The Atlantic has one. So does Quartz, The Guardian, and dozens of new media organizations. Over the last year, the number of membership editor positions at digital media publications has exploded. But if you’re like many publishers, you’re probably still wondering what is a membership editor, and what role does the membership editor fill at a digital publication?
At its core, the membership editor position involves identifying and implementing messaging strategies for paying readers (subscribers or members). Driving membership growth is also a key role for membership editors.
The role of membership editor is evolving over time, as more publishers adopt membership strategies for monetization and revenue diversification. While the number of digital publishers transitioning from subscriptions to memberships has risen, the number of membership editors hired to engage those paying readers has increased, as well.
(Read more about how publishers are using membership strategies in this A-to-Z Guide to Membership Programs.)
What Does a Membership Editor Do?
You can’t answer the question of what is a membership editor without getting into what, exactly, this position entails.
Examples of roles that could be filled by a membership editor include:
- Developing engagement strategies for paying readers
- Interacting with members, either digitally or at in-person events
- Creating new ways to drive membership growth
- Identifying creative editorial approaches to keep members interested
- Serving as a liaison between editorial, marketing, and product departments
Membership editors fulfill different duties based on the needs of the publication and how the publication’s membership program is structured. For example, a digital publisher that has just recently launched a membership program might want a membership editor who can market membership products to its readers. A publisher with an established, and successful, membership program might be more interested in hiring a membership editor who can act as a liaison between editorial, marketing, and product departments.
With no clear definition across the board of what the expectations are for a membership editor, media companies are free to answer for themselves what the membership editor position should entail.
Who Makes a Good Membership Editor?
The best membership editors have an interest in both the business side and the editorial side of digital media operations. Membership editors should be able to put together content in the voice and tone of the publication.
Because this role is so new, there are few candidates with previous experience in this exact position. Instead, most publishers are looking for candidates who have editorial or sales experience in a media or publishing environment.
Media organizations like Quartz have placed the role of membership editor into the editorial department. Other publishers see their membership programs aligning more closely with subscriptions and sales, and they are bringing membership editors into their marketing and sales departments. Publishers like BuzzFeed, meanwhile, are placing their membership editors into their audience and distribution teams.
When membership editors are brought into the editorial department they are more connected with the publication’s writers and editors, and they’re in a better position to bounce ideas—like exclusive content packages designed to incentivize membership buy-ins—off the editorial team before implementation.
What do you think? Does hiring a membership editor make sense at your organization? If you’re curious about the impact that a membership editor could have on your membership program, reach out to the experts at Web Publisher PRO for a business evaluation.