Are you after brilliant subscription business ideas to spark your imagination, get your creative juices flowing, and make money in 2024?
If that’s a yes, you came to the right place.
The subscription-based business model has gained tremendous popularity in recent years.
According to a report by Statista, e-commerce sales via the subscription model in the US alone grew from $23 to $38 billion between 2020 and 2023.
That’s about $5 billion of revenue growth per year.
And the future looks bright, considering the market size of the digital subscription economy worldwide was forecast to reach a staggering $687 billion by 2025.
This growth is primarily fueled by shifts in consumer behavior, technological advances, and the declining applicability of traditional monetization strategies, among other factors.
This is what I mean.
You probably prefer a Netflix or Hulu subscription to renting or buying DVDs (you’ll be surprised people still do that).
In the same light, more people are gorging on the idea of meal kit subscriptions as opposed to tedious and time-consuming grocery shopping.
Secondly, new technology has made implementing subscription-based business ideas incredulously easy for all and sundry.
With an automated and easy-to-use subscription management system such as Paid Member Subscriptions, you don’t need coding or technical skills to launch a successful membership business out of your house.
Thirdly, many online entrepreneurs formerly relied on traditional monetization strategies such as banner advertisements.
These old money-making methods are not as effective as the days of yore, thanks to a shift in how the modern-day consumer prefers to consume content.
As such, it’s no surprise that more people like you are actively seeking the best subscription business ideas to pursue in 2024 and beyond.
In this post, we will cover:
- What’s a subscription business;
- The various subscription business models available;
- Advantages of a subscription-based business;
- Several sweet subscription business ideas to explore;
- And close by showing you how to start a subscription business without a sweat.
If that sounds like the kind of thing you are interested in, let us get down to business because there is much to cover.
What is a Subscription Business?
First, what is this animal we’re calling a subscription business? And how is it any different from a traditional business?
As you might have already figured out from the name, a subscription-based business is a model that allows you to offer your customers products and services at recurring billing cycles.
A recurring billing cycle could be daily, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, quarterly, bi-annually, or annually.
Keep in mind that these billing cycles aren’t set in stone. You can offer any billing schedule that works for you and your customers.
Over 52% of businesses use the flat rate pricing model to charge consumers for their subscriptions. This pricing model is especially popular with online coaching and courses.
Other subscription merchants offer what is commonly known as tiered pricing. This “good-better-best” pricing model allows consumers to choose among multiple price points (or subscriptions) depending on their needs and budgets.
As an example, the Paid Member Subscriptions plugin comes in three flavors: Basic (€99 / year), Pro (€169 / year), and Agency (€299 / year).
Pro Tip: To test the waters, you have a fully functional free version of Paid Member Subscriptions available on WordPress.org. You can also check out the demo, which lets you try all premium features for free.
So, in a nutshell, a subscription business allows you to offer customers products or services in exchange for recurring payments.
The best part is you can sell virtually anything – digital or physical – using subscriptions.
It is also easy to start. We’ve seen people who were in your exact position a few months ago launch and grow successful subscription businesses.
And most weren’t as tech-savvy as you’d like to imagine. They were absolute beginners.
Subscription Business Models
You can use different models to charge your customers for their subscriptions. Whichever route you take, always aim to provide value people pay for.
Popular subscription models include:
- Paywall/metered content – Here, you offer premium content hidden behind a paywall. Users must pay to gain access. Popular news websites such as The Washington Post use the paywall model to make millions;
- Online classes and courses – This is one of the most popular applications of the subscription business model. Year after year, many people grow tiny blogs into profitable subscription businesses. A good example is Smart Passive Income by Pat Flynn;
- Product subscriptions – Did you know you could use the subscription business model to sell digital and physical products? Take HelloFresh, for instance. They send you personalized meal kits for a weekly subscription. We also use the model for Paid Member Subscriptions.
- Online Communities – An online community is the model you want if your visitors interact with each other actively. Many companies, like McDonald’s and Walmart, use online communities to boost user engagement and retention;
- Hybrid (all-in-one) – As the name suggests, this model combines some or all of the above models. It takes considerably more effort and time to pull off successfully.
With that covered, why should anyone start a subscription business?
Subscription Business Ideas: Why Bother?
Now that you know what we are working with (and that there is plenty of money to go around), why bother pursuing the subscription business ideas we’ll suggest in the next section?
In other words, what are the benefits of starting a subscription-based business?
The subscription-based business model offers several benefits for both businesses and consumers. Here are some.
Benefits for Businesses:
Recurring, Predictable, and Sustainable Revenue Stream
Unless you run a non-profit organization, the panoptic goal of any business is to make money for its owner(s).
After all, revenue is the lifeblood of any business, and your membership marketing strategy doesn’t mean jack if you’re not bringing in any money.
