Membership Sites For Local Businesses
A membership site can be a boon for a local business or most businesses. If you don’t have one yet, this article might help you see the value of this model.
Membership sites come in many different configurations.
Simple Membership Site (One Time Pay Membership Script)
With this membership model, people pay you one time to access content that you have stored in a secure members area.
This model is useful when you have content that you want to deliver all at once while still maintaining control and ownership of your intellectual property. There are multiple ways you can secure content that you want to deliver in this manner and WordPress is my personal preference for this task.
Simple Membership Site (One Time Or Recurring Pay – Auto Responder)
You can sell a multi-part course from your website and have it set up to deliver by auto responder over days, weeks or months. This is a very simple membership site where all you have to do is feed people to your sales page and then let the system automatically deliver the course content for you.
To use this simple model, you will need:
- course content
- an auto responder
- the sales page
- a way to get targeted traffic to your sales page
Once the course is in place, it never has to be touched again unless you plan on updating the content or expanding it.
The technical skills required with this model are minimal.
Unfortunately, the content that you deliver by auto responder can be passed around between friends. This loss of control of your intellectual property has many business owners going with the more complex and expensive route of using the membership script that locks the content down and limits the number of IP addresses they can use to access that content even if one of your members shares the content or a link to a file with a friend that has not paid for the content.
The membership site script that you need to use will depend on multiple factors. Some of these factors are:
- whether you use a standalone script or a WordPress plug-in that’s programmed to turn WordPress into a full blown membership site.
- whether your members pay one time or multiple times (recurring).
- whether the recurring payments are received over a fixed period time or continue until a member cancels.
- whether you want to receive support by way of a help desk ticketing system or through a forum that is monitored by the script programmers, moderators and members that are using the script on their sites.
- whether you plan to use the script to create one membership site or multiple membership sites. (With most paid for scripts, you will need a separate license for each install of the script and this includes any test sites that you put up.)
Membership scripts can be quite complicated and time-consuming to install and configure, especially when you are using them in conjunction with WordPress which, I think is, the best way to go.
My personal preference for membership scripts is the paid for version of the s2Member° WordPress plug-in. The one drawback to this script is that it currently is not coded for recurring payments that stopped after X number of payments.
The reason I chose the paid version over the free version of this plug-in is he gave me the ability to import members I had from a standalone membership site script and the ability to export my settings so they can be used on another install. The paid for version also gives me the ability to add payment gateways other than just PayPal. You can grab a free copy of this plug-in at WordPress.org or by visiting s2Member® (Free) where you will be able to compare the features of the free version against the paid for version. Note: if you like the plug-in and choose to purchase it, I will make a commission on it but I’m recommending it because I use it not because I’m an affiliate.
WishList member is another good membership script plug-in for WordPress. The advantages of this plug-in over s2Member® are:
- You can create memberships that terminate after X number of payments.
- Support is delivered by way of a helpdesk ticketing system instead of through a forum.
Unfortunately, you must buy a license for every install of this script even if it is just for a test site.
For most business owners, one of the three options mentioned in this post will fit your needs. To properly use s2Member® or WishList member, you may need to hire someone that knows the scripts well to install and configure them for you which can get quite expensive.
An alternative to the high cost of setting up and maintaining a WordPress membership site that uses a very powerful yet complex membership plug-in is to work out a joint venture with a web developer that’s willing to accept a piece of the profits generated by the site in exchange for setting up and maintaining a site that can generate both of you another income stream.
Leave your thoughts below and let me know whether a WordPress powered membership site is in your future.
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