The Step By Step Process For Creating A Subscription

Step by Step Process for Creating A Subscription Business

If you've been reading my blog for awhile, you know I've been sharing lots of tips for creating a subscription-based business – from the tools I use to run my own business to the lessons I've learned running a successful subscription business over the past couple of years. But one of the questions I've gotten from a number of people in the past few weeks when it comes to launching your own subscription business is “where do I start?” So today I'm breaking down the step by step process for creating a subscription business and there's even a handy roadmap at the end of this post!

The Step By Step Process For Creating A Subscription

1) Your Idea

The first step in creating a subscription-based business is forming your subscription idea! Brainstorm potential subscription ideas by thinking about the products / services that you currently offer – can you turn them into a subscription by offering them / charging for them on a recurring basis? What other resources could you create on an ongoing basis to help your audience? Is there anything your audience has been asking for? What problems do they have and how can you help solve them consistently?

Once you've brainstormed for a bit, take a hard look at all of the ideas that you've come up with and determine if there is any one in particular that stands out. This is an ideal time to do some market research and see if there are other subscriptions that currently exist that are similar to your idea. If so, think about how your subscription will be different. If not, think about why that might be – is there actually a market for your subscription?

After you've done some market research, you can start to define your subscription idea in more detail. Who is it for? What problem are you solving? How are you solving that problem and how often will you be solving it? What are the specific features and benefits of your subscription?

2) Validating Your Idea

The reason most subscription businesses fail is because people don't take time to really understand their market and validate their idea! Don't waste your time pouring your heart and effort into creating something that YOU think is amazing… without knowing that it's something that YOUR AUDIENCE actually wants. Before you go any further, start taking steps to validate your idea. Talk to (real living, breathing) people in your target audience and ask if it's something they'd be interested in. Survey your audience or create a scaled down, free sample version of your subscription to gauge interest. Grab our free guide to validating your subscription idea and PLEASE do not skip this step if you want your subscription to be successful!

3) Positioning Your Subscription

The next step in planning your subscription business is thinking about how you will be positioning your subscription as part of your overall product / service offerings and your brand. If you are planning on running your subscription in addition to offering services or selling other products you will want to think about how your subscription fits into the mix. Will it complement your existing products / services? Can you position it as an up-sell, down-sell, or cross-sell to your current audience? Will you be confusing your audience be creating something different (and if so, how can you minimize that confusion)?

You'll also want to think about your subscription from a branding perspective – will you be creating a separate sub-brand for your subscription? A separate website? This can be as simple or as complicated as you make it  – at a minimum, you'll need to name your subscription but you could also be creating a full blown custom membership site with all the branding bells + whistles. There's not a single “right” way to create a subscription but you do need to think about how you are going to position your subscription offer in relation to your business.

4) Deciding on Tech + Tools

Once you've figured out your positioning, you can start thinking about what tech and tools you'll need to set up your subscription. If you're keeping things simple, you might just need a landing page (I love Bluchic's drag + drop landing page templates) and simple tool like SendOwl to take payments and deliver your content on a regular basis. I initially started my subscription business using SendOwl but eventually upgraded to create a full membership site on WordPress using the MemberPress plugin for payment and subscription management. If your subscription involves live video, you might invest in a tool like Zoom and if you're planning on delivering educational content, you might need video hosting through a service like Vimeo or you could use a teaching platform like Teachable to host your content. If you plan to have a community aspect included in your subscription, you might need a forum solution like bbPress, an all-in-one platform like Mighty Networks, or you could create a private Facebook group or Slack hub for discussion. You may also need a payment processor like PayPal / Stripe and an email marketing tool like ConvertKit (what I personally use) to communicate with your subscribers.

There are so so many different ways to run a subscription and so so many different tools to help you do it – and again, it can be as simple or as complicated as you make it. Most tools have an option for a free trial so you can see if they are right for you, and don't forget – nothing is set in stone. You can start with sometime simple and upgrade over time once you're subscription is bringing in more recurring revenue!