With that in mind, great subscription-based business ideas will generate recurring, predictable, and dependable income for your business.
Why is this important?
Unlike one-time transactions, recurring payments offer a financial cushion and peace of mind. This allows you to weather out uncertainties associated with sales fluctuations and economic downturns.
Second, recurring payments are predictable since you have a rough idea of how much you will make at the end of each billing cycle.
And thirdly, recurring subscriptions are dependable and more sustainable than one-off transitions.
Besides, you can grow your income by increasing the value of your subscriptions, which is hard (or nearly impossible) to do with single purchases.
Generating predictable revenue means you have more room and financial resources to plan for the future growth of your business.
Enhance Customer Retention and Loyalty
Boosting customer retention and loyalty is a pain in the neck for many businesses, big or small.
In most cases, the customer waltzs in, gets what they want, and leaves never to return. Meh.
But well-implemented subscription business ideas offer you several advantages over your competitors 🙂
First, unlike traditional scenarios where customers buy and leave, a subscription business helps establish long-term relationships with your target audience.
When you play your cards right and provide high-value offerings, you can build credibility and trust for your brand. This, in turn, helps you to increase customer lifetime value.
Secondly, a subscription business lowers the cost of customer acquisition compared to acquiring new customers. You don’t have to incur marketing costs for each sale. In other words, you enjoy higher profitability from your existing customer base.
Thirdly, satisfied subscribers often tend to become brand ambassadors. This helps with advocacy and word-of-mouth marketing, contributing towards attracting new customers.
Fourthly, you can boost customer retention and loyalty by offering personalized shopping experiences.
Additionally, a subscription business allows you to reward repeat purchases and customer loyalty. Here, you can offer special discounts and perks for subscribers.
On top of that, you can offer incentives to retain at-risk customers, which helps reduce your churn rate.
Customer Insights and Data
We live in a data-driven world. As a business, you cannot afford to make decisions on a whim or gut feeling.
Show me an entrepreneur who makes business decisions without data, and I will show you a business about to shut down.
The good thing is the subscription model offers you a continuous stream of valuable customer data and insights.
This feedback loop allows you to:
- Personalize customer experiences by offering products and services tailored to buyer preferences. This improves customer satisfaction and increases the likelihood of cross-selling and upselling;
- Improve your offerings based on customer suggestions;
- Create new products and services to fill a market gap you’d have missed without feedback.
In addition, historical customer insights and data can also help you predict future trends and adjust your offerings accordingly.
On top of that, you can use the insights you collect with your analytics tools to formulate a data-driven marketing strategy.
Continuous Value Addition
The Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said, “The only constant in life is change.” This couldn’t be truer in the world of subscription business.
To thrive in the subscription industry, you must be willing to evaluate customer feedback and adjust appropriately.
How else will you keep your existing subscribers happy? That’s right, you must endeavor to continually enhance your products or services to compete and stay afloat.
To ensure the ongoing relevance of your subscriptions, you must add regular updates, enhancements, and new features.
This contributes directly to value addition, which benefits existing and prospective subscribers. It also allows you to increase the monetary value of your offerings without bending over backwards on your part.
In summary, the subscription business model offers entrepreneurs a strategic advantage in recurring revenue, improved customer experience, continuous value addition, and implementation of data-driven strategies.
What about customers?
Benefits for Customers:
Subscription-based businesses offer multiple benefits for consumers, enhancing their overall experience and satisfaction. Here are some key advantages.
One of the main advantages of subscription businesses for customers is convenience. It is mainly why the model has picked up so much steam over the years.
Take Netflix, for instance. Imagine having to visit a video rental store every time you feel like watching a new movie or TV show. Even without thinking hard, we can all agree a cheap Netflix subscription is more convenient.
That’s just one example, but subscriptions make life easier. Subscribers have streamlined access to necessary products, services, or entertainment without continuous decision-making.
In addition, subscribers can conveniently receive regular products and services without the hassle of reordering or repurchasing.
And unless they change their payment information, subscribers don’t need to re-enter their bank, card, billing, and shipping details repeatedly.
Subscriptions are particularly convenient for busy lifestyles where routine and mundane purchases can be automated.
Personalization uses customer insights and data analytics to create marketing messages and buyer experiences that are unique to each subscriber.
With that in mind, subscription-based businesses often utilize customer data to deliver content or products tailored to individual preferences.
On one hand, businesses can offer personalized and relevant experiences that increase customer satisfaction and loyalty.
On the other hand, subscribers get exactly what they want while enjoying a pleasant user-centric experience.
Cost Savings and Predictability
Don’t we all love saving money? Unless you own the Erebor Mountain, you always look for money-saving deals, discounts, and offers.
In some cases, subscriptions offer more cost savings and value for money than one-time purchases.
