The Ultimate Guide to Choosing and Building an Efficient Membership Plan

by | Jul 24, 2023 | Resources

How you structure and promote your membership plan is essential to the success of your entire membership site. Think of it this way: one of the (many) reasons the fast-food industry works so well is because they understand the importance of keeping things simple — which is why they come up bundle meals on popular items, making it easy for customers to order and pay. The same applies to Apple products as well: instead of pushing forward a seemingly infinite (and confusing) variety of customization options, they keep things in pre-established packages. Getting custom services is great — but when choosing a product requires too much research and answering too many questions, it can frequently feel like a lost battle for customers. The subscription economy quickly picked up on this strategy and now provides users with easily-understandable packages of options to choose from. This makes it easier for customers to make decisions about their purchases — and it makes it easier for them to “digest” the financial side of buying something new as well. So, how do you build a membership subscription/ plan? What are the elements it should include — and how do you make sure that it’s both understandable and attractive to customers? What’s more, how do you structure multiple plan options to make them attractive to different types of users and leave room for upsells? In this article, we’re taking a deep dive into the ins and outs of building plans for your membership site — so read on to find out more.

What Is a Membership Plan?

At its core, a membership plan is a structured offering that outlines the access and benefits provided to members of your website. It acts as a roadmap for your members, guiding them through the available features and services based on their chosen subscriptions. Most often, these plans are provided as month-by-month subscriptions, but this is not mandatory. Each plan typically comes with a corresponding price, duration, and level of exclusivity. Once someone creates an account and buys a membership from you, they get access to specific pages (as promised in the features displayed under each plan.) Most memberships are purchased for one month (but quarterly and yearly subscriptions are also an option.) Usually, an automatic renewal is set in place so active members don’t have to perform any manual actions to continue to enjoy the benefits of their chosen plan (as per the description on your pricing page.) Sometimes, membership site owners let members know by email when their plan will renew — but more often than not, they will not send an email unless the member’s payment method is about to expire.

How Do I Create a Membership Plan?

Creating pricing plans for your membership sites is usually very easy (especially if you have the right membership plugin). In essence, you have to:

Choose the right membership plugin

Research and select a membership plugin that suits your needs. Look for plugins that offer pricing plan features and integrations with payment gateways. For example, Ultimate Membership Pro has all that (plus integrations with email marketing tools and 40+ other addons, all for a very affordable price.)

Install and activate the membership plugin

Install your chosen plugin on your website and activate it. This is usually very straightforward as you just have to click a couple of buttons.

 Set up your payment gateway

Configure the payment gateway integration by entering your payment gateway credentials. This allows your users to make payments for the membership levels. Remember you should use a payment gateway accessible to most of your customers (such as Stripe or PayPal, for example.)

Create membership levels

Define different membership levels or tiers based on the features and access you want to provide. For example, you might have a basic, premium, and VIP membership level.

Customize pricing plans

Set the pricing and duration for each membership level. Specify whether the memberships are billed monthly, annually, or any other recurring time frame. Consider providing discounts for longer subscription commitments.

Configure access restrictions

Determine which content or features are available to each membership level. Use the membership plugin’s settings to restrict access to specific pages, posts, downloads, or any other elements on your site.

Design membership signup pages

Create visually appealing signup pages for each membership plan. Use the plugin’s built-in page builder or customize the pages using your website’s theme.

Test the membership signup process

Before launching your pricing plans, thoroughly test the signup process to ensure everything is functioning correctly. Check if members are correctly assigned to the selected membership levels and if the payment gateway integration is working smoothly.

Launch and promote your pricing plans

Once you are confident everything is working well, publish your pricing plans on your website and start promoting them. Use marketing tactics like email campaigns, social media outreach, or paid ads to attract potential members.

Monitor and optimize

Regularly monitor your membership site’s performance and member feedback. Analyze the metrics like conversion rates, retention rates, and churn rates to optimize your pricing plans and make necessary adjustments. Remember, every membership site is unique, so choose a plugin that fits your specific requirements.

Do You Need Membership Plans?

Yes, membership pricing plans are a great option for pretty much every membership site. However, they are not mandatory. It all depends on the type of membership site you want to create, the content you put forward, and your overarching business model. Overall, having different pricing plan options comes with plenty of advantages, some of the most important ones including:
  • Making it easier for customers to find the perfect fit
  • Increasing overall membership sales as users can easily move up the ladder in terms of added features
  • Providing better value for money to customers through exclusive access and discounts
  • Making it easier to market your site by segmenting your offer into different plans
  • Creating a sense of loyalty among customers, as they will feel like part of an exclusive club
That being said, not every membership site in the world needs a plan-based pricing scheme. Some examples of sites that don’t need a membership plan include:
  • News websites or blogs where users can access most of the content for free
  • Educational websites that provide courses to individual users
  • Websites with a single tier of membership

Types of Membership Plans

There are various types of pricing tiers for membership sites. The following options are quite common:

Basic vs. Premium

This type of plan structure comes two levels of access and benefits: a basic one and a more premium one. The basic one can include:
  • Limited access to features and content
  • Basic customer support
  • Just the entry levels in a course
  • Access to fewer meetings/ courses on any given timespan
The Premium pricing levels will usually provide more content (or more in-depth pieces) and access to exclusive features, more time with the trainer, more course materials, or advanced, 24/7 customer support.

