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Open/Closed or Always-Open: Which to use for your offerings?

Updated: Jan 20

I get this question a lot: Should I have my offering always for sale or should I have it only on a limited basis?

The answer is the annoying “it depends,” but that’s what we’re talking about in this episode because it can be tricky. You can use either model for almost any offering you have, but there are definitely times when you would want to use a specific one.

I’m digging into the details and even sharing how I’ve changed this for one specific offering several times and what I you can make the best decision for you. Let’s dig in!

Open/Closed Model vs. Always Open Model

First we need to define what the differences are between the two models.

"Open/Closed" Model

An "open/closed" model means that there are only certain times when someone can join the membership, buy the course, or whatever the offering is. There's a time frame (usually around 1 or 2 weeks) where it's available for purchase or registration, but then the "doors close" and it's no longer available after a certain date.

There are both pros and cons to this model.


  • Sense of urgency

  • Smoother onboarding (how you welcome people in)

  • Easier when you have a community included

  • Easier marketing schedule


  • If someone wants in, they can’t always get in right away

  • This doesn’t work for all audiences (for example: infertility, prenatal yoga, anything on a specific timeline or where it wouldn't make sense for the person to wait to join)

This model works great for:

  • Class series

  • Private session spots

  • YTT programs

  • Memberships

"Always Open" Model

An "always open" model means that the doors to the offering are always open so someone can join at anytime, whenever it works for them.


  • When someone is ready to join, they can

  • Ability to increase revenue each month


  • No sense of urgency to join

  • Onboarding is a little tougher if you want to make a personal connection

  • Marketing is much harder because it’s easier to forget

This model is great for:

  • Pre-recorded bundles of classes

  • Weekly classes

  • On-demand workshops

  • Memberships

Yes, memberships is on both lists because it can work for both which is why I ended up trying both for my membership, Thrive.

Think about what your offering is, who it is you serve, and know what they need. Then look at the pros and cons and figure out which model is best for your offering.

**This was also a podcast episode (episode #140). Use the player below if you'd prefer to listen to this message.

Why I Tried Both Options With My Membership & What I Learned

Open/Closed Model

This is where I started when I first opened a membership back in 2019.

I opened the doors to Founding Members for a period of 2 weeks and welcomed 37 Founding Members. I’m honored to say that I still have some of those original Founding Members too - what an honor! There was such excitement when I first opened the doors and I could really focus in with my marketing for that initial launch.

Several months later I opened the doors again, doubled my membership numbers, and grew the membership to over 70 members. Again, such an honor and it was easier to market the membership for a set number of days.

This was hands down the best way to open my membership and how I would encourage most (not all but most) people to open a membership. Especially if you want to have “founding members," it’s important to have an open/closed model at least to start. You can always make it always-open later.

For the first two launches of my membership and countless other launches of courses and offerings like group coaching, etc. the open/closed model works really well. What I love about them is that there is a start and an end date to the heavy marketing period. If you’ve ever put time and effort into a launch you know how much goes into it so having a distinct date to start and finish is a big deal!

But…the big kicker that will come up for anyone is “I wonder if this should always be open?” For this reason I decided to try an always-open model a year after using the open/closed model.

Always-Open Model

Curiosity got the best of me, plus I was fielding questions about “can I join the membership” so I decided to give it a try.

The biggest lesson I learned about this was it’s much harder to do the marketing for an always-open offering for one reason: It’s easier to forget to market the offering!

We often think “they know” when it comes to what we have as offerings but the truth is, no one is paying that much attention and they have no idea until you tell them. So you have to remember to do the marketing - and by that I mean you have to schedule a “launch” even when something is always open. If you don’t plan a promotion, it won’t happen.

My suggestion with this is to plan a quarterly promotion for your offering that’s always open. Maybe it’s a membership or maybe it’s a pre-recorded bundle of classes, a book you wrote, or your private sessions. If something is always available technically, it’s critical that you plan a promotion on a regular basis to ensure you’re selling the thing. My suggestion is quarterly, but you can find the frequency that works for you.

