3 Simple Steps to Starting a Membership Site

Starting a membership site can be one of the most exciting, online income tools that you can use for your blog. There is nothing like receiving passive income each and every month. Memberships sites can be used in just about any niche. All you really need to do is use video and some content that you create that answers questions for people in your niche. You can show them how to make something or how to do something step by step. I have seen this model used in many environments. It is important to start with things you are passionate about. What are your passions?

Two years ago, while my career coaching blog was still young, I decided to try to develop a membership site. My idea was to have an online job search coaching program that walked people from designing a resume to landing a job. I looked at many different membership models and software packages. I quickly became over-whelmed. It was then that I made an important choice to keep things simple. I choose to go with a fixed membership site. I did not want to have to keeping adding new content to keep people happy. So, I choose to go with a 4 month membership site. After 4 months, they would no longer be charged.

3 Simple Steps to Starting a Membership Site

Simplicity and taking action quickly is important when it comes to the online world. You really have no idea whether something is viable until you test it. So, always opt for rolling something out and improving as you go along. Here are 3 simple steps for you to consider:

1. Use Password Protected Pages in WordPress

In my attempt to keep things simple, I just used protected pages in WordPress. I gave out the same password to everyone in an automatic email after they signed up. Each page was a different week’s worth of content. In the end I had 18 pages of content. I did this for a reason that I will explain in a bit.

2. Use the Paypal Subscription Button

Paypal allows you to set up add to cart buttons that will charge your customers monthly and automatically for you. I set my payment at $27 month for 4 months. There was nothing else that I had to really worry about. I got paid instantly and could use that money anyway that I wanted.

3. Use an Autoresponder Service to Drip Content

This was the genius of the entire set-up for me. Dripping content means that you give out the content a little at a time. It provided a way to keep my customers with my through the entire 4 months. I used Aweber and I set up 18 emails in the system. Each email had a brief discriprion of that week’s content and a link to the worpress page where the training videos were. I set it up inside Aweber to email them every 7 days from the day they originally signed up. This allowed everything to happen automatically for me. Automation is a beautiful thing!

The Secret Sauce

The other genius behind this system was that when I went live with my membership site I only had two weeks of content completed. Of course, I had an outline for all 18 weeks, but since I was dripping content to the members they had no idea that I was creating the rest of the content just a few weeks before them. What an awesome thought to think that you can roll out an idea for a membership site quickly without having to complete the entire program at once!

The opening weekend that I launched the membership site, I had 15 sign-ups! I was so excited because I really do not have an overwhelming amount of traffic at that time.

3 Helpful Resources

Micro-Continuity Program – I learned most of this membership model from Russell Brunson. He has a great program called Micro-Continuity. While I did use ideas from other places. I found that this gave me the rough skeleton for what I wanted to do with my membership site.

WP Member Champ – This is a simple WordPress plugin that I wish I would have had when putting this plan together. It allows you to easily add Paypal buttons wherever you want on your site and allows you to distribute individual user names and password. It is simple, but effective.

The 10 Membership Models – Video Series

If you want a more complete educational series on different membership models, the guys over a Wishlist have created a free video series on 10 different membership models that you can use. You can watch the video series by clicking here. The wishlist plugin is a good product with a lot of robust options. Essentially, it is a WordPress Plugin that gives you a built-in membership site.

Question: Have you ever desired to set up a membership site?

    Jonathan has been blogging since 2009 and is still in awe that the Creator of the Universe desires to have a relationship with him. His passions include spending time with his kids, reading, March Madness, surprise get-a-way trips with his wife, and watching funny YouTube videos.

    • http:/sideincomeblogging.com Larry

      Thanks for the tips and insight, definitely bookmarking this for a membership idea I have.

      I just recently set-up a membership site for a client and used the S2Member plugin (http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/s2member/). Was really impressed with features and flexibility. Best part? It’s free.

      You tip on dripping content via AWeber is brilliant! Thanks for sharing your “secrets”.

      • Jonathan

        Thanks Larry. Glad that you liked the idea. Let us know how we can help with designing any future memberships sites.

    • http://DiscipleshipGuy.com/ Matthew E. Parrott

      I have been working on a membership site for a pretty long time. I have the business plan laid out, the domains and social media accounts, and have even attempted building it. Unfortunately I have not been able to launch it or design quite the way I want to. I also don’t know if WordPress is capable of doing what I am looking for…

      • Anonymous

        Hi Matthew. I know the feeling. I would bet that there is a WordPress Solution out there that could meet your needs. Wishlist Member is doing things right in my opinion. They not only have a robust system but they also provide a lot of training on different membership models. You can find links to them on out Recommended Page.

      • Anonymous

        Out of the box WordPress probably wouldn’t be the best thing for a membership site, but I know that there are some plugins out there that can add that functionality if needed.

    • http://twitter.com/maryrettig Mary Rettig

      Thanks, you gave me ideal to start my own membership site. Now I need to grow my list.

      • Anonymous

        Great! I hope you go for it! Just keep taking action and learn from it. Jonathan

    • http://www.checklistmag.com/ Smart Checklist e-Mag

      New post with lovely ideas!

    • http://www.BethanyJett.com/ Bethany Jett

      Are you using WishList Member currently?

      • http://bloggingyourpassion.com/ Jonathan Milligan

        Hi Bethany,

        I’m using OptimizePress to run my membership site and love it!