Membership: Thinking aloud while considering different approaches to wrapping a members layer around The Library.

Membership: Thinking aloud while considering different approaches to wrapping a members layer around The Library.

Christopher Murphy · 20 June, 2020

Summary: In this pricing walkthrough, I'm sharing some of my early thinking through The School of Design pricing model.

I had originally planned to put The Library behind a paywall and charge a membership fee. I've since decided to give this content away, for two reasons: 1. To build trust in the brand; and 2. To allow me to support as many people as possible, in line with my [[core values]].

While exploring a membership wrapper for Notion – so I could charge an annual membership fee for The Library – I remembered that I could pay for team members on Notion's Team plan.

Here’s how I worked through the numbers…

Notion's Team Plan

$8 per Member per Month

This gives me unlimited members and admin tools over and above the plan I’m currently on.

It also provides unlimited block storage, so members don’t need to worry about the 1,000 block storage limit on Notion's Free Plan. Update: As of 19 May, 2020 there is no longer a 1,000 block storage limit.

The reason I’m exploring this is the ability to wrap a membership around the library. There’s a part of me – the open source part – that likes the idea of a 100% open access. However, the entrepreneur part of me realises there has to be a benefit to entice members to sign up to the designtrack community.

The cost per member of making them a designtrack Notion team member is:

  • $8 × 12 = $96 = ~£80

(£80) is Unsustainable

Losing ~£80 per member would effectively kill this model by eating massively into the membership fee. I've been toying with a monthly subscription for access to everything I create, which I wrote about here:

In the above post, I'd posited charging £295 for an annual membership, positioning it as having having access to a year-long conference for less than the price of most conferences.

I'm still unsure on this price. My heart says: Too high. My brain says: This is an incredible value.

One thing I'm sure about: If I have to deduct £80 from £295 (~30% off the bottom line), that's a huge hit on potential profitability. As such, this wouldn't work. A better use of this level of money would be building a bespoke tool.

This would have multiple benefits: 1. I'd own the domain (until Notion supports custom domains); 2. I'd be investing in building a bespoke platform that could, perhaps, be monetised; and 3. I could wrap a membership layer around the content.


If you found this post useful, you might enjoy The Library, a resource available to The School of Design members: find out more about The School of Design membership or sign up to our weekly mailing list, The Periodical. (See a past issue here.)