14 min
· Posted on
September 7, 2022

An Insider's Guide to Membership Sites

A membership site is like a digital magazine that end users can pay to read the desired content. In this article, we will discuss precisely how to use one and what are the must-have membership site features.

Over the course of the last few years, membership sites have become very popular, especially after the value of digital advertisements reached its lowest point. A membership site is a digital platform that provides the members with gated content like videos, listicles, online courses, webinars, podcasts, and more. There can be various membership site ideas, and each of them can have different types of subscription models, and they can charge the consumers with recurring, one-time, or a combination of both membership fees.

According to DigitalistMagazine, over 53 percent of the online solutions' revenue will come from the subscription models by 2022. Moreover, CitiBank suggests that about 82 percent of the current businesses are prone to adopt the membership business model to become leading distributors.
These stats suggest that the membership business model is a successful way to charge end users by giving away information, secrets, or talents.

People who don't have even the slightest idea of a membership site and how they can harness their power should read this guide from start to end. It will guide them with every step regarding the membership site and business model along the way.

How do I start a membership website?

Membership site with gurucan

Creating and maintaining a membership site process consists of multiple steps. A well-designed membership website not only generates a handsome amount of income but also benefits the end-users with their desired information. Some of the basic steps to get started with your membership website are as follows:

Choose the Right Platform

Selecting of the right platform is the first step to create a successful membership website. The platform selection solely depends upon the unique requirements of the user. Many well-known platforms are available to create a membership website with versatile and diverse functions such as WordPress, Podia, and Kajabi. Some of the most significant features that a platform should offer to include in a membership website are listed below.

Members Registration and Profiles: A membership website must have user registration and profile management functionality. One can also utilize ready to use plugins for registrations and profiles management.

Membership business model

Membership Management System: It is one of those features that all the successful membership websites have. It allows users to make various types of subscription models.

Members Rights and Content Restriction: The visibility of the content on a membership website depends upon the user subscriptions. It allows the website owners to hide their premium content from the general audience.

Payment Gateway: A membership website should include all the major payment options that customers can use to buy different subscription models depending upon the region.

What is the Best Membership Site Software?

It is not necessary to use an existing platform to develop a membership website. People who can afford to can also hire expert software developers to get their membership website developed from scratch. It will take more time and money, but the end result will be 100 percent bespoke, fulfilling all the user’s unique needs.
Additionally, using the best Membership Management Software is also another very viable option for membership website development. These software solutions are specifically designed for membership website creation, and they offer all the essential functionalities that you might require.

Planning a Membership Model

Membership planning

Before going into the development stages with the selected platform, planning out a membership site business model can save a lot of development time. It allows the business owners to understand why and how people will join their organization. It also eliminates all the possibilities to include useless features that no one will use. some of the most significant considerations to plan out an effective and efficient membership model are as followed:

Value for the Customers Money: It is by far the most important factor for all the people interested in membership sites. It allows them to evaluate the best value to offer to the customers, whether in online video courses, workshops, member directories, networking events, industry reports, and more.

Levels of Membership: There are many levels of membership, such as free, trial, individual, student, team, bundle membership, and premium. Choosing all the required levels before jumping into the development process is essential. It allows the developers to add different pricing structures that are clear to subscribers.

Events and Packages for Long-term: Every business or organization has something going on throughout the year. Including all of the events and special deals while developing the membership site allows you to save time and energy in the long run.

Creating and Filtering Contact Database

Membership contact base

Anyone interested in creating a membership website must have a contact database because it offers many benefits such as automation of the functionalities like:

Creating a contact database and filtering it can be a time taking and daunting task, but it's worth the effort. Removing duplicate entries and double-checking the dates and the type of contact can save twice the time later on. Here are some of the best practices to look for while cleaning up the contact database.

At this point, you have decided which platform to use, what membership levels you are aiming for, and you’ve cleaned up your contact database. You're ready to build a membership website.

What Features a Membership Site Must Have?

Membership chat gurucan

According to Doctor Tom Leighton, the CEO of Akamai, over 74 percent of website users feel uncomfortable and frustrated when they don't get the desired content. Not only do they leave the websites immediately in which they are not interested, but they never come back. Bear in mind that all visitors are potential members, and discovering what interests them is imperative to growing the business.

