If you stumbled upon this article, you have at least heard about Discord or maybe even created a server. And if you've been playing with Discord for a while, you must have fallen in love with the platform just like we have.
Seriously, what's not to love? Discord is a powerful chat platform with audio communication features that allows you to bring together communities, share content, have a chat, and run events. You can spin up a new Discord server in minutes, and anyone can join by creating a free Discord account. And, if you are a creator or an educator (like us), you can use Discord to establish an additional revenue stream and monetize your audience via Premium memberships (or paid subscriptions to your server). Creating profitable ways to participate in the creator economy has just become easier!
But here's the best news of the day. Unlike five years ago, when you had to hire and pay developers to set up a paid discord server, you can now easily do it yourself. How much time and what percentage of your revenue you're prepared to part with to get it done depends entirely on you.
So, in this guide, we'll walk you through all the options for setting up a premium membership in Discord that we're aware of. Ready? Let's dive in!
(By the way, to be 100% transparent, there might be affiliate links in this article. This means we'll get a small commission if you use paid versions of the recommended tools, and it won't cost you a penny more. There, everybody wins.)
What is a premium Discord membership?
A premium Discord membership allows you to sell access to your Discord server. It allows you to create tiers of premium members (e.g., silver, gold, etc.), each with different access levels and perks. For example, you can set up premium channels for premium members only and give premium members exclusive access to giveaways, events, time with you, events, content, and more.
The simplest form of a paid Discord membership is where members can access a paid channel (or channels!) in exchange for a subscription fee. However, you can also set up a premium membership that you offer as a perk along with some other transactions. For example, you can provide exclusive access to your Discord servers to those who purchase your courses, software, books, or newsletter subscriptions. The possibilities are truly endless.
Who can benefit from setting up a premium membership in Discord?
Technically, anyone with an engaged audience ready to pay for the chance to interact with you or each other can benefit from setting up a paid discord community.
For example, many creators who run premium cook groups and financial trade alert groups can use it, and other niche communities can monetize their servers by establishing premium memberships. In addition, YouTube creators can use Discord to post exclusive content.
You can also use premium memberships as part of a larger business model. For example, setting up premium Discord channels could be a great way to encourage more people to sign up for your newsletter, purchase your courses (especially if you host them on Thrivecart and sell them on AppSumo), or subscribe to your services.
Plus, premium memberships can be a great way to reward those who have supported you for the longest time. Offer premium access as a thank-you to your most loyal fans and watch them stay engaged with your content for longer.
What are the challenges of setting up a paid Discord server?
The main challenge of setting up a premium Discord membership was that Discord was not integrating with anything natively until very recently. Discord has historically been a self-contained online community platform focusing mainly on gamers. This is probably why premium memberships or broad integrations have not been on the roadmap for a long time, despite being one of the most requested features.
Sure, Discord has always had bots. But those plugins were initially designed to help moderate large numbers of often-foul-mouthed gamer community members (and manage members as well), not to create a paid Discord group. And if you had enough coding chops to create a bot, you could probably figure out how to create a paid discord server. Alas, for the rest of us, it was impossible.
And yes, Discord launched Nitro and Boosts a few years ago. However, we see those features as a way for Discord to monetize its vast communities of users rather than offer creators tools to launch paid communities.
Thankfully, today, things have changed drastically. We are now spoiled for choice with multiple premium Discord membership solutions (including Discord's native option) that are easy to set up and can be integrated with your existing workflows.
So, let's explore the options you have available!
How to create a premium Discord Membership and set up a paid Discord server
Rather than listing every tool and piece of software that allows you to monetize your own discord server, we've grouped them into methods.
Method #1: Do it manually
Believe it or not, this method is still relevant for many community creators if they need to create a paid group quickly. You can create special roles for premium members and a paid channel (or a few of those!) that these roles can access. You can charge members using Stripe or PayPal payment links (or even crypto!), then ask members who want premium access to screencap their payment confirmation and DM it to you. You then manually assign roles to those who purchased a premium membership.
The main advantage of Method #1 is speed. It takes minimal effort to set it up, and it's often the only way to go if you want premium access quickly.
The downside of this method is that, in addition to manual labor, there's always a risk of mistakes (double payments) or customers feeling insecure because there's no automated process.
