Earning A Recurring Income: Examples Of Successful Subscription Businesses

In a previous newsletter I said that I believed 2024 was going to be the year for personal subscription businesses, and I believe that to be true.

A subscription business is a great way to make a recurring income. You can predict your monthly income easier when you have subscribers.

If you have 200 people paying you $10 each month, and very few people unsubscribe, you know that you are set to earn $2,000 that month.

Obviously that number is going to go up and down, but you can generally work out an average based on previous months which helps you to predict how much you can and should make each month.

When you sell lone digital products such as eBooks, it is harder to predict how much money you will make each month due to the fact that when a person has bought a product, the sale is finished and you don’t know if you will sell any more that month.

With a product that is a subscription, the payment is only finished when the person cancels. Until then, the payment is recurring which helps you to know in advance how much you are set to earn each month.

My own subscription business The Freedom Skills Academy VIP Club has quite a good retention rate. I have been able to predict how much I will earn each month for nearly a year now.

Only this week I received an email from a subscriber who explained why he needed to cancel. It was a shame to see him go as he had been a subscriber for nearly two years, but later that day another person subscribed to the newsletter taking his place.

Knowing that people usually subscribe for at least 3 months, I can predict that the income is highly likely to be the same as the last few months.

If you do not have a subscription business of your own, I suggest that you consider starting one as soon as you can because the potential is huge.

Successful Subscription Businesses

I wanted to put a list together to highlight how subscription businesses are now becoming the norm. 

I am not saying that you are going to be able to replicate all of these, but hopefully they will show you that people are willing to spend money each month on products or services.

  1. Television Channels – There are far too many successful channels to mention here.

    I personally subscribe to five channels to watch shows and films. I either pay monthly or an annual subscription. I pay to access specific shows or to access shows without adverts…. more on that later.

  2. Music Everyone is doing this now, Amazon, Spotify, YouTube, Mixcloud, and Soundcloud are the biggest platforms to do this but there are individuals who are doing this too.

    Musicians, singers, DJs, and producers are setting up profiles on platforms such as Patreon and allowing people to access their music and content for a monthly fee. This, I believe, is going to be huge in the future.

    Home Rave TV is a platform where you can join thousands of like minded Home Ravers every week to enjoy live streaming sets from leading DJs, artists, and leading event brands from around the globe.

    There is also a community section where you can chat and interact with the performers and other members.Home Rave TV is £8.99 ($11.39 ATOW) per month.

  3. Books / Audio Books – Amazon and Audible are the big players in this industry but there are several platforms that are giving authors the ability to collect monthly subscriptions for their work instead of just selling books in the traditional sense.

    ReamStories and Patreon allow readers and authors to connect. They can set different price tiers and offer more exclusive content for higher paying subscribers.

    Bestselling author Seanan McGuire makes between $10,000 and $14,000 each month publishing short stories to Patreon.

    There are people who are also offering physical book delivery where they send through the post a classic or ‘mystery’ book to people who pay a monthly subscription fee.

  4. Podcasts – Similar to music and audio books, people pay a monthly fee to access specific podcasts. I have seen several successful podcasters using Patreon to make money each month.

    Check out the insane monthly earnings for the Chapo Trap House podcast below:

  5. Magazines, Papers & Newsletters – This is my expertise as I run my own subscription newsletter where I publish either one PDF or video a month talking about a specific way to make money online. Take a look here: The Freedom Skills Academy VIP Club.

    Knitty is a great example of a digital magazine that is doing well as you can see with their Patreon figures below:

    They recommend that people subscribe to the $14 tier. So how much money are they making each month?

    Knitty is just one of thousands of online magazines/newsletters that people can subscribe to.

    Many online newspapers charge people a monthly fee to access their content. People pay even though they can probably get the same news elsewhere for free.
  6. Internet & Broadband Providers – OK, this is probably not one for you to set up, you would need millions to get into this industry. But it is a service that people pay a monthly fee to use.

