Again, unless your research makes it clear that your audience is ready and waiting to join your program, don’t produce your entire membership program just yet. Starting small and creating just enough top-quality content to keep charter members happy, then seeking their feedback before moving on to the next stage of production will help save you both time and effort in the long run.
After the idea comes the execution. Setting up your Shopify store doesn’t take that much time to complete, but it’s important to finish all the steps so your website looks like a professional online store. Plus, there are a few really key things on this list – like setting up your payment details, which help you get paid (so they’re a pretty big deal!). Here’s some of the store set-up tasks you’ll want to cross off your ecommerce checklist:
You probably have a rough idea for the topic of your membership site—otherwise you probably wouldn’t be reading this guide to launching a new membership program. However, even if you have a great idea for your project, it’s wise to invest some time in validating that idea. After all, it would be a shame to put in all the work involved in launching a high-quality membership site only to discover there’s no market or audience for your project.
This post was originally written in 2015 and then fully updated in 2019. 2 of the sites previously mentioned were dead or inactive, so have been replaced. The other sites had changed their strategy somewhat. So, what you see below is a fully updated list of 10 membership sites, from all kinds of different niches. Let’s see what we can learn. Enjoy!
Wild Apricot is a very popular membership site software option amongst non-profits, small yacht clubs, small business hubs, and other small-scale organizations that need a simple to use membership management platform that delivers on its promise. With Wild Apricot, you can create a website quickly and easily with our drag and drop website builder; make a mobile-friendly member application form on the web with payments and workflow; automate renewals and activate member self-service to update information; manage your member and contact records securely and enable members-only content and membership directories; and even have an online store to support your membership revenue. You can even integrate members-only content into existing WordPress sites!
Membership runs $29.95/month or $299/year. Interestingly, both plans have a 3-day trial. This trial is very short, however I think it is smart as it will help ward off some tire kickers. Long trials increase drop-off because people can forget all about it. A short trial of 3 days, coupled with a 3-day marketing sequence, would help increase the stick rate of the trial.

Checklist 14: Outsourcing Your Membership Site From Start To Finish : Believe it or not, but membership sites can be outsourced from start to finish. We’ve been there, done that and got the t-shirt. And if that’s something you would consider to do, in this checklist we reveal the exact steps we take to completely outsource one of our membership sites and still rake in the profits.
WordPress is the most sought after blogging platform, and it comes as no surprise that many would want to build their membership site directly around their WordPress installation. Although WordPress by default offers membership features, there is still need for integration of payment systems and other features that make a membership site what it is supposed to be. Great thing about DigitalAccessPass is that it also works for non-WordPress sites. The list of features from DAP extends in the hundreds of different categories, and it would be hard to mention them all here, please click this link to explore the fully on the official DAP site.
I always look for the blog. 🙂 On Guitar Tricks, it is pretty much buried down in the footer. What this shows me is that their entire site is pretty much designed to become part of the membership. Their blog goes under the “News” section of the membership. It is open to the public. I can see the point of this, though, because essentially the entire site is gated. Unless a person finds them on search, by the time a person finds the blog, they’re an email subscriber and have the free membership.

One of the beautiful things about owning an online membership site is that you can automate many of the regular tasks you need to perform to run and grow your site.  With the right tools you can create content, deliver content, market your site, and manage your members much faster and easier than if you did it manually. And a good place to start is this automation checklist, which shows you the best way to take advantage of today’s technology to grow your site!


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The program runs $11.99/month, $28.75/quarter or $108/year. I’d be curious to see how many people take the quarterly option. I know in my own business, when I offered a quarterly it just didn’t work. Everybody went for the annual plan. Plus, an annual plan would increase lifetime customer value quite a bit. I don’t know the numbers internally, but I’d probably want to test getting rid of the quarterly option and see how it tests out.
I always look for the blog. 🙂 On Guitar Tricks, it is pretty much buried down in the footer. What this shows me is that their entire site is pretty much designed to become part of the membership. Their blog goes under the “News” section of the membership. It is open to the public. I can see the point of this, though, because essentially the entire site is gated. Unless a person finds them on search, by the time a person finds the blog, they’re an email subscriber and have the free membership.
So if you are able to gain anything from an eCommerce audit it should be to understand what problems are causing your website to lose sales. The best way to perform these audits is to dive into your analytics to get a good understanding of your traffic’s behavior and how it relates back to your site’s design and page architecture. This can take some experience in understanding this data and might be more of a project than you are hoping for, so the next best option is to use our eCommerce Site Checklist Template to see if your site is following best practices.
They have a public Courses page which showcases some of the major courses from their library right out in the open. It looks like each course shown has it’s own landing page and is available for sale separately. This is a similar strategy that I use here at Blog Marketing Academy where certain courses are available separately. Each one functions as a front-end offer, essentially, with the upgrade to full membership as an upsell. They’re then positioning the membership as the obvious money-saving option.
You might be a little overwhelmed by this really long ecommerce checklist. And that’s a normal feeling. Many new entrepreneurs do feel like they’re in over their heads when they start out. However, half the battle is knowing what to do. I hope that knowing every single step you’ll have to take over these first few months helps you inch closer to achieving the success that you dream of. And that this list actually makes you realize that you can do this. Because honestly, you’re a rockstar and you know this. It’s going to be a busy few months as you build up that new online store, but with our checklist, you can just cross things off to see how far you’ve come.

A membership website is a set of pages with protected content that require a user to login to access. A membership site will often house content that is available to only those individuals who have paid a membership fee. This membership fee could be a one-time fee for lifetime access or a recurring subscription that charges a set dollar amount each month or year.

Special Unicode Characters in Data Validation Lists: ☐, ☑, ✓, ✔ - This may be my favorite approach. You can include special characters like this in a Data Validation drop-down list. This isn't quite as good as clicking once to fill in a checkbox, but it is great for the mobile Excel apps. The only hard part is remembering how to insert a check mark symbol in Excel. For more information, see my article Using Unicode Character Symbols in Excel.
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