Everything You Need To Know To get Started With Building Your Own Membership Site
In this post, I want to introduce you to membership sites and why they are so awesome, What's the best membership site software to use and how to get started building your first membership site (assuming you have not built one already – hopefully you'll still get value)….
I have to say, I LOVE MEMBERSHIP SITES!
In fact what I should say, is that I love building membership sites, I find them so exciting! Call me weird but they are the best.
Maybe its because you have the opportunity to express yourself and add value to others lives through the content you get to share inside the membership. So it's like writing a book or opening a shop or unveiling a master piece work of art. It's yours and no one else can take it away from you!
I have been building membership sites for years, as soon as I started to learn how to build my own WordPress sites and host them, the next quest was to be able to share my content and knowledge with my subscribers, customers and clients for easy access anywhere in the world.
My First Membership Site Experience
You may or may not be aware that I started a financial education company called Wealth Guardian Education back in 2009, and my primary focus was to help people understand money, finance and to get rid of debt.
I used to run live workshops and online seminars, it was awesome and I was really, really busy. One thing that I noticed from very early on, especially when I used to run my seminars and workshops, was people would always request to:
- Stay in contact with me and more importantly
- How could they access my material?
At the time I did not have a book to sell (I am still working on publishing a book some day), so what I decided to do, beyond owning a Blog was to set up a Members Area.
The Value of A Members Area in your Membership Site
I had a ‘freebie' section of the members area and I had a specific section for paid members to access recordings and content such as letter templates and webinar recordings, that one could access whenever they needed help.
What was really handy, was rather than calling me all the time and demanding my time (which is very valuable – at least £250 per hour) I would send them to the members area, it worked tremendously – freeing up more time for me to focus on my business and spend time with my family.
The value of the Members Area was extremely high.
- It gave me leverage
- it exposed me as an expert (very similar to a book)
- When ever I sold products either offline or online, the Members Area served as a tremendous Bonus, and built massive curiosity and greed.
- It was very helpful for me to communicate with my ‘buyers' list and long standing members and/or friends via internal emailing software.
- Great to use as a learning and development tool to add massive value.
I could go on and on…but I think you get my drift.
Why Do People Hate Using Membership Sites?
Membership Sites, have traditionally been seen as:
- Arduous (can't argue with this one)
- Expensive (software)
- Specialist Web Developer Skills
I must admit, when I first started out, I used a program called AMember Pro as my WordPress Membership Site Software and it was COMPLICATED! I had to hire a php programmer who was an ‘expert' with AMember just to sort out my membership the way I wanted. Back then there was not many WordPress membership plugins and AMember was very reasonably priced.
Now, it's a very different ballgame indeed and membership sites do not have to be complicated or long winded at all. In fact the competition is so stiff, you could literally build a membership site in an hour or less.
Now, building a good membership site has become both an art and a science and the key feature is one's ability to turn your passion into valuable content that the world would be willing to exchange your value for money. If you learn the art of marketing online, then using a Membership site is an exceptionally brilliant tool to leverage your talent and your time into very lucrative passive income.
What's more… what is there to stop you from scaling your business and have multiple membership sites available, each piece of digital ‘Real Estate' capable of turning over a nice income stream just because you are able to add value to peoples lives even while you are sleeping.
How To Get Started on Building Your Own Membership Site..Easy As 1,2,3...
Well, this is very exciting for me to discuss, as I said.. I Love Membership Sites, including Building Membership Sites.
Now, to get started, I make no apologies, but I am going to assume you are a complete Newbie. A novice to WordPress and Internet Marketing per se. (If you are not, bear with me, I'll get to the ‘Meat' shortly).
So, first thing's first… you need a platform to build your membership site. Also, there are a few things you need to consider, mostly, what budget have you assigned towards building your site, and how much time you have to invest in building your site.
1. Choose A Platform To Get Started
You can use SAAS – Software As A Service:
This is an option, i'm not a great fan because in my mind one does not have FULL CONTROL of your site and content. Call me paranoid but that's just the way I think.
The positives are that you get pretty much everything under ‘one roof' however, I do find the various software (SAAS) options quite expensive, and if you are just starting out with a low budget, and depend on a monthly payment service, you are at the mercy of the Software providers. Not a good way to run a business in my opinion.
