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4 Great Membership Site Examples + How to Create Your Own

  • Jessica GlendinningJessica Glendinning

Updated by Willy Wood

Picture this:

You’re sitting on the beach with your laptop. Sipping a tropical drink. Watching sales roll in to your Stripe account while you’re away on vacation.

It’s the dream that’s sold to online entrepreneurs everywhere — but is it legit?

On the surface, membership sites are a great way to bring in the “passive income” you’ve been promised by the internet marketing gurus… right?

The answer is, maybe. It depends.

If you’re interested in scaling your business and stepping off the “time for money” hamster wheel, memberships might be a great way to go. Or maybe an online course is better for you.

But how can you know for sure?

In this post, we’ll break down everything you need to know about membership sites. 

  • We’ll give you a few example membership sites to check out so you can see the variety of ways memberships can be used in a number of different niches. 
  • We’ll compare them with online courses so you can see which path is best for you. 
  • We’ll help you generate ideas for your membership site and verify that there’s an audience for it. 
  • And we’ll break down the step-by-step process for how to create your first membership site.


But before we dive in, let’s take a quick look at what, exactly, a membership site is (and is not).

What Is a Membership Site?

At its simplest, a membership site is content behind a login.

But it’s a little more complicated than that. Membership sites might include different levels of membership, be offered in multiple formats, and contain different kinds of content depending on the industry.

A word of caution: when you think about a membership site, think in terms of recurring revenue as opposed to passive income. The money your membership site brings in will require work!

Entrepreneurs often turn to membership sites when they want to build community, scale their business offerings, or give their audience a lower cost way to learn from them. 

In fact, you probably have subscriptions to different companies — online music and video streaming services, a gym membership, professional memberships, buying clubs, etc.

You can think of membership sites like a streaming service or gym membership, but for content.

Some of the biggest benefits of membership sites are that they scale better than services, they usually have a good profit margin, and it’s easier to plan for how much money you’ll bring in each month.

4 Great Examples of Membership Sites

While there are a huge number of membership sites on the web today, we wanted to bring you a cross-section, so you can see how organizations are utilizing them across different industries.

1. Freelance Writers Den

Carol Tice, Founder of Freelance Writers Den, who is also the author of the Make a Living Writing Blog, has been running this membership site since 2011. This online community is for freelance writers of all types who are serious about mastering their craft, staying connected with their peers, and making a serious income.

For a $40/month membership fee, this site includes: 

  • A members’ forum where you can ask your questions and get them answered by professional writers.
  • 3-4 multi-week Bootcamp trainings, with guest speakers such as industry heavyweights Steve Slaunwhite and Joshua Boswell.
  • Monthly live calls where you can ask experts your questions. These live calls are recorded, and members get access to the recordings, as well as transcripts.
  • A library of recorded content you can access, with periodic new podcast episodes added as they’re produced.
  • A job board where members can find and apply for top-notch freelance writing jobs.
  • A 7-day, no questions asked refund guarantee.

The only real drawback to this membership site is that it isn’t open all the time. It only opens twice a year. If you want to join, you have to sign up for a waiting list and you’ll be added the next time they open for new members.

2. Beach Body (BODi)

If you’re wanting to get in the best shape of your life, but don’t have the time to pack a gym bag, drive to the gym, sweat it out, shower, and drive back home, Beach Body (now rebranding as BODi) is the perfect membership for you.

This site is the mother of all fitness sites. It has literally hundreds of workouts for beginners, experts, and every level in between, including classic programs such as P90X, 21 Day Fix, and Insanity. And the variety is amazing. Dance, cardio, strength, yoga. If there’s a workout you need or want, they’ve got it.

In addition, they offer diets, meal plans, and even sell supplements so you can make that super-healthy kale smoothie (if that’s your kind of thing). And each program has a community support element built into it.

You can watch your workout videos on your computer, on your smart TV, or even use their app on your phone.

The cost is $119 for a six-month membership, or $179 for an annual membership (a much better deal). They also offer a 14 day free trial.

