People are used to creating websites to promote a product or service. However, did you know that one of the best means of promotion is not purely through advertising, but rather through the creation of a community? That’s where a membership website comes into play. Membership websites are a great way to engage passionate people that are interested in testing your new product or service. Perhaps more importantly they are also interested in sharing the results of this testing with their friends and family which is a great method of promotion.
Understanding Membership Models
Before you get started in creating your membership website, it’s important to understand the membership model you’d like to offer to your patrons. There are quite a few different options available, but fortunately you can use multiple models so that your prospective consumers have lots of choice. Regardless of the style of membership model you choose, it is best to register a web domain from a registrar first so that you can brand your site appropriately. Here are some of the different membership options you might want to consider.
Content updates are commonly used, membership models. The content update membership model allows members to pay you for continuous access to the content on your site for the duration of their subscription. Examples of content update models would be giving your subscribers monthly, weekly or daily tips about a specific topic.
Content libraries are great for offering content that has already been published. With an active membership, subscribers have access to content you’ve published in the past for the duration of their membership. In this instance, you could offer past and current content for a higher membership fee.
The group coaching membership model is great if you’re a consultant or coach or aspiring to become one. You can use this membership model to help grow your business. Subscriptions can occur weekly or monthly for different subscription offers.
The personal service membership model is great for hobbies and side gigs. If you’re a musician, you may offer music lessons using this membership model. You can specify specific terms for the membership and disclose the price and what they can expect once they pay for the membership.
If you have more than one product or service to offer, the product bundle membership model is ideal. This membership model allows you to provide multiple products and services with one membership, which offers better value to your subscribers.
The Way Forward with Membership
Now while all of this might sound interesting to you, you’re probably asking yourself how you get started? Registering your website with a registrar is the first step in the process as that will give you a public domain name. Once you’ve got that in place you need to move on to the software you plan to use. The key here is to keep things simple, while at the same time selecting a platform that will grow with your business.
Choosing membership software and tools can be a daunting task because there are a variety of options, and you want to select the best tools and software for your membership site. The trick to finding the best software and tools for your membership website is to figure out which features you need.
WordPress and Your Membership Website
Domain names are not that expensive. They range from $9.99/year to $14.99/year depending on the extension you choose. Web hosting packages are similarly quite cost effective depending on your selected registrar. In some cases they even offer free SSL certificates for your site which gives your domain name the security that it needs. Once you have all three of these in place, you can move onto the software that your site will sit on.
When it comes to membership websites, you cannot go wrong with WordPress. This software package is available from most if not all domain registrars and often comes for free with domain hosting. Once you have your domain host setup and WordPress installed, you can use one of the many powerful membership plugins that WordPress offers to get your site setup. There are many different plugins available so make sure that you check out the features available with each before you spend money purchasing them.
Setting Up Your WordPress Site
One of the most popular and well-known options is MemberPress so let’s look at how you go about setting this up on your WordPress site. Once you have your WordPress site setup, you simply need to navigate to the Plugins directory and do a search for MemberPress. Once you find this plugin, click on install to add it to your site and then go to the options page to get it configured.
The Options section is where you configure MemberPress so that it works properly. Most of the options presented are fairly self explanatory, but some that you need to pay special attention to are:
Payment Methods – included by default with MemberPress is the ability to use Paypal for payments. If you want to use alternative methods of payment, you need to configure them in this area of the site.
Membership Levels – this section is critical in determining what your visitors are entitled to access and see. You can select multiple different levels but for each one you will need to configure appropriate permissions. You can then link these membership levels to different rules for content access and then tie these rules to a specific expiration period.
Publishing Member Only Content
Once you have your plugin enabled on your site, the next step in the process is creating content that is available to those paying members. With WordPress this is extremely easy as you can create a specific category that matches the rule you created earlier. As you create specific posts you can categorize them against different rules so that your content is only available to your paying customers.
Membership websites are great if you have an audience eager and willing to pay for content. In addition, if you have the content already available, it’s a good way of sharing it in a fresh manner ensuring audiences are engaged. Focus on simplicity with your goals and ambitions as well as looking for tools and resources that will grow with you and your business.