually when we talk about a magazine, the images that come up in our mind are full color glossy paper print publications.
How exactly are magazines different from other publications (like newsletters)?
a) Magazines are typically broad in their focus and are written for the general public.
Even special interest magazines are written with a general audience in mind. Technical jargon and specialized language are kept to a minimum.
This is different from newsletters which tend to be very focused on a particular topic and is meant for a highly focused audience or subscriber base. There is often heavy usage of technical jargon and specialized language specific to that niche.
b) Another difference is that newsletters are just filled with content and there is no (or insignificant) advertising. The principal and often only source of revenue is subscription fees.
Although magazines make revenue through subscription fees, they have several sources of revenue and their main source of revenue is advertising.
c) You can only get newsletters directly from the source (publisher).
Magazines are available to be purchased either through subscription (from the publisher) or separate issues can be bought in retail stores or newsstands.
d) Length (number of pages) for a magazine is higher.
e) Magazines have several authors contributing different articles under different sections. They cover several sub-topics under a broad topic.
Newsletters typically have just a single author focusing on something highly specific.
There are several magazines that have an online version (digital) of their print version. Some only have a digital version and no print versions.
When subscribing you can either:
- Choose to subscribe only for the online version, which in most cases is cheaper than the print version
- Get both the print and online versions for the same cost
- Subscribe to the print version and you get the digital version for free
This might also give you access to certain web / online specials. You might gain access to a member’s area online where you can download free stuff that is available to just subscribers.
Magazines mostly come out in mostly monthly editions, but can also be weekly or bi-monthly or quarterly etc. Subscriptions are much cheaper if you pay annually.
3. Premium Blog:
A blog is like an online journal where you can post content on a regular (ongoing) basis. Most blogs use free online blogging platforms like Blogger and WordPress. There are also several other free and premium blogging platforms available.
Most blogs are free to read. The purpose of writing a blog is:
- Building an audience
- Getting your point of view out there for others to read
- They are also used to establish your expert status in a particular niche
- Generate leads
However, blogs can also be paid or premium access. It is possible to hide or lockdown posts (content) behind a paywall and only allow paying members to read it.
It could be a blog where all content is paid or just parts of it could be premium content, which is more common.
In cases where the entire content is paid content, the marketing is going to be tougher. There are several traffic generation methods that are employed and visitors are funneled to landing pages where they can sign up to be subscribers.
It would certainly help if the prospects can get a taste of the content before signing up.
In cases where most of the content is free, the material in itself brings in traffic and converts visitors (readers) into subscribers. An exceptionally small portion of the content is monetized. This would be the best content available on the blog. This method has a much higher conversion rate.
Blogs can also have several other revenue streams like advertising (text based or banners), email inserts, sale of other related products, etc.
There are several 3rd party apps that can be used to create a blog or membership site. There are also plugins and add-ons available for platforms like wordpress that makes this possible easily, quickly and relatively cheaply.
Portals are not just information or content portals but have a lot of other stuff like polls, newsletters, apps, slideshows, blogs, forums, user generated content, interactive content, premium content, downloads, social network (user community), groups, chat apps, 3rd party plugins, etc.
These have several revenue streams.
They have an overall theme or focus. They do not tend to get too specific since that would limit the portal. There is a general focus for the overall website and content on the website tends to focus on everything that comes under that theme or niche.
Even though databases have been sold for a very long time, the subscription models and digital versions are more recent.
Databases are extremely valuable to the right people. This is pretty much a separate sub-industry in itself.
There is a huge demand for data and detailed information that has been collected, organized and formatted for a specific use.
The purpose of acquiring such data could be for:
- Market research
- Or anything else
The databases are customized for buyers and are paid for on a project or per database or per record basis.
How to do this on a subscription model?
If this has to work on a subscription model, then one way of doing this is to have a valuable database needed by a lot of people that has to be updated on an ongoing basis.
Why would subscribers pay?
The subscribers are willing to pay, since it works out to be cheaper than doing it on their own. The vendor can do it better and they can offer it cheap since they are selling it to a lot of people.
The costs tend to be lower upfront since it is not a onetime fee but an ongoing fee.
The subscription frequency does not have to be on a monthly basis. It could be quarterly, bi-annual or annual.
