It’s great to give readers something for free, but membership sites give visitors something more valuable.
Building a membership business doesn’t have to be complicated. WordPress has everything necessary to create professional membership sites.
Boost revenue and sell valuable resources straight through your WordPress site by adding in a few extra features and plugins.
Membership Site Basics
Membership sites allow businesses to sell digital content and services. Members can sign up for a set period to access restricted areas of the site. You can change permissions on the site to allow for varying membership levels on a single WordPress site. Payments are accepted through your site via your desired payment method, such a PayPal or credit card. Non-members are only able to access free content, such as blog posts or product announcements.
Takeaway: Membership businesses are extremely popular and offer an easy way to increase business profits. Site visitors are eager to sign up to gain exclusive content and services. WordPress developers are highly knowledgeable on how to set up both basic and advanced WordPress member sites.
Types Of Membership Sites
While there are really no restrictions to the type of membership site you create, the majority fall into five different types. Each has its own benefits. The one you choose to create depends on solely on what you wish to sell and offer to members. The most common types include:
- Courses – Sell access to educational courses complete with exclusive course materials, lessons, videos and even forums for students to interact.
- Periodical Content – Sell access to regularly uploaded content such as articles, tutorials, podcasts, videos and ebooks. This is the most common type.
- Evergreen Content – Sell access to previously created content a little at a time once a member signs up. This requires creating a larger content base to before signing up members.
- Downloads – Sell access to special members only downloads such as software, ebooks, videos and more.
- Community – Sell access to a moderated community for members to discuss topics related to your business. This requires an existing visitor base to create a thriving a community and the business will need to be involved in the community discussions.
Each of these types can be set up for a pre-defined period or lifetime. You can also restrict access to different levels, such as only offering certain downloads for standard members and additional downloads for premium members. Businesses can customise these membership types as much as they want to fit their business model.
Takeaway: Take the time before setting up a membership business to decide what you want to sell, create the necessary material and developer a membership structure. This makes building the site much easier. Plus, if you hire a WordPress developer, they’ll have an easier time turning your vision into reality.
Using Membership Plugins
One of the easiest ways to build a membership business with WordPress is by installing plugins specifically designed for this purpose. These plugins add all the membership features you need without drastically re-designing your site. They add features such as password protected material, membership levels, discounts, shopping carts, course creation and much more. Some plugins are free while others require a one-time, monthly or yearly fee.
Each membership plugin has its own unique feature set. Choose a plugin that includes all the features your membership site will need. If you can’t find one that does it all, hire a WordPress developer to build a custom plugin for your WordPress site. Most WordPress member sites utilize one of the following six plugins:
- Membership – Available in a free lite version and fee based pro version. It offers forums, protected areas, membership levels, resource areas and more.
- S2Member – Available in different licensing structures. The highly configurable plugin offers protected content, integration with Amazon S3/CloudFront, accept payments, add discounts and more.
- Paid Memberships Pro – The plugin is completely free, but will cost $97 for additional support from the developers. It offers all basic membership features and even provides trial membership options.
- Restrict Content – A free version is available, but the pro version is what most businesses need. It offers payment features, protected content, membership levels, discounts, reporting and more.
- MemberPress – Requires an annual fee and offers unlimited membership packages and levels. It’s similar to Restrict Content, but business may prefer the extremely user friendly interface.
- WP eMember – Requires a fee and offers unlimited membership levels, automated member setup, multi-site licensing and much more.
Takeaway: Numerous membership plugins are available. If possible, try a free version or demo of plugins first to see if the features fit your needs. Of course, custom plugins are always an option.
Membership business sites are easy to create with WordPress. You don’t need a special site. You can run your normal site and membership site through the same WordPress installation.
If you’re ready to build a membership based business through WordPress, contact StuartMedia today for everything from developing the site to custom built membership plugins.
Image: Robert S. Donovan