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Recurring Revenue 101: understanding your subscription model options

Published 27 days ago • 5 min read

The Level

Hello and happy Thursday Reader,

News to me, but subscription models are as old as modern civilization, even dating back to the early 17th century. Fast forward to the late 18th century in time for the advent of newspaper subscriptions, then magazines followed shortly thereafter.

And that’s where the brief evolution of subscription innovation stopped and was stagnant for a very long time, until a brilliant guy named Marc Benioff launched the first software as a service (SaaS) cloud-based application called Salesforce in 1999. And that’s how we entered the modern era of all-things-on-subscription, a whopping 25 years ago lol.

Collectively, we’ve made lots of strides and forward progress in all manner of subscription offerings over the last two decades or so, although I remain perplexed as to how we have created a beast even worse than cable television… 🤯 I’ve lost count of the apps we subscribe to and have given up app-hopping out of sheer frustration. But I take solace in knowing that I’m suffering alongside other Elder Millenials as we continuously attempt to follow Friends and The Office around to the streaming app du jour.

Speaking of apps, have you taken a look at your monthly budget lately to see how many hundreds of dollars per month of products and services you subscribe to?

I am astounded every single month when I review this line item in our budget (at home and in the biz).

But when I feel like we are about to burst at the subscription seams, I remember that I’m no longer doing ridiculous things like: purchasing a mediocre software application on a compact disc at Best Buy, which I have to then physically insert into my computer’s CD drive, which no longer exists, and install a tiny, lackluster application to my machine, and hope for the best, because goodness knows, no updates or customer support are coming my way.

🤔 What about you?

Have you found any strategies to manage your subscriptions effectively? Reply and let us know! We'll share the best tips in our next edition ✨

And if you are as ~~old~~ wise & experienced as I am, you might even remember paying extra premium fees to giant juggernaut software companies like Adobe for access to the “good” customer support team. I don’t miss that.

And I sure as heck don’t mind paying for the value I am receiving, any time, any place. I enjoy premium support, 99.99% up time, and new valuable features shipped straight to my computer and phone and TV and car 24/7/365.

I fork over a monthly or annual fee, and that shit just keeps on working and getting better and better and better. 👍

But I don’t just pay for software and access to my favorite shows; I am part of a number of paid membership communities and I receive a small handful of paid email newsletters. And the extensive community, networking, and learning opportunities in the digital world that I enjoy because of my subscriptions far exceed what’s available in person.

And don’t get me wrong here or put words in my mouth, those digital communities unequivocally do not replace my in-person, real-life relationships or community, and I don’t think they should replace yours either. But the digital world opens up access to people and opportunities that simply did not exist 25 years ago.

You are likely reading this today because you are a digital thought leader and may even consider yourself a creator. You have some level of influence among those whose attention you have on the internet – whether via social media platforms or an email newsletter like this.

Those wonderful people have raised their hands and said that they want to hear from you and value what you have to say. Pretty cool if you ask me!

There is tremendous power and value in sharing your knowledge, wisdom, and experience in the digital sphere so that your knowledge enhances other peoples’ lives and is not lost with you when you are no longer here.

And I’m willing to bet – in fact, I have bet my entire business on this – that some percentage of those people who have raised their hands and said they want to hear from you on social and in their inboxes will pay you some portion of their hard earned cash money in exchange for your (forthcoming) well-organized subscription-based digital offering, that sports a crystal clear value proposition and will make their lives better in some way. I don’t know exactly what that value proposition is for your unique situation, but that is the kind of thing that we give a tremendous amount of one-on-one help on to the amazing folks inside of Level Up Creators School.

Regardless of what your unique value proposition, or “offer” is, I’m going to help you understand the different ways that you can package it up as a subscription model in order to earn monthly recurring revenue. The most successful businesses on the planet leverage a subscription model, which enables them to provide an ongoing mutual exchange of value between the company and each of their subscribers, month after month, and year after year.

So I want to make sure you know that there are a handful of really attractive, achievable, proven models that other trail-blazing thought leaders have paved for you.

Here’s my top 4 paths to recurring revenue for brilliant people like you:

→ Paid Newsletter

→ Membership Community

→ Mastermind Group

→ High-ticket, small-group coaching

For more info, our very own Erin Horner and I hosted a LinkedIn Live this week where we did a 10,000 foot overview of the merits of each of these top 4 recurring revenue options. You can check out the replay here on LinkedIn for the full scoop.

And if you’re wondering wtf is going to happen to TikTok here in the States, I cover that as well in that LinkedIn Live video. Spoiler alert: I see no path forward to TikTok being a thing stateside starting in May of 2025. I’m certainly open to being wrong here, but all signs point to no viable path forward aside from a yet-to-be-assembled group of American buyers with hundreds of billions of dollars, but even then, the Chinese government has made it clear that they will block the sale to any American company. Hit reply if your primary audience is there and you need a go-forward plan to not lose your shirt.

Until next week,

- Amanda



Elevate your business game. Last week's episode here:

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Level Up Creators

Turn your knowledge & experience into rock-solid recurring revenue. We build and grow recurring revenue businesses for creators & digital thought leaders.

Each week we publish tips, shortcuts, tear-downs, knowledge bombs, and easy-buttons to help creators, solopreneurs, and coaches achieve the holy grail of business: recurring revenue. Say goodbye to high-stress launches and hello to subscription-based products & services where you’ll find stable, predictable, scalable revenue. Our CEO, Amanda Northcutt, has been in the digital subscription space for 20 years as a consultant and 6-time executive, and she’ll give you the roadmap to your own subscription success each week!

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