How to Create a Subscription Website Using WordPress: Step-by-Step Guide

2019-07-15T16:58:27+00:00By |Web Development, WordPress|0 Comments

Are you planning to create a subscription website? Great going! For a long time, webmasters had been relying simply on affiliate or advertising revenue to monetize their content. However, over the past few years, the subscription model has become quite popular. Subscription websites let website owners make money by allowing their users to pay for premium content.

This guide will help you create your own subscription website, but before that, let’s have a quick glance on the advantages and market of subscription websites.

Advantages of a Subscription Website

Reliable Income:

It is true that making a subscription website takes a lot of efforts and hard work, but it grants more reliable income comparatively. With a subscription website, you generate recurring revenue. Your subscribers pay a monthly or annual fee in exchange for your content. So you don’t need to be worried about building up a monthly income as you get a fixed revenue every month.

Community Buildup:

When you create a subscription website, you also create a community. Whether your site is for educational or entertainment purpose, your subscribers are likely to be interested in relevant resources.

A subscription website gives you the opportunity to build an environment that encourages communication between the subscribers. Moreover, you come to know about the needs and desires of your members.

Easy Marketing:

Since a subscription website gives you a pre-qualified audience, you can do a lot of experiments with your market strategies. Your members will already be interested enough in your marketing schemes.

Subscription Websites Over The Years

According to Forbes, the subscription eCommerce market has grown by 100% over the past five years. In 2018, more than 15% of shoppers signed up for one or more subscriptions to receive online services on a recurring basis.

Most of the subscribers are 25 to 44 years old. It means the coming years are going to be profitable for businesses running subscription websites. So don’t miss out on this opportunity.

Some of the popular subscription websites you can go through to get some inspiration include:

International Living

Birchbox

Copyblogger

ShoeDazzle

LootCarte

Study Gateway

Now let’s find out how can you build a subscription website using WordPress

Why WordPress?

There are various mediums available today that give technologies to develop a subscription website. Still, WordPress is always the first choice.

WordPress is free to download and install. Moreover, it offers easy customization. With no or minimum assistance, you can easily work with it. In addition to this, The platform supports some really good membership plugins that make managing subscribers and their payments super easy.

According to W3Techs, 33.2% of all websites across the globe are built using WordPress.

Here is a step-by-step guide for building a WordPress subscription website

Step 1: Choose Web Hosting & Domain Name

The few first steps to create a subscription website with the self-hosted WordPress platform is choosing a web hosting service and domain name.

There are some hosting providers that offer a free domain name with their hosting plan. Since for a subscription site, you will need a premium hosting service, make your decision carefully. Don’t forget to have a look at web host ranking as well. Read out some reviews to know what people have to say about your potential providers.

Before you make your final decision, you should decide on how much hand-holding you will need. Also, estimate the amount of traffic you’re expecting. Along with hosting and domain name, you will also require an SSL certificate that will cost you between $69.99 to $149 annually.

Step 2: Installing WordPress

Today, most web hosting services come with a pre-installed WordPress. You will be able to install WordPress within a few minutes using the one-click installer. An alternative option that you can choose is, Famous 5-minute install.

Step 3: Choose a Membership Plugin

To create a subscription website, you will need to install a membership plugin. There are plenty of paid and free plugins available that you can choose from. However, to choose the right plugin, you will need to decide the kind of subscription website you want to build and what features you want to give to your users.

MemberPress is a well-known WordPress plugin that lets you sell subscription and digital content from your website. Its advanced membership allows you to create membership levels, accept payment and control the access on the basis of levels. This plugin has a lot of advantages.

Step 4: Setting Up WordPress Subscription Website

The first thing you need to do is install and activate this plugin which is quite straightforward. You just need to follow the below steps.

  • Download Membership plugin to your computer.
  • Now log in to your WP admin area.
  • Go to Plugins-Add New. Browse the downloaded plugin and enter the Install button and then Activate

Upon activation, visit the MemberPress->Options. Here you have to configure the plugin settings. Check out the screenshot.

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Step 5: Add a Payment Method

On this setting, you have to add a payment method first. After all, it will allow you to accept payments on your subscription website. Go to Payments tab and then choose your payment gateway.

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The plugin supports different payment methods such as PayPal, Stripe, Authorize.net, etc. After choosing the method, click on the “Update” options to save your settings.

Step 6: Create Membership Levels

Now you have to create membership levels. Each membership level may have different pricing plans and perks. Setting the membership level is quite easy. Just go to MemberPress->Memberships page and hit the “Add New” button available on the top.

