How to Create a Membership Website in WordPress (2023 Guide)

WordPress is one of the best platforms you can use to build a membership website. With all the themes and plugins available, you have full control over building various types of membership sites. In this guide, we’ll walk through the benefits of a membership site, some prerequisites to consider before building one, and a simple step-by-step process to building your own.

What is a Membership Site?

A membership site is a website that provides exclusive, private content to subscribers. This content could be in the form of videos, blog posts, courses, or other perks. When building your WordPress membership site, there are several features that you should include to provide your community with a positive experience. Firstly, your WordPress membership website should have a page that lists and describes the various membership levels and perks that come with each level.

This will help your community assess the membership type they would like to join. A signup form allows your members to join your website and can be customized to match your membership offerings or collect certain information that you will need from your member.

A login form ensures that only your members can access your gated content, making it a staple in every membership website. After logging in, your site can give members a place to manage their membership. They can upgrade their plan, manage their information, and perform other maintenance tasks there.

The main attractiveness of building a WordPress membership site is providing private content to your members. You can use a membership site to sell courses, downloadable music, software, and more. This exclusive content is only available to those who have created their account and logged in to your website. Now that we know what some of the features of a WordPress membership site are, let’s look at some of the reasons why you may want to invest the time in building one.

Benefits of a WordPress Membership Site

Building a membership site is quite a process, but it has several rewards you may want to consider as you embark on this journey. Some key benefits include:

Now that you know why you should consider building a WordPress membership site, here are a few things to have on hand as you start your quest.

Prerequisites for Creating a WordPress Membership Site

Before building your WordPress membership site, these are the tools and actions you should take to ensure that you have a successful website build:

How to Build a WordPress Membership Site

With all the necessary prerequisites for your membership site in place, let’s take the plunge and see step-by-step what we need to do to make this a reality. Since we are going to be concentrating on membership for this guide, you may need to check out our complete guide on how to make a WordPress website beforehand. This tutorial will show the critical steps to building a membership site using the top-rated membership plugin, MemberPress. However, these steps will also apply when using other membership plugins.

1. Install Your WordPress Membership Plugin

From your WordPress dashboard, hover over the Plugins menu option. Then, click Add New. Since MemberPress is a premium plugin, you must download it from your member portal before uploading it to your WordPress website. Once you’ve downloaded your ZIP file, click the Upload Plugin button. Then, upload the MemberPress ZIP file. Click the Install Now button.

Once the plugin is installed, click the blue Activate Plugin button to complete the installation of MemberPress.

With your plugin installed and activated, we can move to the next step, setting up our packages.

2. Create Memberships Levels

Your memberships are the backbone of revenue generation for your membership site. To add a new membership in MemberPress, click on the Memberships text link to create your first membership level. Here, you can give your membership a name and description and set up your term.

Your membership term establishes how much you’ll charge your customers, the frequency they’ll be charged, and how long their access lasts. Give your membership a name, add a description, and set your new membership level’s pricing and billing terms. Additionally, you’ll need to set up the types of members that can subscribe to this level. Scroll down to the Membership Options tab. Click on the Permissions tab. This is where you can assign certain member groups within your WordPress site to this membership level. With this setup, click the blue Publish button to activate this membership level.

3. Setup Payment Method

Your payment method will be used to process and bill your clients. Popular payment processors for digital products include Stripe and PayPal. To access and add payment gateways to your MemberPress install, click on Settings. Then, click on Payments.

As part of the planning process for your membership site, it’s good to have your payment processing account set up and connected to your bank account. You can add multiple payment methods to your membership site. This helps give your community options when paying you for access to your exclusive content.

Setup Access Rules to Drip and Protect Your Content

An essential part of a membership site is setting up your access rules. These rules allow you to determine who can access your content, what conditions they need to meet, and how your content is dripped or dripped to your members. In MemberPress, click on the Rules text link from the MemberPress menu to start creating your content rules.

MemberPress has over ten rules that you can use to determine what type of content you’d like to protect. These include but are not limited to all content, post categories, courses, custom URIs, custom post types, and more. Additionally, it has four types of access conditions that you can use to determine who has access to the protected content within each rule.

Once you’ve created the access rules for your content, you’ll need to decide whether to drip your content or have your content have an expiration date. You can set these factors up in the Drip/Expiration box. The Rules pages are where you create the best access conditions that you’ll need for your WordPress membership site. Once you’ve created your membership rules, publish them by clicking Save Rule to make them active.

