The Health Pros Guide to Memberships, Online Courses, and Subscription-Based Business Models

The Health Pros Guide to Memberships, Online Courses, and Subscription-Based Business Models

The health business has seen drastic changes in the last few years, especially since COVID-19 hit. More and more people are not only accepting but embracing online learning and telehealth technology.

According to Statista, “The Online Education market is estimated to reach a revenue of US$185.20bn in 2024.”. This is a huge opportunity for health professionals in private practice to leverage digital platforms to expand your reach, make more sales and provide services in new, flexible ways.

But which one should you choose? While there is no “right” answer, your answer lies in understanding your unique strengths, your client’s preferences, and the long-term business plan you have for your practice. It’s about making an informed choice that not only matches your professional values but also aligns with the changing trends of the health industry.

You want a model that fits your style and helps your business grow. Whether it’s a membership program, creating online courses, or setting up a subscription service, each option has its benefits. The idea is to pick the one that lets you do your best work and keeps your clients coming back.

As we look into these options, keep in mind that the core of your work is about providing excellent care and the transformations your clients experience. Remember, it’s all about giving great customer care and useful information. You want to make sure your skills and knowledge make a difference in people’s lives, no matter where they are.

Ultimately, the model you choose should help reinforce the positive changes you bring to your customers lives and strengthen your relationship with them. It’s about ensuring that every interaction they have with your service enriches their lives meaningfully.

Understanding the Basics: Membership, Online Course, and Subscription Models

Understanding the Basics- Membership, Online Course, and Subscription Models - Lesli Bitel

When it comes to creating multiple streams of income in digital health and wellness, three models stand out for their ability to engage clients and generate sustainable revenue: Membership, Online Course, and Subscription models. Each offers unique benefits and operates differently. Let’s break down the basics of each model and understand their relevance in the health and wellness marketplace.

Membership Business Model

A membership model offers clients ongoing access to your services, software, or content for a fixed cost. This model builds a community around your company or practice, fostering a sense of belonging and continuous, customer engagement.

Key Features:

  • Recurring revenue through monthly or annual fees.
  • Community building through exclusive forums, groups, or events.
  • Regular content updates, keeping each member active and engaged.

A membership model helps you build a strong community and a steady income at the same time. By consistently providing care and advice, you’re not just selling or making one-time sales; you’re creating lasting relationships. This leads to regular income from members and customers who stay with you, giving you a solid financial base to grow your business.

Online Course Business Model

The online course model involves creating structured, educational content that clients can purchase and access at either their convenience (evergreen) or with a group. This model is about packaging your skills and expertise into digestible, actionable courses.

Key Features:

  • One-time or tiered pricing for course access.
  • Scalability, reaching a wide target market without the constraint of time.
  • Flexibility for clients to learn at their own pace.

Online courses offer a lucrative way for health professionals to share their skills and expertise far and wide, without the limits and costs of location. They’re ideal for clients who prefer learning at their own pace, offering them the chance to access and review course material whenever they need. This model can lead to significant income, as you create and sell courses that continue to benefit clients and generate revenue over time.

Subscription Business Model

A subscription model offers regular (often monthly) access to products or services for a recurring fee. This model emphasizes reliability and consistency in the cost and the value provided.

Key Features:

  • Steady, predictable income through recurring payments.
  • Opportunities for personalized services or content delivery.
  • Building long-term client relationships through regular interaction

Subscription models are a powerful way to provide continuous support and personalized advice. They cater to clients who appreciate consistent care and are committed to their health journey. This model not only helps clients steadily work towards their goals but also establishes a regular income for your business, as clients subscribe for ongoing access to your valuable services and products.

Understanding these models and their relevance in your field is the first step toward choosing the right approach for your organization or private practice. Each model offers different ways to connect with and support your clients, so consider your goals, your client’s needs, your skills and the unique value you can provide when making your choice.

What Makes a Successful Membership Site?

What Makes a Successful Membership Site? - Lesli Bitel

A membership business model is more than just sharing content; it’s about building a community that supports and engages with each other. A great example of this comes from Gina, who was in my coaching program, the “Lucrative Course Blueprint.” Her experience and the skills she gained have led her to create her current membership program, showcasing the real power of community and learning together.

