If you’re thinking about selling a course or online access to your information, you’ll need to set up a membership website of some sort. In this post, I want to explain some basic considerations for setting up a membership website in WordPress. 

Before deciding on a course platform or WordPress Plugin to use, it’s worthwhile to consider what you’re hoping to achieve, and assess your current situation before proceeding. In some cases it is better to use an external provider where the membership platform can be set up quickly with predetermined infrastructure, versus building an entire platform yourself. Some examples of external providers are Teachable and Thinkific.

Let’s have a look at some starting thoughts.



Website Membership Aims:

  • Is it for access to content on the website, or course content?
    • If it’s course content, how will it be delivered? All in one go or drip fed?
  • Will you have a forum?
  • Will you have a member directory?
  • Will you have a facebook group that requires integrating?
  • Will you have content downloads, as well as on page content? Do you require quizzes or feedback forms?
  • Will you have different levels of access?
  • Will there be general “members only” content across the site, or will it all be newly added
  • What integrations do you want to do – ie. Mailchimp, Trello, Zapier.
  • Do you have a set way you want the membership content to look – i.e. layout and styling considerations?


Current Website:

  • Do you have the hosting capacity to deal with extra content and visitors?
  • Do you have an existing ecommerce plugin you need to integrate with?
  • What is the current “health” of your website? Are your plugins and themes up to date, is it glitchy at all right now? Do you have over 15 plugins? Are they all reputable and licenced?
  • Do you care what domain the membership is on? Does the content need to be on your website?


Membership Set up – items to address:

  • Payments:
    • What payment gateway will you use?
    • Will you charge GST?
    • How will you charge – one off, monthly ongoing subscription?
    • Will there be a set membership period, then will it renew?
      • Will renewal be automatic?
      • What notice will members receive?
    • Member correspondence:
      • Do you want to send customized emails to members?
      • Do you require a series of videos or emails to explain how everything works?
      • Do you require an FAQ?
    • Content Access:
      • Will any existing content need to be restricted? Are these posts or pages?
      • Will members automatically gain access to everything?
      • Will the different membership levels (if relevant) have the same access?
      • If there are different modules, are these drop fed based on time – or based on completion of a prior module?
      • Is a course completion % to be shown?
      • Are quizzes required on module completion?
      • What menu will be available to the member (i.e. course content, account page etc)
      • What should the member account page contain, and what can they do from there (i.e. update credit card details, cancel subscription).
    • General
      • Is log on via social accounts required?
      • Is there a member support option?


Moving Forward


Before launching your membership site, it is a good idea to map out the user on-boarding experience to ensure it makes sense, provides a good experience for the user and isn’t duplicating any steps. Set up a spreadsheet or word document and make note of each step in the process (i.e. sign up, one week after sign up etc.) and the system generated emails they receive, plus any manual correspondence you have set up.

If your membership has an end date, also consider what happens when they are due for renewal.

I hope that helps give you some ideas on how to set up your membership website in WordPress!