How to Create a Membership Site for Profit (It’s Easier Than You Think)
Since I released The Harem Handbook a month ago (which now comes with a lifetime guarantee), a lot of people have asked me how I built it.
Everybody wants to know if I designed the site myself, what platform I used, how I protected the
Enough have asked that I decided it’s time to put it all into one nice post and point people here.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Creating your content
- Finding your platform
- Buying a web host
- Designing the website
- Protecting the content
- Processing payments and website security
- Test, test, test
STEP I: CREATING YOUR CONTENT
It seems obvious, but you shouldn’t start on steps two through six until you actually know what your course is going to be about.
What skills do you have that you can share with the world? What are you knowledgable about that transcends what most people know?
In my case, I had written an actual book called The Harem Handbook.
You see, that’s knowledge I have that transcends what most people know about girls and game. I’m not an expert-level daygamer, so I couldn’t possibly make a course on that. But I am good with making girls fall in love with me. I’m good at keeping them around. And I’m good at staying free while doing it.
You can’t write a blog post giving advice without being an expert. If you purse through This Is Trouble, you won’t see any articles about daygame other than a few antidotes and stories. There are no “5 Steps to Mastering Daygame” posts because I”m not an expert.
I’ve always said you shouldn’t fake it when giving advice. Fake it ’til you make it with girls all you want. But don’t advise guys until you are an expert.
Harems are something I’m an expert at–both building and maintaining.
IT DOES NOT HAVE TO BE DONE
I had the book done prior to moving on to the next step, but none of the audio and video was created. The important thing was that I had my outline.
You don’t have to have a perfectly polished and finished content masterpiece to start on the next steps. But an outline is a necessity. In fact, building the website and moving on to the next steps may influence how you present the content. Do not get married to any one idea just because.
Be open to change. Be willing to modify your initial outline and plan based off of what you learn as you build your profitable membership site.
SURVEY YOUR AUDIENCE
Some of you may not have blogs. That’s okay. There are other ways to get traffic to a website, but that’s beyond the scope of this article.
However, it’s important to make sure that there are people out there looking for the solution you are providing.
I have made this mistake several times while building this blog. Learn from this. I cannot stress this enough: MAKE SURE THERE IS A PROBLEM, AND A SOLUTION YOU ARE SOLVING.
If there is NOT a problem to be solved–your solution will not sell.
If you have a blog, take surveys. Ask people what they want. Be willing to provide an answer to them. Hit up your email list (I recommend AWeber) and ask for help.
Life is all about sales. If you create something that people simply don’t have a need (or want) for, it won’t sell. And sales is all about solving people’s problems.
ANOTHER RESOURCE: 33 Truths About Blogging
STEP II: FINDING YOUR PLATFORM
Truthfully, there are a million ways you could do a membership site.
There are so many Content Management Systems (CMS) out there now, you can pick the one that will work the best for you.
Personally, there’s no way I would build it on anything other than WordPress. Yes, there are a few drawbacks, but as far as simplicity, price, and support–it’s hard to top it.
The only other option I really considered was Joomla!, because I have experience with it and it’s fantastic. But overall, it had too many bells and whistles I didn’t need.
WordPress was the way I went and therefore, the rest of this article is mostly centered around that.
STEP III: BUYING A WEB HOST
It sucks when your website goes down. It’s a situation you’re almost powerless in. All you can do is call your web host and bitch.
Naturally, you want the host with the most uptime, the quickest speed, and that’s cost effective. This is a situation where you can only pick two of the three 😉
Some web hosts such as FlyWheel have dedicated WordPress hosting, but is a bit more on the expensive side.
Bluehost is a good balance of speed, uptime, and price.
SHARED HOSTING? WORDPRESS HOSTING? VPS?
All of these terms confuse people, so I’ll make it super easy.
SHARED HOSTING means that other websites are using the same physical hardware as your website. From a virtual perspective, you have your own website space.