3. Fine Woodworking

Fine Woodworking Unlimited Membership Site

Fine Woodworking was founded in 1975 as a print magazine, and has evolved through the years into a 21st-century media company, focused on providing information to special-interest (in this case, woodworking) enthusiasts.

While this company may seem like an odd one to include in a post about online memberships, the magazine has moved far beyond their print origins to build an online membership community that serves their members well.

For $99 a year, and with a 14-day free trial, Fine Woodworking Unlimited includes an online archive of 42 years of magazine issues, a 10-book digital series, video workshops, woodworking projects and plans, in-depth how to articles, a virtual library of techniques, and a mobile app.

This isn’t your grandpa’s woodworking magazine!

4. AppSumo Plus

AppSumo Plus Membership

AppSumo was created with one idea in mind: “the tools you need to grow your business shouldn’t put you out of business.”

Along with the partnerships they create with up-and-coming tech companies, AppSumo also recently launched their Plus Membership. For $99/year, members get 10% off purchases, access to a special tool called “KingSumo Giveaway Pro,” and extended access to their deals.

Membership Site vs. Online Course: Which Is Better for YOUR Business?

Now that we’ve looked at some examples of winning membership sites, let’s consider if a membership site is right for your business, or if an online course is the better option.

The difference between the two comes down to what kind of content you’re sharing or teaching, and how that content is accessed.

membership site vs online course

There are positive and negative aspects to each approach. By taking into account the pros and cons, you can start to decide which is right for you.

The Good, The Bad, and The Benefits

Both membership sites and online courses have similar benefits. For example, they:

  • Allow you to leverage your time (and your content),
  • Add value to your business and help to build credibility and trust,
  • Help your students and clients take action (and get better results), and
  • Provide the foundation for you to build a community around your work.

But there are some downsides, as well. Both take time and effort to build — and if you don’t validate your ideas before creating your course or membership site, there’s a high likelihood of failure.

Membership site creators often fail because they:

  • Try to deliver too much, too soon,
  • Can’t keep up with the pace of content creation,
  • Don’t focus enough on sales and marketing, or
  • Can’t keep members long enough to stay profitable.

And while there are similarities between the two types of offerings, there are also some distinct differences.

Compare and Contrast Your Options

Membership sites allow your content a certain degree of flexibility. Since you’re continually putting out new content, there is an element of evolution to the process. Because of this, there’s usually a lower expectation for your content to be a “finished product.”

Online courses can come with a hefty price tag, depending on how much content they include. With most memberships at a lower price point, your audience is more likely to be able to afford to work with you. While members may end up paying as much (or more) than they would for an online course, the fact that it’s a smaller monthly payment makes memberships more accessible.

Membership sites should be considered a long-term business model. Because they are an ongoing time commitment, you need to have the sustained time, effort, and content to keep them relevant and up-to-date. 

In order to keep membership sites active and profitable, you will need a steady supply of new customers (to replace members who leave) and build your revenue numbers. While additional members of online courses are good to have, new customers are imperative to the ongoing success of a membership site.

It’s often easier to sell a stand-alone course that teaches a very limited topic or skill set. In contrast, membership sites may make you feel like you have to offer up all of your content, and limit your ability to sell anything separately.

But it can also be hard to expand within an online course. Rather than adding additional materials, you may need to create a separate online course to teach them about a related topic.

Now that you’ve looked at the positives and negatives for both membership sites and online courses, it’s time to make your decision.

Which Type is Better for Your Content?

Here’s our recommendation based on our years of experience:

If you teach (or want to teach) a very specific topic or process, an online course could be the way to go.

And if you have the desire to create an ongoing and varied stream of content, a membership site might be the best choice for you.

There’s also the option of doing a hybrid of both: there are membership sites that include access to online courses as part of their content, and online courses that include access to a membership site as part of the course.

But maybe you’re not quite sure which direction to go yet, and need a little help to know whether your idea has legs or not.

Let’s talk first about how to come up with membership site ideas.

How to Come Up With Membership Site Ideas

As with most creative acts, the best way to come up with a great idea is to come up with lots of ideas to start with. So, that should be your goal at this point.

And where are you going to get those ideas? 

