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How to Turn A WordPress Website into a Membership Site

On this episode of the Engaging Marketeer I want to talk about something that is it’s really popular at the moment, certainly for us at Engage Web. Almost half the enquiries we’re getting at the moment are about this particular thing. And no, I’m not talking about ChatGPT.

What I’m talking about is membership websites. These are websites that you subscribe or you pay for in order to get access to the content on offer. This may be video content, written content or downloadable content, and you get this content for a fixed period of time before you have to pay again to renew it. It seems as though a lot of people want membership websites for their business.

I think this is because we’ve all got certain knowledge that we take for granted that we assume everybody else knows. Yet, that’s not the case; most people don’t know the things that we know. Whatever your industry is, you have knowledge that the majority of people will not know unless they are in your industry. So what is a good way to earn revenue from your knowledge? To lease it out in a way that allows other people to learn what you already know. There are so many occupations and skills out there that can use a membership site, which is why so many people are coming to us and asking for them.

When you’re looking at getting one of these sites for yourself, there are a couple of obvious options which are very straightforward and relatively cost-effective that you could consider. Kajabi is one of these, for example, as well as Teachable, and then there’s Thinkific or Patreon, or even ClickFunnels. There’s so many of them that often you can have ‘analysis paralysis’. The main problem with them is also the main benefit. The main benefit with them is that you can do it yourself. It’s relatively straightforward, some of them require a little bit more tech know-how than others, but they’re all pretty easy to manage yourself.

By the same token, however, the big downside with them is that you have to do it yourself. You’re managing it yourself, you’re running it yourself, you’re adding the content yourself. If you’re cool using a website like that, then it’s no problem. But you’re also paying on a monthly basis for it. ClickFunnels, for example, is £97 a month for the basic package. If you want it with the email marketing follow-ups, then it goes up to I think it’s £297 a month. You could choose to have ClickFunnels at the £97 a month option, while using something like MailChimp for email marketing which, depending on volume, could be free. The point is, very easily can the costs start to mount up.

One thing we’re doing a lot for businesses at the moment is actually turning WordPress websites into membership sites. This is something a lot of people do not realize is possible. If you’ve got your own website on WordPress, you can actually make it into a membership site so that you don’t need something like ClickFunnels or Thinkific or Teachable or Kajabi or Patreon. You can actually do the whole thing through your own website. So what I wanted to do here was list some of the plugins that you actually can use with your WordPress website to turn it into a membership website. We go through a lot of these in EngageWeb.Club. We’re going to go through a lot of how you actually create and set up a membership site with walkthroughs and how you do it, but I just wanted to list the plugins for you here so that you’ve got that information if you run a WordPress website.

First of all, you’re going to need WooCommerce, which is free. Then you’re going to need something to process the payment. Your basic option, of course, is PayPal, and there is a PayPal/WooCommerce plugin that you can use, but I would recommend something that’s a little more robust than PayPal. We like to use Stripe.com. You can set up an account very quickly with Stripe.com and there is a payment plugin that plugs into WooCommerce for Stripe and that is free as well. The next plugin you’re going to need is the WooCommerce subscriptions plugin. This, unfortunately, isn’t free, it’s about I think $199 per year for a subscription. These three plugins are essential for doing a membership.
Now you need the plugin that’s actually going to deliver the content. This is where it gets really cool, because there are lots of membership plugins for WordPress, but the one I found that effectively turns your WordPress website into site like the ones previously mentioned is called LearnDash. LearnDash costs about £99 a year, so it is really cheap for what it does. LearnDash will allow you to create the courses on the website that you want people to subscribe for. You could have, say, one course on one this particular topic, and another course on this particular topic. Each course can have different lessons, each lesson can have different aspects. You can even have downloadable documents or interactive quizzes in there. The other websites can’t do all this, but LearnDash can, effectively allowing you to create a full membership website with just WordPress, which is free; WooCommerce, which is free; the Stripe payment plugin, which is free; you just then need LearnDash, which is about £99 a year; and you need the subscriptions plugin, which is about £199 a year. So for about £300 a year on plugins, you can have a full membership website.

Now there are a couple of caveats with this, of course. You’re going to need somewhere to host it. You can’t do this on your WordPress.com hosting, you need your own hosting for this. This will vary in cost depending on where you go. If you wanted to host it with Engage Web, for example, our costs are currently £400 a year. You’ve then got the problem that you actually need somebody who knows what they’re doing with WordPress. If that’s you, brilliant. If that’s not you, you’re going to need to find a web designer or a web developer that can build this for you and put it into place. The final cost you’re going to need is going to be the actual video hosting. If you’re doing video courses, what I wouldn’t do, and I can’t stress this enough, I wouldn’t host those videos on your website. This is because if you’re recording professional video content, you film it in 4k, you edit it and upload it, you’re looking at about 2GB/3GB/4GB in file size. That’s massive. If you get 20/30 people downloading that, that’s going to absolutely cane the bandwidth on your website and cost you a fortune in hosting. You can put it on YouTube and just embed it in your course pages problem, but it is still difficult to stop people accessing it. The better way to do it is with Vimeo Pro. Now Vimeo Pro again has a cost, unfortunately, which is about 16 pounds a month, roughly. You can protect it so that people can’t view it on normal Vimeo.

If you can do this all yourself, you’re laughing. You can build essentially a full membership website on WordPress without needing to use something like Kajabi or ClickFunnels or Patreon or Thinkific. That’s essentially what I wanted to go through in this podcast. This is a great way to earn revenue and to unlock what’s in your brain what’s in your mind and sell it to your potential clients.

Of course, if you do need somebody to do this for you, then obviously Engage Web can do that. If you don’t need us, that’s absolutely fine, but if you want to ask us about it, then please use one of the links below the podcast and we’ll be happy to have a chat with you about it. If you know somebody else who’s interested in doing their own membership site but doesn’t want to go through, then please point them in the direction of this podcast so they can find out that it is actually possible to do it themselves.

I’d really appreciate it if you could give me a follow, give me a like, give me a five star review for this podcast. I’d absolutely love that. I will catch you on the next episode of the Engaging Marketeer podcast.

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