How To Setup a Membership Site

by Timothy on February 28, 2011

Membership Site

Membership sites are super powerful, and are gaining more and more popularity.  Some of the tools that are out there now make it unbelievably inexpensive to create a really nice membership site…. what used to cost $30,000 can now be done for around $150 to get started, then a few bucks a month after that.

Advantages of Membership Site

The 12 steps below will give you a membership site that can password protect certain pages, certain posts, even specific *parts* of posts!  You can also have multiple membership levels so that you can make sure that subscribers only get what they paid for, even if you are offering multiple differents products, services, upsells, promotions, etc…. and every subscriber can have a customized, AUTOMATED experience, without having to bug you if they lose their password…

Best Setup for a Membership Site

After months and months of looking around, setting two of them up, and learning many things the hard way (ugh), this is the best setup I’ve found so far:

1. Buy a domain and hosting from HostMonster: http://www.hostmonster.com/track/domainsandhosting

2. Install WordPress (done through HostMonster Cpanel, very easy)

3.Purchase and install Thesis Theme (suuuper easy to use!): http://www.shareasale.com/r.cfm?b=198392&u=504021&m=24570&urllink=&afftrack=

4. Setup Google Analytics; use an @Gmail.com account to login, ideally an @Gmail.com account that isn’t your personal account (create a new @GMail.com account if necessary).  Go to http://www.google.com/analytics (and once you’ve got it started up, install your tracking script to your Thesis cpanel in WordPress).

5. Purchase and install WishList Member Plugin: http://member.wishlistproducts.com/wlp.php?af=1319108

6. Install through WordPress Cpanel: http://www.yoursite.com/wp-admin

7. Open a PayPal account (or use one you already have)

8. Integrate WLM with PayPal – tutorials on the WLM website (http://member.wishlistproducts.com/)

9. Open an Aweber account: http://www.aweber.com/?324550

10. Setup Aweber form as stand-alone page (“have Aweber host my form”), make sure you type in “One More Step!”  at the top of the page you create; copy this URL

11. In PayPal, set the “success page” as the URL that you just copied from step 8 ^^^

12. In WordPress, create a “success page” that thanks people for subscribing to your membership; copy the URL for this page

13. In Aweber, set the “success page” as the thank-you page you just created on your WordPress site in Step 10 ^^^

14. Test it by using your own credit card and signing up

Note: I’ve successfully tested this list of 14 steps on 3 sites now – so far so good. A lot of the specific “how to” can be found by following the tutorials found on each company’s website; e.g. WishList member has an awesome list of tutorials in the right column of their website (the 2 most important are the Aweber Integration and the PayPal integration).

Note 2: Integration of Aweber with Wishlist Member isn’t perfect yet, but the above work-around should make it work easily well… having tested it, it is WELL WORTH it to have Aweber’s email abilities.  Believe me.

Best Membership Site System

The above system is an incredibly flexible, relatively easy, and ridiculously affordable way to go… frankly I’m amazed this kind of system is available… high five to the modern interweb!  I’m so happy to be travelling in top gear down the information super highway!!!  (How old am I that I actually remember people using those terms?!?!)

Onwards and Upwards,

TF :)

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