If your first response to that question is, “I’ll just get them from my head. I know my audience and what they want,” I have some news for you. You don’t know what your audience wants. Not in enough detail, anyway.

Just trying to come up with ideas from your head is the most common mistake people make when trying to come up with ideas for a membership site. This practice often leads to dead ends and months of wasted time. So, don’t fall into that trap. Here’s what to do instead. 

1. Observe Your Audience

Your first step should be to do some close observation of your audience and gather some clues into their thinking. We’ll go into deeper ways to do this in the validation section next, but for now, you just want to glean ideas from easily accessed sources.

Here are a few ways to do this:

  • Review your blog/social media comments. If you have a blog, podcast, YouTube channel, or other platform where you already publish content for your audience, go through all the comments you’ve received about your content and look at what people have said. You’re looking specifically for times when they’re expressing their problems, fears, and frustrations, as well as the flip side, where they’re expressing their goals, wishes, hopes, and dreams. Start a database and capture the exact language they’ve used. This will become marketing gold when it comes time to market your membership site.
  • Identify your most popular posts. If you regularly post about your area of expertise on social media platforms, identify the kinds of posts people respond to most with likes and comments. Which ideas do they seem to resonate with? Once again, capture the language they use in their comments.
  • Focus in on 2-3 main groups. Identify several groups on your preferred social media platform where your audience hangs out and repeat the process above. What content do they engage with? What do they say?
  • Consider you email list. If you already have an engaged email list, go back through your email conversations with your opt-ins and see what questions they ask most often. Add this material to your database.
  • Search for Amazon products on topics in your area of expertise. Look at the reviews for these products, especially the 1 and 2 star reviews and the 5 star reviews (the ones in the middle aren’t as valuable). Mine the 1 and 2 star reviews for problem language. What were customers not happy with? What did they want that the product didn’t deliver? This gives you ideas about unfulfilled needs. Mine the 5 star reviews for the ways the products exceeded customers’ expectations. This will give you ideas for things you could include in your membership program. Again, capture the relevant language in your database.
  • Mine question and answer sites like Quora. Come up with a question related to your idea and type it into the search box. If your search comes up with something, check to see what level of engagement the question generated. Again, read comments and mine them for relevant data to add to your database.

2. Define Your Expertise

The other key element to determine is your expertise–what you have to offer to your audience. Now that you have a better understanding of their challenges and hopes and dreams, where does your expertise intersect with their needs?

This should be easy, right? After all, you know what you know and you know what you’re good at. 

Or do you?

You see, the question, “What am I good at?” is a bit trickier than you might think. For one thing, there’s the problem of the “curse of knowledge.” Oftentimes, people will say that they aren’t an expert on anything. They get hung up on that word “expert” and they think someone must have an advanced degree or a bunch of certifications to be an expert.

Not so. Often, people know a lot more than they realize. And often, they take their knowledge for granted and believe everybody else knows what they know.

So, it’s helpful to do a few brainstorming exercises to get down on paper or in a document some information about you. The goal is to be as objective as you can. Here are some categories to mine for this information:

  • Professional Qualifications: This is the typical “resume” stuff. What degrees do you hold? What certifications have you earned? Have you received any awards? List all of these. Often people take these accomplishments for granted, but they’re indicators of expertise. Not everyone has accomplished what you have.
  • Experience Related to Your Area of Expertise: Not every experience ends up in a degree or certificate. You no doubt have a great deal of experience in your field that has built your expertise. List as many of these experiences as you can come up with. Don’t be modest and don’t leave things out. Your experience matters, so don’t discount it.
  • Personal Accomplishments: Not everything you’ve learned has happened when you were working on a degree program or working directly in your field. You’ve likely had life experiences outside of your work that have given you valuable experience or insight that could be brought to your membership program. So, list experiences from your personal life that tie in with what your audience would like to learn from you. 
  • Passions: What are you passionate about in relation to your area of expertise? In what way do you wish to make an impact? What gives you great joy when you’re teaching others about it? Add these to your list.

Now, before you finish this exercise, there’s one more step you need to take. To this point, you’ve been digging through your own background and your own thoughts about yourself. But sometimes others can see you more clearly than you can see yourself.

