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How to make a membership platform with WordPress

Do you want to build a membership website? For a long time, website owners relied solely on advertising and affiliate income to monetize their content, while a membership website makes money online by allowing users to pay for premium content, features, and benefits. community access.

You will need a platform that has features to manage users, memberships, payments, etc. Fortunately, there are some really great membership plugins for WordPress that make it super easy.

In this step-by-step guide, we will show you how to easily create a WordPress membership site without any coding knowledge.

What do you need to start a WordPress membership website?

Unlike 10 years ago, these days it is quite easy to create a website. Of all the platforms and website builders, WordPress makes it the easiest for anyone to build their own membership website and start selling with little to no technical skills.

You will need the following three things to get started:

A domain name. This will be the address of your website (Example, wpbeginner.com).

A web hosting account. This is where your website files are stored.

A membership plugin (will turn your normal website into a membership platform).

You can set up a fully functional WordPress membership website in less than 30 minutes, and we'll guide you through every step of the process. Here are the steps you'll need to take:

  1. Getting started with a membership site
  2. Choosing a WordPress Membership Plugin
  3. Setting up your membership website
  4. Adding payment methods
  5. Adding membership levels
  6. Access restriction based on membership plans
  7. Members-Only Content Creation
  8. Creating a pricing page
  9. Adding registration and login forms
  10. Customizing email templates
  11. Viewing reports to grow your website

Clever? Let us begin.

Step 1. Getting started with a WordPress membership site

To create a membership site, you need to make sure you are using the correct WordPress platform. Yes, in case you did not know, there are two types of WordPress.

We recommend using the self-hosted version of WordPress.org because it provides unrestricted access to all the features and tools you need. For a self-hosted WordPress site, you will need a WordPress hosting account, a domain name, and an SSL certificate.

Typically, a domain name, web hosting, and SSL certificate will cost a couple of dollars a year. If you're just starting out, these startup costs can add up quickly, but luckily, we have a way to fix that.

It is through Bluehost, an official WordPress recommended hosting provider, has agreed to offer users a free domain name, a free SSL certificate and a discount on web hosting. Basically, you can get all of the above for a very low cost.

Once you have signed up for hosting, the next step is to install WordPress. Since Bluehost already comes with WordPress pre-installed, you can proceed with setting up your WordPress membership site.

Step 2. Choose a WordPress membership plugin

There are plenty of free and paid WordPress membership plugins that you can use. However, each of them has its pros and cons.

To choose the right plugin, you need to decide what kind of membership website you want to create and what features it will need.

If you only want to allow user registration on your WordPress site, then you can use WPForms. It is a WordPress form builder plugin that allows you to easily create user registration and login forms. You can even allow users to submit articles without accessing the WordPress admin area.

On the other hand, if you want to sell subscriptions, paid content, or digital downloads, then you'll need a more robust WordPress membership plugin like MemberPress, which comes with advanced membership features that allow you to accept payments, create membership levels, restrict tiered access and more.

The sale of online courses may be another possible scenario. In this case, you will need LearnDash, a full WordPress LMS plugin with all learning management features.

You can also integrate LearnDash with MemberPress to create a powerful website with online courses and membership subscriptions.

With that being said, let's start setting up the WordPress membership website.

Step 3. Setting up your WordPress membership website

Choose MemberPress as your plugin to use because it has all the features we mentioned above and works perfectly with any third-party plugins needed to grow your business.

The first thing you need to do is install and activate the MemberPress plugin; Upon activation, you need to visit the MemberPress Options page to configure the plugin settings.

Step 4. Add a payment method

The options page is divided into different tabs. The first thing you need to set up is a payment gateway because it allows you to accept payments on your membership site.

You can do this by switching to the “payments” tab and then selecting your payment gateway.

MemberPress supports PayPal (Standard, Express, and Pro), Stripe, and Authorize.net right out of the box. You must select the payment method you want to set up and provide the necessary credentials. You can also add multiple payment methods by clicking the Add button to add another payment method.

It is recommended to use two options: Stripe for credit cards and PayPal as a secondary option because some users prefer PayPal instead of giving credit card details.

