For some of the most successful websites in the world, people come for the content but keep coming back for the community. Starting and maintaining an active membership community is the fuel that makes so many websites succeed.
A membership community is where people give and receive mutual support, build connections, make new friends, and even form relationships.
And these are often the biggest reasons why members will remain members for years to come.
But how do you profit from the popularity of membership communities and start your own? Should you use Patreon or create one with your own website?
What are the best ways to find new members and get them to participate?
Getting immediate momentum for your new membership community is vital to its future success. But where do you begin to lay the groundwork?
Here, you’ll learn:
- How you can earn a lucrative living running a paid membership community
- Reasons why you should sell membership access into your community
- The best platform and tools to use for building your community on your website
- The keys to succeeding as a membership community website owner
Should I Use Patreon for My Community Site?
Since it was launched in May of 2013, Patreon has given community leaders the opportunity to create revenue streams by building a paid membership audience. Different monthly payments allow the patrons to receive unique benefits that the average participant doesn’t have the chance to enjoy.
Since the beginning of Patreon, they’ve promised community leaders:
- A way to monetize a thriving online community. Rather than relying on ads or clicks to support the community, members pay a small monthly or annual fee to be a part of the community
- A solution that eliminates trolls. This allows community leaders to focus on the people who add value to the community, while cutting out the unwanted noise (remember it is ALL about relationships)
- A way to grow your community by reinvesting funds back into it in a sustainable way
Playing By THEIR Rules
Many Terms and Conditions include wording that allows the domain owner to change the rules as they see fit. In other words, you are subject to their whims.
The Patreon membership model was only the beginning of finding success as a membership community leader. You now have the option to build your membership website on a personalized domain.
When relying on Patreon or any other website for your membership income, you put your success (and the success of your community) into the hands of a third party. You are in their playground so you have to play by their rules. This means that you’re subject to all of their Terms and Conditions, even if you don’t know exactly what they say, or don’t care to study legalese.
In recent years, many third-party sites have been known to censor content or completely remove membership communities if they don’t feel the content fits their platform. Don’t believe it will happen to your content? I recently had a friend who had a community removed. Apparently, she was a bad egg 😉 (because it was an organic egg farm community). When your membership is removed, all of your paid members (and, potentially, a ton of recurring revenue) can be deleted with very little warning.
Restricted by THEIR Name
But beyond that, it’s not easy to brand yourself properly when working under Patreon’s membership umbrella. When you tell people about your membership opportunities, you have to direct those people to the other website. Plus, for the most part, all membership sites on the Patreon platform look identical.
When you are building a community, you want your community to get noticed and to stand out. You want to feature your brand, your name, and your mission.
You want a membership option that will provide you with these stand-out opportunities.
- Total freedom in how your community and online brand are presented to the public
- Complete ownership of your content
- Every penny of the membership fees you charge, without deducting a percentage for “convenience”
- 100% control of the content you create, even if it’s controversial or outside of the “norm”
- An easy-to-use platform that demonstrates your long-term commitment to your paying community members
- The ability to interact with your members in real time
- A voice that’s independent from advertising (unless you choose to bring advertisers on board. And if you do, you’ll be able to choose which advertisers run on your membership site)
Why You Should Use Restrict Content Pro for Your Community Membership Site Instead
Restrict Content Pro only costs a flat fee each year (as opposed to the 5% to 12% of ALL YOUR TRANSACTION charge by that other platform)
There are thousands of free and premium plugins and themes that can help you turn your site into almost anything you can imagine – allowing you to add products, classes, and more
Restrict Content Pro will allow you to:
- Lock away all of your exclusive content, while giving access only to your paid members
- Offer discount codes based on a percentage or flat rate discount
- Automate email communication with members
- Create as many subscription packages as you’d like
- Easily manage all of your paid memberships
- Create reports that help you grow your memberships.
With this plugin, your WordPress membership site can become your main source of revenue.
No, you don’t need to code all of the operational details needed to turn a standard WordPress site into a membership site. All you need to do is download and install the Restrict Content Pro plugin.
Immediately, you’ll have a full-featured, powerful membership site that’s ready for you to customize in any way you see fit. What’s best, it will integrate seamlessly with almost any WordPress theme.
To start building your site, all you need to do is secure your own domain name, download the free WordPress open-source software, sign up to a reliable WordPress website host, and run their one-click WordPress installation.
From there, you can begin searching for a free or premium theme that fits the desired mood of your membership site.
And while there are literally thousands of themes to choose from, Kadence Theme is currently one of the best options on the WordPress theme market. It gives you a ton of premium theme features, all within a free solution.