So, here’s a great exercise to tap into that knowledge. Reach out to 5-7 people you know well and who have experience with you on either a personal level or in connection with your work (or both). 

Send these people an email (so you have a written copy of their response) and ask them this simple question: “What are my biggest strengths?” 

Yes, this might feel a little awkward to start with. None of us like to toot our own horn and we often feel uncomfortable when others do it. But you need to get over this feeling because this exercise will often identify strengths you have that you haven’t even thought of as strengths.

Thank those who give you their input and add what they have to say to your list.

You now have all the raw material you need to come up with a great list of membership site ideas. All you have to do is go put the material from your audience research side-by-side with the material from your expertise list.

Where do they overlap? Where can you bring to bear some aspect of your expertise to help your audience solve one or more of their biggest challenges? Generate as many ideas that fit these parameters as you can.

If you end up with more than three ideas, let them sit for a few days and go back to your list. Look at them again and select 2-3 that you’re most excited about. Just go with your gut at this point. Then take your top 2-3 and move on to the next step: validation.

How to Validate Membership Site Ideas

There are a handful of approaches you can take when testing out what ideas will fly. In the same way that membership sites and online courses have similarities in the way they’re offered, there’s also a lot of overlap in the validation process.

Validate your membership site idea

Here are four ways you can test out your ideas, from most to least time-consuming.

1. Start With Free

Yes, it takes a lot of time. But starting with free offerings can give you a clear idea about what your audience wants.

First, it’s important to know who you want to serve. Does your ideal client avatar exist, and do you have access to them? If so, can you talk to them to find out what their pain points are? Once you know who you serve, you can gauge their interest in particular topics.

Here are a few ways to create free content around your topic area:

  • Start a blog (or write on Medium).
  • Create a Facebook group.
  • Write an ebook.
  • Film YouTube training videos.
  • Create a Meetup group.
  • Start a Slack group.
  • Teach in-person classes. 

Starting with a free model will give you a chance to get to know your audience. You can base their level of interest on the amount of engagement different ideas and posts get, how often people share certain content, and the questions they ask.

You get the chance to build a membership base, build credibility, and then migrate to paid offerings later on.

But maybe you don’t have time to wait for free methods to pan out, or you’re ready to get paid now.

2. Start With Clients

One of the best ways to gauge interest in your topic is to go out and get a couple of paid clients. 

No, it doesn’t scale. But taking the time to offer one-on-one services or coaching is worth it. If you can’t get a couple of coaching clients, chances are high that you won’t be able to fill up a membership site with tons of raving fans.

An additional bonus – besides the validation that people are willing to pay to solve their problems – is that you’ll build audience empathy in a serious way. When you know what keeps your clients up at night, or what they really truly desire, it makes the rest of your business that much easier.

But what if you already have clients, and you’re not sure which direction to go with your membership site idea?

3. Start With the Competition

It goes for pretty much every business operating today: know your competition.

If no one is selling what you want to sell, is it because no one has ever thought of the idea before? (Unlikely.) Or maybe the real reason is: there’s no market for it.

On the other side of the spectrum, is the market totally saturated? Or is the presence of other competitors just a sign that there’s a market for what you’re offering? Maybe there’s a different angle or slightly refined niche you can use to make your membership site stand out.

If you’ve researched the competition, and you’re still not sure whether there’s a market, you can do some tests of your own.

4. Start With a Beta Test

There are three approaches to use when you’re testing out your ideas.

The first is simpler, but not guaranteed to produce the results you want. 

Figure out if there’s demand

Start collecting leads early on in your research process. Put up a landing page that clearly demonstrates the value of what you plan to sell, promote it far and wide, and see how many signups you get to your list.

Even if you realize there’s not a lot of demand for the exact thing you’re looking to sell, you still have a list of people who are interested in your topic area.

Sell it before you build it

Much like our validation process for online courses, you can use a beta test or pilot launch to test audience interest in a membership site idea.

The basic idea is that you will get a small number of people to sign up for a minimum viable product (MVP). 