Updating the database is expensive. The ongoing subscription fee will cover those costs. Subscribers would be willing pay this since it keeps the data fresh, accurate and reliable.
The updates would include:
- Contact information
- New businesses
- New locations
- Deleting old ones and
- Changing few of them
This could be a database of all the books that are published in a year along with author and publisher details and details about the book.
It could be a list of products in the market in a certain category.
It could be a specific type of stores in a country or people who occupy a certain position (CEO, CFO, etc) of businesses in a certain industry, etc.
6. Community / connecting people:
An online community is a virtual space where people come together and interact. Usually it is divided either based on interests (categories) or locations.
There are moderators and admins to manage the community and platform. The moderators can either be people working for the company (that owns the platform/website) or could either be appointed from the community, and it would just (mostly) self regulated.
You are selling access to that community so that subscribers can take advantage of that.
Sometimes it is worth paying simply to get access to a community. It could mean you receive benefits that other non paying members do not receive.
Why is that useful?
By getting access to a community, you could post something and get it answered, like in premium/paid forums or premium Q&A sites.
This is particularly useful because you can anonymously post questions to get answers and unbiased opinions from several people almost instantly. This can’t be done in real life.
The people who answer you may or may not get paid depending on the business model of the platform. They could either be subject experts or just people who cared and wanted to help out.
Premium access might mean that you get to read the answers to questions that are posted by other people or read posts in a premium section of the forum.
It might also mean a social media website where you can interact with other members and have your profile featured.
There are a variety of ways to monetize access to a community with subscriptions.
In this type of subscription service you just sell access to other profiles and/or the ability for users to include their own profile on the website (online property).
The online property in this case (website) is just a sophisticated collection of profiles.
When you register to become a member of the website, you get to put up your own profile and access other profiles. This could be a dating website or a premium resume site or skills search or something along those lines.
The profiles are well organized, and you can search them easily for any information that you need.
Some of the advantages of using these types of websites:
You can quickly and easily find the type of profile that you are looking for using a variety of features
- The ability to search through the profiles using advanced search parameters (i.e Advanced search function)
- To sort the profiles using a variety of fields and find the ones that you need
- You can put in the right criteria into their search engine to narrow down the results significantly
- You can use a combination of different conditions and find the right profile that suit your needs. This gives you a lot of control in search and find
- There are 3rd party apps or plugins that allow you to do so much more with the profiles and the data that you can get from these websites
- Just the data and analytics that some of these websites accumulate and publish is immensely valuable
- You get recommendations of other people’s profiles that are similar to the ones you find
- You can view the connections between your profile and other people’s profiles
- You can get searched and found by other people looking for criteria that match with your profile
- Reach several people quickly and easily without a lot of effort
There are free profile websites and premium profile websites.
The premium ones might be free for everyone and offer more features for premium subscribers. The premium subscription might have different levels and would have different features and benefits.
The premium features might include:
- Better search (more features, criteria, fields, etc)
- Save profile or bookmark
- Send direct messages
- Number or results in a search
- Ability to see the complete profile (all information)
- And several other features
Payments are usually made using a credit card on the website. It can be on a monthly basis or annual basis (with discounts).
This membership type is similar to other types like database, social, community, etc. However, the difference here is that the main offer (feature and benefit) is a collection of profiles with sophisticated search and find capabilities.
8. Software Application (Apps):
This is one of the most common and most popular subscription services today.
This type of subscription is also called SAAS or software as a service. It is a model where the software is not sold on a CD/DVD (or any other storage device), being available for download or something that has to be installed in the buyer’s computer, but instead is located in the web server owned and controlled by the software vendor. The buyers who pay a subscription fee can go online and access the software (mostly through their browser).
The software varies from accounting software, team management, project management, CMS, marketing and sales management, etc.
There are several advantages for both the software vendor and the customer when software is sold using this method:
- Software piracy is eliminated
- The buyer has no large costs upfront when buying the software
- Easy and fast updates. The changes are made to the code in the company’s webserver and they are reflected immediately. Therefore, the cost is minimal for upgrades.
