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The Best Membership Site Platforms

Written by: Siobhan Brier  | September 13, 2021

If you are a content creator with a valuable resource to provide, you might be considering the benefits of a membership platform.

With an optimized membership site, you can reach a wider audience, provide more value to your customers, and build passive income while teaching what you know.

Whether you are looking to build your own site as a small business owner or looking to join an existing site as a consumer, it is important to be aware of the best membership websites on the market and what they can do for you.

With so many options available to you, the membership site you choose should reflect your skills, needs, wants, and brand identity. With all of the different sites out there, it can be difficult to pick the right option for you.

Let us help you decide!

Our Top Picks for the Best Membership Platforms

  1. Thinkific
  2. Podia
  3. Kajabi
  4. Intellum
  5. Memberpress
  6. AccessAlly
  7. Teachable
  8. Uscreen
  9. Wix
  10. SquareSpace

Podia

This is a site built for sharing online courses and helping others learn and grow in their education.

This site is a crowd favorite with online courses, digital downloads, memberships, webinars, and coaching all designed to help you sell your content. It also has email marketing, messaging, custom websites, affiliate marketing tools, and embeds designed to help market your work to prospective audiences.

Click here to sign up for Podia's free trial.

Kajabi

With this membership site, you can sell digital products to a wide variety of users.

As explained on the website: "All In One Platform. Everything you need in a single platform. Products, websites, landing pages, payments, analytics, marketing automation, email, communities, and more. It all just works!" It is simple and effective enough to have succeeded for its many users.

Start Kajabi's free trial here.

Intellum

This is great for those who are already or want to become involved in eLearning.

As explained on the website: "The Intellum Platform gives you everything you need to educate your customers, partners, and employees on the products and services you sell."

Click here to know more about Intellum.

WordPress

Known as a great site for blogging, WordPress is used by personal artists, professional companies, and eCommerce sites all looking to share a bit more information about their brands. WordPress websites are clean and user-friendly while supporting multiple digital tools for site optimization.

Get started with WordPress here.

Facebook

Facebook groups are enormously helpful for building an audience and sharing your courses with people in your niche. While you can't set up members-only content or a pay structure on Facebook, if you put together a business plan over creating a course and building an audience, Facebook will be an integral part of getting your course out there.

Use Facebook and other social media platforms to establish a following and grow a group of individuals who will follow you to your store or member site platform. You can create your own Facebook group or become a part of other groups in your niche.

For example, a teacher who can grow a following because of useful video tutorials is more likely to have students seek their online courses.

Register on Facebook and stay connected!

Teachable

Once you have that online following, you can use Teachable to showcase your online courses and other lessons. Similar to a WordPress site, this platform will allow you to share your thoughts, opinions, and goals.

As explained on the website: "Create online courses and coaching services. Transform your experience and know-how into a thriving knowledge business."

Sign up with Teachable and share what you know!

Uscreen

If you are looking for a site to build video monetization in a more professional capacity, Uscreen can help you do so. This would be a great option for fitness instructors, for example.

As explained on the website: "Before Uscreen started in 2015, if you wanted to distribute and monetize videos online, you had to stitch multiple software solutions together and hope for the best. This was not only cumbersome but also time-consuming and very expensive. So we decided to fix this by building an all-in-one platform.

Fast forward to today, Uscreen is a robust video monetization and distribution platform and an industry leader. Our team of over 100 amazing individuals located all around the world helps over 11,000 creators, brands, and businesses monetize videos and make money doing what they love."

Start your free trial with Uscreen here.

Getting Started

In most cases, none of these membership site platforms will require much of you if you want to poke around and try your hand at something new. The best membership site platforms for most people will actually allow you to build at your own pace and will usually provide tools to help you learn the ins and outs of the site with ease.

For most membership websites, you will start by establishing an account with your unique email address or other personal information on whichever membership sites you choose. Then you can begin learning what kind of tools and skills you will need to navigate your new membership site platform effectively.

The last thing you should consider is how Google Analytics will pick up your site as you build it. Use keywords and other discoverable methods to help with the search engine optimization of your site, meaning that using certain words and key phrases can bump up your site in relevant search engine results.

After creating your account and starting on your membership site, you may want to jump right into cultivating your audience, but don't jump ahead! Make sure you have a solid product first so that people aren't disappointed or unwilling to wait while you figure things out.

Building the site itself is the next best step you can take after choosing the membership site platform.

For Creators

Building a Membership Site Platform

There are a few reasons why you might be considering building a membership site platform. For example, if you are a teacher and you want to offer tutoring services on the side, building a membership website can help you organize your online courses and tutoring content.

Likewise, if you are a small business owner involved in eCommerce, you will probably need a membership site to provide information about upcoming drops.

Perhaps you are an artist with a podcast, vlog, or blog, and you want to give your audience a singular place to reach all your content–in any case, you will need to build membership site platforms.

