Memberships: money in – value out?

Last week I signed up as a paying member to a site I regularly read.

Startling news? Hardly. It is simply something I have not done before, and all in all, the decision to do so was not as straightforward as I’d imagined.

In the end, I’m very pleased I signed up, and will now receive the member’s only newsletter (amongst other things) from Matt Gemmell, my favourite online writer/author going around.

In the context of what this post is about, the actual site in question is not important, however credit where credit is due – if you have not read any of Matt’s work, I suggest you do so, as there is wealth of frequently updated, quality content at the link above.

The following are simply my thoughts on membership in general and a few other things that were a consideration along the way.

You can read Matt’s introduction to his particular membership here.

The Cost

My online purchases, whether memberships, eBay, backing Kickstarter, or buying coffee or pens, all come from the same bucket – our household income. Irrespective of whether money is put aside for such indulgences, it is still money that could be put to very good use elsewhere.

At first glance, a membership such as this seems a fairly insignificant monthly cost (as my Tweet below demonstrates), and certainly a competitive one as far as other memberships I’ve seen. However it is a cost nonetheless – and a recurring one at that.

Oh very clever Peter!

Oh very clever Peter!

A couple of points here. Living in Australia, or wherever currency exchange is involved, the actual purchase price is never the actual purchase price. For example, standard membership is $US4.00. The cost at checkout to me was $AU5.32. Not a deal breaker, however one consideration1, and again, a factor in all site memberships – not solely the one in question.

Clearly not relevant on this particular occasion, however shipping costs are a significant consideration in just about every other purchase I make online. Shipping costs at times can be a little unkind, however I am not about to shout too loudly, for after all, there are UK customs charges, and from what I hear are the embodiment of the devil incarnate.

With Kickstarter in particular, I have backed more than one project just under the first reward tier to provide my support for what I consider are worthy projects. This of course means I miss out on the actual product, however also avoid the postage – which sometimes adds almost 50% to the total cost.

Please note that none of the above is written in the context or tone of poor me – every purchase, which I’m sure is also the case with you – involves decisions. Some of these decisions simply relate to logistical factors, some of which I have described here.

The benefit

The clincher really isn’t it.

How do we determine what value we receive from laying down our hard-earned cash? I’d say this determination is relatively easy when considering a physical product which arrives on your doorstep.

Perhaps not so easy when considering “content” we consume on a daily basis – much of which is on the internet for free. Although I doubt it, perhaps there is free content out there I could access, similar in quality and topic to what I have just signed up for.

Even if that were true, I would say it is entirely missing the point.

In part, I have signed up for high quality, member’s only content through a regular newsletter.

I’d also like to think I’ve signed up and although not necessarily paid for, at least acknowledged, the high quality content I have already read – and which is freely available – on Matt’s site.

Finally, and probably most importantly, I have signed up on a promise. As a show of faith in what is to come. As a way to express (over and above any links, mentions or the like – which from myself are such a small, small drop in a very big ocean) the sentiment: “I love what you do, I believe you are great at it, keep doing it, and I’m looking forward to more”.

On balance, after reading the first newsletter and accessing the additional content which came with it – I’d say the real winner in all of this is definitely yours truly. I get to feel part of something, yet do none of the hard work. I see another side of quality workmanship, and at the same time, see a little more than what everyone else does.

But most importantly, I have more access to many things I am confident will assist my own writing to improve, and what price would I really place on that.

To finish

In summary, paid membership is of course so much more than: “What will I get for my few bucks”. To be honest, there are so many more thoughts I could throw in here, however I did not set out to write a 900 word post on why I subscribed to a particular site, and I think this is probably enough. In any event, not all would be relevant to your particular case.

Suffice to say, if you do find something which aligns with your interests, has proven longevity and quality2, paid membership is something well worth considering – provided of course it fits your particular criteria for committing your dollars.

I hope my contribution – which I feel very satisfied in making – goes a small way in assisting a great writer produce more great writing, though of course that will occur anyway.

So in that case, I’m happy to contribute to the next bottle of The Balvenie DoubleWood.

Cheers Matt – and thanks in advance.


  1. In fairness to Matt, there are options above and the below the standard $4.00 membership – down to as low as $1.00. I considered a $3.00 option, bringing my $AU price to $3.99. Somehow it just didn’t feel right – so the standard $4.00 / $5.32 it was.
  2. Again imposing my own standards here. I have been reading Matt’s work for a couple of years now, however I believe he is up to 12 continuous years updating his blog!


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