- No installation of the software required and therefore, no compatibility requirements or concerns (mostly)
- The user’s data is backed up online on the company’s servers
- The ongoing costs are much lower than buying expensive enterprise software or have custom software made
- The support is much easier to provide since there is only one version of the software, there are no compatibility issues (mostly), and a lot of other issues are standardized. Support is entirely online in most cases (includes FAQs, help manuals, forums and chat)
- The software is scalable. Once you have built it for a few people, it can easily be scaled to be used by several users (thousands). You can easily absorb several new users/accounts within a short time
- Easy integration with other systems or processes that the user already has in place. Most web services are built to be an easy fit
- There are no compatible issues with earlier versions, other software and other hardware
There are varying levels of membership with different prices.
The varying prices usually depend on:
- The features you want included
- The number of users
- The number of accounts
- The amount of storage space
- The amount of usage (bandwidth)
9. Mailing lists:
Mailing lists are extremely useful for businesses.
Businesses will pay a premium to get hard to find mailing lists that are updated. The mailing lists should be well targeted names of a group of people who meet a certain set of requirements.
The requirements can be something like:
- Position in a company
- Demographic requirements (Age, gender, etc)
- Buying history or spending history
- Preferences (like food, clothes, music, etc)
- Profession or industry
- Psychographic requirements
- Contact info
If the lists are regularly cleaned and updated, then you can charge the buyers on a monthly basis.
Other ways mailing lists are sold:
However, most of the sellers do not sell mailing records this way. They sell it for a flat fee based on how valuable the names are and how many names/records you are buying.
But, that is changing. Buyers can simply buy the complete list for a flat fee and get the updated version for an annual fee.
There are several standard lists that are required by various buyers on an ongoing basis. Therefore, the vendor can just make the mailing list once (including verifying and organizing) and then, sell it to a lot of buyers (either once or on a recurring basis).
Sometimes, the standards mailing lists are not useful, and the buyers would require custom lists that would suit their needs.
10. Content base:
Content base is when you have a huge collection of content that can be monetized. The content can either be a course(s), a selection of videos, articles etc. The access to this content base is the membership.
Usually, there are different levels or tiers of membership with different pricing options.
The higher levels (more expensive) give you access to more content and have more features.
The extra features might include:
- Content being organized into lessons (like a courseware)
- Online certifications
- Quizzes and tests
- Content being organized into categories
- 3rd party apps
- QA sections
- Forums and other support
- Different formats for the content
- Other products or services (either for free or discounts or free trials)
This is similar to other content memberships. However, this is a remarkably simple and straightforward model where you can get access to a large content base for a low monthly fee.
Usually in this type of membership, a vast amount of content is created upfront at once and after that, new material may or may not be added on an ongoing basis.
Once the initial content development phase is done, it would be much easier to manage since you would only focus on the marketing, sales and periodic updates to the content.
However, in such cases, the content should not get outdated quickly has to be relevant for a long time.
They have a huge collection of video tutorials that you can get access to for a monthly fee.
This type of membership is a directory, as the name implies. It is a record of all the possible entries in a particular category.
Print Vs Digital Directories
Directories have been in existence and use for an extraordinarily long time. Earlier, their size and functionality were extremely limited because they were print publications.
They were difficult to update and you had to pay for a new version every year.
The digital directories are easy and quick to update. They started as digital versions of the print directories on a CD that were shipped together with the print versions or separately.
Later on, the digital versions could be accessed online from anywhere, and the print versions have become obsolete.
However, there are still several businesses that stick to the print version for their premium directories. There are several reasons for this, but the two most prominent are higher perceived value and prevention of piracy.
Most directories out there are free to access (atleast the basic version).
To access the premium directories you would either have to pay a one-time payment or a subscription fee (either monthly or annual or bi-annual).
Alternatively, you might get it for free if you were a member of the organization/association that published the directory.
Customers are willing to pay for them since it is a valuable resource that is constantly updated. A resource that is time consuming and expensive to build on their own is now available to them for a fraction of the cost.
This is usually a directory or list of all the possible entries in a particular category. The entries in the directory are the ones that fit a certain set of requirements.
Online premium directories also provide ‘backlinks’ that are immensely valuable for SEO.
(They are free to access and use, but businesses have to pay a fee to get included)
11.b Premium yellow page type directories:
These are membership sites that essentially do the same thing that yellow pages have been doing for a long time. However, they have additional features that are available to premium members.
