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Easy Members Only Website: WildApricot #1 Ranked Membership Software

Author: Tatiana Morand
May 22, 2019
🕑 8 min read

If you’re looking for an easy way to create a members only website, give WildApricot a try.

WildApricot is the #1 ranked membership management software, which makes it easy to create a website, upload resources, and restrict access based on membership level (like free, paid, group, etc.), and start getting members.

Members Only Site
Free Members Only Site


Watch this video, or read on to learn how to build the best membership website possible.

I’ve included a number of helpful tips in the following sections:

6 Ways to Create Members Only Content

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With WildApricot, you have complete control over what your members have access to. Here are the six main ways you can create members only content:

Membership Only Website

1. Members Only Directory

Create a member directory that only paying members can access.

2. Members Only Pages

Create pages that only members can view once they are logged in. You can also restrict access to certain pages based on membership level.

3. Members Only Events

Restrict public view and access events. You can also set special members-only pricing and discounts for public events.

4. Member Profiles

Members can login from their smartphone, tablet, or desktop to update their information whenever they like. Profiles can include contact information, an avatar of the member, special notes such as meal preference, t-shirt size, etc., and any other information you like.

5. Members Only Store

Create an online store that only members can see. Alternatively, you can create a publicly-viewed store, but enable special discounts for members.

6. Members Only Content

Upload whatever content you want your members to access, such as videos, courses, white papers, and more.

On the admin side of things, you have complete control over which membership level gets access to which content, pages, events, etc. With WildApricot you can also allow your staff, board members, or volunteers have special access to the back end of your site to make updates to pages and content themselves.

Read More:The Ultimate Guide to Creating A Membership Site

Click through to claim your 60-day trial of WildApricot to create effective QR codes that will speed up event check-in.

How The Tennessee Self Storage Association Offers Valuable Member Benefits

Melissa Roberts fromThe Tennessee Self Storage Association(a non-profit with 215 paying members that serves “as a united voice for the self-service industry”) offered many great examples of how they provide value to their members using their member-only portal.

Using assigned user names and passwords, members have exclusive access to:

  • Association blog: Members have access to the association blog that helps keeps its members current on news related to their industry.
  • Special documents: The Association provides documents like sample lease agreements, contracts, building code documents and other pertinent legal information only to members.
  • Membership database: Members get access to a membership database which according to their website, “helps promote strong business relationships among [their] members”

These are just a few examples of how an association can provide value to their members by offering exclusive, specialized information that speaks directly to their membership.

5 Pros and Cons of Members Only Websites You May Not Have Considered

Members Only Website 3

Pros of Members Only Websites

  1. Eliminate Administrative Work: If you currently have members who attend and access your organization’s value in-person, you may be able to eliminate a lot of administrative work by offering them the same resources online. With an online membership site, members can self-serve the resources they want, when they want. Plus, members can update their own info in your database, saving you from doing it manually.
  2. Deliver Better Resources: A big advantage of moving online is that you can use your website’s data to see which resources are more popular with your members, or which resources have little to no value at all. You can do this by implementing Google Analytics onto your WildApricot website to see which pages members are spending their time on.
    Increase Overall Memberships: One benefit many membership managers experience is a jump in members once they make the move online. That’s because your website starts showing up in Google search results when people search for their interests — your once geography-bound organization is now open to the world.
  3. New Service Opportunities: Offering services online also opens up the doors to creating new value-added services. For example, I know one writing association that began a paid online mentoring service that didn’t exist before. It proved to be very successful for them since it connected people in different cities that would have never met in real life.
  4. New Revenue Opportunities: One organization I know discovered that some people just wanted to access the member directory, but weren’t willing to pay for a full membership. So, they created a new, inexpensive membership level with just directory access and immediately saw memberships rise. This helped them capture new revenue they wouldn’t have otherwise gained.

Cons of Members Only Websites

  1. Resource Leaks: Copying and distributing content online is incredibly easy (think of how hard the movie industry tries to combat pirating). Once you move online, you risk a member sharing your resources with non-members.
  2. Content Costs May Rise: Creating a personal touch with a potential member can be a great tool to convince them to join. Unfortunately, creating a personal touch is difficult to do online. To make up for this, many organizations go the extra mile to map our their members’ life cycle and create as many personal touch points as possible (thank you emails, video messages, showcasing members on the website, etc.).
  3. Finding the Right Price Point Can Be Difficult: If you offer online courses, white papers, or similar resources, you may have a hard time getting people to pay for them online. That’s because there is so much free content already on the internet (think of YouTube or Wikipedia). If you find similar resources for free online, you may need to add some extra value to yours before people are willing to pay for them.
  4. Content Ages Fast on the Internet: If you’re not continuously revamping your resources, they can appear to become dated fast (think of a brochure designed in the early 1990’s vs today). If your content looks dated, you may have a harder time attracting new members, especially younger members.
  5. Decline in Event Attendees: Some organizations experience a decline in in-person attendees once they move online, since some people get everything they need from their website.

