Everything You Need To Know About Hosting Your Membership Site On WordPress

August 31, 2022

Sonia Urlando

By Sonia Urlando

How do I create a membership website through WordPress? Why should I use WordPress? These questions probably landed you on this page.  

 

Creating the best membership website for you can be a daunting task. There's lots to consider! Fortunately, you've already got your first choice down—using WordPress. Even better, WordPress makes it easy to build and host your membership website on the platform. 

 

In this guide we will explore the benefits of WordPress for membership websites, best web-hosting options, beneficial plug-ins to use and step-by-step how-to instructions.  

 

Ready to build your ideal WordPress membership website? Let’s do it!  

The Benefits of Using WordPress to Create Your Membership Site 

Often ranked as one of the best membership website builders, there are tons of benefits to using WordPress: 

 

  • Ease of use. You don’t have to be an expert in building a membership website on WordPress as they have plenty of video tutorials available. 

  • Plans to match your budget. WordPress plans range from monthly to yearly at $20 –$50 per month, with add-ons available. There's a rate that works for most budgets! 

  • Options for Managed WordPress web hosting. Yes, you don’t have to manage your website hosting yourself (unless you want to)! Instead, offload the work to a managed service. 

  • Lots of plug-ins to choose from. Choose from thousands of plug-ins to enhance your website experience. These can include form builders, sign-up sheets, analysis and more! 

  • User friendly. Whether you’re a master at membership website building or brand new, it’s simple to create a membership website with WordPress. You can start with a template or theme to easily build out your vision. 

  • SEO friendly. Search engine optimization (SEO) can be complicated. With WordPress, you can better understand SEO functionality and how to work it into your website. You win by making it easier for potential members to find you. 

3 Things You Need To Get Started Hosting Your WordPress Membership Site 

You’re almost off to the races! Before you start designing your membership website on WordPress, you will need a few things: 

 

  • Domain: Every WordPress website comes with a free .wordpress.com. We recommend a .com domain that identifies your company membership website. Once you have a domain name in mind, you can register a new domain name with WordPress. This will be your primary domain that will allow users to find you by search or directly. 

  • Web hosting account: Don’t have a web hosting account? Time to find one! A web hosting account is a key component to a successful website that allows you to publish and run your website effectively.  

  • Membership plug-ins: Plug-ins give users a better onsite experience. For example, some plug-ins let you improve your website SEO and be more discoverable for non-members. Another useful plug-in includes MMS or membership management software (such as WildApricot) which helps to manage membership profiles, multi-chapter sites and much more that will make your life that much easier. 

 

Look into these three important factors ahead of creating your membership website on WordPress. With all three, you will be off to a great start in running your very own membership website. 

The 3 Best Web Hosting Options (for Every Budget) 

What’s next? Now that we have touched on the importance of web hosting, we won’t leave you hanging! Here are some of the best web hosting options for your WordPress membership site.  

 

Below you’ll find 3 of the best options for each budget. 

Low Cost Options

  • Bluehost: Coming in at a low cost and one of the largest web hosting providers, Bluehost boasts 24/7 support and various hosting options. In addition, they also offer a free consultation to find the best plan that works for your website.

    Cost: $4.95–$79.99 per month depending on the plan

  • SiteGround: Top speed, unmatched security, and expert support are often associated with SiteGround. Hosting services start at $2.99 per month making this web hosting platform more than affordable.

    Cost: $2.99–$7.99 per month depending on plan

  • Cloudways: Looking for a simplified web hosting option? Cloudways is for you. The company offers flexible and affordable hosting plans based on your budget while streamlining web hosting in a simplified manner.

    Cost: $12–$96 per month depending on plan 

Managed WordPress Hosting

  • WordPress: The most cost-effective WordPress hosting is WordPress itself. With less hassle and a business stack to help your website run seamlessly, it's no wonder it’s a favorite on the list.

