A WordPress Membership website is a fantastic business model. You’re essentially able to scale your business by selling access to your expertise and knowledge.
For many businesses, the idea of a membership website is a smart one. They are a great way to build up recurring revenue around your knowledge and expertise.
This could be for a recurring monthly income, or you can sell individual online courses. They can also be a great way to add extra value to your existing customers or your team as a training or education hub. (we have our very own training site)
So, how do you built a site like this? There are plenty of membership site options out there, but we believe that WordPress membership websites are the best option. Why? Well, here are five reasons:
1 – You own your own membership site
First of all, if you have your WordPress membership website, it’s entirely owned by you.
If you use online membership platforms – you pay a monthly fee to rent their software, but you’ll never actually own the site. If you accidentally miss a payment, your website will be taken down, and you could lose all your members-only content. (I’ve actually seen this happen before)
When you create a membership site with WordPress, you own the site. You have full control of every aspect of the site so you can control the look and feel as well as the functionality you offer to users.
Online membership platforms aren’t really as customisable as you may need; they usually have templates and preset themes you can change colours and fonts, but you may be frustrated with the options beyond these templates.
You lack the control that you have when you choose to have your membership website on WordPress. It may take a little longer to customise or you may need help if your HTML and CSS skills aren’t up to scratch but its ultimately down to you on how it looks.
If a membership site is part of your overall business strategy, it will be a crucial asset for you. And something that you should own. You would never build your house on rented land, so why do the same for your online business too.
2 – A WordPress membership website is more extendable
Think about the purpose of a membership website; it’s a place for your members/customers to access projected exclusive content. So, what happens when you grow your marketing starts working, and your member’s numbers grow?
All of a sudden, you need to ensure that your site can accommodate an influx of new people.
Not only that, but what if you have new ideas and want to implement new features based on member feedback?
In both scenarios, you need to be able to extend your website. With WordPress membership sites, they’re so much easier to add functionality new features.
With online platforms, you’re usually restricted to the features they have in their software. If you want to add a forum or members directory in 6 months and the software doesn’t support that, then you’re stuck and have two choices. Accept it, and don’t add these features, move to a platform that supports these functionalities or move your site to a WordPress membership site.
With WordPress, the plugin market is massive – you can get a plugin for pretty much any need or have it custom built to suit your needs. There is an enormous plugin market, so it is effortless for you to expand the site and add more features whenever you want.
The same can’t be said for some other rented membership site platforms. Often, you get a site that stays how it is forever. So, if you need to extend it, then you can’t.
WordPress comes with so many extension options as well, which you can implement at your leisure. It’s a brilliant idea to roll out your membership website and give customers a chance to provide feedback. Based on their suggestions, you can then alter the site and improve. If you take on their ideas, they will have a better experience, feel listened to, valued and more likely to stay around longer.
Companies should always have future growth in mind, so it makes sense to build your membership site on a platform that caters to this.
3 – Extremely cost-effective
WordPress membership websites are very cost-effective to set up.
All you need is a hosting account, you can download WordPress and set it up completely free.
The beauty of WordPress is that you only pay for what you need.
This happens a lot with other website building platforms; you pay for a membership site and end up with loads of features that you just never use. In essence, a lot of your money is just being thrown away, so you’re not making the most out of it.
With WordPress, you have different plugins that can be added to extend the functionality for your members. To launch a membership site, all you really need is a membership plugin to take payments and set restrictions on the content that only paying members can access.
A typical membership site will have some course management software like Learndash to manage your valuable content and then a plugin to control access.
For all of this, your initial outlay may just be around £400. Then the time required to set everything up.
For this reason, it’s a fantastic option for all businesses, but particularly useful for companies on a limited budget and they’re starting small with their membership site.
4 – Connects to more tools a more extensive set of business tools
There’s a reason so many companies turn to WordPress when weighing up the different membership site options. You simply can’t deny that it provides you with access to so many various tools.
There are loads of extensions and plugins you can use to really enhance the functionality of your WordPress membership website. These can increase usability but also the way you engage with new members and inform them of new and sell other courses or services.
Let’s say you wanted to welcome new members when they first sign up and give them a weekly update. Connecting your site to your Email marketing like MailChimp or CRM marketing tools like ActiveCampaign or Infusionsoft (Now called Keap) allows you to do this and create a personal and meaningful conversation at the same time.
What’s more, so many other things can be integrated into your WordPress membership website. This includes things like affiliate tools, live chat, help desk software, your accounting system, gamification tools and progress trackers, discussion forums, and so much more.
When you combine the tools and integration of a WordPress membership website, it becomes a much better site for users to use and a far easier site for you to manage and market.
5 – Fully customise the look and feel
WordPress membership websites give you full customisation of just about every tiny detail. We touched upon this earlier when talking about how you own the site, but it’s such an important point.
The customisation is vital because you need this membership site to blend in well with your overall business brand while giving your members a unique experience.
As you can imagine, this is a delicate balance to strike. It must offer features that your existing site doesn’t, and it has to retain your brand image still.
But, you shouldn’t just have a carbon copy of the main site with a few new things here and there. By having such a deep level of customisation available, you can truly create something that looks and feels unique but is easy for your members to use and navigate.
Remember, the user experience is vital on a membership website. If people don’t like the way the site looks or feels, or they have a poor experience navigating the site, then they’re just going to cancel their membership and leave.
Or, they’ll leave negative reviews, which make it harder to bring in new customers and get more people signing up.
So, if you can fully customise the site, then it allows you to improve the user experience drastically. Not only that, but you can continue making alterations after the site goes live, based on user feedback and the more income and budget you have.
6 – Restrict Access to your content your way
Restricting Access to premium content is one of the basics of a membership website and can be done in so many different ways. There are plenty of plugins available to you as a website owner.
Some of the best plugins are charged at a premium but there’s a reason for that, they work the best. Our favourite plugins are ActiveMember360 and MemberPress, they allow for greater content restriction.
We have become ActiveMember 360 experts by building 20+ ActiveMember 360 membership websites, watching them grow and seeing what works and what doesn’t.
With ActiveMember 360 you can rank on google by providing excerpts of your private content on your public facing website, teasing visitors and getting them to sign up with a solid call to action. Please keep in mind that if you decide to rank on google try putting your target keywords in the name field of your posts, that’ll help boost your ranking.
Set yourself up to run on autopilot and save time to put into other parts of your business. ActiveMember 360 allows for automatic member creation, content protection and drip feeding content.
The other membership plugin we use is MemberPress, we love how simple it is to use. MemberPress has a lot of powerful features and world class add-ons that help extend your sites functionality to do whatever you need your site to do.
A lot of membership plugins are simple to use at first glance, it’s only when you get to the nitty gritty while using other plugins that you realise you need to have an understanding of coding checkouts set ups and content restrictions, MemberPress does all of this heavy lifting for you.
7 – Better Lead Generation
A lot of hosted membership platforms have some form of lead generation tool built in to their services.
If you don’t know what a hosted membership platform is click here to view a post that explains Self-Hosted (WordPress) vs. Hosted memberships
The problem with the lead generation tools that usually come with a hosted membership platform is that they have limited functionality. We’re coming back to customization again, lead generation on hosted platforms don’t really allow for mass customization.
They usually consist of registration forms that take a name and email address and let you upload your logo. Even we know you deserve better than that.
8 – Control your payments
Recurring payments make up a large portion of membership fees nowadays, they are a great way to top up your businesses bank account each month.
When you use WordPress it can be connected to pretty much any payment gateway you can think of.
The most popular payment gateways that we see used every day are Stripe and PayPal. Stripe offers apple pay and pre built integrations so it actually does some of the work for you.
They even boast on their website that 90% of U.S. Adults have bought from businesses using stripe. Isn’t that impressive?
Most payment gateways charge around a 2% transaction fee, that’s how they make their money rather than charging a flat monthly fee.
9 – World Leading LMS Plugins
LMS Plugins are easy to come by, they’re the thing that’ll actually manage your course content if you’re putting courses on your membership.
The best one in our opinion is LearnDash LMS, it connects with loads of payment gateways, comes with an easy drag and drop course builder, lets you drip feed content to your members as well as create course specific forums where you and your members can interact with each other where comments are moderated automatically.
Learndash can be a little pricey for memberships that are just starting out, their pricing structure starts at $159 a month at the time of writing this post.
Another LMS Plugin that’s making its way around the internet is Teachable LMS, it offers the same sort of functionality as LearnDash for a fraction of the price but comes with a big catch… Teachable charges 5% on every transaction, that stripe integration doesn’t seem so good now does it?
Summary: A WordPress membership website will always come out on top
We believe that WordPress is the king of all membership site options. It’s straightforward for you to set up a site using WordPress, and there are membership extensions that let you make it part of your existing business website. Plus, as you can see from the points above, there are plenty of benefits that come with a WordPress membership website.
At the end of the day, membership sites will bring lots of advantages to your business. They let you provide unique experiences to your customers, which can help you add value or build your business entirely online.
Also, if your membership site is impressive, then it can help you reel in new customers as well. People become aware of how excellent your service is and the different things they have access to as members. So, they’re more likely to sign up!
If you want a membership site that offers full customisation, plenty of tools, excellent integration, fantastic extensibility, and is cost-effective, then choose a WordPress membership Website. You can literally get started today.