In the past, we talked about choosing a CMS to run your membership site. I made it clear that my preference was to use WordPress. Now, let’s take this to the next step. How do you go about building a membership site with WordPress? After all, isn’t it meant for blogging?
Well, yes it is. But with merely a plugin, you can transform your WordPress blog into a membership site.
There are many ways to do this. It really depends on what you want to offer your members. If you’re already consistently blogging, a simple way is to just create a category that only your members have access to. You continue blogging as usual but have a more in depth post, published as premium content, in that category. You can then just charge a minimal annual fee to members.
This is by no means the only way to run a membership driven site. You can offer downloads from protected pages, you can have a course with drip fed content over time, you can have a members only discussion area… the options are almost limitless. But we won’t get into that right now.
Instead, we’re going to discuss what you need to make all this a possibility.
To turn WordPress into a membership site, you would obviously need content that’s available for members only. The question is, how do you restrict access to that content?
There are two ways to protect your WordPress content:
- Protect the entire folder in which WordPress is installed.
- Protect premium posts for member access only whilst leaving others free for the public to see.
Although it would be much easier just to protect the whole folder in which WordPress resides, it is much more effective if you only protect premium posts. That way, you can showcase some of your content to entice people to sign up as a member.
Using an External Script
When I first started using WordPress, which was ages ago, the best way to turn WordPress into a membership site was to use an external script called Amember. In fact, I still use Amember for some of my WordPress based membership site.
The reason I use Amember is because it integrates with multiple scripts. For example, right now I use WordPress to manage member content, SMF for the coaching forum and PerlDesk for my helpdesk (I have since swapped to using Amember’s built in helpdesk). I can set up Amember in such a way that when a person signs up to become a member, they can access the WordPress site, the VIP forum and the helpdesk using the same username and password. Without having to register several times. Vice versa, if someone cancels, they lose access to all.
The problem with Amember is that it doesn’t actually “protect” your content. It merely adds and deletes members to your WordPress database. You will therefore, need another script that does the actual protection. And I chose to use the free version of the MemberWing plugin. And so far, this has worked perfectly for me.
Using a WordPress Plugin
If you don’t have a dire need to integrate your member database to multiple scripts, then you’re probably better off choosing one of the WordPress membership plugins.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that there are quite a few decent membership plugins now compared to when I first started using Amember. Unfortunately, I am unable to review any since I’ve never tested them. But here’s a list for you to checkout.
There are two groups of plugins. The first one offers content protection only whilst the second offer protection as well payment intergration.
- Content Protection Only
- Content Protection + Payment Integration
That should give you plenty of choices to choose from. If you stumble upon any more plugins, do share it with us by leaving a comment.