    Cost: $7–$59 per month depending on plan 

  • Flywheel: The all-in-one WordPress hosting agency offers a suit full of tools to help your website succeed long term. Build clients and access exclusive resources with Flywheel.

    Cost: $13–$242 per month depending on plan

  • Kinsta: Kinsta is a premium managed WordPress hosting company. Noted for custom plans and solutions, they are a top contender for managing your needs.

    Cost: $70–$1650 per month depending on plan 

Enterprise Level Web Hosting

  • Cloudways: Also on our low cost list, this web hosting platform offer enterprise level hosting worth taking a peek at.

    Cost: $12–$274 per month depending on plan

  • Pantheon: Great for hosting a high-impact website, Patheon is innovative, speedy, and optimizes your website to revolutionize how management is done.

    Cost: Speak to the sales team to learn more about pricing

  • SiteGround: Another affordable contender, SiteGround offers enterprise level hosting.

    Cost: $2.99–$400 per month depending on plan 

 

Once you choose the right plan for you and your membership website needs, next you’ll need to pick out some plug-ins! 

Choosing the Right WordPress Membership Site Plug-Ins For You 

With a plethora of plug-ins available for WordPress, narrowing down your choice can be a chore! Not all plug-ins are built the same. So here are a few guiding principals to help your search. 

 

You should look for: 

  • Ease of use. Ease of use is vital for plug-ins. That way, you don’t spend tons of time trying to understand them. If you can easily use a plug-in, so can your members! Plug-ins should help you automate and streamline processes, so they shouldn’t make you work hard to use them. 

  • Value for cost. Often, there are options for plug-ins with similar or overlapping capabilities. Take care to compare! Find affordable plug-ins that do what you need, while staying within your budget.  

  • Tutorials and technical support. Cut down your learning time with tutorials. And enjoy the peace of mind that if you run into issues setting up or running your plug-in, you can turn to technical support. These are bonuses that can make a good plug-in a real winner. 

13 WordPress Plug-Ins For Your Membership Website 

Now that you know what to look for in a great plug-ins, we’ve got a few recommendations to get your started.  

 

Here are a few of the best plug-ins for your WordPress membership website: 

 

  • MemberPress: A membership and monetization plug-in, MemberPress lets you control content, accept credit cards for digital downloads and build a perfect membership website on WordPress. This is great for membership websites looking to monetize their digital space. 

    Cost: $179–$399 per year depending on plan 

  • LearnDash: An online course platform created by e-learning experts, LearnDash allows you to create professional, engaging courses for your members. You can build and scale your member exclusive courses all while engaging those with intuitive learning. 

    Cost: $199–$799 per year depending on plan 

  • Teachable: Share your knowledge with your members through Teachable. The plug-in allows you to create online courses, build your brand, and scale your business.

    Cost: $0–$249 per month depending on plan 

  • Restrict Content Pro: Known as a robust content restriction tool, Restrict Content Pro helps WordPress membership websites manage and protect exclusive gated content. It is a must for anyone looking to give value to their most appealing content.

    Cost: $99–$249 per year depending on plan

  • WPForms: WPForms is the most popular form builder plug-in for WordPress making it a top plug-in for any membership website. With 400+ pre-built form templates and the ability to easily create a form from scratch, WPForms is flexible and ideal for your website.

    Cost: $79–$599 per year depending on plan
     

  • WooCommerce Memberships: Memberships cost money and you will need to collect that money. WooCommerce is a customizable, open-source eCommerce platform built on WordPress that offers a simple way to start your membership business.

    Cost: 2.9% + $0.30 for each transaction made with US issued credit or debit 

  • S2Member: A powerful membership plug-in for WordPress, S2Member protects your WordPress Posts, Pages, Tags, Categories, URLs and more. Easily configurable & highly extensible. You can even protect downloadable files and streaming audio/video.

    Cost: $0–$189 one-time fee depending on plan 

  • ARMember: ARMember is one-of-its kind WordPress membership plug-in that provides all genres of membership related functionality and builds a sustainable membership website.