Gina’s Membership Business Model:

Gina’s program brilliantly mixes food preparation with health education. It’s more than just recipes; it’s a deep dive into healthy eating while learning new skills in the kitchen. Here’s what makes Gina’s membership special:

  • Extensive Recipe Collection: Members get access to a library of tasty, healthy recipes, all made to be as good for you as they are delicious.
  • Webinars: The program includes live learning sessions and on-demand training, so each member can learn when it suits them best.
  • New Recipes: Every month, members get a new special recipe, adding fun and variety to their cooking.
  • Community Space: There’s a private space for members to talk with Gina and other members, building a supportive group of fellow food lovers.
  • Interactive Learning: Regular cooking sessions and chats with Gina give members hands-on learning and helpful tips.

Why It Works So Well:

  • Staying Involved: Gina’s program keeps members active and interested, by cooking together and discussing healthy food options.
  • Great Content: There’s always something new and worthwhile for members, with top-notch recipes and learning materials.
  • Supportive Community: The program makes a place where members can get together, share their stories, and get advice right from Gina.
  • Easy to Use: Members can access the program in different ways, making it easy for everyone to join in and learn.

Gina’s membership is proof that a well-thought-out membership can do more than just sell – it can create a lively, close-knit group all about enjoying healthy, tasty food.

The Income Potential of Membership Sites

Membership sites can be a real game-changer for your online business, offering a steady income while making a real difference in people’s lives. According to Business Money, the average lifetime member value is $850. I can personally attest to this with my own membership site. Keep in mind, that just like any business model, they have their ups and downs. Let’s look at the pros and cons, and then discuss proven strategies to keep members engaged, active, and invested.

Pros and Cons of Membership Business Models


  • Steady Income: Membership sites can provide a regular, predictable income. Members pay a fee, often monthly or annually, which means you can count on that income as long as you keep members happy and enrolled.
  • Community Support: These sites are great for creating a community. Members can support each other, and you can build strong relationships with them, leading to long-term loyalty – and sales for your other programs and offers.
  • Share More, Do Less: Once you’ve created content or a program, you can share it with your members without extra work. This means more time for you and more value for your members.


  • Consistent Content Creation: You need to regularly update content or offer new services to keep members interested. 
  • Member Churn: Some members will cancel their subscriptions or fall behind on their payments, so you need to continuously attract new members and keep the ones you have happy.
  • Engagement Required: You’ll need to keep members engaged. If they don’t feel involved or valued, they won’t see the benefit of staying subscribed.

Strategies for Engagement and Retention

Strategies for Engagement and Retention - Lesli Bitel

  1. Provide Exclusive Content: Offer content that members can’t find anywhere else. Make sure it’s valuable and relevant to their health and wellness goals.
  2. Regular Interaction: Keep in touch with members through emails, webinars, live calls, or a community forum. Ask for their feedback and show that you value their opinions and needs.
  3. Personal Touch: Make your members feel special. Celebrate their achievements, acknowledge their milestones, and be there to support them.
  4. Surprise Perks: Everyone loves a good surprise! Offer unexpected bonuses, like a free one-on-one session, a special guest speaker, savings or discounts on other products, or an extra resource or two.
  5. Showcase Success Stories: Share stories of members who’ve seen great results. This not only motivates current members but also shows potential members the value of your program.

Remember, a membership site can be a powerful way for businesses to earn income while making a positive impact. Keep your members engaged, offer great value, and they’ll have every reason to stick around, making your membership site a success for your organization and everyone involved.

Digital Course Creation: Scalability + Profitability

Digital courses open up a world of possibilities for health pros, blending the power of scalability with the potential for significant profit. 

Let’s get into the details of the process and benefits of creating your successful online course – or courses. 

Digital Courses: The Process and Benefits

Digital Courses- The Process and Benefits - Lesli Bitel

Creating an online course involves several steps, from planning your content to delivering it in an engaging format. 

Here’s why it’s worth the effort:

  • Broad Reach: You can share your expertise with a wide audience, without being limited by location or time.
  • Upfront Work, Long-term Rewards: Once your course is created, it can be sold repeatedly without much additional effort, offering a great return on your initial investment.
  • Customization and Flexibility: Courses can be self-paced or have structured learning objectives with set timelines, giving you the flexibility to design them in a way that best suits your style and your audience’s needs.