It’s still secure, it’s still fast, but there are obviously more variables in play. There’s a reason shared hosting is always the cheapest across all web hosting providers.
WORDPRESS HOSTING is all the rage these days. It’s basically servers that have been configured specifically with WordPress in mind.
This means that for a WordPress website, these will be the fastest, but also more costly.
Assuming you decide to use WordPress as your Content Management System, this does not mean you need WordPress hosting.
It is simply faster.
VPS (VIRTUAL PRIVATE SERVER) is your own personal piece of hardware in the datacenter. You are the only one allowed to touch this box, and you will also get deeper access into the operating system of the server itself.
This also means you have more things that can go wrong.
Generally speaking, a VPS is going to be out of most first-timers budgets and is really not necessary.
IN CONCLUSION: Take a peak at Bluehost (that’s an affiliate link), and give FlyWheel a look, too.
STEP IV: DESIGNING THE WEBSITE
So, here’s where things can get tricky.
You need a sales page for those who haven’t bought the course. You need a main dashboard that helps those who have paid to navigate your content.
Your sales page must be good-looking. This is one of the most important things.
BUT, for the dashboard, functionality is more important.
And to top it all off, you have to work the content into it, and achieve a good balance of functionality as well as looking good. If you want to release a membership course as a premium product, people are going to expect to see and feel…well, a premium product.
Failure to deliver that and you could be looking at a lot of returns in the long run.
Meanwhile, I’m confident enough in both my design and functionality that I can offer a lifetime guarantee with my course. That talks!
(For example, here is my course’s dashboard. A good mix of sex appeal and functionality.)
THRIVE THEMES IS THE BEST BALANCE
I really, truly, cannot recommend Thrive Themes enough.
They meet all of the requirements to build a good membership site. Their themes are beautiful and ooze sex appeal. They make readers want to stay on the website.
Thrive includes pre-built landing pages that you can use for your sales page.
All of their themes are fully responsive (meaning they adapt to mobile devices), and they are fast.
To top it all off, if you get the whole suite of tools, there are some amazing other products included. Drag and drop content builders that blow away most editors. A terrific scarcity plugins. A headline optimizing plugin that A/B tests which one of your titles gets the most engagement.
And a hell of a lot more.
(If you buy the whole suite you get access to ALL of the themes, FYI.)
In reality, almost any WordPress theme will do. Just ensure compatibility with whatever membership software you use to protect your content (we’re about to get into that).
Again, it all comes down to balance. You need to make sure people have a flawless experience with navigating the website, but you also want it to look good.
I suggest you do not sacrifice one for the other. Do the work to make sure both are achieved (it’s more than possible).
Remember, this is a premium product that people are paying a premium price for. They are expecting a premium experience. Don’t let them down.
STEP V: PROTECTING THE CONTENT
This is the step that seems scary on paper.
Logins? Passwords? Memberships? Protected content?
Those can be big and scary words, but they don’t have to be.
There are dozens and dozens of WordPress plugins out there that will take care of all of this for you. You just have to find the best one for your specific needs.
Again, this comes down to functionality, price, and ease of use.
And again, you generally only get to pick two of three.
I highly recommend starting your research with this article. This guy reviewed some 30+ membership sites in 2015 and wrote reviews for all of them. Use that as a starting point and go from there.
Most of these plugins offer a 1 week/2 week/1 month money-back-guarantee, so you can always try them out and return them if you end up hating them.
It took me five different tries before I finally settled on a membership plugin for The Harem Handbook.
MY DECISION: MEMBERPRESS
I tried Memberful, MemberMouse, S2 Membership, and Digital Access Pass before I finally settled on MemberPress.
The main reason was because it was simply ease to use. The interface, once installed on The Harem Handbook site, was as simple as checking “protect all pages”.
I obviously still allow public access to the sales page and support page(s).
The second reason was because MemberPress comes with a built-in affiliate program called Affiliate Royale.
