9 Steps on How to Create a Membership Site [2024]

With this comprehensive guide, you’ll not only understand what a membership site is, but also how to choose the right model, create engaging content, and utilize innovative platforms like Disco to streamline your operations. Let’s dive in!

What you'll learn in this article:

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Exciting times are ahead as you embark on the journey to learn how to create a membership site. Whether you’re an experienced content creator or just starting, the road to creating a successful membership site is filled with learning opportunities.

With this comprehensive guide, you’ll not only understand what a membership site is, but also how to choose the right model, create engaging content, and utilize innovative platforms like Disco to streamline your operations. Let’s dive in!

What we will learn together:

  • Selecting the right membership model, such as the drip-feed, all-in-one, fixed term, or freemium model is a vital step in creating a successful membership site. It caters to the varied preferences of prospective members and guarantees a consistent revenue stream.
  • Design and user experience are paramount in a membership site. It should reflect the business brand, be intuitive, and be easy to navigate. This includes having a white-label solution for custom branding and a user-friendly interface that stimulates member engagement.
  • Regularly monitoring and optimizing the performance of your membership site is essential. This includes tracking user behavior, engagement, and site performance. Using advanced community analytics and insights tools can assist in diagnosing website issues, reporting metrics, and optimizing site performance.

What is a Membership Site?

A membership website, also known as a 'subscription site', is a distinct platform offering subscribers exclusive content and benefits for a subscription fee.

If you’re looking to create a membership website, these sites serve to create a sense of community and generate consistent revenue for content creators, often allowing for multiple membership levels to cater to different user needs.

WeAreNoCode, a very good example of a membership site community

A significant advantage of a membership site is fostering community among members. Offering exclusive content and benefits not only enhances user engagement but also prolongs session durations. Compared to an online store, membership sites do not require physical product management, storage, or shipping, making them a more profitable platform.

Membership sites, also known as paid membership websites, usually blend content, educational materials, and community features.

This structure allows for a well-rounded user experience and is essential when creating online courses or other educational resources. With the help of paid membership tools, you can easily manage and enhance the functionality of your platform.

9 Steps to Building A Membership Website (+Examples)

  1. Do your market research
  2. Choose the right membership model
  3. Select the best-fit membership platform
  4. Review and optimize content creation
  5. Create your website and brand strategy
  6. Setup pricing and payment gateways
  7. Plan out your onboarding process
  8. Promote your membership website
  9. Monitor and optimize performance

Step 1: Do Your Market Research

Common techniques for conducting market research include social listening, distributing feedback forms, conducting surveys, reading up on industry trends, identifying personas, and segmenting customers. These techniques allow you to gather valuable insights about your market and tailor your membership site to meet your audience's needs effectively.

However, there's a killer strategy that you should consider: conducting a free live event, training, or workshop for your audience.

If you've already built a small to mid-sized audience, you can leverage this by organizing a free workshop that your audience can attend. This event serves as a golden opportunity to gather data from your audience, solicit feedback, and conduct surveys.

Moreover, it's an excellent way to position yourself or your brand as an expert within your niche, thereby promoting your brand to your target market. This strategy not only provides you with valuable insights but also helps in building a strong rapport with your audience, which is crucial for the success of your membership site.

Step 2: Choose the Right Paid Membership Model

Choosing an appropriate membership model is a vital decision that can greatly affect your membership site’s success. There are various models to choose from, each presenting distinct benefits and frameworks for paying members. These include:

  • The drip-feed model
  • The all-in-one model
  • The fixed-term model
  • The freemium model
  • A hybrid model integrating features of the aforementioned models

Providing a variety of membership models can enhance the accessibility of your membership site and accommodate a broader audience by addressing diverse needs and preferences.

This approach has the potential to expand your subscriber base and increase revenue, especially when you create multiple membership levels and create members-only content that appeals to different segments of your audience.

Drip-Feed Model

The drip-feed model is a content delivery method where members receive access to new content as it is released, which is gradually distributed at scheduled intervals. This model is often used in paid memberships to maximize engagement and retention.

It brings numerous benefits when implemented in membership sites, such as preventing ‘download and run’ behavior, maximizing engagement, reducing member churn, and providing valuable insights. However, it also has drawbacks, including its compatibility with long-form courses and content, and the time-consuming nature of the approach.

To effectively implement a drip-feed model in your membership site, you should consider using a membership plugin or platform like Disco that supports content scheduling, planning the content delivery schedule, creating content in advance, and making adjustments based on feedback.

All-in-One Model

The All-in-One Membership Model is a comprehensive approach that offers subscribers access to a variety of products or services for a single, recurring charge. It provides content creators with a consistent income stream and a standardized system for managing dues and renewals.

Despite potential drawbacks such as restricted customization options and reliance on continuous subscriptions, it can be effectively integrated into online platforms and combined with other membership models to cater to a wider audience.

Fixed Term Model

The Fixed-term membership model provides members with access to content for a predetermined period, either through monthly payments or a one-time upfront payment. This model allows for predictable income and enhances product loyalty while offering flexible pricing options.