Create Members-Only Content

With your membership levels created and rules in place, it’s now time to create your gated content! With MemberPress, any content on your website can become members-only. Blog posts or courses, custom post types, and everything in between can be protected by the rules set up in MemberPress. As long as your content matches the rules that you’ve set, it’ll be hidden from the public and only available to those who have an active membership to your website.

Create Your Membership-Specific Pages

In addition to your members-only content and essential website pages (homepage, about, contact, etc.), a membership site will require pages specific to the membership process. Your membership plugin may generate some pages, while others must be manually created. Example membership-specific pages include:

Login Page

Members use the login page to access their profile and exclusive content on your website.

By default, MemberPress uses the ReadyLaunch login page template. However, you can create a custom page on your website to act as your login page by using blocks or a page builder plugin.

Registration Page

The registration page is the first entry point into your membership site. While plugins like MemberPress give you direct links to the registration pages of your different membership levels, you may need other tools to spruce up your pages.

Pricing Page

Click on Groups from the MemberPress menu to create your first group of membership levels. This will also create a default pricing page where all the pricing plans within said group are listed for your customers to subscribe to your membership.

Thank You Page

After a member has subscribed to your website, they are typically presented with a thank you page. This page may show their transaction details, information about their membership level, and the next steps in the membership process. MemberPress allows you to present your thank you page in two ways: through a global thank you page or custom pages according to each membership level.

Account Page

Finally, the account page is where your members can update and change their membership.

Members can see their active subscriptions on their account page, edit their profile, change their password, and more. Providing your members with a way to make amendments to their account allows them to control their membership while saving you from manually updating their files.

Tip: Use a Page Builder!

Using a page builder is a straightforward way to build stunning and high-converting registration, login, and profile pages for your memberships.

Here’s an example of the page builder Divi working with MemberPress to create a custom registration form for a monthly membership. Page builders allow you to bring your branding and unique style to your membership site, increasing brand awareness and instilling confidence in potential community members. Many popular page builders have modules and elements like login boxes, registration forms, and more that you can brand beautifully to match your website while creating a visually appealing WordPress membership site for your community.

Add Links to Your Menu

With your plans created, it’s time to add your registration page and a login button to your menu. Using a plugin like Login or Logout Menu Item brings this automated functionality to your WordPress membership site. Also, it makes it easy for your members to access their content without using the default WordPress login screen.

Using a plugin that allows the link in your menu to change whether a member is logged in or out adds an excellent user experience. Additionally, Adding the link to your custom registration page is a great way to increase the number of people who sign up to your WordPress membership site, as it is easy for them to sign up and join your community.

Test Membership Process

After all your hard work, testing your WordPress membership site is advisable. Testing your process allows you to see where there might be bottlenecks in your workflow and allows you to fix them before showing your site to the world.

Setting your payment gateway into test mode is a great way to see how your new WordPress membership site functions. To do this, click on the Settings menu item. Then, click on Payments. Switch your payment gateway to testing. This alone can help you test your email notifications, refine your payment process and check if your rules work correctly. For testing MemberPress, you’ll also need to be logged in as a member, not an administrator. So testing in a private browsing page or as a test account is recommended to get the full experience that one of your subscribers will go through.

Styling Your WordPress Membership Website

Last but certainly not least, you should style your new WordPress membership site. MemberPress has a built-in styler called ReadyLaunch, where you can set your logo and brand colors. To access ReadyLauncher, click on the Settings menu link. Then, click on ReadyLaunch.

Although the built-in design functions of a WordPress membership site plugin are helpful, depending on the theme or page builder you’re using, you can use your imagination and design a highly visual membership site for your customers.

Page builders like Divi, Elementor, Beaver Builder, and more have deep integrations with some of the top membership plugins. Combining the power of a page builder with your membership plugin can help you beautifully style your WordPress membership site.

For more, check out how to build a membership site with Divi.

Other WordPress Membership Plugins to Consider

While MemberPress is a solid choice when building a WordPress membership site, there are plenty of other choices that you can consider when building your website. Always keep the needs of your subscribers as well as the type of content that you’ll be providing in mind when choosing this critical piece of your new website:

Building a WordPress membership site can be daunting. However, we hope we’ve broken it into manageable pieces with this guide. At its core, a WordPress membership site will bring your community together and can provide you with a way to make money online. Your website’s foundation (domain and hosting) is critical as you build your site. Additionally, your choice of membership plugin can make or break your WordPress membership site. MemberPress is an established WordPress membership plugin with excellent reviews, an expansive feature set, and solid technical support. Building your WordPress membership website with it is a good choice. You can also lean on many alternatives if you require a different approach for your site. With the right tools and a solid plan, building a great WordPress membership website you and your community will enjoy interacting with is possible.

This content was originally published here.