Membership Website Design
Ever want a file, a piece of info or find the perfect solution to your problem only to find out that you have to be a member to a paid site to get it? It’s very frustrating but that’s what membership sites are for, premium, hard-to-get and sometimes exclusive content, products and services. You could set up one as well based on what interests you and tons of like-minded people. If you’re into photography, you could set up a paid photography membership site where members can share stock photos with each other. If you’re into toy collections, you could set up a community of collectors and offer up exclusive collectibles, offer a newsletter subscription and set up conventions. You could collect monthly, quarterly or annual membership fees as well as ad revenue to boost your income.
Here are seven easy-to-follow steps in designing and creating a membership website:
- Begin, even if you feel you’re not ready – if you have enough passion for something and have even a bit of entrepreneurial flair, you’re ready. Just like writing, or acting, you’ll never know until you actually write something and enter in auditions. Going into any business is a risk but you’ll never know ‘til you start. All journeys begin with that first step. Once the site is set up, start rounding up members with good content and ridiculously low fees, plus something like free paperweights upon membership.
- If you’re already a membership site member, study it – you’ll definitely need a basis or a framework for your membership website. There’s no real definitive guide to creating websites, just mainstream principles that can be adapted for various purposes. So the best reference for any fledgling membership site are other membership sites. What does your current membership site has to offer? The ability to comment on articles? The ability to post in the forums? Free downloadable white papers? Free access to exclusive content? Websites of course are not perfect so if something’s not right on the site you’re a member of, correct it on your new site. Don’t start until you’ve experienced membership yourself. Subscribe to one you’re comfortable with for a month or two and absorb what you can.
- Constant interactions with members – members need to know you exist which gives them added comfort that there’s someone to suggest or complain to in order to get their money’s worth. Membership sites with active owners and admins give visitors a compelling reason to join in. It means you or someone else is active in keeping with the promised content of the site. Interactions can include:
- Live seminars, webinars or podcasts where members can ask important questions
- Regular posts in the forums to keep members updated on what’s going on
- Live chats
- Private Facebook page
- Contact forms to an email account that issues read receipts
- Have group events or online challenges – if you feel your members aren’t interacting enough on your site, hold some sort of online event complete with challenges. Something like a scavenger hunt, a video, photo or writing contest. Prizes are often great motivators along with long speeches about attaining certain goals.
- Free slots – it’s recommended to have your membership site open to casual visitors with free content but keep the juicy ones to yourselves. Nothing invites free-floating non-affiliated repeaters that haunt your sites more than free membership. They’ll pay eventually to keep the juicy stuff flowing in. Others are just itching to give their opinions on something and a free membership gives them the license to rant, rave or claim power, which they’ll gladly pay to keep.
- Be supportive of newbies – In the fortuitous event your website becomes successful, by then you’ll have amassed a great library of content. Newbies often ask for content or questions that have already been discussed in detail. Design or improve the site so they’ll find that content quickly and easily and answer anything they didn’t get. Have a noticeable search box ready on every page and design the site with a good indexing functionality.
- Adapting to members’ needs – As websites grow, so does the need for improvement. Calls for improvement will come from your members which must take precedence over your own epiphany. Monitor and take note of any suggestions from members and try to follow on the most requested. Don’t hesitate to ask for their opinions in case of cricket noise which does imply you need to improve.