Do you wish you had more money coming into your business, but you don’t have the time to take on new clients? Not really interested in managing a bunch of independent contractors or employees? Or are you constantly worried that your current client base is going to dry up leaving your wallets as barren as a ghost town? You’re not alone. A lot of online businesses face these problems.
There are about 101 ways to create new streams of income and each one of them have their own merits, but we’re going to talk about Membership sites. Why membership sites? 3 reasons really:
1. We’re right in the middle of creating a membership site that’s going to be launched in the next few months so it’s fresh in my mind.
2. I want you to have a continuous stream of income coming in and not just a few pay days here and there.
3. It’s easy as hell to set up.
1. If you don’t have it already, get yourself onto the WordPress platform. It’s by far the easiest system to use, it’s free, and there’s a massive amount of plugins and themes that you can use to tweak it to make it do and look exactly how you want.
2. If you’re new to WordPress and you’re looking for a QUICK way to set up things like sales pages and squeeze pages, you’ll want to snag a copy of Optimizepress. This is a killer theme to use if you’re launching anything because you can set up your sales + launch funnel and OP will keep them inactive until you’re ready for people to see them. Remember, we’re working smarter – not harder so set it up once and let the software do the heavy hitting.
3. Wishlist is my standard go-to when setting up membership portals. It’s a no-brainer set up with this plugin. The wizard runs through everything you need to get things set up and by default will create the custom pages you’ll need to have (like pages for when people try to access content that isn’t available to them). They have shortcodes that can work magic on your pages. Let’s say all your membership levels access the same dashboard, but only your Gold Level members should see the webinar information you put up each week. You can use a shortcode that will allow ONLY that membership level to see the content between the codes. There’s some amazing capabilities in that little plugin.
A word of warning: One thing Wishlist doesn’t do well is drip content to your members. It CAN be done by using the sequential upgrade feature but it can be clunky because each new month of information needs to be added as a new membership level. If this is a problem for you, there are other plugins you can use that will drip out your content in an easier way. You can check out WordPress Drip if you have a lot of content you want to send out.
4. People love communities. They like interacting with people who are just like them who are in a similar situation as them. Enter the forum. Another simple (and free!) plugin for WordPress is Simple Press. This integrates really well with your WordPress theme and you’re going to love how easy it is to set up. You can even create special forums for certain membership levels. Let’s say you have both a free and paid membership level but you don’t want the free level to see the exceptionally good content that the paid members have access to. WordPress has several user roles available to use (admin, subscriber, author, etc). When you set up Wishlist, you’ll assign each membership level a user role and then when you set up Simple Press, you’ll use the user roles when you set up the permissions for the forum. It sounds complicated, but once you’re in there, it’s really quite easy.
5. PayPal is a typical go-to choice for online businesses to use as their payment processor and that’s absolutely fine to use in your membership site too. Set up the integration and you’re set to go!
6. You still need to add these folks to a newsletter list so make sure you have either Mailchimp or Aweber set up (both of which integrate nicely here). A note to consider: Mailchimp no longer offers Autoresponders as part of their free subscription so you’ll either need to upgrade to a paid account or use Aweber.
It’s that easy. Those 6 things will get your basic site up and running. Leave a link below to your membership site and let me know what the biggest obstacle was in getting it set up.