These are more like a directory of companies or businesses and the premium members would be able to access business information that free members can’t.
They can also be consumer or residential premium directories that have more information than free yellow pages.
They would have features like being able to save certain numbers, reverse lookups, additional information, etc.
12. Reviews / Recommendations:
Just review products occasionally or regularly and send it to an audience who would benefit from them and are willing to pay for them.
This could be done in these formats – journal, newsletter or content base.
Most people do not have the time or the resources to try out all the products and/or services in all categories in order to determine which products and services are the best and would suit their requirements.
Therefore, they will not mind paying for a filtered, pre-tested list of products or service providers that makes it easier for them to choose.
The reviews and ratings are not just from the publisher but also from other users (who are verified). The user generated content would increase the value of the subscription.
13. Periodicals (newspaper):
A periodical is a publication that is published in regular intervals for an indefinite period of time.
Because they are published regularly, periodicals are the best sources for current information, generally covering many current events.
Periodicals often contain information on the latest trends, products, research and theories.
They are the best source for highly specialized information. There is a periodical for every field and every interest providing access to a variety of hard-to find information.
Periodicals on average vary in length from a few pages to less than 100 pages. The lower the frequency of publication, the longer each issue tends to be.
Generally, the articles are short, and each issue tends to cover several topics or sub-topics.
There are different types of periodicals. They are:
- Specialization journals
- Trade journals
- Scholarly or academic journals
We have already mentioned and described magazines earlier. Here, we will just take a look at newspapers a little closer.
Newspapers have been very popular for an extraordinarily long time. They generally carry news articles, columns, op-ed pieces and other editorial content. There are also comic strips, cross word puzzles and other content that would interest the reader. However, the most vital part is the news coverage.
Online newspapers are just digital versions of the real thing. They could also be just purely digital versions without the print version even existing (like Huffington post).
Publishing a digital daily newspaper is much easier than publishing and distributing a print daily newspaper for several reasons:
- The costs are substantially reduced when you go digital
- Deadlines are much easier to meet
- Subscribers get the news much sooner
- Easier to write the article and publish it
- There is less room for mistakes when you are printing. So, when you go digital, editing and correcting mistakes are much easier
- The writers are not limited by space with a digital publication as they would be with a print newspaper
- Digital publishers find it far easier to provide real time news
When subscribing, customers have the following options:
- Just paying for the print version and getting the digital version free
- Pay for both the print and the digital version
- Just pay for and get the digital version and forget the print version
The 3rd option is becoming increasingly popular as expected. Higher number of newspapers and buyers are opting to go for the digital version than ever before.
Apart from the subscription fee they could also place ads on the website and emails. Other revenue sources are selling email Inserts, banner ads, text ads and other advertising. The ads could be on a pay per click basis or pay per view basis. There are also established publications that rent out their email lists for other 3rd party vendors (with permission).
With an increasing number of people turning to the internet to get their information and alternative news sources cropping up, print newspapers have found it very difficult to stay in business and have been forced to go digital. This is a rapidly rising trend and will only continue.
The premium content can be hidden or protected behind a paywall. The subscribers would be able to access it after they login into their premium account.
14. Lead generation:
Every business needs new leads that can be converted to paying customers. They need these leads on an ongoing basis, and they have to be highly qualified.
The quality of the leads matters a lot. There is no point in getting tons of leads that do not convert to customers, sales and revenue.
What businesses need are highly qualified leads at a fair price on a consistent basis that convert easily and fairly quickly.
Lead generation and qualification are critical steps in marketing and businesses have to spend a lot of time, money and effort on these steps on an ongoing basis.
If you can provide qualified leads to other businesses on a consistent basis, there is a lot of money to be made.
The lead generation can be done through any channel like, the internet, phone, print ads, through a joint venture or a combination of these methods.
Mostly leads are sold for a flat rate, but it is possible to sell leads on a subscription basis.
The buyers of the lead generation service would pay a certain rate (fixed) on a monthly basis.
The price would vary depending on:
- The number of leads
- How qualified they are
- The quality of the leads
- What market/niche the leads are for
In the lead generation model, you could potentially get revenue from both sides.
The buyers of the service would pay for well qualified, pre-checked or pre-screened sellers / vendors / providers.