  7. Mobile Phone Contracts – Again, just like internet providers, I doubt you will get involved with this as you will need millions to get started, but people pay a monthly subscription fee so that they can use mobile phone networks.

  8. Food & Drink – This is a very popular form of subscription business.

    I am currently paying around $10 to have coffee sent to my daughter once a month. It was part of her Christmas present to go with a coffee machine we bought her. She loves 200° Coffee, a popular high st coffee shop in the UK, and they have a subscription service and so it made sense to get her it.

    People pay monthly subscriptions to have food parcels (ingredients with a recipe), wine, and even pre-cooked food delivered to their door.

  9. Advert Free Version – This is another popular form of subscription business. People pay a small monthly or annual fee to access content without the annoying and distracting adverts.

    I am currently paying a UK television service roughly $60 a year to access their shows and films without the adverts that get in the way. I love it. Plus, as a subscriber, I also get access to exclusive shows and films.

    Online newspapers and websites often offer this service so that readers have a better user-experience and do not have to be ‘bugged’ by adverts constantly popping up all the time.

  10. Courses & Training – This is another popular subscription business model. Many individuals have made a lot of money offering fixed-term training (3 months, 6 months, 1 year) where people pay a monthly fee to learn something specific.

    This covers a lot of niches from watercolour painting to pottery, cooking to growing food. Anything can be turned into a course or training of some sorts.

    I have worked on a couple of these over the years, and they made a lot of money.

  11. Information & Help Services – This can be a great subscription business because what you provide doesn’t need to be a lot.

    People pay to receive information regarding a specific topic.

    Bird watchers pay to be informed of what exotic or rare bird has been spotted, when and where it was spotted.

    Gamblers pay to receive tips on what horses or football games to bet on. I once ran a tipping service which had people paying £9.99 ($12) per week. It ran for nearly two years.

  12. Online Games – This is a HUGE industry right now. There are a lot of gamers around the world who will happily pay to play specific games.

    Unless you are good at developing games or know someone who can, this may not be for you as it may require a fair amount of money to get started with.

    But, it could be worth it as the games industry makes billions of dollars each year.

  13. Health, Fitness & Wellbeing – Again, this is another HUGE industry which is making billions each year.

    People pay to go to gyms and clubs where they exercise and focus on their health, fitness and wellbeing.

    What is great is that a lot of this can now be delivered online through a membership portal where people pay a subscription fee to access training videos, participate in live sessions, download eBooks, audio files, etc.

  14. Tools, Platforms & Services – Tools, platforms, and services is a HUGE industry.

    Anyone who runs an online business will no doubt be paying to use one or several online tools, platforms, or services such as:

    – Sales page and membership platforms (Clickfunnels, Thrivecart, Kajabi, etc).

    – WordPress plugins (Elementor Restricted Content Pro, Memberful, etc).

    – Email responder services (Aweber, Get Response, Mailchimp etc).

    – Search tools (Ahrefs).

    – Subscription and digital selling platforms who make money from sales transactions (Patreon, Substack, Payhip, Gumroad etc).

    This is a growing industry with new tools, platforms, and services being developed every day.

  15. Forums & Communities – As hard as it is to believe, people often pay to be part of a community where they can interact with other people.

    This is similar to courses or online training because people learn things from other people, but where they differ is that they don’t learn from just one or two specific people; they learn from other members.

    Plus they can interact with those, and other members through direct messages or conversations in comment threads below posts.

    A lot of people pay just so they can interact with the community rather than what they can learn from the community.

There’s a lot of good stuff listed above, there may be more ways to make a monthly subscription but I think I have covered most of the methods.

What I haven’t covered in great detail is the amount of topics and subjects that people build a subscription business around.

There are so many, it would take me months to cover.

If you are unsure as to what content people will happily pay a monthly fee for, think about this for a minute… 

There are people who will pay a subscription fee to see women’s feet! 

There are others who will pay a monthly fee to see women smoke cigars and cigarettes.

If that doesn’t tell you all that you need to know, nothing will. 🙂

Until next time.

Have a great day.


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