How to Create a WordPress Membership Site: 4 Tips

Back in the day, we considered things like our Blockbuster subscriptions something special. It felt good to know that we are part of a group and if you were a premium member you could get exclusives like bags of popcorn with your movie rentals, or generally extended rentals. This business model has rapidly shifted to the online universe and more businesses are opting to make a membership based website.

If you are thinking about creating a membership themed website you’re likely slightly overwhelmed due to the countless options, especially when using a freeform development platform like WordPress. According to a survey by W3Tech, WordPress websites make up 30 percent of the web, so this is going to be a likely choice for your membership site.

You’re in luck. We are here to help you sift through the information and develop a plan of actions. The tips listed in this piece are designed to help steer you in the right direction and help you create an attractive, functioning, easy to use WordPress membership site.

Use the Right Base Plugin

Almost every website starts with a base plugin. Essentially, a base plugin is the core tool that will allow you to create and customize your site into the type of webpage you want to create.

Some types of websites, such as basic blogs, function perfectly fine with a standard form builder. However, if you want to create a membership site, you need a plugin that supports this function.

There are many different member-style plugins available. Many people opt to use a plugin called MemberPress because of its ease of use and powerful features. Some of the features include different access rules, a community forum for your membership site, coupons, dynamic pricing pages, and in-depth reporting.

Create Multiple Subscription Levels

Sometimes it’s not enough to make it so that people can either sign up for your membership or opt not to do nothing at all. You can benefit your customers — and your business — by offering multiple subscription tiers so people can get exactly what they want.

The most common subscription levels we hear about are silver, gold, and platinum. You may be wondering how to use these three tiers in your business. Here is a practical example to help you understand how making multiple levels can benefit you and your subscribers.

In this example, we are going to use an example company that offers valuable content in numerous forms.

  • Silver: Bare-bones. The silver subscription will give the customer access to the base level premium written content. They can also view all podcasts and shows the day after they air.
  • Gold – Mid-Level. Gold members get access to everything silver members get, but they get access to the podcasts and shows as they air live. Furthermore, they get a premium newsletter sent out to gold/platinum members that have additional tips.
  • Platinum – Top-Level. These are your top paying customers. They get everything that the silver and gold members get, plus more. They are able to take part in the live Q&A on podcasts and live shows. They can get access to behind the scenes information, meet the staff, up and coming articles, and also get your library of previously published e-books.

Adding multiple tiers to your subscriptions gives your customers a chance to pick the plan that’s right for them. This is what a multi-tier system might look like in advertisement/purchasing format.


Offer a Free Trial

When you’re creating a membership site, one of the best ways to increase the number of people who subscribe comes from simply offering a free trial. It has been discovered that when a business offers new customers a free trial, 40 percent are likely to convert to a paid subscription — and that’s on the low end! High-end estimates are around 60 percent.

Offering this experience to your potential customer creates a positive outlook of your brand. They are able to ‘test drive’ your subscription and see if it’s something that they are going to want to use over the long term.


You’ll also get the opportunity to use your free trial as an advertising tool when promoting your membership based website. There are plenty of companies that make sure to mention their free trial in bold letters so customers know they are going to get to try before they buy, which goes on to boost conversions.

Offer Discounts/Upsell

There are multiple ways you can make more per membership purchase if you understand the nuances of upselling and when to hand out discounts.

Typically, there are two times when you’re going to want to give out discounts. First, if you’re segmenting your lead list properly, you should have a group of “free” email subscribers, “silver” email subscribers, and so on.

You can entice your “free” subscribers with a greatly discounted price on a silver account, which will help establish them as a premium member. On the same note, you can upsell and offer a discounted rate on your silver members to try to get them to upgrade to gold, and gold to platinum.

It’s possible to upsell to brand new customers too. The best practice here is to upsell immediately after they make the purchase. You may want to send them a thank you letter and mention that they can upgrade to the next tier for (X) dollars. The simple suggestion and a reasonable price may be enough to drive more sales and create happier customers.

There’s no doubt that building a membership-themed website comes with its own set of challenges. However, once you start a proper site and members start coming up, these types of websites tend to grow quickly.

These tips were designed to help you build a solid site with a reliable structure. The most important factor in this process is you. You have to continue offering your customers new and valuable information that will turn one time subscribers into lifelong customers.