The sellers / vendors / providers would pay for being channeled to potential buyers (provided they are qualified and meet the criteria).
However, the revenue mostly only comes from the buyers of the leads.
Lead generation is huge business all over the world, and has been a lucrative market for a very long time.
Listings or sometimes more commonly called as classifieds (only in certain cases) are publications (online or print) where buyers and/or sellers can place their ads.
They can either be free or paid. There are plenty of classifieds that have a premium option. You can charge monthly for your users who want premium service.
The ads can be personals, cars, real estate or pretty much anything else.
There are several ways in which this could work:
- The customers who place the ads have to pay a fee (one time or ongoing) for their ad to appear (and it stays up as long as they pay)
- Sometimes placing the ad is free, but they would have to pay if they want their ad to be featured or highlighted
- If they want certain special features that are only available to paying members, then they would have to pay
- There are also models where the buyer of the classifieds (publication) pays money to get it but listing the ad is free for the vendor.
In premium classifieds, the ads stay up as long as the clients are paying the advertising fee.
The classifieds can be either a dedicated stand alone publication or part of another publication. There are classifieds ads sections in various newspapers (national and regional) and magazines. These listings or classifieds sections remain in the digital version of the publications as well and work the same way.
Purely online versions also exist like craigslist, USFreeAds and other niche listings/classifieds sites. Ebay would also fall under this category since it is a (auction) listings website.
Depending on the model of the website / platform, there are different features and benefits that are available to different levels or tiers of membership.
There can be multiple revenue sources for such a website.
One would include selling memberships (one time or recurring).
Another would be one time sales of one off features like featured listings, extra lines or characters or more space in the ad, etc.
Types of classifieds:
As mentioned earlier, there are several free classifieds or listings available out there:
- There are also premium ones (paid – one time or recurring)
- There are general ones with different categories and locations
- There are listings or classifieds that are dedicated in certain niches or industries
An online reference is something that can be quite useful to many people, and there are several free online reference sources.
A reference source can be created for virtually any field.
Here are a few examples of reference sources:
- Legal references
- Medical references (detailed organized anatomy of the human body and other medical terms)
- Medical conditions (along with symptoms and treatments)
- Online encyclopedias
- Visual dictionaries
- Research papers
Most online reference sources have good built-in search engines to make it easier to find information within the reference material.
The information is also well organized so that searching and sorting is easy and quick. There are several fields and tags used for this purpose.
This can either mean full access to the research material or it would act like a catalogue where you would get all necessary information that you need about a reference source, which you can then use to borrow the relevant book from a real library.
Becoming a paid subscriber could also mean getting premium access to the organization’s intranet and therefore, their reference material.
Wikipedia is an excellent reference source that is free and is the most widely used online reference in the world. It is funded by donations from its users and benefactors from around the world. There are also free online dictionaries, thesaurus, medical references, etc that are popular online.
These free resources are enough to satisfy most people’s requirements on a daily basis. However, in certain users require more than what the free references offer and that is where the premium reference sources come in.
There are plenty of such research sources that have been digitized recently and are available to anyone around the world.
Wikipedia.org (Free Online Encyclopedia)
Epocrates.com (Premium drug and clinical online reference)
17. Common pass:
A common pass is where you are paying a (one time or recurring) fee, and get access to a group of websites that are related or owned by the same entity or working together in partnership.
Here are some of the ways it could work:
- Payment (one time or recurring) for full access or tiered access
- The buyers get discounts for buying the individual subscriptions of each membership in the common pass when the common pass runs out or is cancelled
- They get free trials for the individual subscriptions included in the common pass
It is a terrific way to bring in new leads and/or customers.
It could also function as co-registration, i.e., when prospects are signing up for one website in the partnership, they are offered other subscriptions at the end (before or after checkout).
This is more like a marketing strategy than a dedicated subscription type.
This could do extremely well in this economy where costs are higher, and both customers and businesses look to spend less money.