Subscription-based businesses do this through bundled packages and highly discounted prices.
You’ve probably seen web hosting companies employing this strategy quite effectively. The business gets more subscribers, and customers save money.
On the same note, customers may gain exclusive access to premium offerings and discounted early releases. It’s common practice for subscription businesses to offer special treatment and perks to subscribers.
On cost predictability, subscribers can budget more effectively with fixed recurring payments.
On top of that, customers can eliminate surprises that come with fluctuating product prices.
Choice and Flexibility
As you would expect, different customers within your target market will have varying preferences, needs, and budgets.
Many subscription businesses offer multiple subscription plans at different price points.
This approach accords subscribers the flexibility to upgrade, downgrade, or pause subscriptions at will.
Following the previous point, customers can adjust their subscription plans based on changing needs and budget.
It’s your duty as a business owner to meet your customers’ needs and budgets. I say this because I have seen some poorly done subscription plans.
This is often the case with unscrupulous vendors who want to arm-wrestle you into higher-tier plans.
In summary, subscription-based businesses offer customers convenience, cost savings, personalized experience, and flexibility, among other things.
With the benefits out of the way, let us explore some nifty subscription business ideas you can start with.
Top 10 Subscription Business Ideas to Make Money
Are you having fun yet? If not, perhaps the following section will change that. We will explore multiple subscription business ideas that cater to different industries and interests.
Below, find 10 subscription business ideas to make money in 2024.
Online Courses and Classes
Did you know that the e-learning market size was valued at $399.3 billion in 2022 and is projected to reach $1 trillion by 2032? That’s a big pie and great news for anybody selling courses.
Like tens of millions of other learners, I have enrolled in several online courses. They are cheaper and more convenient, and I can learn at my own pace. I bet many learners will echo this sentiment.
My point is there is a growing demand for online courses and coaching. Also, many people are looking for the skills you possess.
You can sell course or coaching subscriptions for various topics, including professional skills such as digital marketing or hobbies such as photography. The sky is the limit.
Software as a Service (SaaS)
Gone are the days when you had to buy DVDs to install software. Today, you don’t even have to buy the software with the proliferation of SaaS companies.
A SaaS company is a subscription-based business that offers you access to software for a recurring payment.
If you’re a developer with a handy application, don’t hesitate to offer it as a subscription instead of a one-time purchase.
You don’t have to be these big companies to enter the SaaS space. You can use WordPress to create your subscription-based SaaS business.
Web Hosting & Maintenance
This is one of the cheapest and easiest subscription-based business ideas you can implement.
But don’t you need data centers, servers, and a team of experts to pull it off? The quick answer is nope,
If you are a web designer or developer, you can use reseller hosting to sell web hosting services to your existing and potential clients.
Further, you can sell website maintenance services as an add-on or a standalone subscription service.
Virtual Fitness and Wellness
People are more conscious about their health now than ever before. From a healthier diet to working out and everything in between, they will do it.
Also, I would like to point out that fitness and wellness is an evergreen market projected to grow to almost $7 trillion by 2025.
As a trainer, you can increase your income with virtual fitness subscriptions. You can host live 1-on-1 or upload recorded workout sessions to your site.
Your subscriptions can include other things, such as wellness tips, specialized training, and nutrition plans.
Virtual Events and Conferences
People are always looking for fun events to attend. This offers you a golden opportunity to create a subscription business if you love organizing events.
Create a subscription-based platform to host online events, webinars, and virtual conferences. Then, charge subscribers who need entertainment, information, or networking opportunities.
The good thing with virtual events is you can incorporate many interactive elements, such as live classes, chat, games, quizzes, music, and more, to keep your audience engaged.
After the virtual event, you can also sell recorded content to your subscribers.
Many influencers have created profitable subscription businesses this way.
Alternatively, you can create an events directory such as Eventbrite and charge members a monthly fee.
Netizens are actively looking for new ways to connect with like-minded individuals.
If you can bring people with similar interests together, consider creating a paid online community for your audience.
This could be a business network, professional association, or community of people looking to grow orchids. Or a group of people who love trading card games. It can be anything!
You will be glad to know that you can start a paid online community with a handful of people.
I can’t tell you the number of times I have raided Shutterstock.com looking for the perfect image or illustration for a blog post.
They charge $499 annually for 750 downloads per month, but the package has been invaluable in my work.
Now, imagine you could create a resource library such as Shutterstock. You could make a tidy sum selling your content like Alicia of Pixistock.
And you can sell different types of content, including:
- Stock images and videos;
- Design templates;
- 3D models;
- Worksheets and printables;
- Audio and music;
- DIY tutorials;
- Et cetera.
This subscription business idea is ideal for creatives with vast collections of digital assets.