You may also like: Essential Tools I Use to Run My Subscription-Based Business

5) Pricing Your Subscription

Ohhh pricing. It's a tricky thing. And there's definitely not a single “right” price for your subscription. You have to think about how much money you want to make, how much money you need to spend, and how much work you want to put into running your subscription – but ultimately your subscription should be priced based on the value that your subscribers are going to receive. Think about what it would “cost” them to solve their problem without you – not just the actual money they might spend to invest in alternatives, but also the time or stress of trying to figure out things for themselves. Assuming you are helping your subscribers or making their lives easier in some way – what is that worth for THEM?

Your pricing doesn't need to be set in stone – in fact, I actually recommend starting your pricing on the lower end of the range that you think it should be and then raising it over time as you grow your subscribers and grow the value of your subscription.

6) Pre-selling Your Subscription

You may be thinking that you should be creating your content before you get to this step but that's exactly what you should NOT do! Unless you 1) have a large audience who already knows / likes / trusts you AND 2) have already validated your offer by creating and selling an MVP, then I recommend pre-selling before you start creating the actual content for it. Why? Because even if you think people are interested in subscribing – even if they've signed up for a waitlist or told you to your face – you don't REALLY know if people are willing to invest in it until they actually hand over the $$$. 

To be able to successfully pre-sell your subscription, you need to have completed steps 1-5 but you don't actually need to have created any of the content yet. You can pre-sell by telling your audience about your subscription and offering them the opportunity to subscribe before you actually launch. Typically pre-selling involves some sort of incentive for your early subscribers to encourage them to join – whether that's discounted subscription fees, bonuses, or other incentives, you need to give people a reason to take advantage of your offer now (rather than later).

7) Creating Your Content

Now to the fun part – creating your content! One of the questions I often get asked is “how much content do I need to launch?” and honestly, it depends! The short answer is you need a minimum of 1 month of content – so if you're creating videos / audio training / pdfs / templates / workbooks / photos / etc. on a monthly basis. you should have the first of content ready for immediate access when you launch. If you're creating a membership site or something with a lot of different resources, you probably want to have more than 1 resource when you launch (otherwise it's not super clear why someone would join to get access to just 1 thing). If you plan to have a community or forum as part of your subscription, you should have that set up before you launch as well.

You should also start thinking about your ongoing content plan – how often / when will you be delivering new content? How will you be letting your subscribers know that new content is available? What are your content plans for the next 3-6 months? This can obviously change as needed, but if you already have a plan for your content, it's going to be much easier to manage your subscription as it grows. For example, when I first launched my subscription, I was delivering 30 new photos on the 15th of every month and subscribers would get an email when new photos were available for download. It was a simple subscription and only took me 1 day per month to create content so I could always plan in advance. Now that we're delivering around 75 photos twice a month, we spend more time creating content (I've also raised my prices and hired help), but there's still a content schedule that keeps us on track and helps to streamline our workflow!

You may also like: 10 lessons from running a successful subscription-based business

8) Setting Up Content Delivery + Payment Systems

Now that you've got your content created, you need to set up delivery and payment systems. You should have already picked your tools + tech in step 4 so now it's just a matter of actually getting things set up. Regardless of whatever content delivery method you use, you want it to be easy for you set up AND easy for your subscribers to access. Yes, there might be a learning curve at first if you're using a particular tool or software for the first time, but don't overcomplicate things! You just need a way for people to pay you on a recurring basis and a way for them to receive something on a recurring basis. That's it!

9) Testing Your Systems

Once you've got your content delivery and payment systems set up, don't forget to test them! Pretend you are a new subscriber and go through the entire checkout process and make sure everything works. This is also a great time to set up automated welcome emails as part of your on-boarding, and make sure any other automations are in place (for example, you might want to tag your email subscribers when they become subscription members). Make sure to test everything before you launch!

10) Launching Your Subscription

Woohoo! Now you're ready to launch! Whether you are having an open / close launch period or an evergreen subscription, you want to make a BIG deal about your launch! Start a countdown to create buzz, tell your friends so they can cheer you on, throw a virtual party, get people excited about your new subscription, and pat yourself on the back!

So those are the 10 basic steps for creating a subscription offer. You can definitely make things more complicated (but why?) – you can always add or change things up, but don't let yourself get so caught up in doing #allthethings that it prevents you from actually launching!

If you're ready to get to work creating a subscription click here to learn more about how I can help you create, launch, and grow your subscription.

