A membership website is one of the best ways to earn an income online. Membership sites are sites created to provide exclusive content to subscribed members in exchange for a one-time fee or a recurring membership fee.
Building a membership website involves a series of steps: Researching, planning, designing, implementing, and promoting your site. This may also involve utilizing SEO strategies, social media platforms, and other forms of online marketing to drive traffic to your site.
In this article, you’ll learn all the essential steps involved in building a profitable membership website so you can create yours with less hassle.
Here are the key takeaways from this article:
- A membership site can be a great source of recurring revenue for your business
- To build a membership site, you need to research and plan to understand the market, your target audience, the competition, and the best products and features to include.
- Creating a membership site involves defining the target audience, finding the best website platform and hosting provider, designing the website, and launching and promoting the site.
- A good membership site helps build credibility and trust in your brand, promotes customer engagement, and enhances customer experience.
- For your membership site to grow faster, you need to add new content regularly, offer referral incentives, engage more with the members, and foster a sense of community.
- Offering different membership tiers can also help your membership site to grow faster.
Importance of Planning & Research For A Successful Membership Website
Building a successful membership site requires a lot of planning and research, like any other website. There are several key elements you’ll need to research before you start building the site.
Proper research will help you identify your target audience and niche, set goals and objectives, understand your competitors and market, and determine the content and features you’ll need on the site.
Let’s review each of these elements and why they’re essential for a successful membership website:
1. Understand Your Target Audience
Before you start building your website, it’s important to research and understand your target audience. You want your membership site to target a particular audience with common characteristics in terms of age, gender, profession, and geographical location, among other distinguishing factors.
Researching potential customers will help you identify their interests, needs, and wants so you can tailor the content to meet their needs. It will also keep the site focused and worth investing time and money into.
2. Set Measurable Goals & Objectives
Aside from understanding the target audience, proper research will also help you set well-defined and measurable goals and objectives for the site.
Some questions to ask when setting your goals include:
- What do you want to achieve with it?
- Are you looking for increased traffic?
- Do you want more conversions?
- How many members do you want in three months, six months, or one year?
- How much income do you want to earn from the site in the first year?
Setting goals will give you something to work towards and help you gauge how your efforts are performing once you launch the site.
3. Develop Suitable Content & Features
Once you understand your target audience and their needs, you’ll need to develop the content and features that appeal to them.
Find out the type of content that appeals to them and decide which one you’ll offer (Whether it’s exclusive courses, eBooks, webinars, podcasts, or any other type of content).
The type of content you choose should be engaging, informative, and interesting so people will stay on your site longer. Also, consider additional features such as online forums or video tutorials, which can help increase engagement by members.
4. Understand your competitors and market
Proper research will also help you understand your competitor and the market at large. You’ll need to find the top competitor member sites in your niche and analyze them to find out what they’re doing right.
Find out the type of content they offer and their marketing and promotional strategies. This information will help you draw your own strategic plan to set you up for success against your competitors.
5. Select the right website platform
Finally, conducting research before building your site will help you choose the right platform on which to build your website.
There are many options available that you can use to build a membership website. Be sure to research and find out each of their unique features, pros, and cons before settling for one.
Consider features like security and scalability when choosing a platform for your site — these are essential for any successful membership website.
Also, take time to check customer reviews and ratings from sites like Google Play Store or App Store so that you can make an informed decision about which platform best suits your site needs.
How To Create A Membership Website
Creating a membership website is an involving process. If done correctly, you can reap the benefits of having a loyal community and earn a good income from it.
To build a membership website, you will need to plan and design your site. You’ll then need to implement it by adding content and setting up payment processing methods and membership levels.
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to create a membership website:
Step 1: Define Your Target Audience and Niche
To create a successful membership website, the first step is to define who your target audience is. This means identifying who your site is for. When defining your target audience, consider the following:
Identify their demographics
Define your target audience In terms of physical location, age, gender, professional, educational level, and industry, among other essential elements. Also, define their deepest needs and wants and know how your website will help meet them.
Your site will only provide optimal value when you have a well-defined audience and provide targeted products and services to them.
Choose a niche for your site
Next, choose your area of specialization. For instance, your membership website may be a medical site, meaning it will host medical professionals, or a photography website, meaning it will host professional photographers.
Research your competition
Your competition includes similar membership sites that offer similar products or host the same audience as yours.
Some of the things you need to find out about your competition include the type of exclusive content they offer, their membership levels, their prices for each level, and the marketing and promotional strategies they employ. Find out what your competitors are doing right and emulate them when building your site.
