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Text subscription service: How to start one step-by-step [examples]

Learn how to set up a text subscription service and get paid for your exclusive content.

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If Patreon’s growth over the last few years is any indicator, people are looking for new ways to interact with their favorite creators — and they’re willing to pay for it.

One often-overlooked channel for monetizing content is text subscription services where you exchange exclusive content via SMS to paying customers.

It doesn’t require your followers to download or sign up for a third-party app, and they can engage with you in a more personal way than traditional social media channels.

  • Nearly everyone has a cell phone (97% of Americans, if we’re being technical), many of which are outfitted with text messaging capabilities.
  • Because SMS has an average open rate of 98%, setting up a paid texting subscription service is a surefire way to keep your followers engaged.

Social media strategist Sydney McDonald discovered how lucrative texting can be when she set up her texting subscription service for daily social media trend reports. The service now earns her more than $4,000 every month.

sydney mcdonald creating content for her text subscription service

What if you don’t have thousands of followers like Sydney? She said that because it’s a service that you grow from the ground up, you can grow your social media following along with it.

I’ll walk you through the exact process Sydney used to create her texting subscription, plus ideas and tips to get you started.


📖 Recommended reading: 50+ must-know texting & SMS marketing statistics in 2024

What is a text subscription service?

Text subscription platforms help you collect phone numbers so you may text your audience. SimpleTexting is an example of an SMS provider.

Businesses offer text subscription services to share valuable insights via text messages (delivered through an SMS provider). You may charge subscribers to receive your text messages.

You’ll do four things to start your text message subscription:

  1. Choose a topic.
  2. Set up your SMS and payment software.
  3. Set up autoresponder messages.
  4. Promote your new subscription.

1. Pick a topic that aligns with your audience’s needs and interests

What do people ask for your advice or opinion on? What are the top challenges that you can help them overcome? 

Pick a texting subscription topic that you could talk about for hours. The last thing you need is to run out of content ideas when you’ve built up a customer base.

Need a jumping-off point? You could start a texting service for:

  • Daily/weekly inspiration
  • Personalized coaching and advice
  • Access to exclusive content
  • A first look at your new products or services
  • Industry trends and forecasts
  • Meal and workout plans

You can even offer subscription tiers with varying levels of content, so your audience can choose the tier that fits best with their interests and budget.

2. Choose an SMS platform and payment processor.

Next, you’ll need an SMS platform that’s built for sending mass texts and having one-on-one conversations, as well as a payment processor that allows for recurring monthly payments.

Sydney McDonald, who I mentioned earlier, uses SimpleTexting for SMS (try it free for 14 days if you’re curious about how it works) and Stan* for payment processing.

→ Check out my list of the nine best SMS marketing platforms to see how they stack up.

As you’re looking for these two platforms, make sure you can integrate them with each other to save you time. For example, you could integrate SimpleTexting with Stripe to automatically add new customers created in Stripe as contacts in SimpleTexting.

A diagram showing the integration of Stripe's payment processing with a text subscription service, where 'Trigger Payment' leads to 'Create Contact,' indicating an automated workflow for subscription-based transactions.
Zapier integrates payment processors with text subscription services like SimpleTexting.

Importation note about industry regulations: Even though your contacts are signing up for a texting subscription service, you’ll still need to follow SMS compliance regulations. This will help ensure everyone who receives your messages knows what they’re signing up for and can easily unsubscribe if they change their minds. Our compliance guide has everything you need to know before you send your first text.

3. Set up your autoresponders

Time to welcome new contacts to your texting list! With our Autoresponder feature, you can create a series of automated messages that each contact receives after they pay and are added to your contact list.

Let’s say you’re a personal trainer who wants to start a three-month workout text subscription service. 

First, you’ll need to set up a welcome message to thank your contacts for joining and let them know what to expect.

Then, you can schedule out a series of two text messages per week that include workout instructions and fitness tips. Our autoresponders provide you with the option to send the message immediately or to delay it from the date when the contact joined.

Screenshot of scheduling an autoresponder for a text subscription service

If you’re planning on sending content that can’t be scheduled that far in advance, like trends or new product alerts, you can still automate your messages. 

For instance, Sydney McDonald writes her daily social media trend text messages each night and schedules them for the next morning. That way, her contacts get the trends on time and she doesn’t have to manually send the text.

4. Promote your texting subscription service

Now for the best part — sharing your new text message subscription service with your audience!