Gold/Silver/Bronze Tiers

The Gold/ Silver Bronze tiered membership plan approach is better when you want to diversify your offers and reward your members for their loyalty. It’s typically used when you have different levels of access to content, features, and services. Usually, the Gold tier is the most expensive and includes a higher number of features while at the same time offering discounts or exclusive content. The Silver tier includes fewer features but is still competitively priced, and the Bronze tier is usually the lowest-priced plan with fewer perks.

Free Trial Plan/ Freemium

A time-limited free trial tier can attract potential members to explore your site’s offerings before committing to spending money. This type of approach is best when you want to build an audience, gather their reviews and feedback, and encourage them to recommend your membership site to others. Once you have earned your members’ loyalty and trust, you can monetize your website by adding a new, paid tier — or by selling products, such as:
  • Digital products (eBooks, videos, apps)
  • Branded physical products (t-shirts, mugs, accessories)
  • Accessories related to your specific membership site niche

Lifetime Access vs. Limited-Time Plan

The lifetime access plan is perfect for those who want to provide their members unlimited access to all of the content and features on their website. This is typically done with a one-time payment. On the other hand, the limited-time pricing tier provides users access to all of the content and features on your website for a specific time. After that, they will need to renew their plans or switch to an alternate one if they want to continue using the site. This type of pricing level is ideal for those who want to provide different levels of access and reward loyal customers with discounts or exclusive access.

How to Structure Your Membership Plans

When structuring your membership site pricing plan options, consider the following elements:

Define Access Type

Decide on the type of access you want to provide for each plan – lifetime, limited duration, date range, or recurring periods.

Think of Benefits and Features

Make sure to include features and benefits that cater to the different needs of your members. These can include discounts,

Billing Options

Determine whether each plan will be accessible for free (as a trial) or as a paid option. For paid plans, set the level price, billing recurrences, and trial periods if applicable. Remember to make recurring billing easy for customers, but also to enable them to cancel at any time (as this will build trust with them and help you retain members over time).

Set Payment Platforms

Choose which payment platforms you want to provide for each plan, such as PayPal or Stripe. As a general rule, you want to use a payment platform that makes it easy for members to make recurring subscription payments regardless of their chosen plan.

Create Different Levels

Provide multiple access levels to cater to diverse member needs, ranging from basic to premium. Try to keep things as simple as possible here — too many membership tiers can be confusing and may steer potential buyers away from signing up.

Unique Plan Names

Assign unique and easily recognizable membership plan names to tier for clarity and branding purposes. Keep in mind that if you want your level names to be creative, they should still remain clear and concise.

Plan Names: A Quick Guide

Your membership levels names can make a world of difference in terms of how your potential customers perceive you. Here are some basic best practices to keep in mind when choosing a level name for your membership site:

Keep It Simple

Use clear and straightforward names that convey the plan’s benefits concisely. Remember, people are busy and it’s unlikely they’ll want to take the time to try and understand complicated plan names.

Use Alliterations

Consistent lettering in plan names makes them easier for customers to remember, and also adds a touch of creativity to them.

Position Your Plans

Choose level names that highlight how they are different from each other and why customers should pick one over the others.

Reflect Benefits

Ensure the plan names reflect the unique features and advantages that members will receive (rather than the specific features of each plan).

Align with Branding

Align the plan names with your site’s overall branding and messaging. For instance, depending on what you sell and what type of industry you’re an expert in, you could use humor, industry terms, or even puns to name your plans.

How to Add Membership Plans on a WordPress Membership Site

Ultimate Membership Pro makes it very easy for virtually anyone to create a membership site on WordPress. Follow these steps to add pricing tiers to your WordPress site using the Ultimate Membership Pro plugin: Step 1: Install the Ultimate Membership Pro Plugin. You can get Ultimate Membership Pro for $59/ month (which gives you access to the plugin, predefined templates, and 41+ addons), and if you need more advanced addons you can get the Pro Addons Bundle for $149/ month. Step 2: Create Levels/Subscriptions:
  • Access Type: Choose from Lifetime, Limited, Date Range, or Regular Period.
  • Billing Options: Decide whether the level will be free or paid, set the price, billing recurrences, and trial periods if needed.
  • Other Settings: Hide the level from the subscription plan list if necessary.
Step 3: Configure Your Membership:
  • Set up login options, registration forms, and other membership-related features.
Step 4: Customize Access Restriction:
  • Define what content and features each membership level can access.
Step 5: Set Up Payment Gateways:
  • Integrate secure payment gateways to process payments from members.


A well-crafted membership pricing plan structure is a crucial element in running a successful membership site. You can attract and retain members effectively by defining clear membership levels, providing diverse pricing tier options, and providing an intuitive user experience. Remember to keep your level names aligned with your brand and to periodically review and optimize your plans based on member feedback and changing needs. With a thoughtful approach, your pricing structure will contribute significantly to the growth and success of your membership site.

You May Also Like

How to Build a Simple Membership Site (Without Spending a Lot on it) The Subscription Business Model, Explained How to Pick the Right Membership Model for Your Goals Membership Software: A Short Guide for New Membership Site Entrepreneurs Top 11 Examples of Membership Sites to Inspire Your Next Project