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On the next page, you will have to create a title for your membership plan and write down the plan details in the editor. Set the pricing as well inside the Membership Terms section.

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If you are looking to make changes into permissions and membership options for a particular plan, go to the Membership option available beneath the post editor. Once you are done with the customization, hit the “Publish” button to make it live on your website.

For creating more membership plans, repeat these steps.

Step 7: Restrict Access for Membership Plans

On your subscription website, you would like to restrict content access to few members according to their plan. It can be simply done by using “Rules.” To set up rules, go to the MemberPress->Rules page and click on the “Add New”.

The rule edit page lets you choose different conditions and add them to your membership plan. For instance, you can choose all the content which matches a particular category. With this feature, you can create more specific rules.

Step 8: Creating Members Only Content

If you want to create an option to provide your content to subscribed members only, it is easy with membership plans. The plugin has “MemberPress Unauthorized Access” meta box beneath the post editor. It will help you choose what non-subscribers will find on your website.

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According to your choice, you can use the global default settings or show excerpts. After adding members-only content, you can publish it. You will see the success message “this content is protected by MemberPress Access Rule” as soon as the page reloads.

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Step 9: Creating the Pricing Page

This page will be seen by your users when signing up for a membership plan. Moreover, the users who are trying to access the paid content of your site will be directed to this page as well.

To configure this page, go to MemberPress->Groups page and click on the “Add New” button. Next, enter a title for the group plan page. This title will also work for plans page. After that, go down to ‘Group options’ meta box. Here you need to add memberships which will be displayed on the page.

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To make your pricing table page more eye-pleasing, you can choose a theme. The plugin supports various ready-made themes. After selecting the theme, click on “Publish” to make your plan publicly visible. You can preview your pricing page by clicking on the “View Group” link after publishing it.

Once you have set up your pricing page, it is crucial that you redirect more and more unauthorized users to it. For the same, you need to go to the MemberPress->Groups page. Next, copy the URL available next to the group you had created in the last step.

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Now go to the MemberPress->Options page and look for ‘Unauthorized Access’ section. Now you need to check the box available next to ‘Redirect unauthorized visitors to a specific URL’ option. Now you have to paste the group URL you copied before.

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To save your settings, click on “Update Options”. Now every unauthorized user trying to access the member-only area will be redirected to the pricing plans.

Step 10: Adding User Login and Signup Forms

Now when you have set up everything, it is time to give your users easy access to your website. First of all, add a user login form which will help your members to sign in to their accounts.

To create it, go to Appearance->Widgets and add “MemberPress Login” widget in a sidebar.

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Next, add the link of pricing page to the navigation menu. It will help new users select a plan and make registration. For this, again you have to go to the Appearance-> Menu. Click on the Groups tab (in the left column) to expand it. Now you will be able to display the pricing plan group you made before.

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Check the box available in front of pricing page and then hit the “Add to Menu” button. Now you can see the pricing plan on the right column.

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Click on the Save Menu button to store your changes. Now log out of your admin area and visit your site to see if everything is fine.

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Step 11: Customize Membership Email Templates

The membership plugin sends email notifications to your members. It can help in the promotion of your subscription website as well.

To make changes on the template, access MemberPress->Options page and select “Emails” tab. This option allows you to manage email notifications sent by MemberPress.

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Step 12: Check Out Reports of Your Subscription Website

The plugin MemberPress comes with built-in reports that let you check out how your website is performing. To check out the reports, go to the MemberPress->Reports page. You can sort these reports by month, year and all time data.

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This report shows a number of active, inactive, paid, free and total members. Moreover, you can also check out average member lifetime value and other data.

One of the best ways to check the success of your subscription website is inspecting the membership website. Google Analytics tool can help you see where your users are coming from.

Final Note

In the long run, a subscription-model website may generate good revenue for your business. Many businesses associated with consumer goods, dating, jobs and traveling already using this business model. It would not be wrong to say that the future of the subscription website is promising. However, it is advisable that before you proceed, choose your niche carefully.

You may already have some ideas to create your subscription website. But if you don’t have, start by brainstorming all the possible subjects. Ask yourself the following questions.

What subject interests you most?
What problems do you know how to resolve?
What subjects are people willing to pay to learn about?
What questions are people asking on different social media platforms related to your industry?

Hopefully, this article helped you create a WordPress subscription website.

About the Author:

Matt is a marketer and WordPress expert. Founder of Scepter, Matt oversees the larger web dev projects for the company. Seeing innovative ideas come to life is his passion, and therefore he pushes Scepter ahead to help our customers bring their projects to life.

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