Essential Tools I Use to Run My Subscription-Based Business

Since I’ve been running the Styled Stock Society for 2+ years now, I’ve been sharing more about how I've launched and grown a subscription-based business over the past few weeks. I’ve talked about why you should create a subscription-based business and 10 lessons I’ve learned running my own subscription-based business. One of the most frequent questions I get from people who are interested in creating their own subscription-based business or membership site is – what tools do you use? I spent a lot of time researching and testing various tools before I landed on the ones I use today, so this post can definitely save you some time! These are the essential tools I use to run my subscription-based business:


First up – the membership site for the Styled Stock Society runs on WordPress. I’ve had various blogs and websites on WordPress for years so it was a pretty easy decision to use it as the content management system for my subscription-based business. Using WordPress as a CMS basically means having total flexibility – which can be both good and bad – but ultimately, I wanted a platform that would allow for unlimited customization and scalability so it just made the most sense!

Pricing: While WordPress is totally free, I also pay for hosting through Siteground as well as a customized theme build on the Genesis Framework. If you’re looking for a feminine WordPress theme, I also love Bluchic’s themes (I use one for this website)!


To actually run my membership, I use the MemberPress plugin. I researched a ton of different membership plugins and ultimately decided on MemberPress for several reasons. After using a different platform to run my subscription-based business for the first 9 months, I was looking for a platform that had certain features:

    • Multiple membership tiers with automated billing – having multiple tiers / price levels to a membership was important to me but MemberPress even takes things a step further by giving you the option to set up membership trials (great for increasing retention), membership groups (an awesome option so that members can upgrade / downgrade their membership type), and subscription management (so that members can update / change / pause / cancel their plans from their own dashboards).
    • Flexible access rules – I wanted a plugin that could restrict content based on multiple membership types, and MemberPress allows you easily restrict posts, pages, categories, or other files based on memberships.
    • Integration with both Stripe and PayPal – not all membership plugins work with both and I knew I wanted to give members both payment gateway options.
    • Integration with ConvertKit – I knew whatever plugin I used needed to be compatible with my email marketing software. Email integration was extremely important to me because I wanted to be able to automate tagging, segmenting, and communicating with my members! You can find a full list of integrations here in case you use a different email marketing service.
  • Easy to use – since I was initially running everything by myself, I needed a plugin that wasn’t going to be super complicated to set up. All of the reviews I read consistently said MemberPress was easy to set up and I was able to get my membership set up in a day without any help!

Pricing: MemberPress pricing starts at $129 / year which is relatively affordable compared to other membership plugins that can be $99+ per month!


I’ve used ConvertKit for all of my email marketing communication over the past few years, but it’s definitely a key tool that allows me to run my membership smoothly. Since ConvertKit integrates with MemberPress, I’m able to tag new members when then join, when they become affiliates, and when they cancel their subscription. I’m also able to tag my email subscribers who have expressed interest in joining the Styled Stock Society (by clicking on certain link triggers) and tailor my marketing emails more specifically to them.

ConvertKit also makes it easy for me to send automated sequences. For example, when new members are tagged, they receive an automated welcome sequence and member cancellations occur, they receive an automated cancellation survey so I can better understand why they decided to leave the membership. These automations are so powerful in increasing member retention and reducing churn so I definitely think ConvertKit is a key tool in running my subscription-based business.

Pricing: ConvertKit starts at $29/month if you have less than 1,000 subscribers and goes up from there. Since I was already using ConvertKit for my email marketing before I started my subscription-based business, I don’t really consider it an “extra” expense, but it’s well worth the investment to have email automations in place!

Affiliate Royale

When it comes to growing my subscription-based business, one of the strategies I use is affiliate marketing. Affiliate Royale is a WordPress plugin that integrates directly with MemberPress making it SUPER easy to set up. Because it is a plugin, it also integrates directly with our membership site – so affiliates don’t have to go to a separate website to login to their affiliate dashboard – and maintains a consistent look and feel with the rest of the Styled Stock Society brand. A lot of other affiliate solutions are hosted on separate sites and/or ugly with limited customization options, so having an affiliate marketing solution that seamlessly integrated with the other tools I was already using for my subscription-based business is definitely a plus!