Susan’s Online Course Success Story

One of my star clients, Susan, has taken the lessons from my courses and business coaching to heart. She’s put what she’s learned into action and is a prime example of how digital courses can make a significant impact for small businesses. 

Susan’s course provides in-depth education, knowledge and skills on how to support immune health using supplements, catering to a specific need within the health and wellness community.

Why Susan’s Course Works:

  • Targeted Content: Susan’s course zeros in on a specific, in-demand topic – immune support through supplements. This focused approach ensures that her content meets a specific niche, attracting and retaining a dedicated audience.
  • In-Depth Expertise: The course is backed by Susan’s education and experience. She doesn’t just skim the surface; she provides detailed, research-based information that positions her as an authority in her field.
  • User-Friendly Delivery: Susan understands the importance of accessibility. Her course is designed to fit into her clients’ lives, allowing them to engage with the content at their own pace and convenience.

Susan’s online course is a testament to the importance of not just creating a course but creating one that’s timely, relevant, and precisely tailored to meet the needs of a specific audience. Her success with this business model underlines the fact that in the world of digital courses, the combination of a well-chosen niche, quality content, and strategic marketability is the winning formula.

Maximizing Revenue Through Online Courses

Maximizing Revenue Through Online Courses - Lesli Bitel

Creating an online course is just the beginning. To make the most of it, you need smart ways to set your prices and market your course. Also, by creating content that stays relevant (we call this ‘evergreen’), your course can keep earning money for a long time. 

Let’s get into the specifics:

Pricing Strategies for Online Courses

  • Value-Based Pricing: Set your course price based on the value it provides. Understand your audience’s needs and how much they are willing to pay for the solutions your course offers.
  • Tiered Pricing: Offer different levels of access or content at varying price points. This can attract a wider audience and cater to different budget levels.
  • Bundling: Combine your course with other products or services as a package deal. This can increase the perceived value and encourage purchases.
  • Alumni Discount: Offer existing customers special savings as a thank you for their continued business. This not only rewards the loyalty of your customer base but also encourages them to invest in more of your courses or services, knowing they’re getting great value at reduced costs.

Marketing Tips for Digital Courses

  • Clear and Compelling Messaging: Your marketing should clearly communicate the benefits and outcomes of your course. Use testimonials and success stories to build credibility.
  • Leverage Social Media: Use platforms where your potential students are active. Share valuable content, engage with your audience, and use targeted ads to increase visibility.
  • Email Marketing: Build and nurture an email list. Offer valuable insights and regular updates, and use this channel to promote your course.

Benefits of Evergreen Course Content

  • Long-Term Revenue: Evergreen content stays relevant over time, allowing you to sell your course for years without frequent updates.
  • Time and Resource Efficiency: Once created, evergreen courses require less maintenance, freeing you up to focus on other aspects of your business.
  • Consistent Lead Generation: An evergreen course can continually attract new students, acting as a consistent source of leads and revenue.

By choosing the right pricing, getting your sales and marketing on point, and creating evergreen content, your online course can do more than just teach—it can become a steady and significant source of income for your practice.

Subscription Business Model: Effortless Earning with a Personal Touch

Subscription Business Model Success Stories - Lesli Bitel

A subscription model is the closest thing to a set-it-and-forget-it approach in your health and wellness business. It’s a smooth, (mostly) hands-off way to keep the income flowing while offering continuous value to your clients. This model can cover a range of offerings, from meal plans and recipes to supplements or monthly wellness trainings. 

While each subscription might be priced at a lower cost than your usual offers (typically from $19/month to $197/month), don’t underestimate the power of numbers; your memberships can make a significant impact on your bottom line. 

Pros of the Subscription Model:

  • Predictable Income: You can forecast your earnings and plan your business growth with more certainty.
  • Deepening Client Relationships: Regular interaction through subscriptions helps you understand and serve your clients better.
  • Steady Engagement: Offering fresh content or products regularly keeps your clients engaged and less likely to cancel.

Cons of the Subscription Model:

  • Consistent Content Creation: If your subscription depends on recipes or video content, you need to regularly provide new and valuable content or services to keep your subscribers interested.
  • Managing Cancellations: You’ll need strategies to minimize the number of clients who cancel their subscriptions.
  • Continuous Marketing: To replace lost subscribers and grow your base, you’ll need an ongoing strategy for consistent sales.

