So you want to create a membership site. Great!
This post will take you through the entire process, step by step, from idea to a website that’s ready to go. But before we get started, let’s talk about what membership sites are.
Definition: a membership site is a website with a specific area for members. Typically, members pay a fee to join the site. Oftentimes there’s a monthly fee, but the fee may also be quarterly, annually, or a one-time payment for lifetime access.
The idea is to create a section of your website that is password protected from the general public. This way you can charge for the content inside.
Pretty simple concept right?
But for some reason, these sites scare the hell out of people. Most people think that in order to maintain a membership site they have to continuously put out new content, month in and month out.
The fact is, you don’t have to. It all depends on the type of site you want to build. So let’s look at some different ideas you can pursue.
Membership Site Ideas
1. Monthly newsletter – No matter what industry you’re in, you can create an electronic newsletter that goes out every month to your customers with new content. The newsletter can be sent out via email.
For this idea you can charge a monthly fee or an annual fee with a discount.
2. Educational Site – This type of membership site consists of core training modules and content that doesn’t need to be updated on a monthly basis. This is great for evergreen markets like the fitness, business, marketing, personal finance or self-help market.
For this site you can charge a one-time fee for lifetime access.
3. Graphics sites – If you know how to design websites and create awesome web graphics you can charge people to have access to your work on a quarterly basis.
You can update your membership site once every 3 months and keep customers without having to worry about creating graphics constantly.
We can come up with many more ideas (like software or web apps), but for now let’s stick with these 3. Most membership sites will fit into the first or second category anyway.
Membership Site Software
Someone asked this question the other day: What’s the best wordpress theme for a membership site?
My answer to that question is YOUR THEME. If you’ve been blogging for a while and you like the theme you’re using, then why change it to create a membership site?
Simply add a protected area to your current website and charge people to have access to it. But in order to do this you need a certain type of membership site software.
I use Premise. Here’s why:
- It works seamlessly with WordPress. (it’s actually a wordpress plugin)
- It integrates with my wordpress theme (it doesn’t create ugly pages that are totally different from what my site looks like)
- It’s super easy to set up and use (I’ll show you how easy it is below)
- It allows you to take one-time payments and recurring payments
- … I won’t go into all the features now, but you can check it out here..
Steps to building your WordPress Membership Site
Invalid LeadPlayer video - ID not found!
Step 1. WordPress website. In order to get started building your first membership site, you’re going to need a website with wordpress installed.
To guide you through the process, I wrote this guide: How to Install WordPress on Bluehost
Step 2. Get Premise. After you order the Premise plugin, simply upload it to your wordpress dashboard and activate it. I’ll guide you through the configuration process in the next step.
Step 3. Enable the “Membership Module”. When you first install Premise the membership feature will be disabled by default.
To enable them go to Premise >> Main Settings >> and check the box “membership module”. Then press Save Settings.
Step 4. Create three New Pages. You’ll need to create these 3 pages in order for Premise to work properly.
- Click “Add New Page” and title the first one CHECKOUT. Add this code to the text editor and press publish. checkout-form
- Click “Add New Page” and title the second one LOGIN. Add this code to the text editor and press publish. login_form
- Click “Add New Page” and title the third one MEMBERS. Add these lines of code to the text editor and press publish.
Important: I didn’t include the brackets because I have Premise enabled on this site, and it would activate the code. But you need to make sure to have open and close brackets like this > [code] < when you publish these pages.
Step 5. Assign the new pages. Go to Member Access >> Settings to assign the pages to the membership module. Here’s what that looks like:
Step 6. Set up the Payment Gateway. Under the same setting option you’ll see the Payment Gateway section. If you’re using Paypal simply get your Username, Password and Signature from your business account and enter the info here.
It’s important to note that your TEST information will not work if the the mode is set to LIVE or vise-versa. When you’re ready to start selling, set it to LIVE.
Step 7. Create a product to sell. You can’t get paid if you don’t have anything to sell. Go to Member Access >> Products >> click on “Create New Product”. Enter all the product details (name, description, price, and access level) then press “Save”.
Once you press save a purchase link will be created. This is where you send your visitors and subscribers after they click on the ORDER button on the sales page. Don’t send the directly here; that would be bad.
Step 8. Start putting together your membership site. Create new pages on your own blog and tag them with the Access Level you created. Only people who have purchased your membership will able to view this pages.
You can create a small series of articles for $10 or full blown training program for $400. It’s totally up to you.
Tools you need: