Starting a membership website is considered one of the best ways to monetize your content. Instead of relying solely on ads and sponsorship, you can earn revenue from paid membership plans. At the same time, you can offer free membership to those who don’t mind seeing ads being displayed on the page.
Creating a membership website used to be complicated, but that is not the case now that you have WordPress offering a great CMS platform as the foundation for your site. In this article, we are going to talk about how you can build a free membership website in just a few minutes.
Domain Name and Hosting
Before we talk about how to set up the membership site, there are some basics that you need to cover first. Start by choosing a name for your website and getting the suitable domain name. You also need to get a hosting account for the site.
Depending on the kind of site you are developing and the amount of traffic you anticipate, you can choose to use a free hosting service, a shared hosting service, or even VPS hosting for the site. You also have the freedom to select the kind of hosting service that suits you best.
Since we’re talking about developing a WordPress-based membership site, make sure the hosting service you opt for supports PHP and MySQL. Get the hosting account created and you are ready to move on to the next step.
Before you can configure the site as a membership site, you need to install a WordPress instance first. WordPress installation is a straightforward process. You only need to complete a simple initial setup wizard to get the site up and running.
Next, select a theme for the site. You can use a free theme from WordPress’s own repository or opt for a premium theme from sources like Theme Forest. Alternatively, you can add personal touches to the site by using a custom theme or modifying an existing theme to create a membership site with a unique user interface.
Adding a Membership Plugin
There are plenty of membership plugins to choose from, each with its own advantages and feature set. If you want to use a free plugin, the WP-Members plugin – available via WordPress plugin repository – is the one to look into. The plugin lets you set up your own membership site without spending a dime.
With the WP-Members plugin, however, you can only offer free membership. The only way to charge for membership plans is by upgrading to the Site Membership Subscription plugin. The upgrade is seamless and you won’t have to reconfigure your membership site all over again.
Other premium plugins are also worth considering. MemberPress is a popular choice and offers many features that make running a membership site very easy to do. You can also use WooCommerce Memberships if you also want the site to have an ecommerce section using WooCommerce. Restrict Content Pro offers the best integration for a truly comprehensive membership site.
Now that you have a member’s only section on your site, it is time to complete the setup process. First, you want to create membership plans for the site. If you only want to offer free membership to users, you can use the default configuration of membership plugins we discussed earlier to get started.
You can also have a more elaborate set of membership plans, complete with tiers and access to different sections of the site. You divide members into groups and mark sections of your site accordingly.
Don’t forget to add content to the site too. One of the best ways to add value to your membership website is by offering quality content that members can benefit from. Pick a niche and start producing articles and videos that the users will enjoy.
Last but certainly not least, attract potential members by promoting your site. You can use social media, paid ads, and search engine optimization to target certain audience segments and attract potential members. Make sure the site is set up to accept popular payment methods and that you simplify the sign-up process as much as possible.
Complete these steps and you now have a capable membership website ready to cater to your target users. Keep adding content to the site, run digital marketing campaigns, and reach 1,000 members in no time at all.