Trying to create a membership website, it is a pretty sizeable undertaking.
From wrestling with some technology, planning the site, creating the content, building the website and an audience, and using marketing to create a general buzz around it all, to launch your membership site as a huge success.
It can take some time to get all your ducks in a row.
However, if you are ready to get going, and have some of those things available to get going with, do you have an already established audience that can help you to get going?
You might have some content that has been cultivated and created from the past, which could be ready to go, like old YouTube videos, or even blog posts.
If these examples are true for you, then creating a membership website could happen a lot quicker than you think.
Realistically, though, you could potentially have a fully functioning membership website up and running, ready to go, in only a couple of weeks, if needed.
Having a membership website is essentially a gated part of your online business where only members who are signed up or subscribed, will be able to access the content that you have behind those ‘gates.’
These pearly gates that we speak of act like a barrier that your members need access to, but it could be achieved with something as straightforward as using a plugin.
When you have that kind of barrier in place, then members or subscribers of the site can then log in at their leisure and see the content that is exclusively there.
The content and membership website options could be anything like:
So the question is, How long does it take to create a membership website?
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- hints and tips
Planning the site
Before you start creating a membership website and getting your content ready to go, you need to make a plan about what you want to do and how you want your membership website to work.
The content you create and the building of the membership website will depend on the kind of site you choose, as well as the membership model that you want and the type of site you will use, like choosing WordPress membership websites, for example.
Click here for 5 reasons why you should build your membership website on WordPress
But what is a membership model?
A membership model is knowing how and why you want people to join your site and thinking about what you can offer them in return.
If you don’t have a clear model, then you will waste a lot of time.
You’ll end up with a membership website that no one will want to use or sign up for.
So to avoid this, having a well-thought-out membership model is essential. You should think about:
What will members get for joining? If you are offering a paid membership, then people signing up will want to get something of value. Will they get monthly newsletters, online courses, networking, discounts, freebies, and videos. When you know why people want to join your site, offer them that content and provide things of value that relate to that.
What different membership levels will be on offer? What you offer can depend on the kind of content that you provide. For instance, if you want to create a community on your membership site, then you could offer a free membership level. If you offer more exclusivity and discounts, then a paid level, whether that be a business membership level or a student membership level, for example, you could offer different things depending on what level of membership the customer has paid for.
Have you got any exciting events that are coming up? If you have a calendar of events for your online business, then you could input them into your membership site. The advantage is that it can help to save you time as you won’t need to continually go to your website to add in events later on. It can also help visitors to your site see the calendar of events and then they can sign up for them in advance. This will improve cash flow and help you to plan for things in advance.
If you have some answers to these kinds of questions, then it will give you a good idea of the types of pages that you are looking for, and the features that you want to have on your website.
Creating the content
1 day – 2 weeks
Now, this is a big task. You can have a stunning looking website, but if the content isn’t there, people won’t cough up their hard-earned cash.
How you want to create content for the membership site can be entirely up to you.
Creating some content upfront isn’t always necessary but sometimes helps.
If you’ve not got the time to create content upfront, choosing to create a calendar of some live webinars that you have coming up could help to show off content that will only be available to members.
When you do this kind of thing, rather than having to spend days, weeks, and even months creating content ahead of time, you could create it in real-time.
This can help you to get rid of one of your biggest pre-launch tasks, but it also allows people to see you in real-time with a course, rather than you needing to worry about perfected editing of a pre-recorded course, for example.
This will then get stored and used for others wanting to view after the live event, so there can be some added value for new and existing members.
Of course, you might like to plan a little more than this, to get content out for your members at the times that they need them.
If you have a business relating to food, for example, then you could offer recipes, recipe videos, or exclusive freebies at certain times of the year (such as Valentine’s Day, Easter, and Christmas, for example).
Then your members will know what to expect at these times of the year. There are so many options with content, so the world is your oyster.
Create the membership website
4 days – 3 weeks
When you know what kind of site you want, the membership options that you want, the type of content that you are looking at sharing, and what added extras like shops that you want then you need to take steps to build your website.
WordPress membership websites are pretty popular; at MemberLab, we use self-hosted WordPress sites to build our membership websites.
Several plugins can be used as the holy white pearly ‘gates’ for members to login.
You could always use your existing website, and add in extra pages on the site that can be accessed by members.
If you have a web developer that can help you to do this all, then that can be worth looking into.
Click here for one of our blog posts about 8 crucial things to look for when hiring someone to build your membership website.
If you choose the WordPress option for your membership website, then it is a little more straightforward and likely to be something that you can do yourself.
Just make sure that you remember to include some of the following:
Payment options, if you have a paid membership. You can get plugins to help with this, or set it up with a payment service like PayPal. A secure website is a must for this if people are going to part with their money online.
Membership options page or an open membership page if that is an option for you
Login welcome page
Security subscription keys are so important. Customers can click ‘auto generate’ and then use that code for their login and password.
Registration profile form options are great to get some information about your members. If you want to email them a newsletter, then their name and email are handy to have.
Launch the website
When your site is ready to go, think about how you’re going to launch the site.
Marketing your membership site before launch is vital, check out the top 6 we have seen that have brought in long term success for our friends, peers and clients.
Will there be a build-up to the launch day online and through your social channels, for example?
Focusing on getting new members is a crucial part of creating and maintaining a membership website that will be successful.
Perhaps, the thing that’s even more critical to getting new customers is to make sure that you keep the customers happy that you do have.
Things will go downhill if your customers are paying for something that they are disappointed with. Plus, it can be easier to keep an existing member, than it would be to find a new one and to have them part with their money.
Consequently, it is vital that you do all that you can to serve the members that have invested in your program.
You could add in a help desk system as part of the website so that communication is clear and easy, and of course, variety is the spice of life, even with the content you provide.
You need to increase the member’s perceived value of their membership so that they feel they are getting value for money.
Once everything on the site is up and running, and you do have a group of members that are enjoying what you do, then it is a good idea to think about optimizing your membership site.
By this, it means that you could carry out some exercises in split testing, where you can see what works best and adjust your website accordingly to help conversion rates, in order to get more membership signups.
Asking how long it takes to create a membership website is like asking how long a piece of string is, Realistically it’s as long as you make it!
When planned correctly, a membership website can take days, weeks, or months to build.
In order to create a membership site you’ll need all your ducks in a row which will take some time, but when it happens, you’ll feel like you’ve achieved something great and the results will start rolling in.