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How to Create a Membership Website with WordPress

  • By Editor Team
  • 09 Nov, 2021
  • Tutorial
  • 19 Min Read
Last Update: 03 Jul, 2022

What is a membership website?

Well, Membership websites allow controlled access to content. That means you can log in to a site with your own username and password and get exclusive private resources. The resources include educational content, newsletters, forums, industry secrets, and so on. Themeim experts guide you on how to create a membership website with WordPress.

Memberships are available in multiple formats. It could be free, paid, and tiered loyalty programs. Sometimes, the complexities are shocking. —However, do not worry about it. Nowadays, highly classified membership websites cater to your members’ requirements. You can sort their needs right from the database with automatic administrative categorization.

How much does a membership website cost?

How much does a membership website cost

From the beginning to the launch, a WordPress membership website costs around $200-$6000. This huge monetary variation essentially stems from a set of diverse features and functionalities.

There are free and paid WordPress membership plugins. — In case you are going for paid ones, your wallet goes thinner by the second. However, those paid plugins offer you incredible perks as well.

How to create a membership website?

A proper guide lands you on the perfect membership website from scratch. It is not that complicated. Let’s chime in —

  • Buy the right domain name and hosting package.
  • Choose a befitting WordPress platform.
  • Pick a suitable WordPress theme.
  • Opt for a host of membership plugins for smooth website functionality.
  • Use top CMS for membership websites.

Your online business delights in new visitors.

Shockingly, new visitors browse through a website for 15 seconds before leaving it for good.

Therefore, you essentially have 15 seconds to win over their minds. You want to convince them to stay for a longer period of time. Then sway them to membership signing.

Everything boils down to arousing their interest and capturing their eyes. So, how to get them excited about your membership?

  1. Fresh Design: Intuitive websites elicit a positive emotional response from the audience. It happens even before they set their eyes on anything written there. This spontaneous feeling gives you a great window of opportunity. The smartest online businesses are tapping into it.

Do you want in on a piece of confidential information?

Yes, stunning images put a measured distance between texts. While enjoying the imagery, the visitor gets a brief rest from continuous reading. — Also, bring in a masterfully crafted color palette. And you have gained their undivided attention right off the bat.

  1. Neat messaging: Get straight to your point. This powerful membership website strategy gives you an edge. Why do they need to join your organization? What are you offering? Set out the membership perks in simple and direct texts. This section must stand out prominently. So, they can immediately go there and understand your views.
  2. Smart call-to-action buttons: Tactically placed noticeable buttons save time. Visitors hate to blindly limp through the pages. Take them to your membership advantage pages and ask them to join. Use distinguished buttons. A seasoned membership website manager knows this trick by heart.

What are the features of a flourishing membership website?

Features of a membership websites

Take a sneak peek of the basic attributes —

  •  A flexible membership management panel is a must. So, you can add and manage members while creating new categories of memberships.
  • Great user registration and member profiles bring a simple user interface. Hence, members can log in to your website, sign up, and access their member profiles.
  • Functioning payment frameworks consolidate payment gateways and accept payments.
  • Measured content restrictions hide your exclusive content from non-members.

With a little technical know-how, all website-building platforms permit these options. However, WordPress gives you a no-tech setup and operation privilege, unlike any other website builder. WordPress is the best website builder for small businesses.

—Moreover, you can effortlessly build membership sites. A bunch of robust WordPress membership plugins accelerates the website installation and operation processes. Therefore, you get to sell online memberships, literally without any technical skills.

Numerous free and premium membership plugins bewilder even the wisest WordPress guru. So, you may take assistance from Themeim’s professional WordPress membership website builders.

To ease down your WordPress journey, our experts use the MemberPress plugin to create a membership website. It is highly popular for its fast and efficient installation.


Its sophisticated features help generate layered memberships, content restriction, payment acceptance, and so on. It flawlessly fits with bbPress, email marketing services, and Easy Affiliate.

Let’s roll out your fresh WordPress membership website right now.

How to launch a WordPress membership site?

Apart from suitable membership plugins, buy a domain name and a hosting space to initiate a membership website. Then purchase an SSL certificate to fortify overall safety.

The domain name is essentially the web address of the website. The hosting account secures your website files and content. All your monetary and online storage security emanates from an SSL certificate.

Annually, a domain name might cost you around $15, web hosting $8, and an SSL certificate $50. For a tech-virgin, the total amount could be a stunner anyway.

Both rookies and experts can take advantage of a sweeping deal from Bluehost. With it, you can clinch a free SSL certificate and a free domain on top of 60% off on WordPress hosting. So, all those requirements are fulfilled at a monthly $2.75.

Hands down, Bluehost is the highest-demand web hosting provider. They are the oldest in the hosting business as well. Both and WPBeginner officially recommend Bluehost.

