*This post contains some affiliate links where I may receive a small compensation if you purchase through them. If you do make a purchase, thank you!
Building your WordPress Membership site on solid foundations is important for ease of use, reliability, and the ability to scale. Don’t just go with what’s popular or just go with someone’s word. You should still definitely read and research expert reviews on the building blocks of your membership site.
So what are the ingredients you need to build a WordPress membership site?
- Great Web Hosting: I recommend SiteGround for premium hosting and NameCheap for more affordable shared hosting.
- Domain: A short, memorable and on brand domain or even a subdomain of your current one if you don’t want to add your membership site directly into your current website.
- WordPress Theme: You can purchase a premium theme from elsewhere. I really like Sydney by aThemes. They also have a Pro version if you want to add in eCommerce (WooCommerce) to your site and have more functionality. The free version is already pretty powerful. You can find my review of it here. If Sydney is not LOVE, then take a look at this neat list of awesome free themes. If you don’t mind spending the money, the Divi theme is also a great starter theme to build on and pairing it with their drag and drop builder is a must. BTW! I thought it was so awesome that I now include their themes and Divi Builder in my WordPress packages! Woohooh!
- Essential Plugins
- For Maintenance and Security:
- JetPack: Connects your site to your wordpress.com account and uses their very useful and helpful features such as protecting your site from brute force attacks and letting you know if your site is down.
- BackWPUp: Helps you create backups of your site.
- ShortPixel Optimizer (optional): helps to optimize your images on your site. This will help to speed up your site and reduce bandwidth.
- Postman SMTP (optional): You may or may not need this. If you are having trouble sending out emails that are hosted with your web hosting provider, this plugin may help.
- For building your site
- Drag and Drop Builders: Site Origin (free) and Divi (Premium. Included in my packages)
- Yoast SEO: For helping your website’s visibility and rankings in search engines.
- Icegram (optional): for neat optins and notifications
- Unique Headers (optional): If you want different header images for your site.
- Page Per Head (optional): Helps add the “head” area to your pages. You may need this for when you need to connect your site with other services such as social media and Google services.
- File Management (all optional):
- Media From FTP: Registers files you’ve uploaded through FTP into your WordPress library. You will want to upload through FTP if you have very large files.
- Media File Renamer: renames files that have already been uploaded.
- For Maintenance and Security:
- Membership Plugin: Here is a great list and plug-in reviews of many different membership plugins by Chris Lema. As you can see, MemberPress comes out on top. It’s an awesome and lightweight plug-in and very scaleable. One thing to note, is that you will have to pay for a yearly subscription if you decide to get it on your own, but it is now INCLUDED in my WordPress Packages.
- Payment Gateway: Stripe with PayPal to offer your clients options is good. If you only want one, Stripe would be my first choice for subscriptions. Braintree is a great option as well and it integrates with PayPal and currently they also refund you the fees of up to the first $50,000 of your transactions.
- SSL Certificate: If you’re taking only PayPal, you shouldn’t need one as your customers are taken to PayPal’s website to make their payment, but if you’re taking Stripe or other payment gateways, you should look into look into getting an SSL Certificate before you accept any payments through your site to make sure you are compliant. Depending on your web host, you may have to purchase one through them or they may even have one available to you for free. Siteground has easily made Let’s Encrypt, a free SSL certificate through their cPanel. How do you know everything is working once you’ve installed your certificate? When your visitors go to your website, your site’s address should have https instead of just http and/or there should be a lock icon like this by your URL or web address.
- Video/Content Hosting: Your Web host may or may not be ok with you hosting your digital video and audio on their sites. This is especially more so if you’re using up a lot of space and/or bandwidth. Even if they say they allow it and you have unlimited space and/or bandwidth, they may still penalize your site. Here are some great options to host your content:
- Vimeo: is very popular. Their higher paid tiers allow you to embed private videos into your website.
- YouTube: is the free, but less secure alternative. Basically, your video is unlisted but has a permanent link anyone can share to the world.
- Amazon S3: is very affordable and the most secure, but the learning curve and extra work may be daunting for some.
How is your vision for your website going? It may seem daunting at first, but that is why people like me are here to help you through it and make your vision come to life!
Want to get a jump start on creating your membership site? Grab my free WordPress Membership Site Worksheet or if you prefer to DIY, check out simplerwordpress.comDownload my Membership site Worksheet!