How to transition to a paid membership type community?

I own a camping and hiking information website. It gets a fair amount of traffic each day from SEO, and as well is known in the local area of being a good resource for this type of information.

I would love to try to implement some paid features that would create a rich community, such as a question area, forum type discussion, trip planner, etc. The thing I am struggling with is how to exactly ensure enough value is driven from these community based features. At first, there will be no paid members and in turn people might be disappointed if the do happen to purchase a membership as there will be a lack of community content.

Does anyone have any suggestions for doing this sort of transition? The best I can think of is just to add in these features for free at first then eventually transition to paid once the content is built up.

Thanks in advance for any thoughts.

I just launched a few weeks ago and was wondering the same thing. I had everything available for free at first, but wanted to monetize it a bit.

I worked on a few new features - 2 new resume templates and two new editing options - and added those under a paywall. It wasn't much, but I also promised people who upgraded new exclusive features weekly. At least for, that worked pretty well. I got many more sales than I was expecting, and it seems people who bought it right away were not disappointed even though there weren't many paid features.

So maybe start small - add a few features for paid users, then just keep adding features and raising the price. Let users know that by paying, they will continue to get exclusive features, and they are also supporting the project/website/community. For many people, that will be enough to start, and as you add more paid features, more people should think it's worth the price and will be more willing to pay.

Yeah you want to make sure you're offering value so provide it free of charge first. Only start charging when it's worth paying for.

That's how #wip paid memberships started too. Same for @levelsio's #NomadList, and many other paid communities.