Step 2: Plan Your Membership Website
The next step after researching and defining your target audience is to plan out the details of your membership site. When planning your site, here are the key factors to consider:
Determine your content and features
Decide on the type of content you will offer on your site and the features to be included when building the site. You can decide to offer premium courses, eBooks, podcasts, videos, or newsletters that are exclusive to website members.
Decide on a membership model
You’ll also need to decide on the pricing structure and the membership models of the site. The pricing structure can be a recurring subscription, a one-time fee, or a combination depending on a member’s preferences.
You may also offer a neutral membership or tiered membership levels depending on one’s budget and the level of content they want to access. More flexibility will attract more members to your site.
Select your pricing and payment options
Next, plan on how to set up the pricing and payment options on your membership site. What mode of payment will you integrate on the site? There are a variety of payment processing methods you can use, including PayPal, VisaCard, Master Card, Stripe, etc.
Outline the user experience and journey for your members
You’ll also need to outline the user experience and member journey from onboarding to full membership. Draft the automated emails that will be sent to your members at every stage of their subscription to give them an exciting user experience.
Create a business plan and budget for your membership website
Finally, draft a business plan for your site and set a budget for the financial resources you’ll need for the site. With an elaborate plan, you’ll be well on your way to building your dream successful membership site.
Step 3: Choose a Website Platform and Hosting Provider
Your membership website is going to need a home, so the next step would be to select the right platform on which to build it and the best hosting provider for your needs.
In this step, you need to:
Research and compare different options
There are several membership website platforms you can choose from depending on your budget and the type of functionality you need on your membership site.
Some of the best options include:
- Teachable, among others.
Similarly, there are several website hosting providers who can provide the best hosting for your site (e.g., Bluehost and SiteGround). Take time to research and compare the different options before making your final choice.
Select a platform that meets your needs and budget
When selecting a website platform and hosting provider, choose one that’s within your budget and meets your business needs and goals. For instance, does the platform allow you to create different membership levels? Does it support your preferred payment methods?
Set up your hosting account and domain name
Once you choose a platform and hosting provider, find a suitable domain name for your membership site and set up your hosting account. If you have problems setting up your account, contact your hosting provider for help.
Step 4: Design Your Membership Website
After choosing a hosting provider and creating your account, the next step is to start designing your membership website.
Designing involves customizing the site’s appearance, creating different content pages, and setting up navigation menus.
Choose a theme and customize your site’s appearance
A good membership website platform will have several in-built themes from which you can choose to start building your website.
Take time to browse through and pick one that’s suitable for you. Once you select a theme, customize its colors, fonts, and images to match your brand’s look or personal preferences.
Set up user registration and login pages
In addition to the standard website pages (e.g., homepage and about page), you’ll need to set up user registration and login pages for your membership site.
These are the pages that members will use to register and create their own accounts when joining the group.
Create a navigation structure and layout for your site
Next, create a navigation structure that will be simple and easy for members to maneuver. Set up simple navigation menus so visitors can easily find what they’re looking for.
Optimize your site for mobile devices
After you finish designing, optimize your site for mobile devices. Like any other site, most of your members will be accessing the site using mobile devices, so it’s good to give them an optimal user experience across such devices.
Always have the user experience and useability of your site in mind when designing it.
Step 5: Implement Your Membership Website
Now that you’ve created and designed it to match your brand and preferences, it’s time to implement or launch your membership website.
You may be wondering what you need to do when launching the site. Here are the things you need to do at this stage:
Add your content and features to your site
Since you already created the website pages, add content to the pages as well as the features you want on the site. For instance, if your members will have access to premium courses and eBooks, this is the time to add them to the site.
Double-check to ensure you’ve added all the features you listed down when drawing the site plan from the beginning.
Set up payment processing and membership levels
Next, set up your preferred payment methods and ensure they are supported by the platform. You’ll also need to test them upfront to ensure they are working properly.
If your site offers different membership levels, this is also the time to add them so members can choose their level immediately after signing up for the site.
Test and troubleshoot any issues
After setting up everything, do some testing and troubleshooting to ensure everything works well. Test out different pages of the site on different devices — both mobile and desktop and fix any arising issues. This will ensure your visitors won’t have any problems navigating the site or signing up for membership.
Integrate any necessary tools or plugins
Finally, integrate any tools and plugins that you’ll need to extend the functionality of your website.
Some of the tools you may need to integrate include email marketing tools, analytics tools, and social share plugins. Remember to set up any customer support systems needed in case visitors have questions about their accounts or purchases.
