How to Create a WordPress Membership Site (2024 Guide)

Do you want to know how to create a membership website in WordPress? Then this post will definitely help you as we will show the step-by-step process to create a WordPress membership site. WordPress is the most popular CMS in the world and allows you to create any website without having to code. That’s why it’s really simple to create a membership site in WordPress.

There are several membership plugins that you can use for this purpose. If you have a favorite plugin, you can choose that one. In our case, we’ll be using MemberDash. It’s from StellarWP, the same company that develops LearnDash. So let’s get started.

What is a Membership website?

A website that only allows members to access restricted material and exclusive benefits is known as a membership website. These perks may consist of free shipping, free webinars, online courses, special invitations to conferences and events, and special reports and mailings. To develop an interested and devoted audience, many companies, organizations, clubs, and groups have membership websites. Although they provide different experiences, membership websites, and subscription websites are sometimes confused. 

Customers who visit membership websites can join a club, while those who visit subscription websites can pay to utilize a good or service for a predetermined amount of time. On the other hand, a membership site allows customers to become part of a group and offers them access to special content.

Creating a membership site is one of the easiest ways to increase user engagement. By allowing visitors to become members, you encourage them to continue engaging with your brand in exchange for perks, access to exclusive content, discounts, and more. This all increases the likelihood of repeat visits to your site, longer session times, and more purchases. Memberships also add lines of revenue if you charge subscription fees.

One of the best things about building a Membership site on WordPress is that you can allow your users private content such as online courses, downloadable music, software, ebooks, and so on. This content will be only available to members who have registered to your site. You can also create special membership levels such as Bronze, Silver, and Gold. Each higher level will grant the users access to more premium contents. You can also charge more for those higher tiers but for this you need a good membership plugin.

Benefits of a WordPress Membership website

A membership website has sophisticated features such as membership levels, pay-only content, etc. WordPress already gives you a CMS to control your website from the backend. There are several powerful plugins that you can install to add certain features to your WordPress website. Therefore creating and managing a membership website becomes a lot easier. Besides, there are more benefits of a WordPress membership site such as:

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  • Establish your expertise: By offering valuable content that fills gaps in your industry’s general knowledge base, you can establish yourself as an industry expert. When these content assets are available via a membership-only relationship, you not only drive demand for your content, but you also firmly establish yourself as an industry expert, given consumers’ willingness to engage with your gated site.
  • Earn from your content: Membership sites allow creators such as bloggers, podcasters, or vloggers to give their super-fans access to additional content for a price. Recurring membership dues, additional revenue from special events, additional revenue from premium content or access, and donations are some ways creators can monetize their content.
  • Build a well-crafted community: When building a membership site, you’re not only building a website, you’re building a community. Your audience who are registered to your site have agreed to participate in your membership site as they share a common interest in your product or service.
  • Increase your online audience: When people start registering on your site, you gradually grow your audience. You can later on nurture them through email, community, and share knowledge.
  • Maximize the overall value: With each new member and content asset, your website becomes increasingly valuable. You can charge subscription fees for access to exclusive content and benefits, which adds lines of revenue.

Creating a Membership site in WordPress: What do you need?

Before we start creating our membership site, we need a few things.

  1. Domain and hosting: If you want to create a website then you need domain and hosting for WordPress. There are many domain and hosting services out there. Just make sure you pick a good one otherwise it will come back to haunt you.
  1. WordPress installation: When you’re getting hosting, check if there’s WordPress hosting available. Popular hosting services like HostGator, NameCheap, Cloudways, etc. provide WordPress hosting. If you purchase that, your WordPress will come pre-installed. But if you’ve got a normal hosting, it’s ok, you just have to install WordPress by other means.
  1. Membership plugin: Lastly, you need a membership plugin to add the membership features to your WordPress site. We will be using MemberDash to create our site but if you want to use other plugins, you can do so. You can also check out our list of membership plugins for more details.
  1. Create members-only content: Since we’re making a membership website, it is important to have content only accessible to certain members.

