How to Create a Membership Site From Scratch

starting a membership site

Are you thinking about creating a membership site but don't know where to start?

You may have thought about starting a membership site for a while, but may have become overwhelmed just thinking about the process of setting everything up.

There are many reasons why you may want to create a membership site.

Some of the main benefits to creating a membership site are:

  • Higher perceived value of products and services
  • Build customer loyalty
  • Create recurring revenue




Here are 5 essential things you will need to start a membership site:

1. Membership Site Software

When choosing a software for your membership site, it's important to consider your needs first.  There are many membership site software available -- some much more expensive than others -- but if you're setting up a simple membership site, then you don't have to worry about using a sophisticated software.   You will get along just fine with software that allows you to protect your content, create registration and login forms, and drip feed your content over time and integrate your preferred payment gateways.

Some simple membership sites to consider are:

  • S2member
  • OptimizeMember (included with OptimizePress)

If you will need more features such as the ability to add coupons, advanced drip feed options, dime sells, and 1-click upsells, product chaining, built-in autoresponders and more, then you will need to look at more sophisticated software.

The following membership site software provide more advanced features:

2. Build Your Sales Funnel Pages

In order to get customers to sign up for your membership and be able to login to your membership portal so that they can start consuming your content, you will need at least these 8 pages as part of your sales funnel sequence:

  1. sales page
  2. registration page
  3. checkout page
  4. login form
  5. thank you page
  6. members dashboard
  7. members course page
  8. members lesson page

If you focus on creating these essential pages, then you'll be able to create your membership site in no time.

Landing Page Software such as OptimizePress and LeadPages will help you create these pages much faster.  OptimizePress for example, has the ability to create all of these pages including the membership course pages, lesson pages and home pages.  LeadPages will help you create the sales pages, and thank you pages.  If you're looking for an all-in-one solution to quickly creating your membership site, then OptimizePress will be indispensable.

3. Payment Processor

If you're going to be offering more than a free membership site, then you'll also need a payment processor to be able to handle payments.

The most common payment processor used for membership sites are Paypal Standard.  Paypal Standard is free to use monthly (as opposed to Paypal Pro), but you will be charged a 2.9% + .30 fee each time a transaction takes place.

Another popular payment processor software to use if want to accept credit cards directly on your website is Stripe.  Stripe is also a 2.9% + 0.30 free for each transaction.

Most membership sites will be able to integrate with many payment processors including Stripe, Authorize.net, and many others.

If you're just getting started and want to get up and running quickly, then you can't go wrong with Paypal Standard.  It's fairly simple to setup and integrate with your membership software.  Once it has been integrated then you can start collecting payments as well have the ability to offer upsells.

4. Create Engaging Content

If you want to entice and retain members, then you'll need to offer your members compelling and valuable content on a regular basis.  By creating on-going value for them, you'll build trust with your members, and they won't consider cancelling their membership site anytime soon.

One of the best ways to keep your members engaged is to offer monthly group webinars or teleseminars, bonus content, exclusive blog content, critiques, exercises, new checklists and so on. Each month you can add more value and update your existing content so that members are getting the most up-to-date information available.

5. Build Community

One of the core human drives is the need to bond or connect with others.  As humans we yearn for human connection and will do anything to be a part of a group.

If you include an online community as a feature of your membership site -- such as a forum or facebook group -- then people will be much more likely to buy and stick around long term. They will also feel as though they are part of an elite group and have access to insiders knowledge and secrets.

Building and managing an online community can take time a lot and effort, but it can be worth it in the long run since you are focusing on customer relationships and retention.  This way you'll need to spend less money on acquiring new members and will be able to focus your time, money and effort on creating more value for your users.  As long as you continue to satisfy your members consistently, you can build a sustainable, and predictably profitable online business for yourself.

Mayank Gupta
 

Mayank Gupta is a certified digital marketer, entrepreneur and founder of SimpleStartup. He has over 8 years experience helping entrepreneurs successfully start and grow their businesses online. He is also a professional blogger and writes regularly for Medium, Lifehack, SimpleStartup and others. You can tweet him @simple_startup

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