A subscription model is straightforward: your clients pay a regular fee, often monthly, to access your products or services. Remember, while subscriptions can offer a more hands-off income, the key to reaching those bigger earnings is in growing your subscriber base and ensuring your offerings are so good, that your clients wouldn’t dream of leaving. 

Subscription Business Model Success Stories

Subscription Business Model Success Stories _ Lesli Bitel

Wondering how a subscription business model just might fit into your private practice? Let’s look at two examples from individuals who applied the strategies from my Lucrative Course Blueprint course and successfully turned them into sources of recurring revenue on autopilot. Meet Dorothy and Rhya, two of my past students, whose subscription business models are not just thriving but also offering valuable, ongoing support to their clients.

Success Story: Personalized Supplement Subscriptions

Dorothy has carved a niche in the market with her unique supplement subscription services, tailored just for men. What sets her apart is the free consultation she offers so that each client gets the right supplements to support his health goals. 

Key Success Factors:

  • Personal Touch: The initial free consultation adds a personalized element, making clients feel cared for and understood.
  • Targeted Offerings: By focusing on a specific demographic (men’s health), Dorothy ensures her services meet the unique needs of each group.
  • Recurring Revenue: The subscription model ensures a steady income, with clients regularly purchasing their essential supplements.

Success Story: Automated Meal Plan Subscriptions

Rhya streamlined her subscription service to offer more customers hassle-free, automated meal plan subscriptions. Clients can choose from 3, 6, or 12-month plans, making healthy eating a no-brainer.

Key Success Factors:

  • Ease and Automation: The completely automated system makes it easy for clients to subscribe and maintain their meal plans without a team of employees or constant input from Rhya, saving her time and money while providing continuous value.
  • Flexible Options: Offering different subscription lengths caters to various client commitments and budgets, broadening the appeal.
  • Opportunity to Cross Sell: In addition to the meal plans, Rhya also offers an online course, creating multiple revenue streams and adding value for her clients.

Both Dorothy and Rhya’s successful business models show how subscriptions can be more than just a business model; they can be a way for businesses to provide ongoing, valuable support to clients while building a stable, growing income for health professionals. Their success underlines the importance of personalization, automation, and focusing on client needs to make subscription services a win-win for both the business and the client or patient.

Hybrid Models: Combining Membership, Subscription, and Online Courses

Hybrid Models- Combining Membership, Subscription, and Online Courses _ Lesli Bitel

These days, hybrid models are revolutionizing how health professionals offer their services. By blending membership, subscription, and online courses, you can create a multifaceted approach that caters to diverse client needs while opening up multiple streams of income. 

These hybrid models provide flexibility, variety, and a comprehensive package of value that can set your practice apart. 

The Potential of Hybrid Models

Hybrid models offer the best of all worlds, allowing you to:

  • Reach a Wider Audience: By combining different formats, you can appeal to clients who prefer self-paced learning, as well as those who value personalized support.
  • Maximize Revenue: With multiple services bundled together, you can increase the perceived value of your offerings and, consequently, your pricing potential.
  • Enhance Engagement: A mix of group sessions, one-on-one coaching, and self-paced content keeps clients engaged and committed to their health journey.

Success Stories of Hybrid Models in Action

Taryn Mattern: Taryn’s program, “The Gut Solution,” is a comprehensive package that includes 1:1 sessions, diagnostic tests, a self-paced course, group coaching, and an online community. It’s a holistic approach to gut health management that offers education, personalized care, and community support, all in one.

Glenys Oyston, RDN: Glenys’ program integrates recorded educational modules, downloadable resources, guided meditations, and monthly group coaching. This blend offers a rich learning experience along with ongoing support and a sense of community.

Ashley Hurst, MS, RD, LD: Ashley’s “Crohn’s + Colitis Remission Blueprint” is a 90-day program that combines group coaching, weekly educational content, meal planning, and a supportive online community. Her VIP option adds even more value with 1:1 sessions and check-in calls.

Allison Tallman, MS, RDN, CNSC & Leah Baker, RDN, LDN: Their program offers a mix of pre-recorded training, personalized feedback, live coaching, and guest expert sessions, complemented by an extensive resource library and nutrition guides.