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How to create a membership website in WordPress

Now if you have your domain and hosting ready, and you’ve installed WordPress, it’s time to see how to create a membership website in WordPress. So let’s start with installing our membership plugin.

Since MemberDash is a premium plugin, you have to purchase it from the official website. Once you do, you can simply install your membership plugin by clicking on the Plugins > Add New > Upload option from your WordPress admin dashboard.

Install a membership plugin

Since MemberDash is a paid plugin, we have to download it from their official site and upload it to our WordPress site then install and activate it. WordPress dashboard > Plugins and click on the “Add New” link and then click on the “Upload Plugin” option.

uploading the memberdash plugin

Then click on the “Choose File” button, select the plugin installer ZIP file and then click on the “Install Now” button to install the plugin. Activate the plugin after it’s installed.

Create membership levels or types

Now based on what membership plugin you’re using, you might have different options. Some plugins allow you to create membership levels or types. For example, the plugin Restrict Content Pro allows you to create different membership levels. But we’re using MemberDash, which also allows you to create membership types. 

From your WordPress dashboard go to MemberDash > Memberships then click on the “Create New Membership” button. Here you can choose a membership type. There are four membership types Standard, Dripped content, Guest, and Default. Each member type has a special privilege. So select the one you want for the members to have.

creating new membership in memberdash

Next, you can name your membership and then you can allow users to register for this membership and also make this membership paid. After the membership type has been created, you can setup the access levels by visiting the Protection Rules tab.

Set up access levels

This is where you can manually select what posts, pages, categories, menu items, etc. the users of that member level will have access to. MemberDash allows you to modify the access of any posts, pages, categories, etc. on your website so that a particular member type can access it.

Setting up access membership levels

You can customize various access options here. For example, you can set a date when the member can access the content or make the content available at a particular time. So take your time and set protection rules for your members.

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Set up payment method

You need to process and bill your members. And for that, you need to setup your payment method. To setup your payment method in MemberDash, go to MemberDash > Settings and click on the Payment tab. Here you can select your currency, and put in the invoice sender name, billing address, company name, and other payment details.

Setting up payment method

In MemberDash you can setup 3 types of payment gateways:

  • Manual
  • Paypal
  • Stripe

Paypal and Stripe are very popular for processing digital product payments. So you can select any one of these.

Create member-specific pages

Having only member-specific content won’t be enough, you also have to create member-specific pages if you want to create a membership site. Your membership plugin might generate a few pages but if it doesn’t you can create it from Pages > Add New. MemberDash creates the following pages:

  • Account
  • Membership list
  • Protected content
  • Registration
  • Thank you

There might be other pages there but if you need to create more pages, you know how to do it. Remember, you can also edit these pages using a page builder. For this, use the page builder that you’re comfortable with or any page builder that you theme supports. The registration page is very important as it is where your members will register to your site. So make sure to edit that page and check if everything is working perfectly.

After you’re done with all the steps mentioned above, you can test if your membership functionalities are working correctly. You can sign out of your WordPress admin account and try to register as a new member. This will ensure that all the functions are working correctly.

Adding member-only content

And for member-only content, you will find the membership settings for each post/page you create. So decide the membership access configuration from there.

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Creating a membership website in WordPress can be a challenging task, but we’ve broken it down into very simple steps. There are a lot of things to do in terms of design and development, but basically, that’s how you setup a membership site. So make sure to use a good membership plugin as the most important part is to allow new users to register, and also there should be an option to register for a particular membership level (Bronze, Silver, Gold).

You also have to make sure the paid or member-specific content is restricted and only the specific members will be able to access those. Also setup your payment gateway. If you do all these things, your membership site will be ready.

We hope you found this tutorial helpful. We used MemberDash for this tutorial as this is a new plugin introduced by StellarWP. You can use it on any membership site. Let us know what is your favorite membership plugin for WordPress.

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links and we may receive a small commission if you purchase something by following them. However, we recommend services/products that we believe good to serve your purpose.

Staff Author

Staff Author

A team of WordPress enthusiasts led by Arafat Bin Sultan, a seasoned professional with over a decade of experience in tech blogging, content marketing, and video creation.

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