The starting process is simple. Just pick a domain name and then sign up for your hosting account. With any other hosting service, you would have to set up WordPress. However, the Bluehost account installs it beforehand. So, you need not worry about manual installation.

Thus you are only left with the setup of membership plugins and their customization.

How to install membership plugins on membership websites?

We have zeroed in on the MemberPress plugin for your clear understanding.

Install and activate it. The activation triggers a notification bar. It contains all options for personalization.

Click on the “options page” link. Also, you may go to MemberPress → Options to reach the settings section.

Memberpress plugins setting

This page permits all kinds of plugin settings.

Add payment methods

Tap the “Payments” tab on the “Options” page. Now, customize the payment gateways for the membership website.

Membress payment settings

The default MemberPress setting allows PayPal (Standard & Express), Stripe, payment gateways. Moreover, you can personalize multiple other payment methods.

Add membership levels

Various pricing categories help your members purchase content in accordance. Membership levels are subject to your unlimited alterations. You can generate endless pricing, features, and content availability.

Click the dashboard menu → tap MemberPress → click Memberships → tap “Add New”.

A classic WordPress editor appears at the next phase. Here, you can initiate membership levels.

memberpress plugins new member add option

Give a title and add a description inside the editor. Now, click Membership Terms on the right side of the page → fix the price, billing types, determine the access period, and set an expiry date → also, customize the registration, permission, price box, etc.

You have successfully personalized the settings. Next, you can publish the membership levels to the visitors.

How to set up access rules for membership plans?

Content access is key to all your membership plans. So, the next phase addresses this issue. You can put a bunch of guiding principles and rules to define content accessibility. It allows different groups of customers to satisfy their diverse content requirements.

Click MemberPress → open Rules → tap “Add New”.

memberpress plugins new rules

Create your rules and link the content to the membership stages as planned. Thus specific subscribers get access to a certain class of content.

Here, all the content in the ‘Advanced WordPress Guide’ category is available only to members with a Platinum or Gold subscription plan.

memberpress plugins rules add

Next, notice the ‘Drip/Expiration’ box. The drip option gradually releases content. But the expiration option removes the content accessibility at a specific time.

memberpress drip content

After you have done and dealt with the rules, save all your options accordingly. You may generate unlimited rules in this step-by-step method.

How to develop members-only content on membership websites?

members-only content

Members-only content refers to gated content. It remains inaccessible by general users.  Subscribers can unlock this privileged access. Both posts and pages could be classified as members-only content. Now, let’s break down the phases —

Generate a fresh post → add content to it → select the “Advanced WordPress Guide” category.

Now, go down to the ‘MemberPress Unauthorized Access’ → set up what the non-subscribers see as they try accessing this content (for example, a text displaying its restrictions).

Following your configurations of the relevant sections, publish the page with added content. Go to “Posts” → “All Posts”. Here, you can check out the protected content for specific membership plans.

MemberPress allows you to generate online courses with built-in courses addons. You can formulate your course curriculum with the visual online course builder. The process runs identical to the one stated above.

How to generate a pricing page on membership websites?

You need to establish a pricing page. So, the audience can evaluate the membership plans and sign up for a suitable one. The Groups options on the MemberPress plugin helps you yield a pricing page.

add new options in memberpress

Go to MemberPress → select admin panel → tap Groups → click “Add New” → enter the group title → give the page a name.

Group options

Now, go to the “Group Options” → add memberships to display on the pricing page → select a theme for the pricing page → click “Publish”.

You can have a preview of how the pricing page shows up to the visitors. Here comes a MemberPress pricing page on a default theme.

memberpress pricing

Now, you must channel all unauthorized visitors to the pricing page.

For this, go to MemberPress → “Groups” page → copy the group’s URL.

Again, go to MemberPress → click the “Options” page → scroll down to the “Unauthorized Access” option → check the box next to “Redirect unauthorized visitors to a specific URL” → paste the copied group URL → click on the ‘Update Options’ button down below.

Now, you have accomplished this process. So, all unauthorized visitors and non-members will hit the pricing page as they try on the premium content.

How to add sign-up and login forms on membership websites?

Sign-up and login forms on membership websites

You are about all set for launching the website, except for the sign-up and login forms. You can set up user accounts and profiles, thanks to the MemberPress plugin.

So, you can insert a user login form right from the widget.

Go to the admin panel → click “Appearance” → tap “Widgets” → add the “MemberPress login” widget to a widget-ready area.

Now, link up your pricing page URL to the navigation menu. It helps site visitors to subscribe to a membership package.

For this, go to “Appearance” → click “Menus” → generate a new menu or choose an existing one → go to the “Groups” tab → select “Pricing Plans” → click the “Add to Menu” button.