These examples are just the tip of the iceberg, representing only a handful of the many ways health professionals are leveraging hybrid models. 

A well-designed hybrid model can not only meet a wide range of client needs but also create a rich, engaging experience that fosters long-term relationships and steady growth for your practice. Whether it’s through combining individual coaching with group support or mixing self-paced content with live interaction, hybrid models open up a world of possibilities for expanding your impact and income.

Creating Your Unique Hybrid Model

Creating Your Unique Hybrid Model - Lesli Bitel

A hybrid model that resonates with your brand and meets your clients’ needs is an art form. It’s about strategically blending different models to maximize their strengths and create a seamless, comprehensive service. 

Here are some tips on how to combine different models effectively and leverage their strengths to shape a cohesive and impactful business development strategy.

  1. Identify Your Core Offerings: Start by pinpointing what you do best. Are you a whiz at creating engaging course content, or do you shine in one-on-one coaching sessions? Knowing your strengths will guide you in building a hybrid model that builds on your strengths. 
  1. Understand Your Clients’ Needs: Dive into your clients’ world. What are they looking for? Do they need the community support of a membership site, the in-depth knowledge of an online course, or the ongoing support of a subscription service? Tailoring your model to address these needs ensures that your service is not just valuable but indispensable.
  1. Mix and Match Strategically: Combine elements from different models in a way that makes sense. For instance, you could pair an online course with a subscription for ongoing support and updates, or add a membership component to provide a community space for course participants. The key is to ensure each element complements the others, enhancing the overall value of your hybrid model.
  1. Streamline the User Experience: A hybrid model should offer a seamless experience. Make sure the transition between different components (like moving from course content to a community forum) is smooth and intuitive. A cohesive user experience keeps clients engaged and minimizes confusion.
  1. Evaluate and Adjust: The beauty of a hybrid model is its flexibility. Regularly ask for feedback from your clients. Use this insight to fine-tune your offerings, to make sure your hybrid model remains dynamic, responsive, and aligned with your clients’ needs.

Creating a unique hybrid model is about more than just diversifying income; it’s about a multifaceted service that enriches your clients’ lives and propels your practice forward. By thoughtfully combining different models and leveraging their strengths, you can create a business development strategy that is not just profitable but profoundly impactful.

Successful Business Models to Future-Proof Your Business 

Successful Business Models to Future-Proof Your Business - Lesli Bitel

In the health and wellness business, choosing the right business model is an important decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. It’s all about what works best for you and your clients. You’ve seen how membership models, online courses, and subscription services, or even a mix of these, can boost a business. 

Bottom line? Think about what you’re good at and what your clients need. The best choice for you is the one that fits your goals and meets your clients’ needs.

And if you’re ready to expand and take your practice to the next career level, don’t miss this chance to join me LIVE:

Join the Leveraged Offer Bootcamp!

We’ll be covering the 6 steps to create scalable group programs, courses, memberships, & passive Income!

In this LIVE challenge happening February 20-22, 2024, I’ll show you step-by-step how to create group programs, free courses, memberships, and passive income that grow your business. It’s not just about making more money; it’s about helping your clients more and making a bigger impact.

Are you ready to turn your skills into a successful, future-proof business? Let’s do it together in the Bootcamp! Click here to register

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Lesli Bitel, MBA, RDN, LDN, is a sought-after Business Strategist and Mentor specializing in guiding integrative and functional medicine professionals through the complexities of practice building.

Her mission is to unravel the confusion associated with the business side of running a successful private practice. Lesli focuses on real-world marketing and client attraction strategies to seamlessly integrate multiple income streams into the private practice business model, including

  • 1:1 coaching to online courses
  • Group programs
  • Online courses
  • Passive income products
  • Memberships
  • And more

In her work, Lesli draws on her experience running her own 6-figure functional nutrition practice, specializing in helping patients with neurological disorders. She also has a 13-year tenure in the pharmaceutical and diagnostic testing industries, where she excelled in marketing and sales, eventually reaching high-level executive roles.

For over a decade, she has empowered practitioners to overcome business challenges, attract ideal clients, and diversify income streams for thriving practices. Lesli offers private coaching, classes, webinars, and more, dividing her time between Salida, CO, and Lake Geneva, WI.

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