Home Cleaning Products
Every home deserves a good cleaning regularly, even if we hate getting our hands dirty.
As an entrepreneur, you can make your customers’ lives easier by delivering home cleaning subscription boxes to their doors.
As more people get used to cleaning subscription boxes, the demand for this service continues to grow.
You can start a flourishing business with monthly or weekly boxes containing all the products your subscribers need to keep their homes clean.
Do you want to stand out from the crowd? Offer less toxic or sustainable cleaning products like MightyNest.
If you’ve never owned a pet, you’re missing out. Ask any passionate pet owner, and they will tell you they can do anything for their animal friends.
That’s right, pet owners are willing to spend a boatload of money to make their pets happy, well-fed, and comfy.
This presents a lucrative opportunity for any entrepreneur who wants to start a pet subscription box business.
You can send subscribers regular boxes containing treats, toys, pet furniture, leashes, clothes, and more.
Meal Kits, Plans and Recipes
This is one of the best subscription business ideas to launch. For starters, people will always eat. Second, it’s easy to implement, especially if you love creating unique recipes and meal plans.
But don’t take my word for it. HelloFresh, a $2.33 billion company, was created by two guys who spent afternoons packing pre-portioned recipe ingredients for their community.
Ensure you design creative meal kits, recipes, and plans. Additionally, only source the best of ingredients and farm-fresh produce.
These are a few subscription business ideas for inspiration. As we hinted earlier, you can sell everything with subscriptions.
How to Create a Subscription Business
Now, let us quickly set up a subscription business system so you can launch your idea. We are using the Paid Member Subscriptions plugin.
Install and Configure Paid Member Subscriptions
Once you purchase the plugin, download the two ZIP files from your account.
Next, log in to your WordPress admin dashboard and navigate to Plugins → Add New Plugin → Upload Plugin.
First, you must install the Main Plugin.
After that, activate the plugin to open the Setup Wizard. On the first page, tick all boxes, and click Continue to create your main pages.
Next, choose your design preferences and user experience settings, and hit Continue.
Thirdly, choose your currency, renewal setting, and payment gateways.
Finally, click Continue to Your Membership Dashboard.
Now, the main plugin is ready to go.
Go ahead, install and activate the pro version of Paid Member Subscriptions. This is the second ZIP file from the Pro Download button in your account.
After that, navigate to Paid Member Subscriptions → Settings. Enter your license key, click Activate License, and then Save Settings.
And that’s it. You have the premium version of Paid Member Subscriptions ready to rock and roll!
Now, let us set up our first subscription.
Create a Subscription Plan
To create your first subscription plan, navigate to Paid Member Subscriptions → Subscription Plans, and click Add New.
Doing so leads you to a post editor that lets you add subscription plan details.
On the above screen, you can define the following details:
- Subscription name – The name of your subscription,e.g., Gold Plan;
- Description – The description of your subscription that appears on the user registration page;
- Duration – This is the amount of time your subscription will be valid;
- Price – Amount you want to charge people who join this plan. Leave 0 if you want this plan to be free;
- Sign-up Fee – Amount you want to charge people upfront when subscribing to this plan;
- Free Trial – Amount of time before charging the first recurring payment. The sign-up fee applies regardless of the free trial;
- Renewal – You can either allow the customer to opt in, force automatic renewal, or force no renewal;
- Status – Only active subscription plans will be displayed to the user;
- User role – Select which user role to associate with the plan. The best option is to create a new user role based on the name of the subscription plan.
Once you have your details ready, click Save Settings at the bottom. Repeat the process to add more subscription plans.
After adding your plans, head to Paid Member Subscriptions → Subscription Plans and click Create Pricing Page.
Select the order of your subscription plans, and hit Submit.
Next, customize the pricing page as you see fit and click Update.
Here’s the pricing page that users see on the front end after.
And here is the regular registration page that users will see on the front end after clicking the Buy Now button.
Setup Content Restriction
The Paid Member Subscriptions plugin lets you restrict content based on subscription plans.
Go to the page or post you want to restrict and scroll to the Content Restriction section:
Here, you can choose:
- Type of Restriction – You can display a message, redirect users to another page, or use a template;
- Display For – Choose the subscription plan to restrict;
If you have a lot of content on your subscription website, consider using global content restriction.
When a user registers successfully, they will end up on this page.
This is the user account page:
And that’s it! You have a subscription system to run your business like a pro.
Paid Member Subscriptions Pro
Paid Member Subscriptions is the ultimate solution to bring your subscription business idea to life without breaking a sweat.
There are many subscription business ideas to explore that we couldn’t possibly cover everything in a single article.
The good thing is you can sell virtually anything under the sun using the subscription business model.
Which are your favorite subscription business ideas? Please let us know your thoughts and suggestions in the comments!