Affiliate Royale allows me to set custom commission rates for different members, different products, and different membership types as well as easily monitor and track affiliate clicks, sales, and payments. You can completely customize your affiliate dashboard and any affiliate resources. Since Affiliate Royale also integrates with ConvertKit, I can easily tag affiliates and send them an automated welcome sequence as well as other affiliate marketing tips!

Pricing: Affiliate Royale was actually included with my MemberPress license, but if you purchase it separately, it’s only $85 and you don’t have to pay monthly fees or a percentage of affiliate sales like some other affiliate marketing tools.

Other tools I’ve tried + don’t use

I’ve also used or trialed a number of other tools that I either 1) don’t currently use any more or 2) decided not to use – but that doesn’t necessarily mean they were bad!

    • SendOwl – if you’re setting up a simple subscription-based business where you are delivering a digital download every month, this is an easy, affordable tool to use to run a subscription-based business. I actually used SendOwl before I created a full membership site – it’s a great option if you have less than 50 products / 10 subscriptions and don’t want to create a separate membership site to deliver content.
    • MemberMouse – this is another WordPress membership plugin that gets great reviews across the board. I did an initial trial and honestly found it more complicated to set up vs. MemberPress and it’s also more expensive ($99+ / month) for the advanced features. If you’re willing to invest a little time to get it set up and want advanced features like automated downsells and split price testing (great to have but not “necessary” to run a subscription-based business), then this plugin is definitely worth looking into!
  • Tapfiliate – is a popular affiliate marketing software that I’ve used in the past, and honestly I loved it. It’s definitely a more sophisticated marketing software, but it also comes with a price ($149/month for pro features). If affiliate marketing is your primary marketing strategy for your subscription, investing in a tool like Tapfiliate might be worth it, but for my business, using a plugin that directly integrated with my membership plugin AND my website branding just made more sense!

So those are the primary tools to run my subscription-based business. There are a few other advanced tools I use as part of my marketing, but they definitely aren't essential! If you’ve been thinking about starting your own subscription-based business, check out this post for 12 subscription ideas for online business owners.

The 5 Step Process to Successfully Creating a Cohesive Brand

The 5 step process for creating a cohesive brand

Have you ever heard the expression “your brand is NOT just your logo”? Well, that couldn’t be truer, especially in today's online world. You need to stand out, you need to be recognizable and you need to be remembered. That’s of course if you want to be successful, and I’m guessing you do. This 5 step process for creating a cohesive brand will help you do just that!

What you need is more than a logo, it’s a cohesive brand strategy. A cohesive brand sets the expectation with your audience of what they are going to get. That expectation is what will keep them coming back to spend more or read more!

Are you feeling the pressure? Don’t! I’m going to walk you through my foolproof steps to successfully creating a cohesive brand. This is an experience you really should enjoy!

Step 1: Brand Discovery Questions and Pinterest Inspiration

To begin properly creating a cohesive brand, you need to develop the base of why your business exists, what you want to do with it and how it can add value to others.

For your brand to succeed, you need to know the answers to those questions like the back of your hand. That’s why we will go through four Brand Discovery Questions and why they are critical to your brand’s development.

Question 1: What is your Purpose statement?

Your purpose statement is the entire “why” behind your brand. And just so we are clear, selling products or services is not your “why”. If you make “sales” or “money” your why you will be very hard pressed to actually make either.

You need to think of your purpose statement in terms of value. Your purpose statement needs to revolve around the value you are going to provide to your clients/readers. How will your brand inspire your potential clients or readers and make them want to support it?

As an example, let’s say you are a life coach and you offer services and also sell a course on living a positive lifestyle. The purpose of your brand can’t be to make money from services and sell courses. If money is your purpose, people will see right through it.

The purpose should be to inspire people to live healthier and happier lives and provide them with the solutions to do so. It needs to revolve around adding value and providing a solution. When you figure that out, you’ve found the entire purpose of your business. That’s a huge win right there.

There is an amazing article I have gone back to read several times that really shines a light on finding your brand’s purpose. It’s an interview with Mark DiSomma who is a Senior Brand Strategist at The Blake Project and he really puts everything into perspective.