Method #2: Use Discord's native Premium Membership feature (if you're in the US, that is)
Discord recently took its new feature of premium memberships out of the beta for US-based creators (Discord calls it "Server Subscriptions"). This feature allows you to charge your Discord users a monthly subscription fee for premium access, while Discord handles the assignment of roles and channels automatically.
The main advantage of this feature is that it allows you to create a paid offer that bundles server and channel access together into a premium membership and do it quickly.
The main downside of this method (other than not being available anywhere other than the US as of the date of this article being published) is that you'll be shelling out 10% of your revenue to Discord for the privilege of not having to deal with roles and channels manually, chasing double payments and worrying about things now working the way they're supposed to.
Method #3: Use 3rd-party tools (and still share your revenue)
Despite launching a native premium membership feature, Discord did not close the doors for 3rd-party software to compete in this space. Here are the most prominent alternatives.
First, Memberful/Patreon. Memberful and Patreon are the same company. Memberful positions itself as a catch-all membership billing and management system that integrates with Learning Management systems like LearnDash and Sensei. Patreon uses its dedicated premium content distribution system. Memberful and Patreon offer a premium Discord Bot that will establish premium channels and roles and sync them with whatever membership tiers you set up in Memberful or Patreon. Additionally, Memberful integrates with Zapier natively.
Second, Launchpass. Launchpass is another 3rd-party solution that takes the pain out of setting up paid discord servers. Differently from Memberful or Patreon, Launchpass integrates with both Slack and Discord. In addition, Launchpass offers an embeddable sign-up widget or a sign-up page where you can add a welcome message. While Launchpass does not seem to integrate with Zapier natively (at least, at the time of this article being written), you should be able to use Stripe triggers.
Lastly, MEE6. MEE6 is one of the oldest and most useful Discord bots out there. Recently, they launched a feature allowing you to set up a paid Discord group. This functionality seems similar to Launchpass, although they do not support only Discord and no other platforms.
The most significant upside of these tools is that they not only mimic but, in many ways, go beyond Discord's native paid membership functionality. In addition, they make it possible to create subscription-based chat communities in many places other than the US.
However, the biggest downside is that you still have to part with revenue (on top of Stripe or PayPal fees!) to run these tools. When this article is written, a Memberful subscription will cost you $25/month + 4.9% of your revenue (for the Pro plan); Launchpass will set you off $29/month + 3.5% of revenue; MEE6 does not charge a monthly subscription fee, but will take 5% of your revenue.
Method #3: Build it yourself with no-code tools (and keep more of your money)
Fortunately, there is an alternative way to set up and fully automate a paid Discord server where you don't have to part with any more revenue on top of Stripe fees. And there's no need to hire developers or be a developer either. Suppose you've ever built a flowchart in PowerPoint (Keynote for us Mac addicts) or used functions in Excel. In that case, you have enough technical knowledge to pull together a simple Discord premium membership.
It's not the quickest method (it takes 4.5 hours from start to finish), but you'll learn no-code automation tools that you'll likely use for years to come as you grow your business and extend your community. Plus, you'll feel ridiculously accomplished because you built something with your hands. Trust us; nothing beats that feeling!
You can learn how to build a paid Discord server with no-code tools like Make by taking the Easy Premium Discord Community course from Easy Automations. This course will teach you how to build a simple premium membership solution where you sell access to premium channels in your Discord server in exchange for a monthly fee. As part of the course, we will give you pre-built and ready-to-implement automation scenarios, and we'll be every step of the way. And the best thing is that once you purchase the course, you will own it forever.
What about other membership platforms?
The creator economy boom has led to an influx of membership platforms such as Mighty Networks and Circle. These platforms were born with paid memberships in mind and have also evolved to include courses, live streaming, and other features. So why do we still stand by Discord? And what does Discord have that none of these new community platforms offer?
The answer is simple. Discord's magic is in the community itself. It's the platform that your audience probably already uses and loves. Discord has always prioritized developing community features over and above anything else. So with Discord, we can be sure that their team will keep innovating in many new ways for our members to connect.
Discord is here to stay, and we can expect more and more communities to join it. Discord is also an excellent platform for creating paid membership communities. There are a few different ways to set this up, and we have outlined the pros and cons of each method. We believe (although we're somewhat biased) that the best option is to build your own paid Discord server with no-code tools (which you can learn by taking our course). This will allow you to keep more revenue while learning tools you'll likely use in the future.
Where can you find more automation tutorials?
Check out the Easy Automations blog for more tutorials on how to build cool stuff with no-code tools.