Using WordPress as your platform:
In a nutshell, WordPress is plain Awesome! if you have never used WordPress before, then there are plenty of resources you can utilize for free, just do a YouTube Search. When I first started out, I had to buy a course, but I am so glad I learnt how to use WordPress. Now I am not talking about WordPress.com where everything is pretty much handed to you on a platter (do not let me get started about having control over your own business), I am talking about the self hosted version.
Basically you will need 3 things to get started.
- A domain name (I use NameCheap because they are cheap and easy to use! Plus they don't try to Upsell the world to me unlike their competitors such as GoDaddy)
- Hosting – Somewhere to ‘store your site – also known as a glorified server – basically thew World Wide Web is exposed from this stage, your website is given birth once you have a host. I use SiteGround. They are awesome and do not rip you off. I used to use Host Gator for years but their support is now C**P and I find them slow.
- You need a theme, a way to display your website to the world. There are loads of themes. My recommendation is stick to the free Themes, until you understand how to use WordPress. If you are Au fait or familiar with WordPress, I personally use Elegance Themes (Divi or Extra) or Thrive Themes. Thrive Themes has an excellent membership platform built into a couple of their themes, it's called Apprentice – it's really cool (check out the video here). i would only recommend Divi or Extra Themes if you are used to using WordPress and know exactly what you are doing, and also have a familiarity with building membership sites. If not, hold fire because I will explain how you can learn a little bit later.
2. Choose The Right Software
There are a host of WordPress Membership Plugins: Two many to mention on this post.
Chris Lema, does an OK job in his blog post review of all the membership plugins but I disagree with him on a few points. Granted he was conducting his review on a few points but it boiled down to ease of use. I also felt he confused A true membership site with ECom or Ecommerce sites with his ‘TOP Picks' which is completely unfair. For example. I would never use Woo Commerce or IThemes Exchange membership plugins to build a membership site for a digital downloads course. There's just no comparison. Ecom requires Ecom membership to protect the digital products you are trying to sell (Ecom is a WHOLE different ballgame – so lets stay focused)
Membership site Plugins are for Membership sites! There is a big difference and they shouldn't be confused.
Also, I have personally used a lot of different membership site plugins, even the top plugins that Chris Recommends and in my humble and personal opinion, they are too simple! To the point that you are severely restricted if you want to do anything sophisticated.
I have not tried Memberium as I do not use Infusion soft, but from what I have heard and seen, Memberium is VERY GOOD and also requires a big budget, so I would only recommend use if you have the budget and turnover to cover the cost.
I have also seen different references to MemberPress which is supposed to be excellent, but if you are working with a tight budget, not the best to get started with, plus the range of features including integration seems a little bit lacking, but that's from glancing at their website, so it's not an official review.
My Recommendation For Best Membership Plugin
I think it's important to use Membership Site Software that will fulfill the following criteria:
- Secures Your Site Very Well
- Excellent Support to hold your hand and to do it quickly
- Flexibility to do what you want when you want
- Offer True membership functionality to fit the various membership models available such as
- A fixed term membership
- recurring membership
- Above variations with True Drip Functionality
- Features to promote the average membership duration of a paying member
- Flexibility to integrate with Third party Software to give you complete choice and options
- Not too expensive to get started
- Constantly being updated
In my experience, anything worth having or worth doing it should be done well and no short cuts taken.
The Plugin that I will be recommending fits all the above criteria and more! But if you are expecting to get a membership site up and running in an hour on your first attempt – you will be truly deceived. basically, take the time to set it up right, and it will look after your business very well. Look for the quick fix, couple clicks and your up and running type of plugin, then I can not help you any further.
I use a membership Site Software called DAP or Digital Access Pass (check it out here (Recommended Membership Site Software))
In my opinion they offer features and facilities that most other providers can not or do not offer. And it is a plugin for life whether you are a novice or expert that's why I believe it should be deemed by Chris Lema (see above) as a top rated membership software
To date DAP has 25,000 registered users, and over 43,000 Websites that are utilizing the service.
It is my strongest recommendation to get started with DAP if you want to build or create a membership site for your online business.
If you would like me to show you step by step what to do to get your membership site up and running using DAP, then register your interest here, as I will be conducting some training live, literally so you can watch ‘over my shoulder' and follow what I do, step-by-step, so you can learn, rinse and repeat.
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