He explains how Dove’s mission is NOT to sell soap. Their brand's purpose is to empower women. It’s through initiatives that support their brand’s purpose that they sell soap and make money.

Please check it out here, it’s absolutely worth the read and will certainly help you on your journey to defining your brand’s purpose.

Question 2: How will people be interacting with your brand and what feelings do you want to invoke in them?

This is one question I don’t often see people considering when they try creating a cohesive brand. Are people mainly interacting with your brand on your website, in person, in print, in a physical or digital marketplace?

The answer to this is important because it should have an impact on the actual design choices you will make for your brand.

If people are mainly visiting you on your own site, a softer muted color palette and logo might work. If your mainly connect with people in a marketplace, you might need something a little bolder to capture interest.

You also need to consider the type of feelings you want to invoke in people. Do you want to get them fired up, excited or motivated? Or perhaps create a feeling of calm and peacefulness? Having this in writing will again go a long way once we get to the design side of the process.

Question 3: What sets you and your brand apart from others?

This is usually THE HARDEST one for business owners to figure out. What is your unique selling proposition? Why is someone going to support your brand and continue to seek knowledge or buy from you instead of others?

Maybe it’s your customer service, your personality, your expertise, your prices, your quality. I think you get the point.

You need to decide this and then make sure you deliver on that with everything that you do. You need to create a consistent expectation that your readers or clients can count on. That’s what will keep them coming back for more and turn them into true brand fans.

Question 4: Who is your Ideal Client/Reader/Buyer?

Now I want you to think long and hard about who your Ideal client and/or reader is. How old are they? What do they like to do? Where do they hang out online? Are they male or female?
Narrowing this down will help you in the development of your overall brand strategy. It will also help you down the road with your marketing strategy.

If your audience is primarily sophisticated, mature women, then your brand needs to reflect that. If they are mostly stay at home moms that have a love of DIY, then you might go for little more color and playfulness.

Once you have answered these 4 questions, you should be in a really good place to start actually designing your brand, AKA the FUN part!

Step 2: Create a Pinterest Board, Mood Board, and Color Palette

As a graphic designer, this is absolutely my favorite part! I understand though that the visual part can be entirely overwhelming! In this step, I’m going to walk you through tasks to narrow down the overall aesthetic and feel of your brand. We will totally get through it together!

Pinterest Inspiration Board

The first task will be to harness the power of Pinterest. Start by creating a new secret board called “(Business Name) Brand Experience”. Based on the brand identity questions above, search Pinterest for terms that you think go well with your answers.


  • Feminine brand board
  • Turquoise” branding
  • “Gold” Logo
  • Modern branding
  • Light Color Palette
  • Bright Color Palette
  • Soft Color Palette
  • “Blush” Brand Board

Don’t forget to also search for terms that are specific to your niche like classic fashion, modern furniture, food inspiration, crafting etc.

This isn’t the time to be overly careful about your selections. Once you have saved your initial choices to your board, go back into the board and take a careful look at what you have.

Is there a trend?

Are there pins that you can get rid of, now that you see them next to the others? Try to narrow it down as much as you can but leave at least 10 or so for further scrutiny.

Now WALK AWAY. Yes, you heard me. JUST WALK AWAY.

Wait at least 10 minutes, sit back down and open the board back up. Which pin, or pins jumped out at you and sang your song? Eliminate a few more that you didn’t even notice.

Now walk away again. Yes, for another 10 or so minutes. This really does work, I’m not a crazy person.

Is there one pin or a few that you keep thinking about even when you're no longer looking at your screen?

Alright, you can go back now and open up the board again. Did the same pin or pins catch your attention again?

Chances are yes, and you can probably get rid of the rest. Hold onto that pin or to those couple of pins and find images with a similar color palette or feels and save them to your brand experience board.

Pro Tip: Try to also include images with different textures and patterns as this will help you a little further down.

Save anywhere from ten to fifteen pins.

Congrats, you have created your first Mood Board without even knowing it!

Mood Board and Color Palette

Your second task will be to place the images you have found on Pinterest into an inspiration board. There are two ways you can do this.

Option 1: Create a brand collage where you layer the different images one over the other:

Option 2: Create a Mood Board (available for FREE in the Lady Boss Freebie Library) to organize the images:

As you can see from the mood board above, it also includes our next task, choosing your color palette.

