How to get free users to subscribe to paid memberships

Do you own a website and would finally want to monetize your venture? Starting your membership site can be quite exciting, but also frustrating. It’s not easy convincing people to set up a recurring payment on your site. Many website owners struggle with this every day. So, how best can you convert the free users into paying subscribers?

Question Yourself

There are other factors that come into play. For instance, why did someone subscribe (for free) to your site? Do these free users come back often? Where do you mostly get your free users from? How fast is this free user base growing?

Asking yourself these questions, allows you to first understand your free user base. This is precisely what forms a basis for the paid subscriptions. After all, how will you get anyone paying for a subscription if you lack a free user base?

In addition to this, there is a lot of work involved in setting up membership sites. Most people will tell you to use a membership plugin. But is this enough? Yes, a plugin may take the technical tasks off your hands. But you still have to build your site and define specific levels of access.

You also have to come up with great content marketing ideas to get users excited and generate traffic for SEO.

Various studies have been done, focusing on free and paid user subscriptions. The findings are not very surprising. There was a drop of about 15% to 30% of users when sites started charging for a subscription. This only goes to show that about 30% of free users had no intention of spending money on the site.

Getting users to pay for membership can be a lost cause for so many website owners. However, we have a few tips that could come in handy.


This is the very first step you should take. Understanding that not all your site users are the same is imperative. Some users only register to get information once, with no intention of ever coming back again. There are those who keep backing back to engage in your content. Moreover, all these users come from different locations and have diverse mindsets.

Segmenting your users allows you to treat them alike despite their differences. To take steps that will leverage their ability. Let’s say you have a site that any user can view for free. You could then create a membership level that requires users to subscribe to get more information.

The final step should be offer paid memberships where the members can access premium content. Users who identify with your niche will want to view this content. Hence, they will pay.

Creating Quality content available for free

Users will visit any given website if it has the information they need. But it goes beyond just creating content. You should be able to give away good and quality content that demonstrates your expertise. Include free trials, guides, reports, case studies, and downloads. Start creating blogs and publish them on a regular basis. It may not be frequent. But once you set a trend, become predictable so that people can predictably come back to your site for more. For e.g. if you publish a blog weekly, it is important that you continue to do so.

This is what gets users to keep coming back. You also build a positive reputation in the online world. Moreover, your site will rank highly in the search engine optimization.

paying subscribers - Quality Content

Once you have attained a high level of traffic, you can then create premium content. Users will need to pay for membership if they want to view or engage further. If users love the free information, they will have no problem with trusting you with their time and money.

This should be a part of your content marketing strategy. Other ways you can achieve this include social media marketing, paid advertising, guest blogs, podcasts and search placements.

Get paying subscribers by improving conversion rates

Generating traffic for your site takes so much time. Once you have achieved this, you should focus on transforming these free users into paying subscribers. If you convert more visitors, you will need less traffic on your site. You can study the behaviour of your subscribers with tools like Hotjar which give insights into your site.

Having desirable products

You have to get users excited about the products and information on your site. Having beneficial products will encourage your users to share their emails on your site. You can also send them free, inexpensive samples and newsletters explaining your products.

This is one of the ways you can convince them to pay for a subscription. What’s more? You can also synchronize your free user base with an email marketing tool.

It’s a great digital marketing campaign because you are also advertising your products at the same time. The users who love the products will pay for premium membership. Keep in mind that not just anyone will like the products. This is when segmentation comes into play. Understanding your user’s interests’, allows you to target a specific market.

Establishing your credibility

Today’s online world is filled with so many scammers and people out to make a quick buck. Making free content available to your users won’t just cut it. Most will need a higher level of assurance. To know, that they can get the value of what they pay for from your content.

One of the ways you can achieve this is through publishing testimonials, reviews and feedback. If other members loved your products, it would influence the rest positively. It also shows that other people just like them benefitted greatly from your membership content.

paying subscribers - Reviews

If you are just starting out, getting reviews and testimonials is hard. However, you can approach other established players in your market and offer access to your premium content. This will get your site the much needed sponsored reviews to set the ball rolling. Additionally, reach out to your first users and ask for feedback.

Wrapping up

Turning your site visitors into paying subscribers is no easy feat. However, you now have some ideas that will help you start out. Focus on showing your expertise and credibility. Offer a lifetime type of value to your paying subscribers to sustain your marketing efforts. Once your free users can trust you, achieving the rest will be easy.

Have you tried any of these tactics before? Has it worked for you? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

About the Author

Rohit is a full time digital marketer in the web design world. His passion is to bring together the creators of awesome design products to its consumers. He loves biking and and all sort of electronic gadgets. In his spare time, he loves playing with his little niece.

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