Our in-depth research and detailed discussions with experts suggested a range of options to connect with website visitors:

Purpose of the Organization: The purpose, values, and mission statements allow the visitors of any membership website to understand if they should consider buying the membership or not.

Specialized information: It allows the website users to see if they will get information they cannot find anywhere else on the internet.

Easy to Pay Functionality for Subscriptions: Any membership website should always use online payment and registration forms. Forcing users to download payment forms is not an efficient approach, and it can dramatically slow down the subscription procedure. Potential members may just leave the website and never come back.

Online registration forms with included payment gateways are easy, quick, and simple that improves the member conversion rate.

People interested in having their own membership website must consider including the following pages to help display themselves to potential members:


The homepage is also known as the landing page, and it is the first page users land on any website. Consider writing the specialized information that your membership portal uniquely offers on this page to make sure it’s seen. Moreover, providing a call to action, testimonials, and pictures along with the specialized information is also helpful to increase member conversion rate.

Join Us Page

The Join Us page contains all the necessary information about the membership programs that visitors need to know before subscribing to any membership site. We recommend you include the list of key benefits that users will get with their subscription.

About Us Page

This page contains the organization's story, philosophy, and vision. Sometimes the about us page also includes the founder's message that contains the core values of the organization.

Services and Upcoming Events Page

It offers all the information regarding the organization's services that the members will gain with their subscriptions. It is critical for those membership sites which offer short term subscription such as a coaching membership site.
Moreover, the best way to achieve it is to add a calendar that contains all the information regarding events along with online registration forms.

Members Page

This page contains only the exclusive information that only the registered members can access. It also entices other visitors to purchase a membership in order to get instant access to all the exclusive information.

Contact Us Page

The contact us page, as the names suggest, includes all the contact information of the organization. It allows visitors to use this information in order to ask questions if they might have. One can also include the newsletter subscription functionality that will inform the visitors about the benefits of subscribing to a weekly newsletter.

Any membership website with these pages is capable of building a great online presence by attracting new online members. People who are looking for more must-haves for their membership website can read this excellent guide from Gurucan to get started with their membership program more effectively.

Uploading the Contact Database

Uploading the contact database comes with many benefits for the membership website, and the most significant ones are as following:

Membership management software solutions allow the website owners to upload their entire contact database instantly. Once the uploading is done, all that remains is to inform all of your contacts list through a well-written introductory email that your membership website is up and running, and you are ready to accept online payments.

How to Build Membership Base

Source: Hubspot

Creating a membership site is just the tip of the iceberg. The main and most important task is to build a membership base, and the key is to develop trust with potential members. The following are the most effective ways that website owners can use to build a great membership base.

Free Trial

There is nothing better to offer people your services for free for a certain period of time. It allows them to understand and evaluate the benefits they will get even without purchasing the subscription.
The most common practice for free trial is to set up the payment method and offer the users a trial period. Once the trial period is over, and the user has not canceled his/her subscription, the system will automatically charge for the membership.

Free Membership Levels

It is yet another very effective way of building a membership base where the users are provided with free membership levels, as discussed earlier. It allows the website owners to charge different amounts on the basis of different membership levels.
Providing one or more different levels of membership adds a unique feature to any membership website on top of a free trial. Not only does it enable the free trial users to evaluate different membership levels, but it also helps to attract more potential members to purchase the best-fit subscription models.

Free content

Everyone loves free content, and its power can never be overstated. It can help the website owners to improve the digital presence and increase membership base like nothing else. People who experience and utilize the free content firsthand will easily pay for the premium content. It also clears up the path to sell membership programs to those visitors who access the free content.

The best practice to draw potential member's attention in order to convert them into real ones is to offer a mix of free and paid content. But the foremost important factor is to consider and understand the requirements of online visitors. The website can also ask their visitors for their contact information in exchange for free content. Not only does it increase the contact base, but it also increases the probability of the members' conversion rate. The free content can be of several following types:

Benefits of a Membership Site

Membership site
Source: HackerNoon

Regardless of the topic, niche, and industry, a membership website offers many benefits. But it is essential to understand the ins and outs of these benefits to cover the target audience more effectively. Not only will it help the membership site owners to attract more potential members, but it will also help them to improve the quality of their content.