This is where you want to pull from the colors of your inspiration images. Choose at least 6 colors to represent your brand. Three of them will be your primary brand colors and the other three will be your complimentary brand colors. All six colors don’t always have to be present in everything you create.

You can use a free program like to pull the colors directly from your inspiration pictures. It will also create new color palettes for you at random if you need a little extra help!

Pro Tip: A great idea at this point is to also consider the types of images you are going to need for your website, products, marketing etc. At this point, I like to locate a small arsenal of stock photos that pairs well with the feel and style of the brand I’m co-creating. This is a huge time-saver later on and clients really appreciate it!

Now that your mood board and color palette are all done, it’s LOGO TIME!!!

STEP 3: Main Logo Design + Font Selection

It’s best to start with the main logo and then create all the additional brand collateral from there. This logo is the one you are going to use 80% of the time and it needs to represent your brand and be recognizable.

Remember question 2 above that asked you how people were going to be interacting with your brand? Well, that comes into play here. When considering the logo shape and the font styles, think about where people will be interacting with it the most.

That cursive font might look great on the giant sign above your store but how will it look on an itty-bitty product tag?

Another tip before deciding on a font is typing out common words that you will probably be using that font for. Although the font might look great with your initials, it may not be as nice or may be hard to read when using it for your tagline or a quote.

One thing I use and love, that most font sites have, is a tool that allows you to see your own text in a font before you buy it. This is a huge help and money saver if the fonts on your computer just aren’t doing it for you!

I suggest using 2-3 fonts maximum and always sticking with those fonts for everything that you do. This is really going to help in creating a cohesive Brand and help people to pick you out of a crowd.

STEP 4: Creating an Alternative Logo, Submark and additional Brand Collateral

I can’t tell you how many times I get asked by clients what the point of an alternate logo and watermark are. They wouldn’t be here if they weren’t important so I’m going to quickly break them down for you!

Alternate Logo

An alternative logo is a redesign of your main logo that has a different shape and will fit a different kind of space. Your main logo might not fit nicely onto every type of brand material or marketing piece you create.

In comes your alternate logo to save the day!

The alternate logo still screams your brand and people will recognize it instantly. It will also look way better than trying to squeeze your main logo into a place it doesn’t belong.

Totally makes sense, right?


Now for the submark. This is sometimes the least used of the logo trio, but if you are creating a brand from scratch why not do it and have it ready for when you need it. I promise you that time will come.

Examples of where you might use a submark are for social media icons, email signatures, your business card and many more.

Just think of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest etc. They offer you a small circular space for an icon that most logos don’t fit nicely into. You may choose to have a photo of yourself or this can be the perfect spot for your Submark!

Now that we have that all cleared up, I expect you to create all three.

Brand Collateral

Before we wrap things up, you should also create some additional brand collateral. These are items like patterns, social media icons, pin it buttons, social media headers, and a business card if you need it.

Most of these will be pretty simple and stress-free to create at this point as you already have your logo, additional logos, and brand colors! See, I’ve got you covered.

STEP 5: Putting it all together by creating a cohesive Brand Board

I promise this is the easy part! You already have all of the right components, we just need to put it all together and I’ve got the right tool for you to use! You can download a FREE Canva or InDesign Brand Board in the Lady Boss Freebie Library.

Within minutes you will have your entire visual brand experience put together in one place that you can easily refer to over and over!

You should also hold onto the answers to your brand questions as they will help guide you with any business decisions you make!

Now nothing should stop you from creating a cohesive Brand!

We’ve covered a lot of information but as I’m sure you now agree, creating a cohesive brand needs to be a top priority for your business. Chances are that it will evolve as time passes but that’s a great thing! It means that you are gaining experience and you can further narrow down your brand’s purpose and provide more value.

Just as you want people to enjoy their experience with your brand, take the time to really enjoy the experience of creating it!


Tasha offers branding and web design with a focus on feminine design. Her blog provides valuable information on topics such as branding, email marketing, WordPress tips, design tips, affiliate marketing and much more. Visit her over on her website, Lady Boss StudioYou can also find Tasha on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.