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How to Build Membership Websites

What are membership websites?

Grow your income with a membership website

The concept of a membership website is simple. Users create accounts (free or paid depending on your service) which then grants them access to premium content and/or support. If a fee is charged in order to become a member, each month you will continue to be paid by that member for as long as they retain membership.

The key thing here is retaining members, this what makes membership websites so lucrative and keeps your workload to a minimum. If you keep members interested your websites income can soar. Imagine charging only $5 per month for access to your amazing premium content website, and only adding 100 members per month. If you retained all those members after 12 months your monthly income would reach $7000!

Naturally no one retains 100% of their members, even if your content is amazing, some people will sign up mistaking your service for something else. The good news however is that popular websites can expect to add many more than 100 members per month, so the potential income that these sites generate can be limitless.


Why you should build one.

Membership websites can offer a mulititude of different ways to generate income and for this reason should be a consideration for any budding online entrepreneur. As with any website you can naturally make money from affiliate links and advertising, but you also have the potential to generate a monthly income from membership subscriptions. On top that that, membership websites can be easily sold to other entrepreneur’s wanting a site with out the hassle of setting one up. Services like Flippa.com are a great place to sell your sites, or if you want to skip to marketing someone else’s site, you can buy an established website and get up and running fast!

Whilest having all those options is great, the main reason for building a membership site is membership subscriptions. If your content is good enough and you’re positioned well, your membership will grow and grow. Keep people interested with updated content or user generated content like auctions, or image and video submissions, and they will continue to pay for their monthly account. The key thing here is to first write killer content, no one is going to pay for something they can get somewhere else for free.


What should your site be about?

We all know something about something. Maybe you have a special interest or hobby that you know a lot about, or have a friend or relative who is a specialist in their field. Even if you don’t know a specialist or have any specific technical knowledge, find a special interest you are personally interested in and show others what you learn as you learn it. This is what ThirtySomethingInvestor is doing, although this content is free! Whatever subject you choose, think first about how your site could help others who share your interest.

If your hobby is making things in your wood shop or shed, offer a membership site with downloadable plans and access to “how to” videos and demos where you show how easy it is to do it your self! You could invite users to send in their DIY problems and you could respond to one each month in a quick personalized video. For example “Mike emailed saying the wood always splits when he blah blah blah…”And then respond with the quick tip solution. “Well Mike this is what you should do, first take the wood blah blah…” you get the idea. The tools used in the videos could also be affiliate products, and you can offer a store or “Our Tool shed” or products you endorse. The possibilities are endless if you look from the right perspective. This type of interaction is great for adding what i call “premium value” to you site. When you interact directly with your audience, members feel a part of the site and that they are getting the personal expirence that their membership fee warrants.


Planing is everything!

Planning your site well will save time and keep you organized

Plan, plan, then plan some more. I can’t emphasize enough how important planing is to your site. Before you start to build your masterpiece think about what pages and information your going to have. Think about how users will interact and contribute to help your site to grow. What content if any will be free, and what will be restricted? What content will be available in your launch? What will you add after launch to increase membership? How will you keep members interested and ultimately paying your subscription every month? Consider mapping out your site on paper first or try some mind mapping software to see how your site will work as a whole. Good planing at the start can avoid having to re-build or re-design your site later. If you start with the big picture in mind you can plan the growth of your site in efficient stages.


Building your first membership site.

Building websites ain’t what it used to be. When I was at college I had to learn HTML, DHTML, PHP, JAVA, the list went on and on. No more! I’m pleased to report those days are over. As you may well know, I’m a huge fan of wordpress for building any kind of website and membership sites are no exception. With a simple plugin anyone can turn their website (or part of their website) into a ‘members only’ site. You really don’t have to be amazingly technical, or write any code whatsoever.

WishList Member is the main player when it comes to ‘Membership plugins’ for wordpress. We can do an article later on the different ones and compare them, but for those wanting to get started quickly, WishList Member is for me hands down the best option and what I personally use for my membership website. Remember, do your research. I’m not a membership website plugin salesman, I’m just telling you what i use and what’s working for me.

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Installation is simple, first you purchase and download the plugin HERE. Next in your ‘add new’ plugin tab go to upload. Choose your WishListMember install zip and upload, simple.

I will be compiling a complete step by step guide to building a membership site with WishList Member soon so check back for details or subscribe to our newsletter.


Before you rush off to build your site.

There are many things to consider when building a membership site and at this point, you be forgiven for thinking the task ahead is a daunting one. This is after all a basic guide to membership sites, and successful sites can become very complex. Let me take a moment to assure you however that anyone can build and manage one of these sites. The greatest difficulty in building membership websites is in the planing and management of the project. Each stage of the construction is fairly straight forward, many people just get lost in the sea of pages and give up. Remember, investing in good planning at the start of your project is essental. Creating a step by step plan to take you through the project with minimal time wasted and help you stay on track piecing your site together.


Best of luck to you all of you.

let me know how your projects are developing, i’d love to her about them.





Image credits.

1st Image courtesy of Master isolated images / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
2nd Image courtesy of jscreationzs / FreeDigitalPhotos.net