The following are some of the benefits of a membership website that are worth mentioning.


One way or the other, it all comes to a single point essentially that everyone wants to make money. There are many types of digital ways to make money, such as creating an online course, e-books, digital products, and selling them. A membership site is another way to generate revenue for any business.
An online membership website is basically a diversification method that works as a backup for many organizations because maintaining only one stream of revenue can be risky.

Loyalty and Trust

A membership business model, just like most of the other businesses, completely depends on other people's money. A membership website owner can't force their visitors to pay for the subscription. In fact, it requires trust and loyalty that can be earned by providing free content and services, as discussed earlier.

For example, most of the people go to a specific supermarket just because it always provides them with the products they need. That's the brand loyalty every membership site owner should aim for, and the members should also know that they will certainly get what they need.

Additionally, if someone pays for the subscription, they’re already representing their loyalty. From this point, it is on the website owner to maintain it by providing the desired services with exceptional customer care experience.

Free Traffic

A membership website automatically enhances and improves a good contact base. A membership website owner can easily flood any important information regarding digital products because the email addresses are instantly available.

They can also create drip email campaigns to any classified group of customers. All of the marketing strategies, whether it's an inbound marketing strategy or outbound marketing strategy, can lead to improved conversion rates. The only requirement is to maintain and deliver consistent value to the visitors.

Physical Products aren't Required

It is yet another very important feature of owning a membership website. There is not the hassle of hiring sales managers to maintain physical inventory and shipments. A membership website needs a physical space neither in your home nor in your office because it's virtual. It certainly doesn't mean that it requires no work, but on comparative grounds, the supply is the content that is always available for the visitors and members.

A membership website owner only needs to maintain the quality of their content that fulfills the needs of the online visitors.


Because of the abundance of online content, online visitors pay attention to those websites which illustrate their content and authority best. Here, authority essentially means that a website owner knows what they’re talking about and the real facts to back it up.

Moreover, the information that everyone can access a membership website should demonstrate that its subscription is worth buying. It might not sound big, but it matters a lot when it comes to attracting more customers and grabbing market share.

Online users only have so much free time, and they can utilize a limited amount of content. It means they will only pay for the services which they think are worth their time and money. For that reason, demonstrating authority on all the possible levels is essential in an online competitive marketplace.

Enhance Quality and Value

When a membership website starts generating revenue, website owners can put more effort, money, time, and research to add more value and quality to their work that really shines. Revenue allows the membership website owners to opt for new and advanced ways to improve the quality of their content in order to take their program to the next levels.

Membership Site vs. Online Course

Membership sites are undoubtedly a very impactful way to improve online presence and generate a good amount of revenue, but they are not for everyone. People who want to build a coaching membership site can utilize the existing platform such as Gurucan to create an online course to start earning right away. Gurucan is an EdTach software solution that offers everything that a coaching membership website needs. It follows the best and latest EdTech trends and provides the most efficient and effective learning experience, especially on mobile devices with its perfect mobile apps.

Undoubtedly, developing a membership website has its own perks. But when it comes to the online course creation, live sessions, webinars, and other communication methods, it seems unnecessary because the Gurucan platform offers all of these features at the most competitive rates.

The most important feature of this platform is its online community in the app, which is just only one tap away. There will be no need to wait until the customer base builds in order to start earning. Gurucan also offers fully optimized and responsive applications for both mobile and desktops. Not to mention the comprehensive guides, especially on online courses, are a unique and one of a kind feature that you can access for free. All of these features offer an unparalleled opportunity to all the online course creators to build and maintain a wider audience efficiently.


As mentioned, the membership websites are not for everyone as they require commitment, hard work, and time. Anyone having all of these three traits should definitely consider creating a membership website by following this comprehensive guide sooner than later. Create content, start promoting, build contact base, and generate revenue but don't launch it before you add a lot of quality content.

As far as the online course creators are concerned, they should consider working with Gurucan to start earning immediately.

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