However, it also presents challenges like uncertain launch revenue and unpredictability in long-term revenue projections. To encourage members to renew their membership, providing extra benefits and developing additional programs that increase the overall membership value is recommended.

Freemium Model

The Freemium Membership Model is a unique approach that offers limited content and other free membership products, serving as a teaser to attract new members. For instance, upon joining the community, visitors are granted access to a free bundle:

  • 7 high-quality templates,
  • 3 self-paced courses designed for beginners, and
  • the ability to participate in 4 public channels.

This model allows users to experience the value of the membership site without any initial financial commitment, providing a taste of the full range of benefits that come with a premium membership.

However, if members desire access to a more extensive range of content and benefits, they have the option to upgrade to a premium membership for only $59 a month. This premium membership unlocks a world of additional resources, tools, and community access.

It's a win-win approach that allows beginners to get started without any barriers, while also offering a clear path for them to upgrade and gain more value when they're ready.

In essence, selecting the right membership model, be it a drip-feed, all-in-one, or fixed-term model that combines features of the aforementioned, is a pivotal step in creating a successful membership site. The hybrid model offers a flexible solution that caters to a wider audience by addressing varied needs and preferences, potentially expanding your subscriber base and boosting revenue.

Step 3: Select the Perfect-Fit Membership Platform

Choosing the perfect-fit membership platform is a crucial step in creating a successful membership site. The platform you choose will significantly impact the user experience, ease of management, and overall success of your site.

Factors to look for in a perfect-fit membership platform:

✔️ supports different membership models

✔️ allows you to create and offer diverse membership products

✔️ streamline your operations to increase productivity

✔️ has white-labeling solution

✔️ has website builder capabilities (no-code/low-code)

✔️ offers advanced insights and analytics

✔️ AI-powered solutions

✔️ is friendly to navigate

If you choose the wrong platform, you may encounter difficulties in managing your site, providing a seamless user experience, or even scaling your community as it grows. This could result in decreased member satisfaction, lower engagement rates, and ultimately, a decrease in revenue.

Therefore, it's essential to carefully evaluate and select a platform that caters to your specific needs and provides the necessary functionalities for your membership site.

DISCO - All-In-One Membership Platform for Paid, Free, and Freemium Models

Among the numerous platforms available, Disco stands out as an all-in-one membership platform that caters to paid, free, and freemium models. The membership software is powered by advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) that automates several tasks making it easier for you to manage your membership site.

The platform offers seamless integrations with other applications, enhancing its functionality and making it adaptable to diverse needs. Moreover, Disco's scalability ensures that as your community grows, the platform can comfortably accommodate the increase in size without compromising performance.

Trusted and loved by the world's top membership communities, Disco has proven to be a reliable choice for membership site creators such as WeAreNoCode, AllWomen, and more!

In 2023, Disco was recognized for its excellence in providing software solutions for online communities and was awarded two prestigious awards: "Fast Company’s Most Innovative in Education 2023", and "EdTech Breakthrough's Startup of the Year".

These recognitions came due to their modern operating system and cutting-edge technology, which have helped numerous online communities thrive globally.

By choosing Disco, you're not just selecting a membership platform; you're choosing a partner dedicated to helping you create a successful and engaging membership site. Disco offers a range of affordable pricing plans, each packed with an array of features designed to provide you with the best value for your investment.

From small start-ups to large communities, Disco's pricing plans are designed to cater to a variety of budgets and requirements, making it a highly cost-effective solution for membership site creators.

Step 4: Review and Optimize Content Creation

Reviewing existing content and creating new ones is a critical step in building a successful membership site. It's important to ensure that your content remains relevant, up-to-date, and engaging for your members. This process involves revisiting your current content, identifying areas for improvement, and introducing fresh content that aligns with your members' interests and needs.

Optimize Content Creation with AI

Diversifying content formats according to participants' learning styles is essential. Providing content in various forms such as texts, images, audio, video, etc., can cater to different learning styles and preferences, thereby enhancing the overall learning experience and satisfaction of your members.

With Disco's cutting-edge technology of AI, you are now able to fasten up your content creation solve writer's block, and save additional cost for stock images through its newly launched AI writing tools and AI image generator.

Diversifying Learning Experiences

Moreover, diversifying the learning experiences of your membership site is equally important. Offering a mix of cohort-based courses, self-paced content, live workshops, and events can cater to different learning preferences and keep your members engaged.

Disco supports all learning formats, types, and experiences with its comprehensive learning tool suite comprised of ready-made course templates, curriculum builder, event organizer, content library, SCORM support, and member progress report.

Step 5: Create your Website and Brand Strategy

To create a subscription platform, build a website, install a subscription plugin, set up content restrictions, provide various payment options, and create a store using WooCommerce. This will help you set up a successful subscription platform for your business.

Membership website User Experience

Your membership site’s design is of paramount importance. It serves as a reflection of your existing business and fosters trust through familiarity. A well-designed site not only looks visually appealing but also provides a user-friendly experience that encourages members to engage with your content.