This means anyone who has a membership to The Harem Handbook can click ONE BUTTON and instantly has an affiliate link (though you don’t have to buy a membership to become an affiliate.)
CLICK HERE to become an affiliate for The Harem Handbook
Every time anyone makes a purchase through that link, the affiliate takes home 70% of the sale price.
MemberPress gave me the ultimate control over everything instead of being at the mercy of other affiliate programs. That’s why I chose them.
Again, due your due diligence and come to the conclusion for what’s best for YOU.
STEP VI: PROCESSING PAYMENTS & SECURITY
You must allow people to pay both via credit card and PayPal. Failure to do so will result in less sales, plain and simple.
And no, a credit card through PayPal doesn’t count. You need to be able to process credit cards on your own website.
THE NOT-FUN PART (SSL CERTIFICATES)
If you’re going to process payments, you need to have SSL. No ifs, ands, or buts. You need to be able to secure people’s credit card information so that their shit doesn’t get stolen and you’re not liable.
There are plenty of places to buy SSL certificates, and sometimes they’re easy to install–sometimes they’re not. This is beyond the scope of this article.
You can buy SSL certificates through your web host itself (Bluehost does sell them) or a variety of other websites.
HOW TO PROCESS CREDIT CARD PAYMENTS
By far the easiest way I’ve found to do this is via Stripe.
Stripe integrates into websites very easily (make sure you check your membership plugin to ensure it supports Stripe!), looks sharp, and they deposit your earnings straight into your bank account every two weeks.
Note that they do charge a fee for each transaction, but it’s just part of the cost of doing business in regards to a membership site.
Stripe will integrate with your newly-bought SSL certificate, as well as PayPal.
If you have questions about how to do any of this, drop a comment below.
STEP VII: TEST, TEST, TEST
Making mistakes is part of being human. There may be some “oopsies” that you make when you create a membership site. This is okay and is to be expected.
The beautiful part of a course is that you can edit things after the launch. Unlike a book, which is gone forever, you can edit and improve upon things in your course.
And, when you do, people feel like they’re being taken care of! Everybody wins.
So if there is an image slightly off, or a small typo–don’t fret it. What’s important is that your sales pages and payment processors are working flawlessly.
You don’t get a “redo” with those.
So…test, test, test.
Test every link on your sales page. Run through both credit card and PayPal transactions with real money. Do not create a coupon for 100% off and test with that. Actually buy your own product with a second email and ensure the entire experience is flawless.
Can you overdo it?
Yeah, you could obsess about this stuff for weeks and still something could go wrong. You never know.
HAVE A FRIEND DO IT, TOO
Give a friend or family member a coupon for 95% off of the price, and then offer to reimburse them for what they do spend. Have them use their credit card or PayPal account (preferably both!) and run through the whole process.
Ask them for feedback.
Make sure their experience was smooth.
Was there anything difficult to navigate? Was my SSL certificate prominently displayed? Was the payment fast? Were you auto-logged in to the site? Did you receive a receipt with your login information?
All of this stuff is something you might not catch or pay attention to, but you can bet your first customer will. You can control who your first customer is by offering it to a friend, so do it.
Make sure your first real customer gets everything perfect because you did YOUR homework to make sure everything was top-notch.
STEP VIII: CONCLUSION
The Harem Handbook has so far been a great success. It was a lot of work to create it, but now that I’ve done it once, it would be far easier to do it again.
Hopefully, this guide will help someone put some plan into motion in regards to creating their own membership site.
I can’t stress this enough–it’s not as difficult as it sounds. And you can truly create something great. Books are wonderful, but getting to see someone talk, speak, and teach in a course takes learning to a whole new level.
If you have something to share with the world, browse through this article. What can you teach? What problems can you solve?
If you have a solution, maybe you should consider creating a course.
Now that you have the steps to do so, the world awaits your knowledge.
PS: If you enjoyed this post and read it all, I want to give you a surprise. Use coupon ‘CREATE’ for 50% off of my course. Click here to get access.