Case studies

How to generate recurring revenue with a meal plan membership program

Sarah had a loyal fan base who loved her for her easy-to-make recipes, habit-busting advice, and tongue-in-cheek videos.

But despite sizeable followings on social media and her blog, she didn’t know how much she’d be making next month, let alone in six months.

Her dream was to make this her full-time gig, but it felt like it was slipping away.

Some of the problems we heard were:

“The eBook is doing OK, but it's a lot of effort to make sales.”
“Pinterest is following Facebook and pushing paid [content]… I'm getting less traffic than ever.”
“Instagram are constantly adding features, I can’t keep up. When reels came out, I was like [shooting head action]”.
“I’m sick of writing for Google and SEO!”

Sarah was tired of dancing to the tune of the social media giants and search algorithms. Something had to change.

Fortunately, it did.

What are friends for?

One of Sarah’s friends – a fellow blogger – said she should start her own membership program.

It aligned nicely with the nutrition and lifestyle advice she already provided, and could generate a reliable income.

Fast-forward to the present day and Sarah has done just that. But she didn’t dive straight in.

How to pre-sell BEFORE you build

Before Sarah invested any significant time or money, she wanted to check if her community actually wanted it. That meant trying to pre-sell.

Here’s what she did.

#1: Get to know their problems

Several people had already mentioned that they struggle with knowing what to cook in the week, so Sarah direct messaged them to learn more.

Sarah then posted in her Facebook group saying that she’s thinking about creating a meal planning program to help – it will include new recipes, customizable plans, and live Q&As each month – who's interested?

The response was surprisingly positive, but she didn’t stop there.

Sarah went on to ask what people would like to see in the program and why, and how much people would be willing to pay (answers ranged from "what, it's not free?!" to over $20 a month).

#2: Create a waitlist and offer

Using the information she gathered, Sarah created a basic 'coming soon' page with ConvertKit, and sent it to her entire email list.

Within a matter of days, nearly 200 people signed up to the waitlist.

An example 'coming soon' page (Source)

Every sign-up got a personal email or DM from Sarah, with a 50% discounted offer if they signed-up as an early bird customer (just $4.50 per month, instead of $9), and a Stripe link to take payment.

Side note: if you don't have a large email list, then you can also run paid ads to your landing page. This is how we tested the idea for Member Kitchens.

#3: Build a 'minimum viable' program

Once Sarah had a handful of paying customers (12 in total, but your number could be different) she went ahead and created the first version of her membership program, keeping it as simple as possible.

This included:

  • A new sign-up page, built on WordPress.
  • Checkout and subscriptions managed with ThriveCart.
  • Private Facebook group for paying members to host live Q&As (they kept their free group too).
  • Recipe and meal planning app, using Member Kitchens.
  • A Zapier integration, to connect everything together.

Once everything was setup and prepped, Sarah invited her early-bird members and trialled the program for about two months.

#4: Get feedback and improve

Throughout the trial, Sarah ran a series of video calls to get feedback on what people liked and didn’t like, as well as asking for testimonials.

Based on all of this, Sarah made a few tweaks to her program, and updated the marketing website with the testimonials.

Ready for liftoff 🚀

Confident that people were finding the membership program useful, and willing to pay for it, Sarah began promoting it to her social media followers, email list, and Facebook group.

The result?

Nearly 50 people signed up over the launch weekend at full price ($9 per month) – that's close to $450 monthly recurring revenue.

Followed by a steady stream of sign ups over the next few weeks and months.

And here's what Sarah had to say:

“This is exactly what I needed… As traditional food blogging continues to change and become even more competitive, being able to offer a low dollar, yet high value product, like this, is only going to become more important."
"Again, THANK YOU to you and your team for creating this!”

Take Member Kitchens for a spin?

You can try Member KItchens for free or contact us to get answers to your questions, and find out how you can start and grow your own meal planning subscription.

This case study is based on two people's experiences, and their names have been changed. The events and quotes are real.