This blog post is only likely to be of interest to you if you either:
a) Already have a membership website and are snooping around my set-up to see what you can learn
b) Are dreaming of having recurring income via a membership site at some point in the future
….maybe c) You like looking at lists of technical resources (who am I to judge).
[tweetshare tweet=”Membership websites - more complicated than you think, but so worth the effort #entrepreneur”]
Starting from the ground up, this is how The Worditude Club is put together:
The Domain Name
I decided to host my membership site on a separate domain name to my current blog. This helped me get around the issue of wanting to charge in dollars (which would’ve been a bit weird on a site with a .co.uk TLD).
For a long time, I hosted all of my websites with a small UK based company TSO Host. Due to speed issues I have started moving my sites over to Siteground. The club hasn’t been transferred yet, but it will do soon. I am very happy with the support and level of service I have received there so far, and this website has a much-improved load time after the move.
Both this website and my membership site are built on WordPress, using the Divi theme from Elegant Themes. There are occasional blips when updated theme versions aren’t 100% what they should be, but I’m ignoring those, and embracing the flexibility of design this theme offers.
This is the question I am asked most often - how did I choose what to membership platform to use? The Worditude Club uses the Memberpress plugin. It was important for me to be able to get inside the platform, upload my own membership content, poke around, play about and generally fiddle behind the scenes until I got things just how I wanted them. As I am already experienced with WordPress, it made sense to use a WordPress plugin, rather than a 3rd party platform like Teachable or Thinkific.
If getting elbows deep in html doesn’t make your heart skip with joy you may either want to hire a developer to do this work for you (I had help from a VA to keep the project moving) or use a more simple 3rd-party platform.
For more information, The Membership Guys have a free printable plugin comparison chart here.
Money, Money, Money
The transfer of money online still baffles my mother. ‘But how do they pay you. Do people actually give you money?’ It causes her no end of stress that I don’t have an employer to deposit regular paychecks into my account. Anyway, enough about my family dramas.
I use Paypal and Stripe. I did not do a huge amount of research into this, so you may wish to dig a little deeper. By the time I was thinking about adding this functionality to my website I was so tired, a de-motivated, I was considering letting people join in exchange for posting me wine.
I chose those two because they are widely known and therefore more easily trusted by the buyer.
I didn’t research fees/cheaper alternatives so there may be better options out there.
I added Stripe due to a widespread aversion to people using Paypal when they don’t have a Paypal account. By the time I had explained to five separate people that they could use their credit card details by hitting the Paypal button, even if they didn’t have a Paypal account, I realized it would be more efficient to just add a second option.
Do not attempt to host your videos on your own website. You will break it (I did it). After I realized the error of my ways (or someone more knowledgeable than me pointed out my error), I signed up with Vimeo. Now I upload my videos there, make them viewable only via a private link, then embed the video onto a webpage in my membership area.
Forum vs Facebook Group
I’m a mum. Much of my work is done via my mobile phone, during snatched moments alone. And many of my Wordidudes (Worditude Club Members) are in the same position, so I knew a Facebook group would work better for all of us than an onsite forum. There is much debate around this issue, and generally, a forum is considered the better option. I use Post Planner to help me schedule regular posts (reminders and notices for the members) to the Facebook group.
All my email marketing is via Convertkit. They integrate with Memeberpress so I can tag people when they join and leave, then send a welcome sequence, and ad hoc emails to my members without having to email them individually.
I can’t go without mentioning Designsta - the graphics platform founded by my good friend Louise. It’s been an essential tool to enable me to bring my own brand and identity to the membership site.
I have benefited so much from the kindness, support and wisdom of other entrepreneurs further along with their business than I am. Whenever I am able, I seek to pay it forward. So if you’re thinking of building your own membership site, and you’ve got a question not covered here, pop along to my free Facebook group, The Worditude Workshop, and tag me into a post.
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