Various key elements need your consideration when designing a membership site. Your site should include sections such as:

  • About Us
  • Membership Tiers
  • Member Profiles
  • Forums
  • Job Boards
  • Event Management Tools
  • Well-designed Login, Welcome, and Content Pages

A user-friendly interface is vital to stimulate member engagement on your membership site. Understanding your users and their needs, creating an intuitive and predictable user experience, and keeping the design simple and responsive are some of the best practices you should follow.

Moreover, providing clear feedback, including strong calls-to-action and prominent buttons, and designing forms that are easy to use and navigate are other effective strategies for enhancing the user experience on your membership site.

Sounds too much for you? Then collaborate with Disco Studios to save you time, effort, and energy in building your website and landing pages for your online community.

Disco Studios provides a well-rounded service and a dedicated membership website builder to launch your membership site from strategy & design, marketing & sales, and curriculum & community design. Disco is not just an all-in-one platform; but also a group of industry experts that built successful and thriving online communities.

White-labeling solution for custom branding

Having a white-label solution and highly customizable branding is beneficial as it allows for complete control over your platform's look and feel, aligning it with your brand identity. This level of customization enhances brand consistency and recognition, promoting trust among your members.

Disco's white-labeling solution, coupled with its innovative feature of modular content blocks, sets it apart as the most customizable membership software available on the web. This feature allows for unparalleled flexibility and creativity in designing your platform, enabling you to align it flawlessly with your brand identity.

The modular content blocks facilitate easy assembly of diverse content types, giving you the freedom to design and customize your platform according to your specific needs and preferences. This level of customization not only enhances brand consistency and recognition but also fosters an engaging and unique user experience, making Disco the go-to choice for a truly personalized membership site.

Step #6: Set Up Payment Gateways and Pricing

Setting up payment gateways and pricing involves the selection of suitable payment methods, setting pricing tiers, and introducing a secure, user-friendly payment process for your members. PayPal and Stripe are recommended as payment gateways for membership sites due to their widespread acceptance and user-friendly interfaces.

When establishing the pricing for your membership site, it is advisable to conduct industry research and evaluate the pricing strategies of comparable sites to identify a competitive price point. Consider the options of a one-time payment model, which can be beneficial for immediate revenue, or a recurring cost structure, which offers a consistent and dependable income stream.

To ensure the accessibility of pricing information, it is recommended to add the pricing page to your membership site’s main navigation menu. This can be achieved by navigating to Appearance > Menus in your site’s dashboard and selecting the pricing page to include it in the main navigation menu.

Remember, your pricing strategy should align with the nature of your content and the structure of your membership offerings. This will ensure that your pricing is fair and reflects the value that members receive.

Disco's memberships feature provides enhanced flexibility and control over content, enabling the creation of tiered access levels, gated content, and unique perks for members. This feature allows you to diversify your revenue streams with various membership tiers, offers greater customization in content accessibility for each tier, and motivates active participation through exclusive benefits for premium members.

Step #7: Promote your Membership Website

An effective marketing strategy can help reach your target audience and enhance your site's visibility. Social media can be a powerful tool for promotion by establishing your site's authority, making use of word-of-mouth marketing, sharing member testimonials, promoting content, utilizing affiliate marketing, and actively engaging with the community.

Step #8: Monitor and Optimize Performance

Regular and consistent monitoring and optimization of your membership site’s performance is crucial for ensuring a smooth user experience and identifying areas for improvement.

Membership website's performance

By tracking user behavior, engagement, and site performance, you can make data-driven decisions to enhance your membership site.

Key metrics to monitor include subscriber numbers, acquisition and churn rates, free trial and sales page conversion rates, and the effectiveness of your subscriber acquisition strategies.

If you are using a WordPress site, there are several tools available for the WordPress Membership Plugins, such as MemberPress, Sematext, Pingdom, and Kinsta APM, that can assist in diagnosing website issues, reporting metrics, and optimizing site performance.

Membership Platform Performance

Understanding the power of community analytics is essential to the success of your membership site. By tracking and measuring the behavior and engagement of your members, you can gain invaluable insights that can drive decision-making and optimize your site's performance.

Disco offers advanced analytics and insights tools that allow you to keep a pulse on your community's activity, measure engagement, track growth, and understand the content that resonates most with your members. With these data-driven insights, you can continually refine your strategies and ensure your membership site is always delivering value to your members.

Supercharge Your Learning Community

A step-by-step guide to build and grow a thriving learning community.

The Learning Community Playbook by Disco

Our Final Note

Congratulations! You now have a comprehensive understanding of how to build a successful membership site. From conducting market research, choosing the right membership model, and selecting the best-fit platform, to monitoring and optimizing performance, you are fully equipped to embark on this exciting journey.

As a next step, we highly recommend taking advantage of Disco's 14-day free trial. This will give you a firsthand experience of how the platform can streamline your operations. Plus, you can also explore the platform with a product tour without signing up.

So why wait? Dive in and start building your membership site today!

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