How to Build a Simple Membership Site (Without Spending a Lot on it)

by | Jul 17, 2023 | How To

Building an online community or membership site has become a powerful way to connect with like-minded individuals, share knowledge, and foster meaningful interactions. Whether you’re a coach, educator, entrepreneur, or simply passionate about a specific topic, a simple membership site can provide a platform for nurturing your community — and a great way to generate extra revenue streams too.

In this article, we will explore the benefits of creating a simple membership site, discuss its disadvantages compared to more complex alternatives, and provide valuable insights on how to build one effectively.

Why Would You Need a Simple Membership Site?

A simple membership site offers several advantages for those looking to build a community or connect with their audience more exclusively. By restricting access to certain content or resources, you can create a sense of exclusivity and value for your members. This approach also allows you to foster a stronger sense of belonging and engagement among your community members, promoting deeper connections and loyalty.

Unlike social media, your membership site’s growth isn’t reliant on moody algorithm updates and whether or not your friends will see your posts in their feed. A membership site is “owned” digital real estate — which means that you control what you do with it, how you promote it, and how you monetize it. And, if done right, a simple membership site can be a very attractive passive revenue stream for entrepreneurs and business owners alike.

All of these benefits are just as valid for a basic, simple membership site as they are for a more complex one. The differences lie in just how much customization and scalability you get from your model.

Disadvantages of a Simple Membership Site

While a simple membership site can be an excellent choice for many, it’s essential to consider the potential disadvantages compared to more complex membership platforms. Here are a few points to bear in mind:

Limited Scalability

Simple membership sites often lack the robust features and scalability of more advanced platforms. As your community grows, you may need to invest additional time and effort into finding workarounds or migrating to a more comprehensive membership solution.

Limited Features

Compared to all-in-one membership platforms, simple membership sites may have fewer built-in features. This can limit your ability to offer a wide range of resources, such as advanced analytics, drip content, or integrated payment systems. However, depending on your specific needs, you can often integrate additional tools or plugins to bridge this gap.

Development and Maintenance

Building a simple membership site requires a level of technical expertise, as you’ll need to manage your site’s development, maintenance, and security. It’s crucial to ensure that you have the necessary skills or resources to handle these aspects or consider outsourcing them to professionals if needed.

What Is the Best Way to Build a Simple Membership Site?

Regarding building a simple membership site, WordPress is a popular and versatile platform that offers robust features and extensive customization options. It’s less expensive than most other platforms, offers you extreme reliability and versatility, and building a simple membership on WordPress can be easy even for someone who doesn’t know how to code.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you get started:

Choose a Reliable Web Hosting

Select a reputable web hosting provider that offers excellent uptime, security, and performance to ensure a smooth experience for your members. As a general rule, you want to get something that’s a bit higher than the lowest-priced hosting, to ensure your site has stability, moves fast enough for every device, and doesn’t lead to navigational errors.

Install WordPress

Install WordPress on your hosting account. Many hosting providers offer one-click installations for WordPress, simplifying the setup process

Install a Membership Plugin

Choose a membership plugin that aligns with your goals and requirements. Some popular options include MemberPress, Restrict Content Pro, and Paid Memberships Pro. These plugins enable you to restrict access to content, manage memberships, and handle payments.

Set Up Membership Levels

Define the different membership levels you want to offer to your community. Determine the access rights, privileges, and content availability for each level. If you want to keep things simple, you can go for three tiers, for example: a free one, an inexpensive one, and a premium one.


Create Engaging Content

Develop compelling content tailored to your target audience. This can include articles, videos, podcasts, tutorials, or any other form of media that adds value and keeps your members engaged.

Configure Payment Gateways

Configure a secure payment gateway to handle member subscriptions. Popular options include PayPal and Stripe, for example.

Design and Customize

Utilize themes or page builders to create an aesthetically pleasing and user-friendly design for your membership site. Tailor the appearance to reflect your brand and the expectations of your community members.

Test and Launch

Before launching your membership site, thoroughly test its functionality, responsiveness, and user experience across different devices and browsers. Ensure that all payment processes and membership levels are functioning as intended.


Tips for Your Membership Site

To create a successful and engaging membership site, consider these additional tips:

Understand Your Audience

Take the time to understand your audience’s needs and preferences. Tailor your content and benefits accordingly, ensuring that you provide value and meet their expectations.

Foster Engagement

Encourage active participation by providing forums, discussion boards, or live chat options. Engage with your members regularly, respond to their questions, and facilitate meaningful conversations within the community.

Offer Exclusive Benefits

Provide exclusive perks or bonuses to your members, such as access to premium content, early bird discounts, or special events. These incentives foster a sense of belonging and make the membership experience more rewarding.


Run Smart Marketing Campaigns

You could have the best membership site in the world, but if people don’t know about you and what you offer, you’ll unlikely see any real success. Develop a robust marketing strategy to reach your target audience and generate interest in your membership site. As a general rule, social media promotions, newsletter exchanges, content/ SEO marketing, and email marketing all tend to be very useful tools in promoting online communities like the one you’re considering right now.

Continuously Improve

Regularly seek feedback from your community members and adapt your strategies based on their suggestions. Continuously strive to enhance the user experience, add new features, and refine your content offerings.

Remember that the best way to do this is by tracing the data: analyze the user journey, study the analytics, and review your member feedback. Doing so will allow you to identify areas in need of improvement accurately.



Building a simple membership site can be a rewarding endeavor that allows you to cultivate a thriving community around your passion or expertise.

While it may have its limitations compared to more complex alternatives, a well-executed simple membership site can provide an engaging platform for connection, knowledge sharing, and collaboration. It can be a good choice if you’re testing the product-market fit first.

If you do have the money to invest in a more advanced personalized membership site from the get-go, do it — you will want to scale soon and you won’t be able to do that with a basic site.

If advanced and affordable is what you’re looking for, check out Ultimate Membership Pro! For just $59 (one-time price), you gain access to more than 40 add-ons and a range of features just perfect for building a membership site that serves you and your community!

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