WordPress is much like clay; it’s so flexible that it can do everything you want it to. All you have to do is to find the right themes, templates plugins, and a certain (or a lot) of customization to make it work.

You are in business (blogging or publishing business makes it into that category, by the way) for making money. Sooner or later, your entire WordPress-based website or maybe just a page on your website will need pretty “Paypal” buttons to accept payments for whatever it is that you charge for. One of the tried-and-tested ideas that people won’t hesitate to pay up for is quality information, access to exclusive opportunities, or a combination of both. Building a membership site helps you set-up a business that revolves around this idea. Here are some tips on how to build a membership site:

Innovation is something done better, not always something new

Don’t get caught up with trying to come up with something new, groundbreaking, or earth shattering. While it’s not bad if you can come up with something, you are really focusing on something you don’t really need. To build a profitable membership site, all you need to do is to find a way to do it better than your competition does. For instance, if you know that a competing website or membership site offers a certain type of content – say text – try to think of many other ways to add to this basic product. Consider using videos, webinars, real life meet-ups, seminars, etc.

Your business depends on content, design, and content

Running, managing, and promoting a WordPress based membership site will depend on content marketing, more than any other business. Your basic product is information, and you’ll add more information – in many other formats – on top of this basic product. Even for marketing, you’ll find that marketing using content is the only way you’ll have to get good at. Having said that, take this into consideration when planning your business. Who is going to write on a set frequency for your editorial calendar? Is it going to be just you? Are you going to hire a team of professional bloggers? Think about everything, because you can’t build a membership site without content.

Trust begets business

All that content marketing you do is to beget trust. Your customers should love you and trust you enough to spend their hard earned money for monthly, quarterly or yearly subscription. You can’t build trust in a day, though. It’s going to take sometime for that to happen. Since content marketing is already the best way to earn the trust of your customers, keep at it. Don’t just pump out meaningless drivel, fluff, and sugarcoated nonsense and mistake it for content. Every blog post, report, article, and whitepaper should make a difference to your customers’ lives.

It takes time to build a profitable membership site

As I mentioned earlier, it’s going to take a while to actually start making money from a membership site. What are you going to do meanwhile? How are you going to pay the bills? I suggest freelancing. Alternatively, stick to your job while you work to build a membership site. Whatever you do, make sure you have a steady stream of income while working on your new business. Starting this way takes the stress off the equation and allows you to focus on your business.

Offer teaser content

Slapping a landing page on the face of your potential customers is not going to help; blind advertisements won’t work either. You need to show a sample of what potential customers get if they subscribe to your membership site. How do you do that? Offer teaser content. First, keep a section or a part of your membership completely public so that it’s accessible for everyone. You have to work to write content that’s so good that you should leave your readers craving for more, a starving crowd as Gary Halbert – a famous copywriter – used to say.

Use plugins (available) and other methods to tease your potential customers by showing only a part of the content urging them to sign up for a full-membership. Wall Street Journal, GigaOm, and The Australian do this very well.

Use real testimonials

The worst thing you’d do to hurt your own business is to provide fake testimonials from randomly generated names. I still remember a friend of mine who used to hire someone exclusively to generate fake testimonials. So be it if you have to work hard to earn every testimonial. It’s all right if you have to give away your membership for free for a few early customers just to generate testimonials. Do it, no matter what it takes.

Always focus on value, not price

Most businesses owners do the mistake of doing business based on price. That’s a recipe for disaster. Instead, focus on selling on value. What does your customer get out of your membership site? What’s the value, really? Why should a customer buy from you and not from someone else? Don’t start a business without answering these questions.

Deploy affiliate marketing

It’s a no brainer to be on the merchant side of affiliate marketing. When you build your membership site, it’s your product. Put it up on Clickbank.com, Plimus.com, and e-Junkie.com so that thousands of affiliates the world over will work everyday to sell your membership site for you. It doesn’t take much to do this but the payoffs are phenomenal.

Use our membership site service to get a jumpstart to build your membership site quickly, easily, and the right way.

See you on the other side.