In this post we’ll take a look at how subscription businesses work and their advantages and disadvantages. We’ll also detail some of the best online subscription business ideas you can start.
Thanks to the Internet, starting a business has never been easier. There are so many possibilities for online businesses and one of the best options could be a subscription based business.
Both physical and digital goods as well as services can be sold using this method. Subscriptions are commonly billed on a monthly basis but can be offered via different time schedules such as annually or quarterly.
Whilst it is true that the internet has made it easier to create and operate a business it still requires a lot of hard work and dedication to succeed.
Before starting a business it may be beneficial to read the following blog post covering these 16 common business mistakes to avoid.
Benefits Of A Subscription Business
Before we explore some of the many subscription business ideas available, let’s first take a look at reasons why you might want to start one. Using a subscription based pricing structure has many benefits which are listed below.
More Attractive To Customers
Firstly, subscription pricing can be more attractive to customers and create lower barriers to entry. This is because goods and services can be scheduled on a regular basis at a lower cost than a one-time high value purchase.
For example, a service costs $500 per year if purchased in one upfront annual payment. Many customers may not be able to afford something at this high a price point. Instead a monthly payment option could be offered at a $50 per month price point which is much more affordable to a greater number of customers.
This means over the course of 12 months the customer would pay a total of $600 for the same service. Although they are spending more overall, it is a more attractive option as the customer gets the service immediately at an affordable price.
This regular billing cycle creates a more predictable recurring revenue when compared to one-time purchase models. It can help better predict cash flows and manage your inventory more efficiently as payment is usually received upfront.
Creates Customer Loyalty
It can also be easier to build brand loyalty and retain customers. With regular purchases you will be able to gain insight into customer behaviour, interests and purchasing habits. This allows you to create a highly personalised service and adapt your products, services and pricing to the needs of different types of customers.
Easier To Up-Sell And Cross-Sell
Creating loyal customers also makes it easier to up-sell and cross-sell products to. A good example of this is a monthly subscription box that provides a new monthly selection of items. These products can also be sold separately in your online store. When your customers have discovered a new item in their box that they like, they can be prompted to purchase these directly from your store as a one-off purchase in addition to their regular subscription.
Subscription Business Ideas
Below we will list six different online subscription business ideas that anybody can start.
The first of our subscription business ideas is creating a subscription box business. Subscription boxes are gift boxes containing items centred around a particular niche or theme that are delivered direct to the customer, most commonly on a monthly basis.
You would need to source a range of high quality, low cost items and package them up with your branding. The idea is to offer customers a convenient way to discover new, interesting or unique items on a regular basis. Offer new and different items each month to keep customers engaged and create brand loyalty.
Check out these subscription box business ideas.
There are lots of niches to be explored including health, beauty, pets, food and drink, fashion and much more. When selecting a niche it is important to define your target customers to market to. Ensure you narrow the niche down further into a sub-niche to target a very specific audience. So for example if you wish to set up a subscription box in the food sector, this could be narrowed down to sub-categories such as vegan snacks or Japanese candy etc.
You would need to decide whether you want to offer free or paid products. Free products can be sourced from brands that provide them as a free marketing tactic. As these are free they can give a huge boost to profit margins. However you would need to pitch to suppliers and may be limited in your options.
Paid products can be sourced from wholesalers such as Kole Imports, along with retailers and manufacturers. You will have more control over products but may need to purchase in volume to gain cost savings to improve your margins. Find top suppliers here.
Read our complete guide to starting a subscription box service.
One of the more interesting subscription business ideas is an app, in particular dating apps. Dating apps are big business. Global dating app usage is estimated to reach 280 million users by 2024 with revenues forecast to reach over $2.5 billion according to data by Statista. T
here are lots of dating apps available with the market dominated by a few big players. However interest in these sites is starting to wane as love seekers increasingly look for new and engaging dating app features and increased safety. This presents a good opportunity to create a fresh new dating app with something different to the current offerings.
Top of the list of user concerns is safety and privacy so this could be a top issue to address. In addition to this, users are increasingly looking for alternative ways to find a match rather than the common swipe left or right.
Some dating apps can be very broad based and aimed at a wide audience whereas others are very niche sites. These niche sites may be smaller but they can meet a particular need of the audience by targeting one demographic such as a lifestyle type.
Monetizing A Dating App
There are two main ways to monetize a dating app, these being subscriptions and advertisements. These type of apps often use the ‘freemium’ pricing model. This is where a basic free version of the app is available for anybody to use. Usually displaying advertising and having limited features such as limited number of daily swipes. Users can upgrade to a paid premium subscription that offers extra features and usually removes advertising.
