Membership sites are great, aren’t they? They can be used in so many ways! To create passive income on the side or be a primary business for a photographer or a coach. It can also give clients an insider access to you (that’s how I use it for my clients with my Client Portal).
There are many ways of building a membership site. It’s important that it’s aligned with your business and your unique needs though. Today I’m going to talk about how to build one on WordPress. I will also explain why WordPress is one of the best platforms out there for membership sites.
Whether you already have a membership site and are looking to re-design and revise your systems or want to create a new one – you need to start from strategy. Clearly state your business purpose and mission and your ideal clients. This alone will help you understand which tools, what content and layout you need to be able to deliver what you promised.
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There are so many ways to do a membership site you can easily get lost in all these options. That’s why in this post, I will explain what to look out for to get it right.
When you know what you expect from your membership site, it’s time to get to the nitty-gritty:
1. A platform that allows you to be in control.
I’m a huge WordPress fan not only because it’s very easy to use and powers over 28% of all websites out there (what?!). I love it because it lets you be in control of your website. You don’t have to pay monthly fees to sublet your site from a provider like Squarespace or Wix. You only need hosting (a cloud your website is stored in) and WordPress installed. Then you’re ready to go! Your website is yours and you can make sure nobody can take it away from you, close it or change functionalities.
Apart from that, which is already huge, there are unlimited design options. You are not forced to choose a pre-made template and edit it, like Squarespace or Wix. Instead, you can have your website custom designed and built to your needs.
There are hundreds of plugins that add functionalities to your WordPress with just a few clicks.
2. Membership system perfect for your type of business.
There are different types of membership sites: stock photography site, your own paid community if you’re a coach, online courses membership, graphics resources membership (for creative businesses), closed discussion forums and many more.
For each of them, there might be a need for different functionalities. That’s why it’s great if you answer yourself these questions:
- will you give your members access to all content at once, or do you want to “drip content” at time intervals?
- will you want to have restricted blog posts, pages or products in your shop?
- do you want your members to be able to view other members profiles, send private messages and have discussions in closed forums?
- would you like to give people access to your online courses when they join?
- how much of the process do you want to automate?
I always have a strategy session with my clients before we even get to the design process. We talk about their needs, their vision and future plans for their business. Then I can make sure they get functionalities to help them grow their business. I create workflows and systems that will make their life easier and make sure their custom website will last.
3. Layout that shows your content in an engaging way
Depending on what your membership site is all about, you will surely need a different layout. You need to present your content in an engaging and easy to understand way. When you sell stock photography you should make your beautiful imagery the primary focus. When you sell online courses or give access to closed discussion forums, it’s a whole different story.
Custom design aligned with your needs and business purpose will surely be one of the most important factors in your biz success. Your conversion rate will skyrocket when prospective customers can easily see all the benefits of your paid membership and are absolutely hooked on your brand.
4. Easy payment methods
Complicated checkout process or limited payment methods are conversion killers! I’m sure you almost bought something once or twice, but when you noticed you can’t pay by PayPal you simply walked away.
Your website needs to be as simple to use for everyone as possible! When someone loves your brand and wants to be a part of it, they should be able to do it with a few simple clicks.
With WordPress and plugins I mentioned earlier, you can take card and PayPal payments easily. However they want to pay, is there for them.
5. Workflows and systems that save you time and leave your clients WOW-ed.
When you have a membership site, you expect a higher volume of customers. This means, if you don’t have proper workflows and systems in place it can be a disaster! Think a thousand e-mails, hundreds of customer service requests and you, wanting to pull your hair out.
I just loooove to think of ways to make my client’s lives easier and I’m a geek when it comes to systems and automations. You can do so much when you know what your workflow step, by step. There are so many tools that will allow you to weed out spam messages or automate customer service requests. You’ll also need smart CRM systems to organise customers payments, plans and details.
Your membership site can run smoothly and efficiently, WOW-ing your customers and leaving you free to do what you love.
My mission is to empower my clients by giving them tools to grow their business.
That’s why my priorities are always to help them get clear on what they want to achieve and get them what they really need. I want to make sure that custom website design, functionalities and systems I create for them will last and help them reach their next milestones.
Do you have a membership site or think about starting one? Let me know what is the #1 thing that’s giving you problems or holds you back.