The Power Of Membership Sites: Are You Ready?
Featured in eLearning Industry
Don’t fret, you don’t have to be a booming business, or a thriving university to receive the benefits of membership sites. As an educational technologist and Instructional Designer, I have found that my community wants more from me at the end of a living workshop, seminar, or course. I’m assuming you have experienced this as well and may have wondered how to continue this flow of wisdom.
Membership sites can serve your students, and audience in a meaningful and intimate way.
And that is the point, right?
We, as educators, need to be of service to our students and reach them through digital platforms and stages like Facebook live, webinars, online courses, and of course the membership portals. In my design and educational app development, it’s important for me to appeal, as well as design for all the adult needs.
Through memberships, you can create a variety of opportunities for your students to evolve, and get involved through visual, auditory, and kinesthetic approaches. We all learn and absorb differently, so teach and reach through platforms that will convert, and engage the visual and freestyle learners.
A membership site gives you an opportunity to teach a high yield course as a live workshop, self-paced course, or drip training, all within the same platform, what we refer to as “all-in-one” platform.
No matter where you are within your path, I personally feel you can enhance your offerings, and give more to your students through a membership opportunity. It’s like having a secret club, an inner circle, otherwise known as a mastermind, a place for like-minded individuals to gather, share, and rise up!
When we create exclusivity, we create a want and need.
Within this urgency, you will build a meaningful and empowering community specifically designed for your niche. A community where you lead, teach, follow, and lead again. A complete circle. We are always the student, the teacher, and then the student. A constant growth.
So let me go over the benefits, and how you can get started!
Why A Membership Site? How Can A Membership Platform Benefit Me, Or My Company/Institution?
Firstly, let’s go over what a membership site actually is:
Definition Of A Membership Site
“A membership site is a private, gated part of your online business, a password-protected website that offers exclusive content and training. These members pay you either a one-time or a recurring monthly fee for access to the site. With a free membership site, you would grant access to prime content, assets, or products in exchange for a member’s personal information and demographics for marketing purposes. You can offer a combination of free and paid levels within the same site, allowing your customers to upgrade their memberships according to their needs.”
Membership style websites allow you to reach a larger global audience, as well as find a way to increase your revenue by developing a reoccurring and reliable flow of income, while building brand loyalty, and awareness at the same time.
A Great Path To Becoming An Industry Leader In Your Field
With a membership-based model, you are creating a community space where you can offer a large array of services perfectly defined to your niche, for example:
- Affiliate programs (Your affiliate programs)
- Coaching/Member Calls
- Community forum
- Committee management
- Content archives
- Drip content (Courses/Materials)
- Increase User Engagement
- Live webinars/Live events
- Member Dues
- Member-only perks
- Online courses
- Paid subscriptions
- Registration forms
- Workbooks/Cheat sheets/Guides
People will pay for your wisdom, your teachings, and your products because of who you are. Simply because they see you as one of tomorrow’s changemakers! I was torn between creating courses or doing a membership site, and I chose to do both to see the benefits and differences. I feel that membership sites create value, and I really want to give to my audience and students value. I wanted to create a sacred space for sharing, and thriving in education and technology. So for me, a membership model worked, and hopefully for you as well!
Wanting To Start Your Membership Site? If So, Here Are The Steps
Firstly, decide whether or not you want to have your membership as a stand-alone site, or incorporated into your primary website.
This depends on your needs.
*Due to the availability of plugins, I highly suggest using WordPress. WordPress has become the leading choice for building membership platforms. So for the steps below, I have used WordPress as the membership example. After these initial steps, I have also listed online membership platforms for non-WordPress users.
1. Choose A Domain Name, SSL, And WordPress Hosting Service
The beginning steps to building your membership site include getting a domain name, SSL and WordPress hosting account.
I suggest using BLUEHOST, the #1 WordPress Hosting Platform. With the purchase of your hosting plan, you will receive a free domain, and SSL, for as low as $2.95 a month. Or WordPress specific hosts like WordPress Engine.
2. Choose A Membership Friendly WordPress Theme
For my membership sites, I use Avada by Theme-Fusion. There are several themes to choose from like Studio Press, and THRIVE for example. The most important thing is to have a responsive theme that is compatible with your WP membership plugins, which I will mention below.
*Paid themes are much more functional than the free themes, FYI.
3. Choose A Membership Plugin
Personally, I use the Memberpress ‘All In One’ WP Plugin. It’s easy to use and set up, and so far has been the best plugin for my membership sites. However, I have created a list of plugins, I suggest you look through them and find a plugin that works best for you and your services.
Membership plugins (Click Links Below)
- OptimizePress 2 – WordPress Membership
- Paid Member Subscriptions
- Paid Memberships Pro
- Restrict Content Pro
- RainMaker Platform
Okay, you have the steps needed to set up your membership site! You have your domain, hosting, and SSL. Hopefully, you have chosen a beautiful WP membership theme, and you have purchased the membership plugin (or are using a free or trial version).
And now, you are ready to set up your site!
*If you are not tech savvy, then delegate this work to your developer, or hire someone to set up your membership site. If you know a thing or two about WordPress, then great!
I will use MemberPress as an example.
When purchasing a paid version, you will need to download your plugin as well as the registration information. After you have downloaded the plugin and saved it to the appropriate file, then please upload the plugin, and activate. Once you have activated the MemberPress plugin, you will then add your payment methods, as well as set up your payment gateway.
Now that your payment gateways are set up, it’s time to develop your membership levels, plans, or projects. Because this article is focused on the benefits of having a membership site for your educational or Instructional Design business, I have attached a how-to tutorials from MemberPress.
Learn How To Set Up Your Membership Site
Online membership programs and services
For those of you who are not using WordPress, and want an online program, I have listed a few of my favorite online services for your membership site.
So, that is the low down. The benefits of having a membership site for your business, or practice within the realm of education, as well as the steps needed to set up a membership site.
I feel that our work is precious, it takes time, it takes love to generate amazing content, so why not niche down, and create a community of students hungry for your wisdom, as well as an opportunity to grow as an industry leader. A membership site will increase your revenue, help build your brand, and generate traffic, so why not? You can start slowly, and test it. It’s worth a try.
With that said, I wish you the best of success and thank you for being an educator and a change maker of tomorrow.
Disclosure: Some of the links I have provided are partner and affiliate links. I may receive a small commission when you click my link and make a purchase (at no additional cost to you!) Thank you in advance. I share these affiliates and partner programs because I believe in the product and use them for my business. -Raven Meyers, Heart + S.T.E.A.M. EDU