Hello there, let’s learn.
In this article you will learn what a membership site is & why you should start one.
If you want to jump ahead to a particular section, by all means:
What is a Membership Site?
Membership sites are all the rage right now (so trendy!) but what are they exactly? A membership site is essentially a guarded, password protected website that houses some type of content. Instead of having one password for everyone to use, you have users! Membership sites aren’t new – think about basically any website you have an account on – facebook, target, your kid’s preschool portal. These are all membership sites.
A membership site can either be your sole source of income, ie: your site is the ONLY money maker (and guys, there are so many ways to monetize a membership site…) OR it can be another one of your many streams of income. There’s no one way to build a membership site – although I believe there are key pages all successful membership sites contain.
Now that we’ve identified what a membership site is: a guarded place for your content; we can talk about whether or not you should start one & what yours might look like.
What kinds of business models work for membership sites?
Believe it or not, nearly any business model can be translated into a membership site – it’s all about how you creatively organize your content and structure your membership levels.
The important part is you need to have some sort of online content or features that can be privatized to your members.
I’ve built & seen membership sites that are beyond courses. Here are some examples:
The Intentional Book Club*
A space for users to find children’s books. They set preferences, receive book recommendations and have access to some protected printables and other resources. There is not a course focus – it’s about protecting the features.
Mommies Hiring Mommies*
A directory for mom-owned businesses. Members have the opportunity to submit their business listing to the directory, interact with potential clients, submit job and event listings and more. As above, the exclusivity lies in the access to the features, not necessarily “content”.
Clean Food, Dirty Girl
A repository of weekly meal guides, recipes, etc. Users get access over time to different meal prep guides and other resources. These aren’t courses, they are download and print resources.
Weight Loss for Doctors Only*
A drip style set of courses. Users join and receive instant access to the first module & sub-content. Over time, they gain access to more content and receive emails letting them know a new module has opened up to them. Current users also have access to an exclusive Q&A form to interact with the leader directly.
*developed by me
What should my membership site be about?
As alluded to above, you can protect any type of content – or features on your membership site. It’s all just about how creative you’re willing to be.
Here’s how I see it. If you’ve been a blogger and you have built up a community that loves to read your blog posts, you can create a membership site where you protect certain blog posts & offer a monthly subscription for access to these posts.
If you’re a fitness expert and you create youtube videos with exercises for your community, you can create a membership site where you protect your exclusive exercise class videos.
Literally any type of content can be protected on your site!
- Written content – your written content can be hosted on pages and those pages can have restrictions on them related to the membership levels. For example, if your Platinum members should receive access to your written tutorials on how to build out a sales funnel, you would write and format that content on a page and protect it to those members!
- Protected downloads – All of my top recommended membership plugins offer the ability to protect pieces of downloadable content. The ONLY way someone can download it, is if they are of that membership type.
- Video content – videos seem to be what trips most people up when it comes to building out their membership site. Guys, make it easy for yourself. You don’t HAVE to host your videos on your website (in fact, I strongly advise against it because you’re sucking up your own available space & slowing down your site).Instead, I recommend using an external video hosting platform and setting those videos to UNLISTED (ie: no one can find them unless they have the direct link or it is embedded into your site directly). You can do that through Vimeo or Youtube.Another option is to use AWS, Amazon’s digital media hosting.
- Protected features – You may want to have a combination of content and protected features (or maybe no content at all). There are more features than I could possibly describe in this single article, but I want to give you an idea of some features you could protect in a membership site.
- a content hosting platform – your users have access to a submission form & account to submit their content to your site. For example, your website may be focused on the health industry and your members are health professionals. When they create an account (and pay the monthly fee) they are given access to the submission form and can submit blog posts and articles to the main site.
- a progress tracking platform – your users have access to progress tracking you have either created or built up using available WordPress plugins. For example, your membership site may focus on pregnancy progress and your users have access to record their progress over time.
- an online community (your own social network) – your users pay for access to a private community where they can interact with other users, this would work best if the website had a very specific niche keeping users excited to stay in the membership and engage on your platform.
How can I get started?
I won’t say “getting started is easy!” because that would be a lie. Building a membership site takes time, it takes strategic planning and bonafide effort and skills. I have built a business myself creating membership sites for my clients – ones that blow your mind and are unlike anything you’ve ever seen.
You’ll want to start with addressing those first few questions: what do you want your membership site to be about? what type of content do you want to host on your site? what do your membership levels look like? do you want this to be a free, paid or mixed space?
I help my fellow techies build sustainable, organized, and beautiful WordPress membership sites through my course Membership Mechanics. This is a high level tech course that you’d either want to hand off to your tech support team or if you possess the tech skills, set aside time to work through and follow.
If you’re looking to learn to build membership sites for your clients, read the little blurb below!
Note to the Techies
Are you building a membership site for your client? If you’re working on a membership site project, you’ll want to make sure your client understands what they want their site to look like (what kind of content, the membership levels, etc).
Something I’ve discovered is many of my clients have big dreams and visions for their membership space – and the organizational piece is the hardest part. Send them this article to read to get their wheels turning!