Step 6: Promote Your Membership Website
The final step after launching your website is to promote it to the public and get as many people to sign up as possible.
Without proper marketing and promotion, no one will know that your site exists, and consequently, no one will sign up. Here are the things you need to do to effectively promote your membership website:
Develop a marketing plan
Start by developing an elaborate marketing plan to help attract and retain members to your site. Your marketing plan should have elements that appeal to your target audience and drive public engagement.
Some concepts to include in your marketing plan include: when, where, and how to share news about the site. Decide which marketing platforms you’ll use to promote the site and the type of content (e.g, videos and podcasts) to leverage.
Utilize SEO and social media to drive traffic to your site
SEO and social media should be an essential part of your marketing plan. SEO strategies will help boost your website ranking on search engines and attract more organic traffic to it. Social media will also help you reach potential members and get them excited to join.
Utilize email marketing
In addition to SEO and social media, you can also utilize email campaigns and other forms of online marketing to promote your membership website.
Other online marketing forms you can utilize include blog posts, YouTube videos, webinars, and whitepapers. These content forms will help create buzz and bolster membership numbers for your site.
Referral bonuses and incentives
When marketing the site, consider offering incentives or bonuses for referrals or long-term memberships. This will encourage members who have already joined to invite others to join. Incentives will also make existing members want to stay for the long term.
Benefits of Having A Membership Website
There are several benefits you can reap from membership websites. Here are some of the main ones:
1. Recurring Revenue
One of the main benefits of running a membership website is that it allows you to generate recurring revenue. A membership website allows you to generate recurring revenue from paying members, which can provide a stable stream of income for your business.
You can have a stable income from the site by offering exclusive content, products, or services on a subscription basis. You can also charge additional fees for special features or perks that are only available to subscribed members.
With a membership site:
- You don’t only rely on one-time purchases or advertising revenue like you would with other types of websites.
- You get a good revenue from the monthly or by-monthly subscription fees from the members.
- Even if you were to sell a product or service on your site, you’d be assured of good returns since you already have a targeted audience that needs the product.
- Offering discounts and bonuses for extended memberships can encourage customers to commit to the long term and increase their overall revenue.
2. Building a Community
A membership website can help you to build an engaged community of like-minded individuals who are interested in your niche, products, or services. They can help you foster community and build lasting relationships with your customers and potential customers. With such a site, you can engage directly with your members and build relationships with them over time.
Additionally, giving people access to exclusive content, such as premium courses, eBooks, forums, webinars, and other resources, you can create an environment where members feel valued and connected to each other.
As a business person, you reap the benefits of lasting relationships since members can become loyal customers and are more likely to recommend your products and services to others.
3. Exclusive Content and Benefits
The essence of building membership websites is to offer members exclusive products which are not accessible to the general public. As the site owner, you can offer members high-end products such as videos, podcasts, exclusive newsletters, and articles, among other digital products.
They can also get additional benefits like discounts on products or services they may already be buying from you. By offering exclusive content and benefits to your members, you can encourage them to continue their membership and attract new members.
- A membership website sets your business apart from the competition and makes you the go-to person for your line of products or services.
- Even though your competitors may offer cheaper prices, they won’t beat you easily since you offer extra value beyond your products.
- Membership websites are a marketing strategy that costs less than traditional advertising methods, making them an even more cost-effective way to attract and retain customers to your business.
4. Enhanced Customer Experience
A membership site offers an enhanced customer experience, which can be beneficial to your business. In this eCommerce era, customers don’t just buy the products or services, they also buy the experience.
By offering personalized experiences and tailored content to your members, you can enhance their customer experience and build stronger relationships with them. A good customer experience will encourage them to come back and do business with you over again.
With a membership site;
- Customers can easily find information about new products or services that may be relevant to them based on their interests or preferences.
- If they have any questions or issues regarding the products, they can quickly reach out via the membership platform for assistance.
- Having reliable customer support also enhances customer experience and sets you apart from competitors who don’t offer these benefits.
- You create a loyalty program that can help boost customer retention rates. When you provide incentives, you encourage customers to stick around longer than they might otherwise have done without these rewards.
5. Increased Engagement and Interaction
Membership sites can provide opportunities for increased engagement and interaction among members. They can interact through forums, groups, or other interactive features integrated into the platform. When creating your website, it’s important to integrate features such as discussion boards that enable members to interact and discuss important issues.
- Members can use such platforms to discuss issues related to your products and services.
- They can also ask questions about how to use a product or service.
- Provides a good opportunity for you to answer a larger group.
