Arguably one of the earliest forms of group communication on the Internet, forums have changed dramatically and diversified greatly from simply bringing together a community of users to exclusive membership sites with in-demand content. Today we focus on forums in our continuing series of subscription business models.
Forums are perhaps the best places to connect online for people who share the same interests or passions. Forums are great places to learn about a particular subject. Users with problems can get help, most of it for free, from other users, product creators or enthusiasts of a product or service. Free help is what forums are mainly about.
Free Registration vs. Restricted Registration Forums
Registration at forums is usually free although some restrictions may apply depending on the forum owner. For example, forums that are centered towards a particular niche will usually be free. On the other hand, businesses or individuals that sell products or services may allow only their customers to register or view particular content on their forums.
The free or restricted registration is usually tied to the business angle of the forum owners. For instance, at forums that are free to register, the owner is usually a moderator who may not be providing a particular product or service. He or she simply brings users together for the purposes of helping each other out.
On the other hand, the forum owners that restrict registration usually provide a service or product to users. Therefore, they would only want to offer support to users who bought their product. For example, the content at Templatic’s support forum is only available to users who’ve bought the company’s products. Most companies integrate forums on their websites to offer customer support or provide a platform through which users can help each other.
Case Studies: Successful Subscription Membership Forums
Forums can be monetized through different ways including advertisements, affiliate sales, product and service sales, paid memberships, among others. Let’s look at two examples of successful subscription membership forums.
1. John Stone Fitness
John Stone Fitness is a weight loss focused forum that connects people who want to lose weight and lead a healthier lifestyle. The forum has a lot of helpful weight loss content including recipes, training exercises, inspiration stories, fitness equipment advice, and general weight training tips for beginners and experts.
John Stone Fitness forum has both a free and paid option. Paid members enjoy a range of benefits such as more private messages space, more space to host photos, ability to embed video in their posts, access to VIP forum, among others. Users can choose from three
b) UK Business Forums
UK Business Forums connects people who are interested in doing business in the UK or those who want information on trade related matters in the country. At the forum, users offer tips and advice on things like importing and exporting, taxes, partnerships, legal matters, among others.
Users can register as free or paid members to access content on the forum. Paid membership comes with extra features such as access to private forums, ability to post on the marketplace, access to UKBF business blog, etc. and costs £30 per year.
Subscription Membership Forums Success
If you are looking to start a subscription membership site, you need to have great content that people will be willing to pay for. So far, all the subscription business models we have looked into rely on content. However, forums may not need intensive content creation like is the case with blogs or newsletter subscription businesses since most of the content at forums is user generated.