Rise of the Memberships

Episode 25: Rise of the Memberships

In this new episode of The RevolutionFI Podcast, Tim and Jim Kukral examine Squarespace and the rise of the memberships.

“So, the question is this: How can 50+ folks like us, honest and hard-working, how do we manage our current responsibilities and still plan for retirement? 401ks alone won’t be enough and we don’t have 40 years to save, so how do we leverage our experience and wisdom to gain financial independence? That is the question, and this podcast will give you the answers. My name is Tim, and welcome to the Revolution. The RevolutionFI podcast.”


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Tim Desmond  

Alright, welcome back to the Thursday Edition of RevolutionFI. This is the Hair of the Blog segment. If you are a fan of music in the 70s, you’ll now be singing Nazareth Hair the Dog the rest of the day. You’re welcome for that.

We are back with Jim Kukral today, and we are going to be talking about a post that went up on November 16 on TechCrunch, and the title of that post is Squarespace Ad Support for Memberships and Paywalled Content. The idea here is Squarespace, one of WordPress’s primary competitors, is adding support for recurring memberships. If you belong to something and you pay for it, such as Netflix, Squarespace is now adding the functionality to allow you to have that system on your Squarespace site. Now this was typically done with WordPress and various other plugins that would accomplish this.

Yet, some new players coming into the space like Mighty Networks, or even Patreon is a type of paywalled membership site. This is significant because I think it’s indicating that memberships are not going anywhere. Now, Jim, you’ve had recurring memberships as a business model for a long time. What do you think about Squarespace adding this? What is the signal to WordPress and maybe the internet community in general?

Membership Sites

Jim Kukral  

Why the heck did it take so long for these people to do this? Membership sites are where it’s at, man. I mean, I’m the numbers in your head. Would you rather get paid once or over and over and over again, right? I mean, you want to see the power of memberships. All you gotta do is look at companies like Peloton. Peloton, they sell you a $3,000 bike, but guess what? That’s not where they make their money. You know where they make their money? They charge you 20 bucks a month for the online courses. Before the pandemic, Peloton was already worth like, you know, $300 million or something. After the pandemic hit, they went up like three times that. They’re worth like 3 billion or some kind of crazy number. Why? Because they have a membership model. You get paid over and over again, the monthly burn over and over and over again. That is where it’s at, so I don’t understand what took Squarespace so long to do this now.

Content is different, okay, it’s harder to get people to pay for blog updates, right? It’s harder to get people medium like you gotta pay to have certain medium articles. If you’re going to create content, like blog posts, things like that, it’s very difficult to have a paywall, unless you’re the New York Times, but its peers that you can use. Squarespace you can use to promote membership, other things besides just blog posts and stuff. This is something you should be checking out for sure.


Tim Desmond  

Yeah, and I think when memberships were first becoming somewhat popular, there was this belief that, somewhat nefariously, they were good because people would forget about them, and you would just keep making money and people would forget to cancel. I don’t think that’s the case anymore. I think people are paying much closer attention to their memberships, where their money’s going. They’re certainly not afraid to cancel a membership if they’re no longer getting value. Here’s my question. Are our memberships going to hit a saturation point? Are we going to get to a place where everyone goes, man, I’ve had it, I can’t pay for any more memberships?

Difference in Entertainment

Jim Kukral  

Yes and no, but it will be dependent, so let’s stick with entertainment for now. There are how many Netflix and Hulu and Peacock, how many networks out there? I think somebody did a tabulation, if you joined all of them, you’d spend like, you know, $800 a month or something. People are choosing what they want to be entertained by. Entertainment’s different than problem solving content, okay. People will spend more for entertainment than they usually will for content that solves a problem because that’s usually work, so yes, there are burnouts. People will say I’m cutting the cord on Cable, and I’m gonna get rid of Amazon Prime, and I’m just gonna have Netflix, but oh, then there’s the show, so entertainment’s different.

If you’re selling entertainment, you have an easier time, but if you’re selling content in a different form, yeah, it’s much harder to get people to stick around. However, this is the new model, and it’s not going away. This is the new economy of what people are looking for. I’ll give you an example. Things like Uber Eats. My daughter’s in college, and she said they ordered some cookies from the Kent State cookie place down on campus, and they had it delivered. She’s like, well, the cookies were $10, but we paid like $15 for the delivery. They’re more interested in the experience of getting the cookies than they were about worrying about the price. It’s the same thing with the entertainment world and with content, if your content is so amazing, this is the model people want to consume, and they’re willing to pay for it. They will keep paying for it over and over again, do not look over this.

Paid Communities

Tim Desmond  

I would also say that I think commute paid communities are going to be around for a long time as well. If you’re not delivering a product, a physical product, or you’re not creating digital content, you can still have a membership site, which is just a community. It could be a forum, you know, like a paid Facebook group. That model I think, is also really on the rise because there’s so much out there people want to be. They want to curate sort of manicured spaces where they can meet so I think that’s an option, too.

Jim Kukral  

It certainly is. At the end of the day, however, they have a lot of free choices with Facebook. You’ve really got to create a tribe and a community that people want to be part of that is something special to get people to stick around.

Tim Desmond  

True. Yep, that’s very true. Well, cool, man. That was fun. I know you’re a big membership guy, and we’ll be keeping an eye on this. Certainly if you’re a Squarespace customer that is worth checking out. Alright, so tomorrow is a Friday, TGIF! We’ll be back tomorrow, and the segment tomorrow is Hot Pods, so talking about hot podcast episodes that we’ve come across, and we got one on abundance mindset tomorrow. I think you’re gonna really enjoy that.

 Before we head out today, if you are really enjoying RevolutionFI Podcast, please tell someone about it. I’ll see you tomorrow morning.

Jim Kukral  

Sounds great.

Transcription by Otter.ai, please forgive the bot for typos and mistakes.

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