Since WordPress has been recognized as the greatest platform capable of building any kind of website, more and more people wish to have a taste of it, so does someone planning to run a membership website. In fact, running a membership program is a great opportunity for people to make a killing in the market, for which brings more traffic and revenue.
If you set about creating a membership website on WordPress, then the following guide is around to help. Here, we give you advices on how to install WordPress on your website and how to set up a wonderful membership site by using Membership plugin. Before everything, we would like to show you a sample site made by referring the steps shown as below.
Let Your Website Work with WordPress Properly
Make sure that you have selected a great domain, which should be related to the website and easy to remember. Anyway, the domain like membership.besthostingsearch.org should be great for you. Once confirming your domain name, you are required to install WordPress via admin area. Since most webmasters trust in cPanel, we are going to complete the WordPress installation via this most popular control panel.
Log into cPanel with your account and go to Software and Services > Softaculous. Pitch on WordPress and click the Install button. Here, you are required to choose the domain name where to install WordPress and then name your membership website properly. Besides, you’d better modify the admin username and set the admin password as sophisticated as possible. Click “Install” and log into your website backend accordingly.
Select an Elegant WordPress Membership Theme
To impress your visitors, you have to try every means to make the membership site professional and fascinating. Fortunately, WordPress has released numerous premium themes for membership website, such as HeatMap AdAptive, Evening Shade, Glowing Amber, and so on. Go to Dashboard > Appearance > Themes > Add New and search for a theme for personal needs.
On account of showing certain members on the main page, we select DW Timeline to bright our membership website. Install and activate this theme and then get started to enable more possibilities on your site.
Install Membership Plugin
After settling down the site appearance, you should set about adding more functions to your membership website. The easiest way to do so is to take advantage of a WordPress plugin. In the following guide, we select the plugin called Membership from multiple WordPress membership plugins.
Go to Dashboard > Plugins > Add New and enter the name of Membership plugin. Once getting the search result, you just need to click Install Now and then activate this plugin to bring it into effect.
And now, a notice reads “The Membership plugin is not enabled. To ensure your content is protected you should enable it” shown on the Installed Plugins page. Click the “enable it” and check if the Membership option is included in the dashboard sidebar.
Set Up Your Website with Membership Plugin
Step 1: If you have successfully enabled this plugin, you are now required to access to Membership dashboard. Select “Standard membership site” option and click the Next Step button to go to the next page.
And then, you come to the next page that requires you to create your levels. You can determine how many levels should be created and select a number from the drop-down list. For instance, we choose “2” levels and then we need to name the 2 levels one by one. Besides, we suggest you to check the option “also create a level to control what non-members can see?” so as to allow everyone to have a taste of your website.
Finally, select a gateway to receive payments according to personal needs and click the Finish button to confirm all settings.
There are other two sections included in Membership dashboard called Members and News. “Members” is where to show you the number of subscriptions, member counts and member breakdown. The “News” section is where to check the latest member activity.
Step 2: Move on to Dashboard > Options to create some pages on your website as needed. There are 7 tabs available for you and the first one is General Options. Because we have selected the option “also create a level to control what non-members can see?” in the previous step, the “Stranger settings” is shown as “Visitors” by default. For the “User registration”, you can select one of the existing levels as required.
Go the next tab – Membership Pages. By default, there are five page options available for you, including registration, registration completed, account, subscriptions and protected content. If you have not created pages yet, you just need to click the Create Page button included in each page option. And then, there are five pages available for you automatically, including Register, Welcome, Account, Subscriptions and Protected Content.
If you have already created some pages for this membership website, you can add those forms to certain pages by using the shortcode following each option. For example, if you need to add the registration form to other page, then you are required to add the shortcode [subscriptionform] to this page.
And then, “edit page” to make it satisfy your needs. Note that, there are two form types available for you, including “Original membership form” and “Popup registration form”. The first option enables visitors complete the whole process on a page while the second option takes visitors to a pop-up. Click “Save Changes” to confirm the page settings.
The next stop is Content protection, which is used to protect certain posts or pages content by including the content in shortcode. The first section called “Protected content message” is where to edit the messages that will pop up when the non-members try to load the protected content. The “Admin only shortcodes” and “More tag default” are optional settings for you to protect certain web content, which can be in use according to personal needs.
The Downloads/Media tab is where to protect any downloadable content on your website. It enables masked download URL to replace the direct link of a file. Besides, there are three levels of protection methods available for you, including Basic, Complete and Hybrid. Select one of the most suitable one and then click the Save Changes button.
