Memberships and communities aren’t necessarily the same thing.
You can create a membership program, which offers an ongoing delivery of value for a recurring fee.
Or, you can create a community, which is a gathering of people sharing similar values, goals, or identities.
Or, you could do both. They each have unique pros and cons for your business.
Regardless of what you choose, it’s important you don’t conflate the two as it may impact how you decide to build them.
Sometimes, people want access to content or resources but aren’t looking to connect with others.
Other times, people value connection to their peers and other contacts more than any content or service you may provide.
If you aren’t clear on what you’re building—i.e. the job to be done—you may end up over-optimizing on one side and under-optimizing on areas that matter more.
Build a community or build a membership. Or do both. Just treat them as different things and you’ll have better luck succeeding at both/either.
Know the job to be done—for you and your members.