In our last article, we talked about how Instagram is rolling out Subscriptions for creators to help them make monthly recurring income. Today, we want to talk about how creators can make the most of a subscription model as promised.
For those who are unversed, a subscription model is when a creator charges its audience a recurring fee, commonly monthly or yearly, to access their content. Not only within the creator and influencer economy, but subscription business models have also been getting popular for almost all industries over the past few decades (Suggested Reading: The Rising Trend of Subscription-based Business Model).
Netflix is one excellent example of a subscription model, where we pay monthly to access their video content. Patreon and Substack are popular platforms with subscription models that you can leverage to make a recurring income as a content creator.
It is particularly useful for influencers and creators since their income can vary from month to month. Hence, unlike a steady 9-5 job with a fixed paycheck, it is challenging for creators to budget their expenses. The subscription model of several social media platforms, soon also in Instagram, can help creators do what they love and maintain a regular income (1).
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How Subscription Models Help Creators Generate Recurring Income?
The key with a subscription model is to get new paying subscribers and minimize people who stop paying (churn). The longer your subscribers will pay you, the more recurring income you will make.
For instance, if your Substack monthly subscription starts from 5 USD, your monthly income will be 50 USD with ten paying subscribers.
Now, let’s assume that your paying subscribers will remain to pay for the next few months, and you add another ten new paying subscribers per month; then, by the end of the year, you will be making 600 USD a month.
Do you see the earning potential of a subscription model? No wonder creators are excited about Instagram rolling out Subscriptions!
Another benefit of a subscription model we found is the time you will need to create your content will remain the same. However, you will earn more as you will gain new paying subscribers (2, 3). To put it another way, you can work less and make more, or at least the same amount of money, if you use the right strategies.
Before diving into how you can make the most out of Instagram Subscriptions as the program adds more creators, it is important to understand different factors affecting subscription earnings.
We would also like to highlight that these factors and strategies that we have talked about in this article are not only useful for Instagram Subscriptions but any subscription-based platforms, including Facebook, Patreon, and Substack (4, 5).
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Factors Affecting Your Subscription Model Earnings
Now that you understand how your subscription earnings can accumulate over time, we will discuss factors that can affect your recurring income (6, 7).
Conversion to Paying Subscribers
Previously, we had assumed that you would convert 10% of your total email subscribers to paying subscribers over 12 months. Now, let’s say, instead of 10%, you manage to convert 12% of your total email subscribers to paying subscribers; you can earn 720 USD a month by December instead of 600 USD. An increase of 120 USD doesn’t look bad, right?
Now, what if you charged more for your exclusive content and increased your price from 5 USD to 7 USD? In that case, by December, you will make 840 USD compared to 720 USD, in continuous with the previous scenario.
And our experience over price increases as startup analysts tells us that it is better to set the price you wish to charge at the beginning instead of increasing it gradually over time. It can lead to fewer people converting to paying subscribers and lead to more churn. It may not seem like a big deal even if you increase your price by 1 USD, but it can make your churn fluctuate wildly every time you decide to change your prices.
We had assumed that your paying subscribers would stay for a few months in our previous examples. However, what if they only decide to pay for your exclusive content for ten months? In that case, you will plateau your earnings at 500 USD a month by October compared to hitting it in December at 600 USD had your subscribers stayed for 12 months.
Remember, the more you charge for your subscription, the shorter people stay with you as paying subscribers. You also need to remember that keeping paying subscribers is easier than getting new ones on board. If you don’t want to constantly get new subscribers to cover your churn, make enough effort to retain your paying subscribers.
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Getting Started With Your Subscriptions Model
As a content creator, you are most likely passionate about your niche and the process of making excellent content that your audience will love and find valuable. However, if you want to become a full-time content creator or an influencer, you need to make it a recurring income full-time.
Of course, you can always do sponsored posts to make money. However, they are not stable. At the same time, as we discussed in our last article, it can reduce your authenticity as a creator in the eyes of your audience. Hence, we believe that subscription models are better strategies for content creators than selling ads and making sponsored posts.
For those wondering, there are other ways content creators can monetize, including asking for contributions, selling courses, skills, and products, making affiliate sales, and more. Most creators use a combination of these options to strengthen their revenue model.
A subscription, as discussed, is an ongoing recurring payment for fans, here also referred to as subscribers, to access exclusive service or content (8, 9).
But how would you use it? How can you create your subscription program?
It all starts with your audience and their requirements. If you haven’t done it already, you will need to analyze your ideal audience and develop an audience persona.
Consider asking yourself these questions:
- What are the requirements of your target audience?
- What issues are they dealing with?
- What exactly are they looking for?
- What other platforms do they use to consume content?
- What do they do on the internet?
- What can you do to assist them?
After you have reached this point, you can start building your subscription program around the demands of your specific audience. If you already have a mass following, you can ask them what they need or want more from you. And use their responses and requests to build your strategy.
Select Your Premium Content
Once you understand your audience’s needs, it is time to decide how and what you will deliver to them.