    Cost: $0–$59 one-time fee depending on plan 

  • bbPress: In need of a discussion forum plug-in for your WordPress membership website? Look no further because bbPress is a forum software developed just for the task. The best part? It’s free.

    Cost: Free 

  • MonsterInsights: Analytics are vital for membership websites to build and grow and with MonsterInsights, you can analyze metrics to build and maintain your memberships all in one place. Plus, MonsterInsights lets you analyze what your members engage with to further add value to your website.

    Cost: $199–$799 per year depending on plan 

  • All in One SEO: All in One SEO, or AIOSEO, helps improve your SEO ranking for search engines so potential members can find you with a quick Google search.

    Cost: $124–$749 per year depending on plan 

  • Constant Contact: Constant Contact keeps all your members' information in an organized way to ensure you can easily find who you’re looking for whether it be an individual or a categorized list of them.

    Cost: $9.99–$449 per month depending on plan 

  • PushEngage: A push notification tool that’s easy to use and offers a powerful way to engage and retain memberships on your website. Use PushEngage to send helpful reminders and important updates to your audience.
    Cost: $0–$29 per month depending on plan 

 

You're geared up with some helpful plug-ins! Now let’s take a look into a guided step-by-step process for creating your website. 

 

10 Steps To Create Your Membership Site On WordPress 

Step 1: Plan out your membership site

 

Start your planning by asking yourself a few questions! What capabilities do you need? What pages are required? Do you have content to populate these pages?  

 

Put yourself in your user’s shoes. From there, start to plan your website based on what you need to have a great user experience. 

Step 2: Set up the basics

 

Get off to a good start by creating a domain and finding a trusted web host. Peek back at the previous sections for what you’ll need to launch your website. 

 

Step 3: Choose your WordPress theme and start designing

 

Now you’re ready to start designing! Pick a WordPress theme and design for your membership website. If you're feeling creative, you can do this yourself. Or, if you have the budget, get some help from a brand designer who can give your website a consistent look and feel. 

 

Step 4: Choose plug-ins that meet your needs 

 

Plug-ins add function and streamline processes on your website. Customize the plug-ins you need such as form builders, contact lists and membership levels so they match your organization’s offerings. Check out our plug-in picks above. 

 

Step 5: Determine membership levels and prices 

 

Design your membership levels! Decide on the perks of being a part of each tier and what the cost should be. Remember, each level of membership access should come with more value (think content, events and benefits) and therefore higher cost to match.

 

Step 6: Add sign-up and login forms 

 

If you want to build out your memberships, sign-up and log in forms provide an incentive for members to do just that, sign-up! With a variety of form plug-ins, you get to choose what works best for your website to engage users to become members. 

 

Step 7: Add payment methods 

 

Memberships cost money, so you’ll need a way to accept these payments. Payment gateways or plug-ins let you give website visitors and members a variety of ways of pay.  

 

Step 8: Restrict access based on membership plans 

 

Create exclusivity by restricting access members-only pages. Members of different levels pay for certain privileges. So strategically gate your content depending on whose paid for access.  

 

Step 9: Upload your members-only content 

 

Ready to add some content to your members-only pages? Create insightful, gated content that is dedicated to benefit your members. These resources help retain and engage your members. So remember to keep them updated and keep providing value!  

 

Step 10: Go live! 

 

Now it’s the big moment: You’re ready to launch! You can always keep fine tuning your website (and you should) but once you’ve completed these steps, go ahead and reveal it to the world! 

 

Still feeling a little stuck? Have no fear! We’ve got 25 membership website examples and more guidance here to inspire you. 

Conclusion 

That’s a wrap on creating your WordPress membership website! 

 

Your membership website is a living, breathing extension of your company. It provides value to your members and visual impact as more people find you. Keep it up to date and continue to provide members with new and exciting content to really engage your audience.  

 

Whenever you need ideas, you can always find some on WildApricot’s blog.  

 

The Membership Growth Report:

Benchmarks & Insights for Growing Revenue and Constituents

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