Aside from your products, members can sometimes have brief discussions on emerging global issues, through which they can form legit friendships. Such friendly discussions can make them feel like part of an exclusive club where their voices are heard.
As the site owner, you benefit from increased interactions and engagement and stand a good chance of increased revenue for your business.
6. Increased Authority & Credibility
Membership websites are also an excellent way for businesses to build authority and gain trustworthiness in the eyes of potential customers. By providing authoritative information or resources related to their industry or niche market, you come out as the industry expert and gain more credibility.
It’s no secret that everyone wants to do business with an expert. The better quality content you provide on your website, the more likely that people will view you as an authority in your field. This will ultimately lead them back to your business when they need something related to your niche market.
Interacting with members and answering their questions also leads to increased trust and loyalty among members, who ultimately become your loyal customers. The result? More business and more recurrent revenue for you!
Tips For Maintaining and Growing Your Membership Website
Have you recently launched your membership site but don’t know how to maintain it? Or maybe you’ve had your site for a while now but are skeptical about how to grow it further.
If you are in either of these conditions, there are several strategies you can use to maintain and grow your membership site with less hassle. Here are five of the most effective ones:
1. Regularly Add New and Fresh Content
The most effective way to keep your members engaged and grow your membership site is to always provide fresh content.
This could mean adding new blog posts, videos, or podcasts on a regular basis. Keeping your website up to date with new content can help to keep members engaged and encourage them to continue their membership.
In addition to fresh content, consider hosting webinars or special events on your site that offer exclusive content to members. Such events will create a sense of exclusivity and encourage more people to join your site while keeping the existing members.
2. Offer Incentives for Referrals
Referral incentives is another effective strategy that will help your membership site grow fast.
Encourage your current members to refer their friends and colleagues to your website by offering incentives such as discounts or special access to content.
Word-of-mouth is one of the most powerful marketing tools available today. In this digital era, most referrals occur through social media. Encourage existing members to share the word about your site on their personal social media pages and offer them discounts or freebies in exchange for referring someone else to join.
This strategy will not only grow your membership base fast but also foster loyalty among existing members.
3. Foster a Sense of Community
In addition to offering fresh content and referral incentives, strive to foster a sense of community among existing members. Building a sense of community among members can help to create a sense of belonging and encourage them to stay engaged with your website.
Consider setting up forums where members can interact with each other and discuss topics related to your industry or niche. You can also set up Question and Answer (Q&A) sessions regularly so people can ask their questions and share insights.
Additionally, you can create groups within the site where members can connect based on shared interests or goals. This will make the site feel like a friendly community for members, and they’ll never want to leave the site soon. They’ll even be willing to refer their friends and family to your site.
4. Engage with Your Members
Engaging with your members is another great way to keep them coming back. For your site to grow faster, don’t just let people sign up and leave them hanging.
Spare time to interact with them regularly and let them feel your presence. Be part of forums to answer their questions and give more powerful insights.
Additionally, consider reaching out via email or social media platforms regularly so they feel like they’re part of something larger than themselves.
Regularly interacting with your members and responding to their questions or concerns will help build trust and create a more personal connection with your website. This will help the site grow fast.
5. Consider Offering Different Membership Tiers
Finally, if you want to attract more people to join your membership website, consider offering different membership tiers with varying levels of access and benefits.
Segment memberships into different levels based on how much a member is willing and able to spend, either monthly or annually. You can also give the option of lifetime access at discounted prices to promote long-term membership.
A membership site with different membership tiers can cater to the needs and preferences of different members with different financial capabilities. This will encourage more people to join since they have control over how much they can spend on the site.
Get Started With Creating Your Membership Website!
Building a membership website doesn’t need to be an overly daunting task, even if it’s your first time. With the right mindset and dedication, you can create an effective membership website that attracts and retains loyal members and customers.
The steps involved in building a successful membership site are clear and achievable for anyone.
The most essential steps you need to take include:
- Researching and understanding your target audience
- Creating quality content to offer members
- Offering multiple payment options
- Offering incentives for referrals
- Continuously updating fresh content
A successful membership website needs proper research to build its foundation; without it you may struggle to promote it and grow your user base.
Finally, once you have a good idea of what you want to achieve with your membership website, don’t hesitate to find the best web hosting providerand the best website builderand start building that dream site today.
Next Steps: What Now?
Now that you’ve read to the end and learnt how to create your membership site, here are some practical steps to take from this article:
- Find the best web hosting provider Find the Best Web Hosting
- Find the best website builder from our list of the Best Website Builders of 2023
Further Reading – Useful Resources
Here are more useful resources you can read to learn more about how to create a successful membership website: