You might think of your website as being little more than a glorified calling card. However, there’s so much more it can do for you. For example, you can use it as a membership site to generate income and maintain a sustainable customer base. If you're wondering how to start a membership site, or even why you should, then we've got some advice for you.
Setting up a membership site is a great way to leverage all the existing infrastructure you have for content marketing and turn it into profit.
What’s more, the customers you win could become your most prized assets, providing sustained income, social proof, and outreach opportunities. In this article, we’ll discuss these benefits a little more, before walking you through four steps to get up and running with your own membership site. Let’s begin!
Why you should start a membership site
A membership site offers content that can only be accessed via a signup or subscription. They don’t always have a cost attached, and some may provide a free content tier to help sell premium services.
Those who purchase a membership get enhanced value from the site through the exclusive “members-only” content. There are also plenty of benefits for you to consider:
- You receive extra income for the same services you would normally offer.
- You can improve retention and increase brand loyalty, since subscribers should be spending more time on your website.
- There’s less need to find new customers, as selling to your existing customer base is more efficient and profitable.
Clearly, there are plenty of benefits for both you and your audience. With that in mind, let’s talk about how to create this type of site!
How to start a membership site in 4 steps
Fortunately, creating a membership website is certainly achievable. Here are the four steps for how to start a membership site you’ll need to follow.
Find a profitable niche.
Consider membership length and content frequency.
Decide on the content you’ll offer.
Build your membership site.
Let’s get started!
1. Find a profitable niche (and validate your idea)
The niche you choose is, of course, pivotal — the wrong one means a good opportunity squandered. Similarly, making sure that your idea is viable is important for “grounding” your vision. Since you’ll need to invest both money and time into your new venture, you’ll want to know that it’s going to be profitable.
To get started, it’s a smart idea to first follow your gut and look for a niche you’re interested in. After all, you’ll be spending a long time immersed in it. Once you’ve settled on a niche, our advice is to create a Minimum Viable Product (MVP).
MVP: Minimum Viable Product. The bare minimum you need to successfully launch your product.
This means putting in place the bare minimum you’ll need in order to launch your membership site and get customers through the door.
2. Consider membership length and content frequency
With a niche and validated idea in place, you should next consider your membership lengths and content frequency. In other words, you’ll need to know how long customers will be tied to your services, and how often they’ll receive content at your membership site. The two go hand-in-hand and are often decided together. After all, a year’s subscription with only six pieces of new content doesn’t offer much value.
Your membership length depends on a number of subjective factors, although we recommend offering multiple tiers for all budgets. For example, you could offer a free tier with a few benefits, and then scale your pricing up to accommodate additional features or content.
When it comes to content frequency, you’ll want to settle on something sustainable at first, in order to “drip” content to subscribers. When you’re established (and your budget can support it), you can start expanding your offerings.
3. Decide on the content you’ll offer
Next up is to decide on the content you’ll offer. Hopefully, you’ll already have an idea of what this will be. Even if you have a rough plan in place, however, it’s still worth revisiting at this point. As with the previous step, content you can’t create at a frequency that is viable can drive away members, who will take their precious recurring income with them.
There are a number of different content delivery methods to choose from, although the one you select will depend on your focus and goals.
Still, in most cases you should offer as many different types of content as you can create.
After all, this variety ups the value of your membership significantly, which means you can afford to charge more!
4. Build your membership site
Finally, you’ll want to actually build your membership site. This involves a process similar to creating a regular website, so you should have the requisite expertise to pull it off.
However, you will likely want a dedicated tool to get the membership features you need. While you could use a solution such as Kajabi, you’ll probably want to fully control and own your content.
To do that, we recommend using WordPress with a dedicated membership plugin.
Of course, there are myriad solutions available. A quality premium plugin might be the smartest bet, as you’ll receive regular top-notch support and updates, along with more comprehensive features.
For example, MemberMouse is an excellent option, given its balance between features and price. MemberPress is a clear market leader, on the other hand, with pricing to match. Paid Memberships Pro is a solid middle ground between those two, with a stellar feature set and very competitive pricing (including a free tier for the budget-conscious).
Finally, WooCommerce Memberships is ideal for those offering memberships via their eCommerce stores. Plus, it lets you handle all aspects of setting up your site from a familiar interface.
Check out our guide on how to create a website, a 5 steps easy read to help you get started.
If you think that regular, sustained income from a diehard clan of dedicated customers is a wild pipe dream, nothing could be further from the truth. Now that you know how to start a membership site — and how relatively straightforward it is to implement — you can achieve your membership goals!
Here are the four steps you’ll need to take if you want to create your own membership site:
- Discover a profitable niche, and check its validity.
- Choose your membership tiers and how often you’ll produce content.
- Settle on the type of content you’ll offer.
- Create and develop your membership website.
There’s never been a better time to set up a homebase online for your following.