by Will Rogers
Are you looking to transform your site into a membership site? Guess what? In order to make this happen, you’ll need membership plugins. With membership site plugins, you’ll be able to create a premium content library and make it accessible only to members you want to see it.
Choosing the right membership plugin is a major decision. Why? Well, in many cases, it’s tough to change course once you start down one path.
If you’re looking to monetize your blog readers, sell more digital courses, or generate a list of engaged contacts, there are a ton of ways to approach membership within your website.
I want to help you navigate the membership plugin world properly. What follows is a few key thoughts that will help you think through the proper steps for picking a membership plugin that fits your needs.
Start by asking yourself if you’re ready to build a membership site, how do you know when you and your audience is ready?
• Is your audience asking for it?
• Do you have a solid quantity of google-ranked content and offerings?
• Would membership offer your followers something they don’t already have?
• Do you have a tribe following?
• What all are you planning to offer your members?
These are just a few of the questions you should be asking yourself to get you started. Did you answer "yes" to some of these questions? It may be time to move on to our second step.
You’ll need several tools within your membership site. Again, this list isn't meant to be exhaustive but will get you to think about what you should consider. Evaluate the tools you have and the tools you think you will need based on your goals. You may need tools such as:
• Individual memberships and business memberships
• Content management with access per membership tier or level
• Content management type features for member data
• Integrations with other tools through things like Zapier or MailChimp
• Does it incorporate other community management tools like courses, an online store, stories, events, and so on?
There are so many plugins available, here are a few to get you started down the right path:
MemberPress : MemberPress comes with many of the features you’ll need to create a powerful membership site. Just install the plugin on your site, enter your payment information, setup what you’re selling, and start promoting your membership site. The plugin integrates well with several services, like MailChimp, PayPal, Stripe, and so on.
aMember Pro: aMember is another plugin that’s been around for years. Now, aMember Pro is not a native WordPress plugin. But, you can integrate it with WordPress. It has the features you might expect from a plugin. It comes with unlimited levels and integrates with many payment systems like PayPal, Stripe, and so on.
LearnDash: LearnDash was built for creating and selling online courses on your WordPress sites. Check LearnDash out if you’re interested in allowing your followers to access new courses based on the points they have upon completion of certain courses. As you can imagine, this option helps keep followers engaged as well.
Teachable: Teachable is an all-in-one platform for creating and publishing online courses. You can pick between integrating your online courses into your existing website or host them on Teachable. This is pretty handy. Teachable has lots of learning tools (think quizzes and forums), integrations (think Google Drive and others), and marketing tools (think coupon codes, affiliate programs, and so on) you will find helpful.
s2Member: S2Member gives you access to one of the most comprehensive membership plugins out there. It includes helpful things like content dripping and one-step registration and checkout. It works well with Stripe, PayPal, and others.
WooCommerce Memberships: WooCommerce Memberships is an add on if you already use WooCommerce. If you’re selling digital products on your website and want to sell memberships as well, you may want to give WooCommerce Memberships a try.
Restrict Content Pro: Restrict Content Pro is a plugin that lets you create a fully-featured membership site. It bundles features you need for your membership site as add-ons. It has integrations like Stripe and PayPal. Like many of the plugins, there’s a free version that gets you started.
Paid Membership Pro: Paid Membership Pro is one of the best plugins for offering special product prices to certain members. It’s basically like your customers having Amazon-Prime-like experience. It’s worth looking into. You can manage member subscriptions, give posts and pages access, and much more. Set up is super easy.
This is just a few options for membership plugin site options. Check them out and play around checking for differences in each one. You may find your best solution only after you've learned something about several plugins.
Once you’ve done your research and made a selection, then it’s time to launch. Scary, huh?! Nah, don't be afraid. Here’s what you can do to make things more simple. Start with a beta team of honest, close friends. Well, they don't have to be close friends. But, they need to be super honest. You'll need 10-20 people to help test things out and give you feedback. You want super honest people who won’t just be nice and say, “Oh, that’s great. I love that.” You need folks who will tell you, “Hey, I’ve seen this on another site I’m apart of, I think you should add this feature or integration.” You get the idea.
When you make your official launch, think of it as a multi-month campaign with a number of steps and touchpoints. Your launch should include web and landing page with a compelling offer, blog posts, emails, and many social media posts to get the word out there. The more touchpoints for your new launch the better it will stick with people.
Don’t forget to have fun along the way. Enjoy learning more from your audience and meeting more of their needs. Remember, you are on a journey, this doesn't happen overnight. But, you can improve a little every day!
You want to have a dynamic and multi-dimensional community which thrives. In order to do that, you need a strategy of both online and offline engagement. This guide will help you think through your approach to engaging a virtual community. Download the free eBook: How to Take Your Community Digital.
About the author: Will Rogers is the Founder and CEO of CauseMachine. Will’s career has been spent leading organizations and helping to mobilize communities to shared vision. He has served in various leadership roles to build community engagement and movements teaching him valuable hands-on skills and experience. Will has developed business and community engagement strategies for dozens of organizations in nearly 50 countries. He and his wife have two sons and now live in Kentucky after two decades in Colorado.