7 Most Effective Recurring Revenue Program Models

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Continuity or recurring revenue programs are the "new" online business model that has recently escalated in popularity in recent years. No longer is it good enough to simply sell information products for a one-time sale or sell your services online. 

Instead, online business owners need to seriously think about changing their business model to include the concept of recurring revenue. This passive revenue model brings in regular recurring revenue on a weekly or monthly basis from the same customers. While there is still some work required to continue to market these programs, overall you will find it much more profitable to sell to one customer over and over again rather than having to go and find new customers repeatedly for a one-time information product sale. 

Many companies have been offering continuity programs for years. Proactive does it with a face cleanser. Sheer Cover does it with makeup. Netflix does it with video. Amazon does it with electronic books in its Kindle Unlimited program. Each of these companies offers an option in which subscribers pay a set fee each month and receive something new in return (ebooks, makeup, etc.). I've belonged to all of these recurring revenue programs at some point in my life, and chances are, you have, as well. How can you incorporate this recurring revenue model into your business?

Here are the 7 most effective online recurring revenue models to consider for your online business:

1.  Content Delivery Services. Normally, I wouldn’t include this service in this type of listing, as it is traditionally a very time-consuming business. However, I’ve recently discovered a templatized and systematized model that can be used to provide content to specific types of businesses on a monthly basis. The key to success in this type of business is that you must have content that you can sell again and again to businesses in the same industry without fear of overlap. The second key to success in this business is that you have an automated system in place that delivers on schedule once the initial setup is complete. 

This content delivery is the newest service I’m implementing in my business with Facebook Page content updates and client newsletter delivery. Because I'm focusing on local businesses and these businesses serve a limited geographic area, they are ideal for this type of service, as I can offer the same content to chiropractors in different cities, for example, without the fear of customer overlap. You can take a look at the Facebook content management service at

2.  Retainer.  Attorneys and accountants have done this for years — their clients go on a regular retainer and the client can contact the attorney/accountant whenever needed as defined by the parameters of the retainer.  Consultants, coaches, and virtual assistants offer this option, as well, as a way of providing services over an extended period of time.  While having this in place makes for less client turnover, this model is the most time-intensive model of all of these models, as the model requires trading time for dollars.  Most retainers offer x number of hours of work or x projects to be completed in return for a set monetary amount. 

3.  Subscription Membership.  In this model, you are providing new content regularly to your members via a membership website. Members log in and access new articles, audio, checklists, ebooks, discussion forum posts, etc.  This is a content-driven model, as you need to continue to provide new content for your returning members as well as to attract new members.  The upside of this model is that many members retain their membership for a year or longer, especially if offered the option of a reduced annual membership fee. 

4.  Fixed-term membership.  In this model, you are providing new content on a weekly basis to your members for a fixed period of time.  While initially time-intensive to set up, this model runs fairly seamlessly once all of your program modules are written.  As long as your topic isn’t one that needs continual updating, you can create this once and resell this again and again.  However, unlike the other models, you keep your members only for a limited time (3 months, 6 months, 12 months) and then need to boost your marketing to continually replace members for this program. 

5.  Club or Inner Circle or VIP Program.  This is a model that coaches, consultants, and speakers often use and may be marketed as a group coaching program.  Typically the participant gets access to the program leader or an expert via a webinar, and a printed transcript and CD are mailed to the participant each month.  The program leader may also include open Q&A/coaching sessions, sporadic 1:1 coaching mini-sessions, and access to various resources and contacts to further help the participants.  As long as members feel they are receiving value, they’ll generally remain a participant in this type of program. 

6.  Association.  Becoming the founder or president of a national or international association offers the kind of leverage not found in any other model.  Because associations connote expertise, being the leader of an association automatically makes you the expert in a particular area.  Reporters and writers often look to leaders of associations to comment on trends in an industry, which will result in much media attention for your business. 

Membership benefits and membership packages are the key offerings here, whether that’s a monthly teleclass, access to specific downloadable content, networking opportunities, direct mail membership welcome packets, etc. This model is generally the least time-intensive, as 80% of your members will receive their membership package and not be heard from again until its dues renewal time. 

7. SaaS (Software as a Service).  Most of us are paying monthly to access some type of cloud software program. It could be your email marketing program, like Birdsend, or your CRM program, like 17Hats, or your online appointment scheduling program like Book Like A Boss.  If you develop software that solves a specific problem, you can develop quite a lucrative business by selling subscriptions to access your software. 

Why continue to trade time for dollars?  If you pick the right target market at the right time, one of these recurring revenue models may become your full-time business.  Take a look at these recurring revenue program models and see which one(s) make sense for your online business. 

If you need help or want to explore how you can incorporate recurring revenue into your business model, we would be glad to speak with you. Figuring out a marketing plan for your recurring revenue program is also essential. Schedule a Brainstorming with Donna Session to explore the best options for you.  

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About Donna Gunter


Instant Sales Accelerator for Microbusiness Owners

I help seasoned small business owners create marketing ideas and strategies that raise their visibility, broaden their reach, and grow their revenues.

As a business owner with 24 years of experience, I am the cure for you if you have run out of marketing creativity. I have a unique ability to sense or see the underlying scheme of things, whether it's like a blueprint to build something or an x-ray that shows hidden connections, and connect the dots at a deeper level. I make it really Easy. Enjoyable. Effective. Just like your marketing will be.