In the case of membership sites, it might mean getting 5 or 10 people to join a paid Facebook or Slack group, where you test out your content on a regular basis and co-create the membership experience. 

Rather than spending a lot of time and money to create a membership area full of bells and whistles, you use the easiest technology possible in the beginning. Then, once you know your idea has legs, you can make an investment in additional software.

Survey your audience

If you have a large audience (we’re talking around 1,000 people or more), you might consider surveying them to find out exactly what they want.

One of the best ways we’ve seen to create exceptional customer surveys is Ryan Levesque’s Ask Method.

There’s a very specific approach that Ryan teaches, but the high level overview is this: you want to find out (in great detail) the #1 biggest challenge your audience members are experiencing right now. For example, “I’m sick and tired of feeling ___ all the time because X, Y, Z.”

The method also teaches you to find out:

  1. How your customers self-identify or view themselves, 
  2. What information sources they turn to when seeking answers to their problems, 
  3. What they most dislike about your industry, and 
  4. Whether they are willing to get on a video or phone call with you to follow up.

Whichever validation approach you choose, remember this: the most effective way to determine what your audience wants and needs… is to talk to them!

Now you’ve determined that a membership site is right for you, and validated audience demand for what you want to offer, it’s time to get to work!

How to Create a Membership Site in 4 Simple Steps

You might think that your first step is to decide on the membership software you want to use. But not so fast!

There are a few more details you need to figure out so you know exactly what your technology needs are.

How to create a membership site

Let’s start with content.

Step 1. Decide What Kind of Content You’ll Provide

It may seem overly simple, but one of the first things you need to figure out is: how will you deliver the results your membership site promises?

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Where is the average audience member starting on day one?
  • What challenges do they have, and how can you support their growth through the content you offer?
  • And what steps do they need to take – and in what order – to get from point A (where they are now) to point B (where they want to go, with the help of your resources)?

Once you have the path mapped out, decide what content you will provide, and on what schedule.

Like we mentioned earlier, sometimes online course access is included as part of a membership site. Here are a few other types of content that you might include as part of your site:

  • Interviews with industry experts
  • Group coaching calls or live webinars
  • A community forum
  • Content archives and downloadable content
  • Cheat sheets, workbooks, and action plans
  • Member-only newsletters
  • Discounts or member perks

Next, decide what structure fits your content best.

Step 2. Decide How to Structure and Deliver Your Content

Let’s take a look at some of the different membership models you might choose, based on the outcome your audience wants.

Outcome = Solve a Distinct Problem

It’s easier to overcome a challenge when you know other people are going through the same thing. This type of site would help people solve a problem, together. For example, a personal trainer who runs a site that helps members lose weight through a healthy diet and low-impact exercise.

Outcome = Attain the Same Goal

This type of site would be best for a group of people who are working toward achieving the same thing. For example, an engineering professor who runs a site that supports Engineers in Training as they study for their PE exam and go through the process to get their Professional Engineer’s license.

Outcome = Connect with Likeminded People

Sometimes, it’s nice to feel like you belong. This type of site is appropriate when there’s a shared interest or topic. For example, an astrologer who runs a site that brings together women who are interested in learning more about how the moon affects planet Earth and their lives.

Outcome = Have Access to Everything

There are probably members of your audience who would pay to have access to everything you have ever created, curated in a way that gives them a specific path through the content. For example, you might create an archive of the newsletters you send out, the courses you create, the webinars you hold, the speaking gigs you attend… and keep it organized in one place, easily accessible and convenient.

Outcome = More Access to You

Once you’ve been in business for a while, chances are you simply don’t have time to work with everyone one-on-one. Yet, there are likely members of your audience who would pay for additional access to you. For example, you might create a high-level mastermind group, hold group coaching calls, or only offer one-on-one calls to members.

Outcome = Get Content Dripped Out

Similar to eCommerce sites that offer “subscription boxes,” this model allows people to subscribe to receive curated programs or information on a regular basis, or for exclusive access to products and services. For example, people might sign up to get access to regular lessons and new content, or to access coaching sessions.

Now that you know what outcome(s) your audience wants, let’s look at a few other variables to help you decide on the best software for you.

