The world is going through a revolution. More and more people follow their passion projects — and make a more than decent living with it. The Creator Economy plays a huge role in this — especially since you can now create a membership website for free (or almost for free.)
The best part of it all? Creating a membership website (even for free) is easier than ever too. You can have zero technical knowledge and still have your own membership site up and running in less than 24 hours.
Here’s how to build a free membership website for free.
What Is a Membership Site?
Membership sites are websites that require a paid subscription before they provide access to exclusive content. This content could be anything from e-courses, tutorials, videos, or webinars to private forums, blogs, and even live events.
When you create a membership website, you essentially create a recurring income source. You can have your members pay a monthly or annual fee to access exclusive content on your website. Some examples of membership sites include:
- Educational membership sites
- Fitness membership sites
- Cooking class membership sites
- Business coaching membership sites
- Book club membership sites
Advantages of Building a Membership Site
Membership sites are quite advantageous for anyone looking to tap into the Creator Economy. Here are a few benefits of building a membership site:
Recurring Revenue Stream
Unlike many other business models, your membership site can generate consistent revenue month after month. You don’t need to create new products or services to continue making money constantly, and you don’t need to chase fast (and unsustainable) customer acquisition.
Easy to Set Up
As mentioned before, you can create a membership website for free. You don’t need any technical knowledge or programming skills to set it up. You can get started with very little money and use the tools available for free on the web to build your website.
Fueling Your Passion Project
Are you good at something but never thought you could build revenue from it? A membership site allows you to do just that. You can monetize your skills and knowledge by creating exclusive content for your members. This could be anything from online courses to teaching others how to cook or work out from the comfort of their homes.
Can You Generate Revenue with a Membership Site?
The short answer is: yes.
It may not happen overnight or make you rich enough to drive a Ferrari, but you can make money from your membership website. As long as you provide valuable content and have a steady stream of members joining your site, you will make a nice income without having to dedicate all your time to this.
What You Need to Start a Membership Site
Starting a membership site is easy, all you need is a:
WordPress Account & Theme
Creating a WordPress.org account is free and easy — you can use a few clicks to create an account and start building your website. Be sure to choose a theme that reflects the type of membership site you want to create.
A domain name gives you real estate on the internet. You can buy a domain name from companies like Google Domains or NameCheap, and use it to deliver your membership site its official address.
Hosting is a service that allows you to store and manage the necessary files for your website. There are numerous hosting companies such as HostGator or GoDaddy You can find options for hosting your membership site starting at around $3 per month.
WordPress Membership Plugin
A WordPress membership plugin helps you to manage your members, content access, and payment methods. This plugin is essential for turning a simple blog into a website where people can log into their account and see content according to the rules you establish. For instance, free members might only be able to see one piece of content a month, or only some types of articles, whereas premium members might have access to all of the content.
How Much Does a Membership Website Cost?
Building a membership website doesn’t have to break the bank. As a general rule, you will have to pay for:
- Hosting – starting with less than $2/ month
- Domain name – starting with as low as less than $7/ year
Additionally, you may also want to pay for:
- A professional website theme – they come in a wide range of prices, from $50 to hundreds of dollars
- A website builder – like Elementor or Divi, for example, which come at price starting at $8.99/ month (for Elementor) and going as high as $41.99/ month (also Elementor) or from $89/ year (Divi) to $249/ year (Divi.)
- A professional membership site plugin and the necessary add-ons — about $59 for the plugin (one-time fee) and $149/ year for the add-ons (both prices available for Ultimate Membership Pro, for example)
- Email marketing tool — like Mailchimp or ConvertKit, for example, ranging from free to hundreds or thousands of dollars per month (depending on the features you need and how large your email list is.)
How to Create a Membership Site for Free
You can create a membership site for free. However, there are limitations you have to consider:
- In terms of hosting, free hosting services are usually unstable, which leads to downtime (and likely to member cancellations)
- Free WordPress themes are OK, and they do the trick, but they are difficult to customize — and a bit on the bland side.
- Free domain names are usually available only on TK, M, GA, CF, and GQ domain extensions, which may not sound or be as credible as a COM, CO.UK, or other well-known domain extensions.
- Free membership site plugins also have limitations (and they are usually a way for plugin developers to advertise their paid versions.) For instance, they may lack some features or restrict the number of users you can have.
- Free email marketing tools are usually very limited in terms of automation and features, and they will also limit the number of people you can have in your contact list (up to 500, most often, but it depends on the specific tool)
That being said, if you’re still keen to create a membership website for free, here are some resources you could use:
- Free hosting: Infinityfree, ByetHost, Google Cloud Web Hosting
- Free domains: Freenom, Hostinger
- Free website themes: this list compiles 60+ of them
- Free membership site plugins: Simple Membership, s2Member
- Free email marketing tools: many of them offer some sort of free version, including Mailchimp and ConvertKit
Creating a membership website is not as complicated or expensive as it may seem. With the right tools, you can launch your site in no time. Also, if you are short on funds, there is plenty of free software and services available for you to use in order to create your membership site. So go ahead and give it a try! Good luck!