Where you promote it depends on where you already engage with your followers, but you can share it in: 

  • Social media posts and bios
  • Video content
  • Email newsletters

You can also ask brand partners or content creators you’ve collaborated with if they’ll share your texting subscription service with their audience.

Pro tip: Draw more contacts in by posting a free preview of the kinds of texts they’ll receive when they become a contact.

5 ways to use a text subscription service

There is a lot of value to be gained from an SMS subscriber list if you can convince potential and existing clients to sign up for a text subscription service. With the mobile numbers you’ve gathered from your lead generation activities, you can make SMS marketing messages that really speak to your target audience.

Here are a few examples.

Flash sales and discounts

Provide a service or sell a product? Spread the word to your current and potential customers if you’re having a flash sale or offering a promo code. Customers can be prompted to buy sooner rather than later by using drip campaigns, in which they get a series of communications at regular intervals.

Thanking first-time buyers with a discount is a terrific way to show appreciation, send a powerful message, and increase the likelihood that they will become repeat buyers.

The “LASHFLASH” discount code offered by Benefit Cosmetics is an excellent example of this. It rhymes, it’s catchy, and it has something to do with the discounted mascaras.

A promotional text message from Benefit Cosmetics on a smartphone screen, offering a 24-hour flash sale with 50% off all full-size mascaras, showcasing how text subscription services can be used for timely marketing and sales promotions.

Loyalty club offers

Customers today want to be rewarded for their continued patronage, so launching a loyalty program is a smart move. Freebies (or points), a VIP discount, loyalty points, or other incentives might be offered via text message marketing, depending on the nature of your business.

If you fly frequently for work or pleasure, you should definitely sign up for an airline’s reward program. While most airlines provide some sort of rewards program, Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan has been recognized for excellence.

Customers may earn miles, take advantage of award travel, and reach the highest level of elite status (MVP) with Alaska’s Mileage Plan more quickly than any other airline.

Alaska Airlines makes it simple and quick for its customers to receive special treatment, such as two free checked bags and preferred seats.

A promotional image for Alaska Airlines' Mileage Plan, showing a picturesque beach with palm trees and a clear sky. Accompanying text invites viewers to join the loyalty program, emphasizing the perks of travel and MVP elite status, indicative of the benefits offered through text subscription services.

Abandoned cart

Customers may visit your site with great anticipation, load up their shopping carts, and close the page for any reason. Customers may return to complete their purchases if they get a single abandoned cart SMS message within 48 hours. However, they should be used rarely. Limit yourself to a single message per shopping cart or time frame.

Take a cue from Knix and include a feeling of urgency in your abandoned cart message as they did in this SMS. The company reminds the customer that the product they have put in their basket is in high demand and may be sold out when they return to the store. The message is succinct yet clear.

A notification of an abandoned cart on a smartphone text message from Knix, urging the recipient to complete their purchase of a popular item before it sells out, highlighting the use of text subscription services for e-commerce engagement.

SMS surveys

Direct customer input is vital for brands. Are your clients satisfied with the services you offer? Was their previous interaction with your brand positive? Would they suggest you to a friend?

SMS surveys allow you to ask clients for their honest opinions so you may tweak your approach and ensure you’re meeting their demands. 

Google provides surveys to users following their interactions with your agent to ensure they are happy with their exchanges. You may send surveys inside the context of a discussion if you wish to gather data at a different time, such as at the conclusion of one. Users can respond to surveys that appear in the discussion with a range of alternatives based on the question.

Tracking updates

Each of us has placed an order and then anxiously awaited its arrival, checking shipment status numerous times a day. Customers may be kept up-to-date on shipping status by SMS so they don’t have to go looking for it themselves. Sending these notifications shows your enthusiasm and willingness to keep customers informed while they await the arrival of their purchases.

Create your SMS subscription service today

Starting a paid text subscription service can give you another revenue stream and a new channel where you can interact with your audience. 

All you have to do is to find a topic you’re passionate about, create valuable content, and engage with your contacts. Oh, and choose an SMS marketing tool that makes automating texts and managing contacts ridiculously easy (I’m just going to leave this 14-day free trial here). 

If you have any questions about setting up a texting subscription service, reach out to our team seven days a week by clicking on the blue chat button at the bottom of your screen.

This article was originally published March 16, 2023. It was updated and revised August 30, 2023. Agnee Ghosh and Nathan Ellering contributed to this piece.

Drew Wilkinson
Drew Wilkinson

Drew Wilkinson is the Head of Marketing at SimpleTexting. Drew has more than a decade of experience managing successful integrated marketing programs to build brands, raise awareness, and generate demand.

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