In 2020, we worked with our friends at the Membership Puzzle Project to create the Membership Guide. The Guide is full of resources, worksheets, tools, and case studies to help news organizations of all sizes develop, launch, and iterate their membership programs.
Recent trends across the industry — including the evolution of big social platforms, the rise of AI, the demise of many VC-backed publishers, and more — have made the Guide even more relevant than when it was initially published. The only sure bet in media is to develop deep, authentic relationships with communities that rely on your journalism, and that’s what membership is all about.
There are a few ways you can utilize the Membership Guide: There’s the handbook section that includes practical advice for every point of the membership journey — the handbook was designed to be a resource you come back to, making it easy to locate the sections you need. There are case studies that provide specific insights from individual newsrooms around the globe. Finally, you can sign-up for a self-guided newsletter course that takes you through each section of the Membership Guide and tells you what’s most important in each section.
The Guide has also been translated into Spanish, French, Portuguese, and Italian.
The Membership Puzzle Project formally wound down in 2021, but the team made a few final and notable additions to the Guide, which include:
- Recommendations on how to design and how to grow membership programs for audio products, namely podcasts, which have grown dramatically as a medium since it was published in 2021.
- Recommendations on how to design and how to grow membership programs for independent or solo ventures. The creator movement was nascent when we sunset, but it has matured, giving us ventures to study.
- An analysis of the membership opportunity presented by diaspora audiences.
- A look at what NewsMatch has learned about membership in low-wealth communities.
- Advice on launching a match campaign.
There are also new case studies on topics such as retention, iterating mature membership programs, and revenue strategies like crowdfunding:
- How Public Source formed a match pool, with members at its core
- How The News Minute maintains crowdfunding and membership side-by-side
- How new offerings got Bridge Michigan past a membership plateau
- How The CT Mirror raised more than $36,000 in 36 hours
- How the Daily Maverick won back 10,000 lapsed members
- How an internal communications plan helped 444 instill a member-focused culture
We hope these updates to the Guide are useful and that you’ll continue to utilize this valuable resource if your news organization is focused on membership.