You can do it by thinking about your content, community, and benefits.
First, decide the content you want to include behind your paywall. Then, you can start organizing your content and other ideas into a collection of premium content that will only be available to your subscribers.
Development a Community
You can also consider community as a part of your bigger strategy. Think of how your audience benefits from connecting with your other subscribers. If you think that they can, consider fostering a place for them to connect and make it a part of your subscription.
Access to a community can be one of the benefits of subscribing to you, but you can also think about what other benefits you can offer. Besides premium content, it can include several options like professional services, physical products, onboarding kits, information products, courses, exclusive events, etc.
You will also need to decide channels through which you will deliver the community benefits you have promised to your subscribers. You will need to foster your community via a Facebook group or even a Slack channel. You can also consider sending them an e-newsletter or specific content to your website.
Remember, your channels will help you distribute content and benefits to your subscribers (Suggested Reading: 5 Tips About Building a Strong Brand Loyalty and Community).
Set Your Pricing
Once you are done considering your audience’s needs, establishing the value you will offer, and how you will deliver it, you will have a clearer picture of your program.
It will help you decide the price for your subscription model program.
You can start by outlining the specifics and benefits you offer and set your price accordingly.
One simplest option is to have one paid tier where your subscribers will get all the benefits of unlimited content and community access within the package.
Simultaneously, you can also consider setting different membership levels with upgraded benefits. However, it would help to remember that added membership levels can add complexity in management as the creator. You will also need to ensure that each member will get the benefits you promise (10, 11).
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How to Promote Your Subscription Offer?
Once your subscription program is lined up, it is time to get subscribers!
If you have been growing your audience with your free content, the chances are that you already have an engaged audience that you can open your offer. If that’s not the case, then you can consider using free content to grow your followers on Instagram to begin.
It is always easier for people who are already engaged with your content and your brand to upgrade to a paid subscriber than converting a cold audience.
The best strategy is to promote your paid Instagram or any other offerings everywhere you have an audience.
You can also consider collaborating with other creators who have the audience you are also seeking to serve. You can also opt for trading promotions with each other or paid promotions to advertise your offering on their channels.
Consistency is important when you want to grow as a content creator. You will need to post content and engage with your audience on a regular basis. The rules are the same, but the only difference is that you will have to bring people into your funnel via free content and keep on promoting your paid offering (12).
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Best Strategies for Subscription Model Benefits
Although there is no limit to what you can offer as a creator and benefits to keep your subscribers excited and engaged, there are a few best strategies to gain most of a subscription model that ensures a fun and exciting experience for your paying subscribers (13, 14).
Keep it Exclusive
Exclusivity in exchange for a paid subscription is what helps your audience understand what value you offer. They are getting access to special content that other people don’t get to see by supporting you.
Recognize Your Supporters
Your subscribers will want to know what you see in them and know that they are here to support you. Think of different ways to include them in your process, and let them know that you value their support. Think of creative ways to share that information periodically, so they get some attention for being your paid subscriber.
Provide a Mix of Short and Long-Term Benefits
While it is important to provide time-sensitive and instant gratification benefits, it is important to remember that you want your subscribers to stick around for a good and long time. Hence, we recommend you take your time to plan out benefits you can offer both long and short term.
Make Offers With Broad Appeal
The benefits you decide for your audience should have a broad appeal. It means that the benefits you will offer your subscribers need to be things that a wide range of your subscribers can enjoy.
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Below is the summary of different strategies to increase and retain your paying subscribers:
- To build a sense of urgency, offer a limited-time offer.
- Encourage your subscribers to sign up for an annual membership rather than a monthly one. A person who pays monthly has 12 opportunities to cancel in a year, whereas one who pays annually only has one chance.
- Annual subscribers are more likely to renew for a second year, whereas monthly customers who pay for 12 months in a row have 12 chances to cancel and are less inclined to pay for another year (15).
- Provide a free trial period. The new audience may be hesitant to pay for content until they have seen what they will receive. They will be more willing to pay once they perceive the worth.
- Start with a couple of benefits that will be exciting for most of your followers and from their decision based on what your subscribers would like to see!
- Set your price in a way that makes sense for your business while also appealing to your audience.
- You don’t have to set your membership tiers or never change your prices. You can always test your prices and benefits to create the strongest offering that will give you the funding you need while also keeping your fans excited!
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As a content creator, your monthly income can vary monthly, and Instagram Subscriptions or any other platform with a subscription model can help you generate a steady income over time. It is an added benefit if you can leverage the same content for one or a thousand paying subscribers.
Remember, there are two key strategies when it comes to making the most subscription models:
- You will need to get more new paying subscribers than your churn
- The longer you keep your paying subscribers, the more recurring income you will make.
We hope this post has given you all the information and strategies you need to make the most out of Instagram Subscriptions as soon as the feature reaches you in the upcoming few months. You can also apply these tactics for other platforms with subscription models like Patreon or Substack.
Please let us know if there is anything we missed in the comments area below. Stay tuned for more!