Creating Online Courses

If you want to include online courses in your membership site platform, you might need a bit of help. First, to create user-friendly online courses, you need a user-friendly site.

What type of online course are you hoping to offer? If you would like to upload a webinar, a video tutorial, or an interactive quiz, you can do so with an all-in-one platform. You'll want a site whose website builder includes the option to include those features.

Different landing pages in your online course will have different levels of the course, and therefore you can optimize your membership for each level. For instance, perhaps you implement rewards for each level completed.

The user could get a few gold stars or points before carrying on to the next level. With a certain number of points at the end, perhaps the user unlocks a new course.

This is a good way to create a completely interactive membership model, especially if you do not charge a lot for your paid membership site.

Many people provide a free option where new members can access a trial course and see if your online course is what they are looking for before they commit. However, it is important to offer a few basic features, in the beginning, at a low cost just so that the member understands what they are signing up for and is drawn in by the features more than the cost puts them off.

Monetization

If you are a small business owner, you are probably hoping to make some money off of this site. When you can offer a great service on a great platform, you can be rewarded frequently.

Many membership service platforms have a few different membership tiers so that customers can find the option that works best for them.

For example, you can offer a cheap or free membership that provides access to the basic membership site. Then you can offer a more developed membership plan and even more exclusive content depending on how much your customer pays monthly or annually.

Consider the amount of work you would be willing to do for each tier. Then, depending on how much effort it will take you, it depends on what you are willing to provide for free versus what you would request a paid membership for.

The best membership sites provide a few different options so that their users can move up and down different membership tiers freely, depending on their needs.

If you are not sure what to charge for your services, you can crowdsource friends and family or research similar companies to offer comparable pricing. If you have an existing website that is not gaining the traction you anticipated, consider starting fresh with a website builder to promote your company.

Email Marketing

If you are concerned about outreach, consider implementing email marketing tools. Email marketing campaigns can help extend your audience and provide direct information to interested candidates.

If you are not sure how to format an email marketing campaign, look for tools such as MailChimp to help establish a membership management software that will keep you consistent across the board.

You want your emails to look clean and on-brand every time, and you can accomplish that more easily with the help of secondary software.

Affiliate Links

Affiliate marketing tools can also help you reach a wider audience. For example, you can extend your outreach if you can find a way to get your company featured in a blog with a link back to your site. Likewise, if you feature different external links to helpful sites on your side, you increase traction.

Combining the Two

Affiliate marketing can be a slow and steady way to get the word out, which is why email marketing can be a good place to start. First, craft a short message that explains your service, offer an exclusive deal to individuals who sign up using the link and discount code in the email.

Your email blast can also include membership subscriptions and exclusive looks into the future offerings for members-only content. This way, the people who are signed up for your email know that they are getting the most out of their subscription immediately.

The marketing features in your emails can include links to your eCommerce store, segmentation tools, and groups to target different sections of your audience specifically. Look at other email subscriptions that you receive and think about how you would do it differently or better.

Focusing on emails to build a core audience and then reaching out further with affiliate links often works best for those running a new membership website.

Running Events

If your service includes many online course builder membership content, you might consider offering some hybrid opportunities.

Bring Existing Users Together

For example, rather than just having your audience take advantage of your online business on their own time, you can offer events to bring people together. Consider partnering with a like-minded small business to offer your services at the in-person event as though it is a one-stop shop for a few cool opportunities.

Widen Your Audience

When you create events for your membership services, you can automatically widen your audience. Perhaps you offer a live lecture series, or a live fundraiser, or a live session to showcase the service that you are offering. Even hosting a Q&A for your company is a good way to establish engagement.

You can decide whether or not you wish to receive online payments for events, but generally speaking, it can be best practice to set up a reservation system for events simply. That way, you can offer it to as many people as possible and hopefully pull in new clientele who were skeptical about paying for your membership features.

New Ways to Share Content

With the heightened use of virtual events, you don't necessarily have to worry about spending a lot of money to run an event. Rather than having some extravagant in-person party, you can host a virtual event that gets right to the point. Your lecture series can become available to people from the comfort of their own homes. People can enjoy your eCommerce while attending your event online.

Whatever service you are offering, people will have more direct access to it when you host a virtual event.

If you do wish to host an in-person event sometime, you can still manage to keep it affordable and set up a donation box for individuals who wish to support your service.

Exclusive Content

We've used this phrase a few times, but what does it really mean? When you offer exclusive content to your members-only pages, it means that you are creating membership tiers based on how much a person pays.

Exclusive content can include access to more materials, resources, or your time and assistance.

Depending on your service, you might be able to offer an exclusive look into new offerings you plan to announce before the public finds out about it, and you can include discount codes or other ways to save.