First, what kind of payment structure makes sense for what you’re offering?

You might want to offer a fixed fee plan (like an online course), a fixed term plan (like a 3 month exercise program), or an ongoing monthly payment (with payments every month for as long as someone is a member).

Next, do members get access to everything right away?

In some cases, you might want a more curated approach to the content, where every member starts with “month one” content and is then drip-fed new content in a specific order.

While in other cases, it might make sense for membership to give immediate access to all of the content inside the members area, so members can pick and choose what works best for them in that moment.

Finally, does a tiered offering make sense?

If your members are at different places in their journey, it could make sense to offer tiers. For example, new members might need more hand holding and personal support to get started, while more advanced members might want a more hands-off (and lower priced) tier that offers them access to content only. 

Do the majority of your members need exactly the same thing? If not, you might consider offering the membership in different tiers.

Next, let’s look at what stage of business you’re in, so you know where to focus.

Step 3. Make Choices Based on Your Business Level

Someone running a brand new membership site with 8 subscribers has a very different set of needs from the experienced site owner who helps 800 subscribers achieve their goals.

Let’s break things down based on a rough number of paying members.

If you’re a beginner (0-10 monthly members)…

When you’re just getting started, it pays to keep things simple!

Think back to the validation stage, where you invited 5 people to be part of a Facebook or Slack group. While you’re in these beginning stages, it makes sense to keep the technology as cheap and simple as possible.

There’s a lot to learn when you’re just getting started. Adding complicated tech to the mix makes things harder. So spend time learning, do everything you can to make sure your members are getting the outcomes they signed up for, and use those initial members to help you continue to validate your offerings.

There’s no shame in starting this way. And if you stay focused on the fundamentals, it will help you make progress and grow much faster.

If you’re in the early stage (10-100 monthly members)…

Now you’ve started to grow, stay focused on getting more members in the door.

When you’re in this stage, it’s time to pick the technology that will make running your membership site easier and more efficient.

That doesn’t mean you can stop focusing on creating great content and keeping your members happy, though! When you’re in the early stages of growth, your most important area of focus (outside your current customers) is to get more people in the door. 

Where can you find new leads? And how can you turn those leads into new members? Start thinking about how you can create a scalable sales process, because that’s where you’re headed next.

If you’re in the intermediate stage (100-1000 monthly members)…

Once you’ve made it this far, it can be easy to sit back and relax, thinking all the hard work is done. 

But whatever you might be thinking, don’t lose sight of your long-term goals. Now is the perfect time to focus on customer retention — how can you keep your current members happy? Are there places where you could do a better job of supporting them? Are there gaps in your content? Can you improve the community aspect of the site, or add in some gamification?

And, start thinking about how to scale up to the next level. With improved customer retention and a scalable sales process, you should see more and more members joining in the fun.

If you’re in the advanced stage (1000+ monthly members)…

Once your membership site has reached larger numbers, it’s time to both celebrate and see what kinds of new content you can incorporate to keep growing your value.

This might also be the point in your growth where you evaluate your current technology: is your system working for you? Or is it time to trade up to a platform that has more capability?

Chances are, it’s also time to find new places and ways to get fresh customers, because you’re probably ready to tap out your current sources. You might also continue to focus on reducing customer churn, add masterminds to the mix, or think about how to sell your current customers on new or different offerings.

But whatever stage you’re in, now it’s time to choose the technology that will make your membership site run like a well oiled machine.

Step 4. Set Up Your Site with Membership Platform Software

There are two main types of software used to create membership sites. One, a WordPress plugin that you install on your website or course site, and two, an all-in-one platform that hosts your membership site content.

How do you know which is best for your site? Let’s consider a few things.

Plugins vs. All-in-One

There’s a chance that both a plugin or single integrated solution would work for you. But like many of the choices you’ve made along the way, this one comes down to what feels right for you, right now.

Let’s look at the pros and cons of each type of tech.

Plugin Pros: 

  • Easy to use, 
  • Integrate with your website, and  
  • Usually cost less.

All-in-One Pros: 

  • The software company takes care of updates and hosting, 
  • You have access to a customer support team to help you take care of issues (some even work directly with your customers), and
  • Often easier to configure.