Have an idea for the next big dating app? Appy Pie is the #1 no-code app builder allowing anybody to create any type of app in minutes. They even have a dedicated no-code dating app builder to easily create and monetize your own dating app. Try Appy Pie for free.
Learn more about the importance of apps to your business in this post; create your own app.
Cooking And Recipe Membership Site
Paid membership websites can be very simple to construct. One highly popular and profitable type of membership site is food and recipes. It is very straightforward – people pay a subscription fee to receive regular new and interesting recipe ideas.
The market for this type of site is huge – everybody has to eat. And everybody is looking for something different depending on their needs. Whether it is recipes that cater to specific dietary and health requirements such as keto or ethical issues like vegan.
Recipe websites are a good choice for a subscription service due to their popularity and range of topics. But you can create paid memberships for all kinds of other interests and services. One of the easiest ways to create a paid membership site is by creating a website with WordPress and using plugins such as WooCommerce. If you aren’t sure how to do this then you can easily employ a professional to do this on Fiverr.
Meal Plan Subscription
Meal plan subscriptions are popular with customers due to their convenience and ability to discover new recipes. The ingredients for a complete meal are delivered direct to the customers door ready to cook. This saves time both shopping for products and preparing the food. Customers pay a premium for the convenience along with the novelty of new and interesting recipes.
With meal plan subscriptions there are two different business models to consider. The first type is delivery of ingredients along with a recipe for the customer to make a meal. The second way is to provide a complete meal, pre-packaged and ready to re-heat.
A meal plan subscription service can be a standalone business or could be an accompaniment to grow your recipe membership site business. With each new recipe you provide your members you have the potential to sell the corresponding meal kits for them to recreate.
Stock Photos And Videos
If you have good photography skills then why not consider selling your photos with your own stock photography website? Stock photography websites such as Shutterstock are used by people and businesses that require imagery for use in their work. Stock images are used for websites, blogs, magazines, books and printed publications and marketing materials.
This type of business can generate very high profit margins as you are only selling your own digital images. So you don’t have to pay for inventory or other costs common to eCommerce other than your website.
There are several different pricing models that can be used for this type of business. These include monthly subscriptions, one off purchases and tiered pricing.
The key points to take into consideration are that you will require a large and varied volume of high quality images. You will need to constantly update image libraries on a regular basis.
Skills like photography offer lots of other fantastic monetization options. Take it one step further and offer photography lessons online as part of a subscription or as an alternative business. See this post for more details on how to create your own online course; Earn Money By Creating Online Courses.
If you prefer not to run your own website but would still like to make money from your photos then there are many stock photography sites such as Shutterstock and PhotoJobz where you can sell your photos. Read more information here; Can You Earn Money From Your Photos?
Coaching And Mentoring
The final of our subscription business ideas is to create an online coaching service. Lots of people look for mentors to help them navigate the challenges of their chosen field. If you have a lot of industry experience within a particular field and feel you could offer real value then you could consider offering your services as a coach and mentor.
People require coaches in all types of areas such as business, sports, finance etc. These can range from business executives to students. Somebody with sufficient experience can help guide them towards their goals and targets with regular coaching sessions.
This lends itself well to a subscription payment model. Create your own coaching membership website where people can take courses, ask questions, communicate and support each other and track individual progress. They may even pay for regular time with you in a premium membership. Webinars are great tools to use for this, see how to create a webinar.
The key to this is to put out quality content and keep it up to date, remember quality over quantity.
Learn how to create quality courses for your business Earn Money By Creating Online Courses.
Subscription Business Ideas Conclusion
We’ve now looked at the many benefits of a subscription business including regular recurring revenues, being a more attractive proposition to customers and giving better potential to up-sell and cross-sell more products.
There are many options for creating a subscription based business and we have listed six great subscription business ideas above. All are quite simple ideas but some require more work to set up than others.
The more digital only businesses will require less money to set up and operate as there is no physical product being handled. Whereas subscription and meal prep boxes may require a little more investment due to the costs of purchasing and shipping products and packaging etc.
There is always support available to help you set up and run a business. From setting up a website to branding and marketing you can find a specialist on Fiverr.
In order for any business to succeed it takes hard work and commitment. If you are ready to put in the effort then an online subscription business could yield you great success.
If you liked this post of subscription business ideas then some other posts you might like covering ways to make passive income;
- Make Passive Income Streams; 14 Ideas
- Start Blogging To Make Passive Income
- Earn Passive Real Estate Income With REITs
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