How To Know When To Change

I wouldn’t suggest changing this too frequently or else your audience will be confused, but you can test out different methods. It also depends on what the offering is as well.

My example of a membership that started as an open/closed model worked great for a year and after that I had a good sense of who my members were and what went into maintaining the membership. So after a year of doing launches every few months I was ready to try something else.

However, if you have a low-priced pre-recorded bundle that you launch for 2 weeks, take it off your website, then try a different type of launch a few months later. You could turn it into an always-open offering within a few months or you could test different ideas for a year and then pick which one you prefer and turn it into an always-open offering.

Overall, you want to test things but don’t always be testing or else you will always be tired of marketing.

The other time you will know it’s time to make a change is when you hear from your students and the writing's on the walls from them. This is the voice you want to listen to loud and clear! And what leads me to my announcement:

Why I Changed The Model For My Membership

I landed on an open/closed model for my membership and the reason is because my members and potential members told me this…even though they didn’t know it. Let me explain:

They said “Sometimes I feel lost”

This had some to do with the way the content is presented and of course I have updated this as well but this can be addressed with onboarding. The onboarding I have for Thrive is automated and that won’t change, but now there’s more involved. It’s not just emails and videos anymore…now there will be a New Member Welcome Party where new members can introduce themselves, meet other Thrivers, and ask questions about where to get started or anything else they have about Thrive.

I couldn’t do welcome parties for each person who joined the membership when it was always open because that wouldn’t make sense, but I can when there is a cohort of people who join at one time. And I can’t wait for the first New Member Welcome Party!

But before you go and create a Welcome Party for your membership, make sure this is something your members would want. Most yoga memberships do not need a community element so that means the welcome party wouldn’t make sense either. This only matters if community is part of your offering. You don’t need to waste time and energy on this if no one will show up or want this as part of the offering.

They said it with their wallets

That’s right: the data proved to me that an open/closed model worked better for me than an always-open model.

Please note that I have almost 3 years of data with this now, I’ve been consistent with tracking the data, and I’ve tried several things to do this comparison. And the results are: when I have an open/closed launch I enroll more members in Thrive AND they stay longer typically. So these aren’t vanity numbers at all, they are real people, but I have the numbers to back up the business decision.

So when people talk with their words AND their wallets, it’s time to listen.

I’m also making this change because I want to show up 100% for my members as the membership grows. Let me explain:

I want my energy focused on membership activities, not as much marketing

That’s right, even loving marketing like I do, I don’t want to always be “on” when it comes to launching and marketing. It’s exhausting and takes lots of energy.

I started to notice towards the end of 2021 that I didn’t have the same level of energy I once had. Could the members tell? I never heard anything about this, but I could feel it and I wanted to catch it before it got worse. So I scaled back on the frequency of a few things, which you probably didn’t notice, but focused that energy back into Thrive and Thrive grew in many ways because of it too which was a fun benefit. This told me that if I went back to an open/closed model it would massively benefit the members and that’s always what I want.

I want SUSTAINABLE growth, not just “growth”

Just like you, I want to grow my business but I don’t want it to come at the expense of my sanity, and that’s what can happen if you’re always marketing.

After almost 4 years in business I know what’s better for my mental health when it comes to marketing and launching. It’s better for me to have dedicated time where I show up fully for a launch and then the rest (the majority) of the time, I’m showing up for my members.

Overall, I can show up as the best version of Amanda the Founder with an open/closed membership model, so that’s what I’m doing.

Your next step

Take a look at your offerings and think about them in the context of open/closed or always-open. Which is best for you, your students, and your energy right now? If you need to make a change, decide on a date, make the message clear, and move forward knowing you can change it back if you want to later. Nothing is set in stone when you’re running your own business.

Until next time, give yourself permission to change things if you need to and grace along the way.

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"Think about what your offering is, who it is you serve, and what they need. What is best for you, your students, and your energy right now?" - Amanda McKinney



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