This would work well for the subscribers because they are:
- Getting discounts on the subscription prices
- Just one payment for all the subscriptions instead of several (one for each)
- Easy management of website accounts (one single account)
- The ability for all the websites to shared data/user profiles
This is beneficial for other businesses since:
- It would bring in leads that the business would otherwise not get
- More stuff (subscriptions or content) for their customers
- Higher conversion rate and lower cost per customer
- Higher retention rates (more loyalty from customers). They tend to stick around longer since they get other memberships for a discount as long as they are signed up
The archives can be digital archives of print publications. Some print publications have subscription plans that might include this.
Here are a few ways this would work:
- The publication could separate subscription for archives from the main subscription (usually, they just sell requested back issues from the archives for a flat rate)
- Subscription to a print publication that includes access to the archives (digital versions)
- Usually when there is a “content base” registration, the subscription would include the archives
- Access to the archives would be included as a bonus when signing up for the publication
- If the issue requested was published in the duration of the subscription then it might be free or else the users would have to pay for it
- The subscription can be tiered and a higher level would provide more features and benefits to the subscribers including access to the archives or back issues
- It can be clubbed with something else. If they are buying a year’s worth or more of subscription or buying other products, access to the archives or back issues would be thrown in as a bonus
If a publication has been around for a long time, then sometimes, the old print issues are digitized to create digital versions of back issues/archives. The publication now might have both print and digital versions of their archives available for subscribers.
If the publication has gone digital, then it would be much easier and cheaper to keep older digital versions in the archives. Usually, in such cases the archives are cheaper to get access to.
19. Job sites:
Job sites are quite common these days. They have taken over a few functions that used to be done by recruitment firms and referrals. They still remain (and have adapted) but since the internet era began job sites have taken over a significant amount of activity in this sector.
Employers post ads or vacancies on job sites and also get access to the website’s resume database for either a flat or recurring fee.
As an employer, paying (one time or recurring) a job site allows you:
- To keep your Ad (for a job vacancy) running and keep it visible to the public and therefore, potential candidates
- Depending on the plan you choose, you could gain access to their database of resumes for as long as you are paying
- You would receive additional features when you choose the right subscription plan
Some of the additional features available to employers are:
- Unlimited space or limited space (characters or words) in the job Ad
- The ad stays up for more days
- Branding the ad with your logo
- You can include more phone numbers
- You can include more email IDs
- You can send private messages to candidates
- Your ad would be featured above other ads for a certain time frame or in a category
As a candidate, paying (one time or recurring) a job site would provide you with these benefits:
- There are premium plans available that feature your resume when you apply for a job
- Sometimes your resume would be reviewed and improvements would be suggested
- The job site has account managers who work with you to make your resume look better, and try to find better jobs that match your requirements
- Personalized cover letters are created for you that match the job that you are applying for
- You are provided with premium job alerts that let you know before anyone else when the best jobs are posted
- Resume will be sent to placement or recruitment consultants who would match you with the best jobs
Job sites have multiple sources of revenue like:
- Getting paid by employers for job posts or ads (one time or subscription)
- Getting paid by employers for resume access
- Getting paid by candidates (one time or subscription)
- Advertising on the website (banners or text ads)
- Email inserts and solo mailings
- Renting out the database
- Mobile ads
This type of subscription is where you pay a recurring fee to get some kind of accreditation from a 3rd party for your business (or you).
The accreditation might mean, verification or validation of:
- Existence of the business (online business or brick and mortar business)
- Address of the business or individual
- Website security and safety
- Contact details
- Qualifications – certificates and licenses
- Background checks
- Document verification
- Identity verification
- Email security
- Quality requirements
- Standards or requirements set by industry or you
- Legal compliance
- Technical compliance or standards
Some websites have security seals, trust signs and seals. Mostly E-commerce sites have this to ensure security and to let their users know that their website is safe for commercial transactions, user information and storing personal data.
The websites that use these services have some sort of security seal to let their visitors know they are taking such measures.
The vendors would want this because:
- It ensures the security of their website
- Helps them follow the best practices in the industry
- Keeps them updated on changes
- It is cheaper than trying to get the same results all by yourself
- It is much faster and easier to get results if you use these services
- Higher conversion rate with visitors
- Increases credibility of the vendor
- Size of transactions increase
- Frequency of sales and return visitors also increases
The users would want this because:
- They know it is safe to give out their information to such a website
- Financial transactions would be safer
- No spamming from such websites
- They can be sure that business is not fake or a scam
- Ensures quality and standards
- Peace of mind when dealing with such vendors
There are regulations or laws (Ex:spam laws) that enforce online businesses to have a certain level of security and follow a certain set of protocols.