If the pros and cons of membership sites line up with what you want to create, and you’re ready to dive in, start your free trial of WildApricot’s membership website builder now.

Once you do, here are the complete steps to build out your members only site:

The Complete Step-By-Step Process to Create a WildApricot Members Only Website from Scratch

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Here’s how to create a members only site from scratch with WildApricot:

Step 1. Start a Free, 60-Day Trial of WildApricot

You can find the free trial button on WildApricot’s home page.

How to Create a Members Only Website Step 1

Step 2. Enter Your Info

To access your free trial, simply enter your info and click Activate your WildApricot account.

How to Create a Members Only Website Step 2

Step 3. Take a Tour (Or Skip It)

Once your account is activated, you’ll be asked if you’d like help setting up your trial. If you choose yes, then you’ll be taken through an easy setup guide that will help you hit the ground running.

If you choose to skip the guide, you’ll be taken straight into the back end of your new WildApricot website. For the purposes of this tutorial, I’ll take you straight to the back end of your WildApricot website.

How to Create a Members Only Website Step 3

Step 4. Navigate to Site Pages

Once you are in the back end of your WildApricot website, navigate to Website > Site pages in the menu. This will take you to the website editor where you’ll see the pages of your pre-loaded website (which you can completely customize later).

How to Create a Members Only Website Step 4How to Create a Members Only Website Step 5

Step 5. Restrict Access to Pages

On your Site pages, click Add page to add a new web page to your website. Alternatively, you can also edit an existing page.

How to Create a Members Only Website Step 6

Once your new page is added, scroll down to the sub-menu item called Access Levels. Here you can see an option called Restricted. Clicking this option will restrict the web page to members only.

How to Create a Members Only Website Step 8

You’ll also see options to restrict the web page however you like: by admin level, member level, or by member group.

How to Create a Members Only Website Step 9

6. Setup Membership Levels

Navigate to the main menu again. Go to Members > Levels.

How to Create a Members Only Website Step 10

WildApricot already gives you three sample membership levels: Professional, Regular, and Student. You can edit these levels however you like (price, access, recurring payments, registration requirements, etc.), or create new ones.

How to Create a Members Only Website Step 11

Once you’re done, you can notify prospective members of your new membership website where they’re be able to register and pay for online membership.

If you’d also like to see how you can pick a theme for your website and start editing pages, we’ve put together a short video showing the step-by-step process:

Or, if you’d like more tips on building your full website and membership model, we’ve put together a number of guides that can help you out:

Or, if you’d like some help attracting new members, read on.

2 Proven Ways to Attract Your First Members

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Research shows there are two proven ways to attract new members no matter the value you provide, or the type of organization you are (club, nonprofit, educational, association, etc.). Those two ways are:

1. Create a Thriving, Engaged Community.

The number one reason anyone joins a membership site is because they want to be part of a community of like-minded individuals. If you can prove this on your website, there’s a great chance someone will join online. For example, You can showcase this by doing the following:

  • Including pictures of members and events.
  • Advertising information about upcoming events.
  • Showing Member testimonials and quotes about the value your organization offers.
  • Creating a link to a private Facebook Group (or other exclusive community). For example, we created a pop-up on our website with a link to our WildApricot Membership Facebook Group, which has helped the group grow to nearly 5,000 members. Here’s what our pop-up looks like (you might have seen it):

Membership Site Facebook Group

2. Provide Specialized Resources and Educational Content.

The more you publish industry reports, educational webinars, or offer member discounts, the better. You can tease these things on your website by offering previews, showcasing benefits (with customer testimonials), and even giving away free trial access (like we do for WildApricot).

If you’d like even more ways to attract (and retain) more members, we’ve compiled a list of expert tips called, 12 Practical Ways To Engage and Retain Members in Today’s World.

I hope you found this information helpful.

All the best building your members only website!

The Membership Growth Report:

Benchmarks & Insights for Growing Revenue and Constituents

Get the report now!