Make WordPress website
Membership sites are rapidly becoming essential for consultants, coaches, and other creators, and that for a good reason. Membership websites offer a scalable way to provide your clients with the best content while keeping it secure and password protected so that non-members cannot gain access. These websites let you offer 100 members the stuff with the same ease you can provide it to 1 member. Various course-creators use purpose-built platforms like Wild Apricot and Kajabi, but there are alternatives. If you are just getting started with all this, then chances are you are already using WordPress, and it would be a massive waste of time to make the switch. Experts don’t see WordPress as the best option for creating a membership website because of its low base functionality. However, the critics are quick to forget about the very thing that makes WordPress the most popular website building platform – plugins. With the increasing popularity of membership websites, the plugins to enable a similar WordPress feature have become powerful enough to rival other membership platforms. It is cost-effective and easy to turn WordPress into a secure and profitable membership platform for your clients. As we advance, you will explore creating the basics of a membership environment that will fit the needs no matter what kind of content you provide.

What Makes A Good Membership Website?

The primary function of WordPress is to be an excellent blogging platform. Though WordPress has come a long way since its inception. It still requires a significant makeover via add-ons and plugins before it can become comparable to the security, privacy, membership levels of a dedicated platform. Fortunately, you can find plenty of plugins to address these issues. However, building a profitable membership site offering a good user experience and fewer headaches for the developer takes something more than just a few plugins. First, you will need better security and privacy. WordPress comes with “private content” settings that protect specific content and pages with a password in its rudimentary form. However, a healthy and robust membership site will need more than that – it will require higher security and better mechanisms to address locked content. Secondly, you will need custom membership levels and distinct user roles. The default WordPress user role is “subscriber,” but a membership site requires more than that. You need to implement user roles and different member levels – for that, you will require some additional software. Finally, your membership site needs to be user-centric instead of admin or developer-centric. The easy way to put it is your customers or users need not be developers to log in and access the content. You can use social media as your inspiration – create custom registration and log in forms that your users can use to access the content, and offer user profiles to members. It is a part of an excellent user experience (UX), and your clients will appreciate it.

Recommended Plugins

Because WordPress has a dedicated community of experts, you can easily find plenty of plugins to convert a simple WordPress site into a membership website. The following are the three essential plugins that you will require in your quest to create a membership site.
  • Members
  • Profile Builder
  • Nav Menu Roles
These are free WordPress plugins. However, Profile Builder offers a “pro” and “hobbyist” option at a premium that you might want to check out later.

User Roles

After downloading and installing the plugins, it is time to do the work to make the membership site functions. Once you set up the site, the next step is to upgrade the user roles. WordPress offers baseline user accessibility, including subscriber, contributor, author, editor, administrator. When focusing on the front-end user experience, you will need to add more member types. With the plugins installed, you will have the functionality to add more user roles to your website. Log in to your website’s admin sections, go to Users, click on “Roles,” and then click “add new.” It will allow you to add new roles, like a member, premium member, and so on. It will also let you select which capabilities the new roles can have. For a typical membership site, allowing the members to view and read content without editing it.

Custom Registration And Login

Once the different member types are in place, you need to create an easy-to-use registration and login form for your members. It is the step of creating a registration interface for members. You can either use the standard WordPress page editor or a custom page builders like Thrive Architect or Lead Pages. Go to the Profile Builder and look for the Manage Fields tab. It is where you will create your custom registration form containing the required fields. After the registration page is complete, it is time to put up the login form. You can place this form either on the website’s widget area or on a dedicated page. The profile builder plugin contains a “login” widget that you can set up in the widget area.

Profile Editing

Any membership website offering a fantastic experience cannot be devoid of the option to let users (members) customize their profile. After setting up registration and login, the next logical step is to provide your members with the ability to customize their profile as per their identity. Small things, like enabling customization, can help you stand out from the rest. You can easily add customization to your WordPress site by going under the “Pages” click on the “Add New tab.”

Locking The Content

It is the entire reason why you needed a membership website in the first place – the ability to publish content that is only available to the members. You can further segregate the content depending on different membership levels, making some content available only to the higher-paying users. You can make the membership homepage by going to “Page” then click “Add New.” After that, go to the “Content Permission” box and alter the settings as per your desire.

Custom Menus

Once the content is all sorted out, you will need to create custom menus that your members will get when they login to the website based on their membership level. This custom menu will show certain links to pages depending on the membership status of the user accessing them. Typically, WordPress doesn’t have such options to show different menus to different users, but with earlier downloaded plugins, we can make it possible. Nav Menu Roles is the plugin that enables the creation of custom menus. Go to “Appearance,” click on “Menus,” and customize your menu by selecting the settings you want to use.

Custom Email And Redirects

It is the final step in creating your membership website and is also the most vital because this is how you will communicate with your members. When signing up for a membership, people want to know about their membership status. So, to convey the messages, we will need the “Profile Builder” plugin. The first step is to click on “Profile Builder” then “Email Customizer,” where you can easily customize your emails. You can send custom emails to users depending on how they signed up for the site. It can also give the option to provide user approval, notifications, password reset emails, and more. You can also set up custom redirects in the profile builder section.

Takeaway

WordPress is an excellent way to get your membership website up and running without requiring to use any all-in-one platform. Because WordPress is self-hosted, it will give you the flexibility to quickly scale up your website and make accommodations as per your client’s needs. However, this development method has a bit of a learning curve. You will also need to gather some reliable plugins before you can get started with building your membership website on WordPress. If you are willing to dig and try out different plugins, it will be the best option to create a membership site because using WordPress means you will not be dependent on the all-in-one membership site platforms.

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