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How to Create an Amazing Subscription Website in Less Than a Day

Terry Ibele 06 June 2019 1 comments

Subscription Websites

“I want to create a subscription website where people pay to get access to my community, resources, and publications.”

That's what Lily, a stay-at-home mom who ran her local Library Association, wanted to accomplish.

When she began to Google how to do this, she ran into some trouble.

Most of what she came across told her to use Wordpress plugins, write code, or hire a freelancer. Unfortunately, she didn’t have the know-how or the budget to do any of those things.

Luckily, I happened to meet Lily in an online forum and showed her the easiest way to create a subscription based website all by herself.

In just a weekend, she had everything set up.

And in just a few days, two new people had registered and paid for her subscription service online.

If you’re like Lily and want to set up a subscription website for your organization (but don’t have the expertise or resources to do so), you’ve come to the right place. In this guide I’m going to explain the best and easiest way to do this.

Create a membership website free

In this post, I'm going to cover: 

 

What is a Subscription Website?

A subscription website is simply an online gate that restricts access to content on your website. Only those who pay can cross through the gate and access your content.

Of course, the content on your website must be valuable enough for people to want to pay for it.

And while “valuable” can literally be anything depending on your audience, the most successful types of things I’ve seen work for subscription sites are:

  • Industry publications (white papers, surveys, reports), and newsletters
  • Courses, webinars, and guides
  • Private member directory (especially for associations and business groups)
  • Exclusive invites to events and conferences
  • Seemingly-discounted monthly mystery box deliveries
  • Discounts on products/equipment/services for a specific industry or geography 

Besides acting as a gate for content, subscription websites also take care of a multitude of administrative work for you. Think of the site as your personal assistant who can automatically:

  • register new subscribers or members
  • process monthly dues and set up recurring payments
  • update subscriber profiles in one centralized database
  • email subscribers with invoices, reminders, monthly newsletters, event invites, or any other sort of communication
  • distribute resources like courses, industry reports, and other materials
  • make your website responsive for mobile applications.

Overall, a good subscription website can save you about 20 hours a week or more in administrative work. That’s because it runs like a machine in the background, processing and updating information while you can focus on other tasks, like creating value for your subscribers.

 

The Best Way to Create an Amazing Subscription Website with No Technical Expertise

While there are many paths you can take to build your subscription website (you can build a website from scratch, hire a freelancer, integrate subscription-plugins for Wordpress, etc.), my recommendation is to use something called membership management software — an inexpensive (and sometimes free) software that exists to assist those who don’t have any technical expertise, but still want an amazing, robust subscription or membership website. Once you select a membership management software, it can create a pre-populated website for you in minutes.

Click here to start a free trial of Wild Apricot’s membership management software.

Subscription Website Software

 

What is Membership Management Software?

Check out this video to learn how membership management software can help you create an amazing subscription website: 


Membership management software is a type of software built to help subscription and membership organizations grow and save time and money when it comes to administrative work.

On one hand, it will allow you to create a professionally designed subscription website in a matter of minutes — complete with subscriber-only access pages, a join us page, member directories, and more.

The best part is that anyone without any technical expertise can use it, because of its easy-to-use, drag-and-drop tools.

In the GIF below, I'm using Wild Apricot's membership management software to drag and drop a membership application onto the subscription website I'm editing.

Any other feature you'd like to include such as a member directory, slideshow, or subscription form can be added in the same way.

Subscription Website

On the other hand, membership management software also automates and eliminates a lot of administrative work, such as processing registrations and payments, designing newsletters, automating reminder emails, and summarizing finances. 

This means that once your subscription website is up and running, you won't have to do as much work to maintain it and keep your members happy. 

 

The #1 Membership Management Software to Use

The #1 membership management software on the market, used by over 20,000 membership organizations is called Wild Apricot (that’s us!). The best part is that you can try it for free.

You can start your free, 30-day trial of Wild Apricot here. Wild Apricot also has a free, basic plan which you can use indefinitely. More details on our free plan are here.

Wild Apricot Subscription Website

“The most impressive thing about Wild Apricot is the ease of building. We went from zero website to a functioning website with the specific things we needed in three days. It was amazing, and the app makes accessing all the admin info so easy on the go!”

-T Anderson, Big Country Home Educators

One of the best things about Wild Apricot is that it's an all-in-one platform. You won't need to set up separate processes like MailChimp for your emails, Excel for your database, or WordPress for your website.

Wild Apricot Subscription Website

Free Trial Wild Apricot Subscription Website

If you need help knowing which types of pages to build, which subscription levels to set up, and how to import your contact database, check out this guide on how to set things up in 5 easy steps with no technical expertise.

7 Examples of Great Subscription Websites

Here are seven examples of subscription websites built using Wild Apricot. When you browse through these sites, be sure to keep an eye out for the following:

  • Mobile responsiveness
  • Join Us pages with different membership levels
  • Event calendars with online registration and payments
  • Membership directories
  • Members' only access areas
  • Slideshows of member and event photos

1. Old Dominion Boat Club

Subscription Club Software ODBC

2. ATV Association of Nova Scotia

ATVANS Subscription  Website Examples

3. Association of Professional Humane Educators

APHE Membership Subscription Example

4. Newark Chamber of Commerce

Newark Subscription Website

5. Southern Business Women’s Network

 SBWN Subscription Website Example

 6. New Choir

NC Subscription Website Example

7. Pacific Group Golf

PGG Subscription Website Example

If you’d like to browse more examples, here’s a list of 25 subscription sites setup using Wild Apricot.

Or, if you're ready to set up your own subscription website in Wild Apricot, here are the steps to get started right now.

 

The Complete Step-By-Step Process to Create a Subscription Website in Wild Apricot

Here’s how to create a subscription website from scratch with Wild Apricot.

 

Step 1. Start a Free, 30-Day Trial of Wild Apricot

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

How to Create a Subscription Website

 

Step 2. Enter Your Info

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

How to Create a Subscription Website

 

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 Wild Apricot website. For the purposes of this tutorial, I’ll take you straight to the back end of your Wild Apricot website.

How to Create a Subscription Website
 

Step 4. Navigate to Site Pages


Once you are in the back end of your Wild Apricot 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 Subscription Website

 

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 Subscription Website

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 Subscription Website

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 Subscription Website

 

6. Set Up Membership Levels


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

How to Create a Subscription Website

Wild Apricot 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 Subscription Website

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:

Best of success building your subscription website!

 

Additional Resources:

Terry Ibele [Learning Apricot]

Posted by Terry Ibele [Learning Apricot]

Published Thursday, 06 June 2019 at 10:25 AM

Comments

  • Vic Dorfman said:

    Saturday, 18 November 2017 at 2:16 PM
    Hey Terry, I'd have to agree that Wild Apricot is one of the easier platforms that I've worked with.
    I've got several customers who use (and love) WA.
    Some folks do prefer WordPress (the tinkerers) but it's more time consuming than using an all-in-one app.
    Would love to see more in-depth case studies like Lily's example above. :)'
    Best,
    Vic
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