Create a Free Membership Website in 3 Easy Steps

A member’s only section is a great addition to most websites. Whether you run a personal blog, a business site, or you’re thinking about starting a member’s only site, the membership business model is a great way to earn revenue on your content. You can also offer free membership and still have multiple income streams from the site, including from digital downloads and exclusive content.

Before you can enjoy these streams of income, however, you need to create your own membership site first. Thanks to WordPress and the available membership plugins, creating a membership website is easier than you think. Here are the 3 steps you need to complete to get started.

Step 1: Configuring the Site

You can create a membership site in a matter of minutes using WordPress. The first thing you want to do – if you haven’t already – is get the WordPress site set up. You need to pick a domain name, select a hosting service, and install WordPress. You can continue by configuring things such as the name of the site, administrator accounts, and the design of the site itself.

Next, it is time to set up the membership side of the site. If you want to have a members-only section without spending money on premium plugins, then your best bet is the WP-Members plugin. The plugin can be installed directly from WordPress’s plugins repository and the installation process takes seconds to complete.

WP-Members offer everything you need to start offering free membership to users. It has the ability to restrict access to certain parts of the site. You can even display excerpts to get visitors to become members. When it comes to offering paid membership or selling digital downloads, however, you may want to consider the available premium plugins from top developers.

Restrict Content Pro is a great premium plugin to consider. It comes with add-ons such as AffiliateWP and Easy Digital Downloads, which means you can be more comprehensive with the kind of membership website you develop. The plugin is also relatively affordable compared to other options. Aside from Restrict Content Pro, you can also look into MemberPress and Paid Member Subscriptions.

Step 2: Fill the Site

Before you start promoting your site and its member’s only section, you need to make sure that the site is valuable enough for users. To do this, you have to add content to the site, particularly content that the users will find useful.

How-to articles, in-depth tutorials, and even video content can be added to the public and private sections of the site. As mentioned before, certain plugins let you display excerpts of your site’s content to non-members, making the entire site more appealing.

Digital downloads are also great assets to add to the site. You don’t have to offer complicated digital downloads for the section to be attractive. Simple items such as wallpapers, free Photoshop templates, Sketch files, and your own WordPress plugins or themes are usually more than enough to get the attention of many members.

Lastly, be sure to make adjustments to the site’s user experience. You have to be extra certain that members can sign up for an account – and make payments if necessary – without hassle. Only then can you convert visitors into members effectively.

Step 3: Promoting the Site

Now that you have a member’s only section filled with valuable content, it is time to start attracting potential members through digital marketing campaigns. Aside from SEO and content marketing, there are ways to gain traction and attract members early.

Ads are great for the purpose of gaining traction. Ads are more affordable than ever, which is why digital ads are great as a digital marketing instrument to use when your site is relatively new. You can reach a specific audience segment using the targeting tools from AdWords, Facebook Ads, and other ad networks.

The same can be said for social media. Share snippets of what the users can expect when they sign up for a membership and you’ll start getting more traffic. The visitors you attract from social media are already engaged with your content; converting them into members is easy at this point.

One last thing to understand about promoting your site is the importance of building a relationship. Membership websites survive even the toughest market challenges with the help of their loyal members. To achieve the same level of success with your own site, you have to start investing in building a relationship with the audience early in the game. You will have avid and loyal members supporting your site indefinitely.