10 Steps to Building a Paid Membership Site with WordPress

Have you already created content for an online course? Are you after a great way to supplement a coaching program? Or do you just simply need to get your talent online and available to more people? Whether you have an existing audience or not, a membership site is the best way to bring all your talents together and to serve your clients efficiently.

Below you will find the necessary steps in getting a membership site online and accepting payments through a payment gateway using WordPress. Why should you use WordPress? Because it’s free, easy understand, and is by far, the most expandable app for the job. By using WordPress you will not have to pay a percentage of each payment to a third party website. You will also have full control over your future and have no restriction on the total number of memberships or subscribers. Sounds good? Then let’s get going.

01. Get a domain name

Always get at least the .COM and the .IE versions of your domain name, e.g. mydomain.com and mydomain.ie. This ensures you have the best starting point to sell through Google in Ireland and worldwide. You should also consider getting other domains that may be important in the future: .EU  .ORG .NET etc.

02. Get web hosting

Hosting is where you store your wordpress software, images and other files. Membership sites require a lot more processing then a basic site so never the cheap hosting option. Get the fastest hosting you can afford and get it from a good hosting provider that will actually provide support. Also make sure you get Linux Hosting and not Windows. Gathering valuable WordPress information from forums and blog posts is much simpler if you use Linux.

03. Install WordPress

This varies from host to host and is usually accomplished easily in the hosting control panel. The most common control panel is cPanel. cPanel is also the easiest to use for the newcomer and the most highly recommended.

04. Point your domain name to your WordPress site*

This is done in your domain register control panel. Domain control panels vary and DNS* is complicated, so if you don’t know what you are doing DNS wise, then asking support to point your domain to your WordPress host is probably the best option.

05. Purchase and install a top quality WordPress membership plugin

Using free membership plugins will prove to be a waste of time. Eventually, you will find out after weeks of your hard work that the functionality you require is simply not available in the plugin. So, grab the best plugin you can afford, and try to make sure it has all the functionality you will need going forward.

06. Set up an account with the payment gateway of your choice

This would be a payment gateway like Paypal, Stripe etc. You may need to confirm your Identity and bank details in order to be able to sell through the payment gateway. NOTE: You will need a business account to accept payments through Paypal.

07. Connect your membership plugin to the payment gateway

This is done in the membership plugin control panel in the WordPress admin area. This step will vary according to the membership plugin you choose. The good news is that once your membership plugin is connected to the payment gateway you are ready to start making money from your talents.

08. Publish your web pages in WordPress

First create the basic pages: home, about, contact etc. Then move on to create the pages you wish to protect, e.g. your online course pages.

09. Setup your membership plugin to protect the pages

You want your membership pages to be only viewable to logged-in users who have paid through your payment gateway. Page protection is achieved by applying membership levels in your membership plugin. This process will differ considerably from plugin to plugin.

10. Test your new membership site

The only way to really test that everything is working is by completing the buying process from a new user’s perspective. Log out of WordPress and test the membership with a different email address, and continue to use different emails while testing.

The last thing you need is for all your hard work to be downloaded by some unscrupulous user for free or even resold! So it is very important to make sure your pages and content are not viewable to unpaid visitors. This means that you need to test and re-test before you launch your new membership site to the world.

An easier way?

Setting up a membership site can be difficult, especially if you don’t have much WordPress experience. On The Eva Platform however, we make the whole process a lot easier. We look after all the tricky technical stuff for you, so you won’t have to worry about any installation, connection or testing issues.

We ensure your energies are best spent on your creativity and the development of your business, so our continued technical research and development guarantees the latest and best advancements in the online business world. Click here to find out more.

The above steps are meant as a rough guideline on how to get a Membership website online. Explaining each step in the process in a more technical detail is beyond the scope of this article.
* After you point your domain name to your wordpress host you may have to wait up to 24 hours for the DNS to propagate. After this time, when you enter mydomain.com into your browser (Google Chrome, Edge, Safari etc) you should see your WordPress home page. If after 24 hours you still cannot see your WordPress home page then the DNS has not been setup correctly at your domain registrar and you probably need to contact their support.