15 Passion Economy Subscription Marketplace Ideas

André Lopes

19 October 2020

 You are never a commodity when you are being yourself

A few months ago  I wrote about the latest instalment of the web mimicking real-life:  The Passion Economy Marketplace. Within the article, I discussed how it brings local artisans to a global audience – and how that relates to “Homo Deus” – a civilization advancing through a hyper-connected world.

We see broadcasters bring a vast array of individual knowledge and skills to the web.  Reaching a potential audience of over four billion people, and growing, with their specialised fields.

Since I last wrote about The Passion Economy I’ve been thinking about new ideas for underserved sectors within passion economy marketplaces that are ripe for disruption. I’ll cover them in more detail later in this article.

But first, we’ve already seen makers of different crafts sell and gain a following on a range of passion economy platforms. I’ll start with a few examples. 


Examples of Passion Economy Marketplaces


Overcast Podcasting Landing Page

Overcast is one of the most popular podcasting apps on the market. 

Users flock to it for its playback customisation options, ability to organise podcasts & competitive pricing model. 

The popularity of the app makes it easy for creators to distribute podcasts. Creators can also monetise their podcasts through a Patreon or other payment link. 


Substack Landing Page

Substack offers a free newsletter service that’s easy to set up and looks professional. Creators use Substack to build newsletters to share their knowledge with their community. It’s free to use and offers a subscription service so you can monetise your readership. 


Udemy Landing Page

The Google of online courses, Udemy is an online learning platform that allows passion economy creators to share their passions in the form of video lessons. 

Creators can earn money from their videos, with Udemy taking a percentage of every sale. [/vc_column_text][nectar_global_section id=”8975″][vc_column_text]


Skillshare Landing Page

Skillshare also allows passion economy creators to upload video lessons to their communities. They focus more on “creative” lessons. Skillshare teachers can monetise their passion through royalties, referring users to the platform & referring teachers to the platform. 


Etsy Landing Page Passion Economy

Etsy is, arguably, the largest online marketplace for handcrafted items in the world. 

Here, creators can sell anything from handmade jewellery to clothing and home decor. 

Despite these great platforms, I believe there is a blue ocean of new verticals within the passion economy for individuals to bring their skills to the world stage with new, specialized marketplaces in many areas.

SaaS vs Marketplace vs SaaS Marketplace

There’s currently a debate between passion economy creators about choosing to be in a marketplace.

In a digital goods marketplace, like Skillshare or Medium, creators earn a percentage based on the time a paying customer is on his/her content. 

The formula for creators is, therefore: 

x users * monthly fee of the platform * time spent on own content — platform commission. 

This is good in terms of discoverability for new creators. However, big creators with a recognizable name will tend to move to SaaS. This allows them to price their creations themselves and not share their revenue with other creators via time spent.

On a SaaS platform like Substack or Patreon, customers subscribe to a specific creator. This harms discoverability, as they rarely come across other, potentially interesting creators. 

The revenue generation formula is easier to understand and more appealing, especially for well-known passion economy creators. It is simply a monthly fee, decided by the creator, minus the commission charged by the platform they’re using.

The solution I propose is more of a blend: a SaaS Marketplace model. 

This solution would allow for the discoverability that marketplaces provide plus the individual pricing leveraged by the SaaS model. 

A SaaS Marketplace model would provide additional liquidity overall. More customers would try out new creators, on top of subscribing to their own favourites. 

The SaaS Marketplace approach also allows creators to recommend other creators to follow. As well as recommendations based on interests that allow users to filter and discover new creators easily.

Nowadays, the world has gotten used to subscriptions, from Spotify to Adobe, and Birchboxes to Netflix. There are, however, some verticals that are ripe for fresh ideas for the marketplace subscription model. We’ll get to them shortly, but first, it’s important to make sure your project has the potential to become a marketplace.

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Will Your Vertical Fit The Marketplace Model?

It’s important to know if your project has potential as a marketplace.  Namely, you need to know how to create a well-balanced marketplace where you can contact and cajole an initial group of creators. As well as having channels to find willing clients/subscribers. 

There are some more rules of thumb to follow when creating a viable marketplace. As always, you should be mindful of how to build an MVP, as well as the technical partner you choose to help you. 

Commonalities for the Passion Economy Marketplace for Subscriptions:

  1. Constant, unique, streams from unique creators 
  2. Discoverability (users find new creators and vice versa)
  3. Subscriptions for both physical and digital products & get value for money

Passion Economy Subscription Marketplace Ideas:

  1. Remote Healers/Yoga/Pilates etc teachers — holograms coming soon to help? 🙂
  2. Remote Psychologists
  3. Coffee and tea growers worldwide
  4. Winemakers — subscribe for new launches and collectable wines
  5. Craft beer — subscribe for beer bundles
  6. Farm products — subscribe to local producers
  7. Flowers/ Plants — subscribe to growers
  8. Chefs — subscribe to local chefs on specific days of the week
  9. Games — subscriptions to get the latest instalments of a specific game
  10. Musicians — Get bundles, latest songs and interact with artists
  11. Writers- Get bundles, latest novels and interact with authors
  12. Forest regeneration — Subscribe forest regenerators and have CO2 credits to your name
  13. Education — Subscribe to classes from specific teachers or fund classes for others
  14. Shoemakers — subscribe for periodic shoes tailored to season + taste + size
  15. Collectables of all sorts — Such as card games. Magic the Gathering anyone?

Other Subscription Marketplace Ideas

These aren’t passion economy ideas but are still ripe for subscription models.

  1. GP Medicine via your own insurance policy
  2. Hotels nights (one or many hotel brands)
  3. Flight miles (one or many airlines)
  4. Cinema — Subscribe to plans to access cinema + streaming
  5. Car subscriptions (all brands)
  6. Renewables — Subscribe to boutique renewable energy producers that provide your energy from known sources
  7. Magazines and newspapers — subscribe to different media all via 1 platform
  8. Pet Food — subscribe to get it at home in the right quantity and periodicity and seasonal treats
  9. Clothes — subscribe to get seasonal lines of products on your size+taste

Do you have any ideas for other topics ripe for a subscription marketplace intervention to bring creators closer to users? I’m sure there’s many, feel free to comment. If you do I’ll edit the article to enter contributions.

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André Lopes
Andre has a wealth of experience in the Startup scene, having created Table & Friends, a social restaurant reservation system back in 2011. Since the start of Altar.io, he’s been involved in helping clients in a broad range of sectors such as Marketplaces, Travel and Education.

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