The payment for these services could be one-time or recurring. However, the more recent the verification or validation, the more trustworthy or valuable it is. This is the reason why verification is more reliable if it is recurring, since that would require ongoing or regular and periodic updates or renewals.
Verisign security certificates and trust seals – Versign.com
Better Business Bureau – BBB.org
21. Freelancing websites:
Freelancing websites are where freelancers or independent contractors come looking for projects that are posted by the buyers of services looking to get work done.
The freelancers also make their profiles available to anyone who would want to hire them.
The buyers /clients post their projects (their job requirements) on the job board and freelancers can bid on them by submitting bids and applications. The buyers then choose the vendor they want to work with.
These websites are usually free to join, and you will get access to basic features using your free accounts. However, if you require additional features, then you would have to pay a fee.
The subscription is offered to both the vendors (freelancers) as well as buyers.
There are different levels or tiers in the membership. The features and benefits that you would get depend on which subscription plan you choose.
The levels would give different features like different commission levels or fees, bids per month, skills, categories, tags, portfolio size, etc.
What the freelancers get for premium options:
- They are featured or recommend vendors. They would be shown first in a search or listing
- Their bids and applications would be highlighted or featured
- More safety and security for their accounts
- They would have to spend less on fees or commissions
- They can bid on more projects
- Their bids are featured at the top or are listed first
- More payment options
- More items in their portfolio
- More verification options for their accounts
What the buyers get for premium options:
- Lower fee or commission to be paid
- More space for ads (title or description)
- Ads or projects are featured or highlighted
- More safety or security features
- Allowed to message vendor directly
- Can post multiple projects
- Multiple categories or tags for the ads (projects)
- More payment options
- Escrow option
The revenues for freelancing websites are in subscription fees and commissions. There are also advertising revenues on the website (banners, text ads, email ads, solo email). Endorsements of 3rd party related products and services.
These freelancing websites have become immensely popular recently, as more and more people are getting their work done online using freelancers instead of employees.
There are several advantages of following this approach, like:
- The costs are much lower for the client. You can hire anyone from around the world and you only pay for what you need. There are no employee costs (insurance, benefits, etc), legal costs, infrastructure costs, etc.
- You can hire people as you go and as you need them.
- You have plenty of options to choose from for each project.
- The whole process is simpler, easier and much faster.
- Your work is done around the clock.
22. Pick of the month clubs:
These are more like wine of the month, book of the month, movie of the month type clubs.
The way it usually works is, you pay a recurring fee and the product(s) is sent to you directly.
There are a few reasons why anyone would want to join such a membership. They are:
- As a member, you would end up paying less in the long term for the units than if you bought the units separately.
For example, If you have to pay for 2 wine bottles each month, you would be paying the retail price for 24 wine bottles instead of a low monthly fee.
- You do not have to remember to buy the product each month. Once you sign up, the product is delivered to you each month.
- The company that runs the subscription service has their own experts, who help pick and choose which products to send out each month.
- There are also other benefits that are usually offered when you are signing up for a membership. Benefits like other free products, discounts for one or several years, free trials to other products, etc.
- You would also get the support of a community when you sign up. Community of other members or subscribers, experts, technicians, admins, etc.
- The products are delivered right to your home each month. You don’t have to leave your home and go to the store each time to buy the products.
- The products are fresh when they arrive. If you had bought an entire year’s supply at once, it won’t stay fresh. However, when they are delivered to you each month, you get fresh products.
- The products are delivered to you at the same time each month. With consistency in delivery time/date, it would be easy for you to make plans.
You can easily sign up through the website and your credit card would be billed each month or once a year (depending on the billing cycle that you choose).
This is similar to the other clubs type memberships out there. However, this has a different theme and limited to just sending subscribers standard selections.
The downside here is that the customers do not get to choose the products, have little control or flexibility, lesser options but a lot of people are fine with that. It keeps things simple and gives them what they want. Everything else is taken care of by the vendor.
Examples: Products like wine, olive oil, other drinks, health products, movies, music, books, cosmetics, etc are sold using this model.
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