Exclusive content can also mean that your monthly or annual subscriptions include a physical copy of your services. For example, if you write a blog, perhaps you send a physical copy to that customer's home. If you have merchandise to offer, perhaps you send a little swag bag along with each new registration and login.

The most important part of advertising exclusive content is to give a sneak peek into the content itself. While you restrict access to those who pay less, you need to give them an incentive for why they should pay more.

Membership platforms that offer transparency regarding their exclusive content are more likely to receive additional sign-ups.

Basically, if your paid membership sites offer membership levels, make sure to include a bit of transparency regarding those levels. A proper membership site platform will reward those who move up in membership levels.

Your Mobile Site

Another important thing to consider when creating membership sites is your mobile site. Do you intend on making your services accessible on a mobile phone or something you can only access on a desktop?

With so many people on the move, creating a mobile site can be imperative to the growth of your service. The ability for digital downloads, smartphone interaction, and accessible content is expected in this day and age.

Membership software that makes mobility possible can increase the shareability of your online store or service offering.

The mobile optimization of your own website can help other people reach your site when on the go. Plus, you can create different social media groups to increase your mobile access.

For example, creating a private Facebook group can increase your social media presence and help social media users find your content more easily.

Social Media

Social media is essential when it comes to targeting your audience. For example, you can generally find a younger audience on Instagram and Twitter and an older audience on Facebook. Whichever age of individuals you are targeting, you can make your advertisements really specific on different social media platforms using different hashtags and location tags.

Explore your options on the different social media platforms to determine which ones would be most appropriate for building the best brand identity and membership site platform possible.

You might already realize this if you are a participant on another membership website, which brings us to our next topic: joining a membership site platform.

For Participants

Joining a Membership Site Platform

If you are not looking to create a membership platform but instead wish to join a membership platform, you might have some different considerations than those outlined above for creators.

Purpose

Your purpose for joining a membership site platform can vary depending upon your interests, hobbies, skillsets, and passions.

For instance, perhaps you wish to join a platform that will teach you history. Perhaps you hope to find a platform that can help you become a better writer. Or maybe you wish to find a platform that can connect you to like-minded people. If you are into clothes, you might look for a fashion eCommerce platform that can introduce you to a new style.

There are various ways membership site platforms can help your style, mindset, education, and access to information. Meeting people who are pursuing the same thing as you can encourage you to succeed.

The best membership site platform for your needs will help you learn skills and meet people who have the resources, tools, and attitudes for success.

Membership Pricing

If you are joining a membership site, you will have to consider how much you wish to spend on your membership.

If you are hoping to take advantage of the free trial service that a particular site offers, do that first before deciding whether or not to commit further. A membership site that offers free trials may appeal to people who are unsure what they want and wish to try out several options initially.

Many membership services will post about a sales page so that you can find discounted membership options rather than paying full price for these services. One way to know about sales when they first pop up is to sign up for newsletters or email subscriptions so that you can have early access to all discounted services.

Cancellation

Most sites will also not charge you a membership cancellation fee. If the service involves going somewhere for a physical appointment, you might be required to cancel 24 hours in advance to ensure that you will not be charged, but that is typically the only scenario that you will need to worry about.

Occasionally, membership sites will also allow you to avoid transaction fees when you pay for an annual membership rather than a monthly membership. This discounted price in return for a guaranteed long-term membership is a good option if you see yourself using the site frequently in the future to avoid recurring payments and potentially get any setup fees waived.

What To Consider

How do you best learn? Are you comfortable with eLearning, or do you need face-to-face instruction?

If the site you are looking at involves some learning process, you should stop considering your level of self-discipline. For example, if you are comfortable learning in a hybrid environment, you might not mind online learning, but if you are not likely to sit down and self-instruct, you might find a membership site like this challenging.

Suppose you do need more human interaction while learning, seek a site that will provide that guidance. Again, you are more likely to find success with a teacher or team members who can walk you through the eLearning process.

Likewise, if you are looking to join an eCommerce-related membership service, you should make sure that they can process online payments and returns in a user-friendly way. Read reviews before committing to a particular eCommerce service so that you have a good understanding of its reputation.

Some companies' reputations are more about their practices than their literal services. As a result, many modern users contemplating an eCommerce service may find it important to check if the company is practicing ethical methods to create its products.

If you are not accustomed to practicing ethical consumption, look for transparency on behalf of the company in the "about" section of the website and do external research.

Digital Downloads

As mentioned with creating a membership site, the best membership site platform for you to join is typically one that allows you to access the materials on your mobile device and even offline.

Accessing the service on your mobile device and offline allows you to take advantage of the service in various additional environments. For example, mobile access will let you experience site content from anywhere you have Internet, and offline access might be important if you need to access content in a place where you don't have a cellular connection or WiFi, such as in a plane or other dead zone.

Find the most easy-to-use membership site for you, and don't let go!

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