Menu section

The pricing page appears below the menu structure. But you can reposition it by dragging. As you finish these steps, press the “Save” button before leaving.

Once more, preview its functionalities on your website.

How to sell membership plans on a membership website?

A study points out that 74% of visitors feel frustrated as websites fail to satisfy their expectations. They leave your site in an instant, only never to return.

Visitors are your potential members. They need a specific set of information from your pages. We have tracked dozens of membership website managers revealing their pain points. Their claims have been bolstered with additional data from hundreds of membership websites.

There are 4 decisive aspects of the best membership website:

  1. Organizational values & purpose: Visitors uphold a certain value and they have a goal in mind. Hence, they dig into these prospects. If their needs and interests align with your values, they seriously consider a membership.
  2. Resourceful: Visitors love brilliant content. So, they can draw from your value-driven resources. Are you introducing interesting discussions to your industry? Delve deeper into this question. It will help you deliver unique content to them, not to be found anywhere else.
  3. Engaging community: People flock together in like-minded communities. They want to belong to a class of individuals with similar interests. This is a great impetus for them to join your membership plans. Your website must reflect the community standards and compelling engagements.
  4. Simple payment & joining method: Put all hurdles aside if you want them to join the fray. Membership websites often come with baggage. Download this, print that, and then mail. This rather old and complicated approach fails to sign up newcomers who love lightning-fast registration.

If you linger the registration process in any way, you are probably losing tons of potential clients. Straighten up the system with online registration as well as payments. Thus your membership subscription skyrockets. Make it as simple and fast as you can.

How to arrange attractive deals on membership websites?

Those above-mentioned four exclusive features are available on most membership sites. Visitors find them almost effortlessly. Therefore, you will notice these elements craftily spread out across eight types of website pages. This strategic page positioning and content placement help convert non-members into subscribers.

Now is the time to check out those page formats before we wind up this membership website guide.

  1. Homepage

Naturally, visitors land on the homepage. Right off the bat, what should they see first? The best membership sites display cream information here. The most effective organizations place a call-to-action button with featured members, event updates, news, and imagery.

Notice the tactical illustration of the homepage on the Webb Mountain Discovery Zone.

  1. About Us

It contains the stories and inspirations of your organization. This page highlights the pioneers managing your successful journey all along. Many membership websites display their history, story, vision, mission statement, and values. The founder profiles and current board members are attached as well.

Look at a stunning About Us page from the Greater Kendall Business Association.

  1. Join Us

It illustrates all the details linked to new recruitment. Basically, it reveals the necessary information on joining your organization. Certainly, the online joining form is also there. This page parades the perks of joining. These advantages charm a visitor into a member.

We have found a superb Join Us page on the Kapolei Chamber of Commerce.

  1. Donate

The Donate page includes the essentials for a donor. It involves required information and a simple form. So, the potential donor can quickly get along with his contribution after browsing through the basics.

This page needs maximum optimization. You could have a glimpse into a great Donate page example from Rotary.

  1. Events

Put together all your events down here. It involves a prominent calendar. The calendar exhibits the exact dates and precise times of any upcoming event. Individual events could demonstrate some benefits of joining it. So, the audience has an impetus to go there.

Fix all online registration and payment issues. It accelerates visitor registration to your events. Membership management software can easily generate such an event page. For reference, please do check out the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce.

  1. Resources

If your website is modeled on content publishing, you must arrange a value-based resource page. This place attracts the more sensible audience, like crazy. They want to benefit from your membership website. This way, they know exactly where to find their cherished content.

A finer example of a Resource page from a publication is listed here. Sneak a look into the Medical Library Association.

  1. Access-controlled content

By brandishing members-only sections, your membership website truly upholds its identity. Create urgency and scarcity in their minds with tactical use of this area. It hosts exclusive resources and member directors for the privileged access of the subscribers. This is great for personalized content delivery.

Also, the “Members-only” tag sometimes allures your next potential visitor to embrace your membership plan. Thus they feel encouraged to join forces with your online endeavor for instant access to these materials. Besides, the members-only area caters to security and privacy grounds by hiding confidential information.

  1. Contact Us

It displays the relevant contact information for your organization. Many smart membership website managers put the newsletter tab on this page. Newsletter signups gradually bring the visitors into your fold.

You can keep track of your potential membership subscribers. Outstanding newsletters contain the advantages of joining a monthly membership. Thus they feel inspired to come closer to your organization.

For starters, this membership website guide is a lifesaver. Themeim gives you a robust springboard for building and maintaining a conversion-friendly membership website. You can bring new members on board while sustaining a cozy appearance throughout your online journey. Now, you can step up your plans for a membership website on WordPress.

Editor Team

We are a group of WordPress experts (editorial team) from Themeim. All of these articles go through manual testing to reveal the ultimate outcome.