With Kadence Theme, you’ll be effortlessly building out the design of your own new community membership site within minutes.
Benefits of Using WordPress For Your Community Membership Site
WordPress is your best option for building a membership website for several reasons:
WordPress is 100% free and open-source. That means you can use it, change it, adjust it, flip it, or do whatever you need to do to make it work for your community and your membership design.
It’s a Community
Over 60% of CMS built websites are built on WordPress (that’s a lot of people actively invested in the community)
WordPress was created to be simple for novices to use, while robust enough to give web design professionals more tools than they could ever use.
For the most part, you’ll find that developing a website using WordPress is almost as easy as using a word processing program. And even if you get stuck, there are countless subjects covered in the WordPress Help Forums that will answer your simplest or toughest questions.
WordPress website security is simple when you use a plugin such as iThemes Security Pro
Google gives WordPress a 99% rating for SEO-friendliness
Sell More than Memberships
WordPress membership websites can be tailored in any way you’d like. You’ll be able to:
- Create an area to sell merchandise that reflects your community’s niche
- Keep your community members in-the-know about upcoming events
- Create a blog with free content for everybody, and premium content exclusively for paying members
- Start a members-only podcast or video series
The possibilities are endless.
Brand Yourself With Your Own Domain
When you promote your paid community membership area, would you rather send your fans to patreon.com/mycommunity or mycommunity.com?
Which one do you think better establishes your community as “the real deal?” Which gives you the most credibility and will show your members that you take your community seriously?
The answer is simple: Your own domain name. And a WordPress membership site will give you exactly that.
Membership Benefits for Communities
Memberships Increase Your Income and Revenue
It’s safe to say that most of us want to make more money. A community membership site is a sustainable way to do it.
And even if you’re already selling products or services online or offline, a community membership site can quickly turn into an added stream of revenue that you can rely on long-term.
Successful businesses need to diversify income streams to remain competitive. After all, any single source of revenue could dry up without notice. By diversifying where your revenue comes from, you’ll find that you and your business are much more financially secure.
Community Membership Sites Build Trust and Loyalty
The best way for any entrepreneur to succeed is by building trust and loyalty in the customers they serve.
Think about it: If you always go to the same store or website because they carry your favorite products, are priced fairly, and treat you well, why would you seek out another source?
You probably wouldn’t. Instead, you’re likely to remain loyal to the store because they don’t let you down and you can always find exactly what you need.
This principle holds true for all entrepreneurs. If people trust you to bring them valuable, accurate information within your niche, they won’t have a reason to seek out that information anywhere else. And when they take the next step by giving you their hard-earned money to become a paying member of your online community, they become even more loyal.
As long as they continue getting value from your website and your community, they’ll continue to pay for their membership.
Develop Better Relationships
It’s difficult to stress how important it is to build and develop strong relationships with your customers. Starting a membership community will allow you to build your own 100% exclusive community with these customers. Only the people who pay to become members will have access to all of your content and the rest of the people in the community.
This makes your members feel much more connected with you and with one another. And that’s extremely powerful.
People who sign up for your community membership site are probably just as interested in your niche as you are. They’re looking for knowledge and solutions that can help them further develop within their areas of interest.
You may even meet a future influencer or partner that can help you grow your business.
The fact is every single person who joins your community can start working together to achieve common goals. And, for you, this alone can be the most rewarding aspect of owning a community membership site.
Keys to Success for Community Membership Sites
Keep these principles at the forefront of your mind as you begin to grow your paid membership numbers using WordPress and the Restrict Content Pro plugin:
- Use community building features that members can use to interact with each other, such as private messaging, member tagging, member profiles, and status updates. You’ll find several WordPress plugins that provide these community features
- Make your community the most important part of your membership content
- Paid members are always looking for new content from you (blog posts, podcasts, videos, etc.). Make sure you let them know when they can expect it (i.e. daily at 8am, every tuesday at 5pm, every first of the month at midnight)
- Routinely interact directly with your paid members. It means more to them than you may realize
- Invite members to exclusive Q&As and other events where you’ll be live, on camera, and present
- Don’t charge too much or too little for a membership. Research what other similar community membership sites are charging to find the sweet spot
- Act big. Think bigger
- Utilize email drip campaigns to keep in close touch with your community members
- Be in it for the long haul
Start Your Own Community Membership Site Today
There’s never been a better time than now to capitalize on the popularity of community membership websites. And when you consider that you can get yours started for only a few hundred dollars, it becomes obvious that the benefits far outweigh the risks.
Start earning a substantial new revenue stream by launching your own membership site. It may be one of the most profitable decisions you’ll ever make.