The Membership Admins is used to manage all users on your website, and it is great for some multi-users website. Besides, the Extras tab includes all extra settings of this plugin, such as Payment currency, Membership renewal, Membership upgrades, and so on, which help you improve your website with ease. The Advanced tab is where to verify and repair membership tables to check if there is any problem with your membership website.
Step 3: You can determine which gateways should be used to accept payments. In general, there are three options available for you, including:
- Free subscriptions gateway – It is designed for all subscription free of charge.
- Paypal Express Gateway – PayPal express with subscriptions.
- Paypal Single Payments Gateway – PayPalexpress with single payments.
You are allowed to activate all those payment gateways and customize each of them if needed via the settings page. Fill out the PayPal email properly and modify the left options as required. Note that, the PayPal Email field should include your PayPal account email or the Sandbox credentials.
Step 4: And now, you can try your hand at some further advanced features to enables more functions on your membership website, including Access Levels, Subscription Plans, URL Groups, and Remote Pings.
- Access Levels – This option allows you to manage all access levels of your website. The active levels are the ones that you have created via the Membership Dashboard. You are allowed to “edit” each of them if needed and drag & drop the given rules on the right to “Drop Here” area so as to enable the members of this level to access to those areas.
- Subscription Plans – This is where to manage all subscription plans on your website and add relevant Access Levels to. Because we have created some Access Levels in the previous step and determine to add one Access Level to a new Subscription Plan, we need to “Add New” and name the new subscription plan properly. And then, drag and drop the targeted access level to the “Drop Here”. Finally, click the Add button and then activate the newly created subscription plan.
- URL Groups – This is where to protect a group of URLs which cannot be visited by non-members. Click “Add New” and enter the page URLs to be protected. And then, give this group a proper name and click “Add Group”.
- Remote Pings – This is a great option to send pings to other sites once there is a person signing up an account on your website. “Add New” Ping and enter the details as required, including Ping name, Ping URL, Ping data and Ping method.
This guide includes a comprehensive demonstration on the WordPress Membership plugin and also shows you the way to create a membership website with this powerful plugin. If you have gotten the feel of the above-mentioned steps, then you can make attempts to install and set up this plugin. However, if the Membership plugin is not your cup of tea, we list more recommendations as below as reference.
Best WordPress Membership Plugins
Here, we are would like to share the following WordPress membership plugins to help readers create a membership website easily. With flexible membership options and easy-to-use interface, users can simply customize their membership websites into exact specifications.
Paid Membership Pro
Plugin URL: http://wordpress.org/plugins/paid-memberships-pro/
Paid Membership Pro is a useful plugin designed for helping communities add premium memberships to WordPress websites. It includes configurable membership levels so that you can set up it to fit your business properly. You can use it for different membership levels, and offer restricted access to different content including pages, posts, videos, downloads, support, and more. As a result, you can maximize your blog revenue.
With easy to use admin pages and settings, you can also handle the plugin and control the user experience with ease. As well, it also works well with most of the WordPress themes and integrates with the most popular payment gateways.
Plugin URL: http://wordpress.org/plugins/s2member/
S2Member Framework is a powerful and helpful membership plugin specialized for WordPress powered websites. It supports free subscribers and 4 primary membership levels so that you can freely setup the levels for your websites to maximize your profit.
The plugin also integrates with PayPal website payments standard and completely supports recurring billing. As it offers custom pages for registration, account access, and level configuration, you can easily use the plugin for specific needs and match your businesses. In addition to the full compatibility for BuddyPress and bbPress, the plugin also gives users the ability to publish coupon codes.
Plugin URL: http://wordpress.org/plugins/groups/
Groups is an effective solution that offers group-based user membership management, capability and content access control. It is a light-weight framework, offering an intuitive interface and integrating with standard WordPress capabilities and application capabilities. It also comes with helpful features like the following:
- Built-inn access control that enables users to restrict access to posts, pages, and custom content types based on their unique levels.
- Fully control access to content by groups and capability.
- Support an unlimited number of groups and offers registered group.
Plugin URL: http://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-members/
WP-Member is a free WordPress membership plugin designed for newsletters, premium content websites, and so on. It restricts content to registered visitors. It puts the registration process inline with the content but instead of in the traditional login page. With rich features like block posts, pages, login, user registration, etc, this plugin is a perfect tool for sites providing premium content to subscribers.