Plugin Cons: 

  • You have to do your own troubleshooting and tech support,
  • You have to supply the hosting, and 
  • Security.

Let’s dive in and explain this last list item, because it’s an important point. 

Plugins depend on WordPress being up to date in order to be secure. And often, there’s a lag between when WordPress updates and the development team behind the plugin update to catch up — so you’re never sure if or when the plugin might break, and how long it will take to fix it.

WordPress is an amazing tool, and can be used for so many positive things for your business. However, because the software is open source, it’s also open to being hacked. You want to keep your customers’ data secure, and you may not want to have to deal with the headache of keeping your site up-to-date and secure.

All-in-One Cons: 

  • Cost,
  • Potentially more bells and whistles than you need, and
  • Complicated to choose between.

Now that you know the pros and cons of each type of membership software, let’s take a look at the WordPress plugins you could choose.

The 8 Best WordPress Plugins for Membership Sites

Here are eight of the top contenders, in their own words (and in alphabetical order):


Cost: $82/month if paid annually or $99/month (Essentials), $108/month if paid annually or $129/month (Pro), and $124/month if paid annually or $149/month (Community); offers a 60 day money back guarantee.

The #1 WordPress course and membership solution for industry leaders. AccessAlly is a powerful, flexible customer-getting and retaining system that grows with your business, and that pays for itself.


Cost: Annual membership prices: $149 (Basic), $299 (Platinum), $449  (Elite); Monthly prices: $14.99/month (Basic), $29.99/month (Platinum), $49.99/month (Elite).

DAP offers you end-to-end, total membership site automation, payment processing, content delivery, and email marketing – in one single tool. The Basic plan gets you one site license, the Platinum plan provides licenses for five sites, and the Elite plan gives you a 10 site license.


Cost: $199 per year for Basic plan (1 site), $399 per year for 10 sites, $799 per year for unlimited sites. There are also many optional add-ons for additional price points.

The most trusted WordPress LMS. The #1 choice of Fortune 500 companies, major universities, training organizations, and entrepreneurs worldwide for creating (and selling) their online courses. This software is very robust and can be tailored to your needs, but it may be more than most small businesses need.


Cost: $57/month, $570 annually (Infusionsoft Standard); $97/month, $970 annually (Infusionsoft Pro); $187/month, $1870 annually (Infusionsoft Advanced).  

$37/month, $370 annual (ActiveCampaign Standard); $57/month, $570 annual (ActiveCampaign Pro); $127/month, $1270 annual (ActiveCampaign Advanced); offers a demo.

Infusionsoft Membership sites with WordPress finally made easy. Building powerful, automated membership sites with WordPress & Infusionsoft (or ActiveCampaign) has never been this simple.


Cost: $199.50 annually (Basic), $299.50 annually (Plus), $399.50 annually (Pro), $1199.50 (Elite); 14-day money back guarantee.

The powerful turn-key membership platform that sets up in minutes. MemberMouse™ is an easy to use WordPress membership plugin that allows you to sell products, subscriptions and memberships, setup a password protected member’s area, offer 1-click upsells and downsells, manage customers, automate customer service, track critical retention metrics and more.


Cost: Currently running a special with prices at $179.50 annually for Basic plan (1 site); $299.50 annually for  Plus plan (up to 2 sites); $399.50 annually for Pro plan (up to 5 sites). Normal prices, $359 for Basic, $599 for Plus, and $799 for Pro.

The “all-in-one” membership plugin for WordPress. MemberPress will help you build astounding WordPress membership sites, accept credit cards securely, control who sees your content and sell digital downloads… all without the difficult setup.

Restrict Content Pro

Cost: $99 annually for 1 site; $149 annually for up to 5 sites; $249 annually for unlimited sites.

A full-featured, powerful membership solution for WordPress. Lock away your exclusive content. Give access to valued members.

WishList Member

Cost: Currently selling half-price subscriptions– $149.50 annually for Starter plan, normally $299 (Single site license); $249.50 annually for Advanced plan, normally $499, (up to 10 sites). 14-day money back guarantee.