Don't forget to click the "Update Options" button at the bottom of the page to save your settings.

Step 5. Creating membership levels

The next step is to create membership levels that your users can purchase. Each membership level can have different price plans, benefits and access. You can even have a free membership plan.

To create a membership level, you need to go to the MemberPress » Memberships » page and click on the « Add New » button at the top.

The rule editing page allows you to select different conditions and associate them to a membership plan. For example, you can select all content that matches a particular tag or category to be available only to members on the Silver subscription plan.

You can also create more specific rules. For example, a single post or page, child pages, or a specific URL.

Below the rule editor, you'll see options for content drip and expiration. Drip content allows you to gradually release content to users instead of dropping it all at once. The expiration option makes the content unavailable after a defined period of time.

If you are not sure, you should leave them unchecked.

Once you're satisfied, go ahead and click the "Save Rule" button to save your rule settings. Repeat the process to create more rules as needed for your membership site.

Step 6. Add members-only content

MemberPress makes it very easy to create member-only content using Rules.

MemberPress also adds the “MemberPress Unauthorized Access” metabox below the post editor. This allows you to select what offline users (non-members) will see when they reach this content.

You can use the global default settings, or you can display excerpts, a login form, or a custom message, and once you've added members-only content, you can go ahead and publish it. As the page reloads, you'll see a success message indicating that this content is protected.

Step 7. Create a pricing page

This is the page your users will see when they want to sign up for a membership plan. On this page, users will be able to select a membership plan and then proceed to the payment page.

Users attempting to access restricted or paid areas of your website will also be redirected to this page. How then to configure it? By going to the MemberPress Groups page and clicking the Add New button at the top.

First, enter a title for the group plan page. This will also be the title of the plans page that users will see. Next, go to the “Group Options” metabox and add the memberships you want to display on the page. You can also select a theme for the pricing table. MemberPress comes with some templates ready for that.

Once you're satisfied, click the "Publish" button to make your plan publicly viewable.

Now, if you want to preview your pricing page, click on the “View Group” link after publishing it.

Redirect users to the pricing page: Now you have the pricing page ready, the next step is to redirect unauthorized users to the pricing page. To do so, you must first visit the MemberPress Groups page and copy the URL next to the group created in the previous step.

After that, you will need to go to the MemberPress Options page and scroll down to the 'Unauthorized Access' section. You need to check the box next to the 'Redirect unauthorized visitors to a specific URL' option and then paste the group URL you copied earlier. Click the "Update Options" button to save your settings.

Unauthorized users will now be redirected to the pricing plans page when attempting to access a members-only area.

Step 8. Add User Registration and Login Forms

Now that you have everything configured, it's time for your users to be able to easily find your website, for that:

First, you need to add a user login form so that members can log in to their accounts. Go to Appearance » Widgets and add the 'MemberPress login' widget to a sidebar.

Next, you'll add the pricing page link to the navigation menu, so new users can select a plan and sign up. You can do this by visiting the Appearance » Menus page in your WordPress admin. From the left column, you need to click on the Groups tab to expand it. It will show the pricing plan group you created earlier, so check the box next to your pricing page and then click the “Add to menu” button.

The pricing plan page will now appear in the right column. You can drag and drop to rearrange your position in the menu. You can also edit it and change the link text, just don't forget to click the save menu button to save your changes.

You can now log out of the WordPress admin area and visit your website to see everything in action.

Step 9. Customize membership email templates

Your WordPress membership plugin will send various email notifications to members. MemberPress allows you to easily edit those emails and make changes to include your own branding.

Simply go to the MemberPress Options page and click on the “Email” tab. From here you can manage the email notifications sent by MemberPress.

You will see all email notifications sent by MemberPress to members as well as admins, you can even click the Edit button to customize any of these notifications.

You can use a simple text editor to edit the email message with basic formatting options and smart tags to insert dynamic elements like names, username, membership level and more.

Be sure to click the "Send Test" button to send yourself a couple of test notifications. This will ensure that MemberPress can send email notifications.

That's it, we hope this article helped you set up your WordPress membership website.

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