Quickly and easily create a membership site in WordPress. Trusted by over 99,277 membership sites, online courses and communities. WishList Member is a powerful, yet easy to use membership software solution that can turn any WordPress site into a full-blown membership site.

And finally, moving on to the integrated solutions you might consider.

The 10 Best Non-WordPress Systems for Membership Sites

Here are 10 of the top options you might look into, in their own words:


Cost: Monthly prices are $149 (Basic), $199 (Growth), and $399 (Pro); Annual prices are $119 (Basic), $159 (Growth), and $319 (Pro). The Basic plan covers 3 products, the Growth plan covers 15 products, and the Pro plan covers 100 products. Offers a 14-day free trial.

All the tools you need to build a successful online business. Kajabi is an all-in-one platform that makes it easy to create online courses, launch marketing campaigns, build landing pages, and design the perfect website.

Kartra Memberships

Cost: Monthly prices are $119 (Starter), $229 (Silver), and $549 (Platinum); Annual prices are $1188 (Starter), $2268 (Silver), and $5148. Starter plan covers 1 domain, Silver plan covers 3 domains, and Platinum plan covers 10 domains. Offers a free trial and product demo.

Kartra Memberships is the perfect tool to deliver your training material to your customers, so you can focus on what you love the most: creating and sharing your content. In a nutshell, Kartra Memberships is a feature-packed portal that enables you to organize and share your content with your customer base. 


Cost: The MG100 plan (for up to 100 members) is $97/month, the MG250 plan (100-250 members) is $197/month, the MG500 plan (250-500 members) is $247/month; For plans over 500 members, you have to contact the company for pricing.

MemberGate is the top of the line, membership site solution. It’s a complete, all-in-one solution for building, managing and maintaining a profitable subscription website. Start a profitable website by collecting recurring fees using the MemberGate software. 


Cost: Offers a Free plan. Paid plans are Mover ($39/month or $396/year) and Shaker ($89/month or $900/year).

The easiest way to turn your passion into income. Sell online courses, memberships, and digital downloads. No technical headaches, zero transaction fees, and unlimited everything with the Shaker plan.


Cost: Offers a Free plan. Paid plans are Core ($99/month or $997/year) and Pro ($199/month or $1997/year). Offers a 30 day money back guarantee.

Everything you need to connect with your audience, create inspiring content, and change the world. We make it ridiculously easy to teach online.


Cost: The Starter plan is $70.80/month or $708/year (starting at 500 contacts); the  Scale plan is $178.80/month or $1788/year (starting at 1000 contacts); and the Skyrocket plan is $298.80/month or $2988/year (starting at 5000 contacts). Offers a 14-day free trial.

Your entire online business in one place. Simplero is one simple software for your website, email marketing, online courses, and membership sites. We built Simplero so you can spend time and money on what impacts your audience and your revenue, not on the technology behind it.


Cost: Starter plan is $47/month or $480/year (up to 500 members), Pro plan is  $97/month or $984/year (up to 2000 members), Premium plan is $147/month or $1500/year (unlimited members); Offers a free trial.

Reach a new audience, grow your community, and take your expertise online with a membership website. Since 2004 we’ve helped hundreds of people to publish and make money from their content. We support recurring subscription payments, drip content, online shops and much more.


Cost: Offers a free trial. Plans include Basic ($59/month or $468/year), Pro ($159/month or $1428/year), and Pro Plus ($249/month or $2388/year); Offers a 14-day trial.

Everything is teachable. Your skills and experiences are unique and valuable. Easily build a beautiful course website, share your knowledge, and be rewarded for it.


Cost: Offer a free trial. Plans include Basic for $49/month or $432/year, Start for $99/month or $888/year, and Grow for $199/month or $1788/year.

Power your education empire. Create and sell online courses and membership sites under your own brand, and see first-hand the impact teaching online with Thinkific will have on your business.

Wild Apricot

Cost: Offers a free trial, plus 7 different pricing plans for different membership levels, from less than 100 contacts (Personal) to 50,000+ contacts (Global). Prices:  $60/month (Personal), $75/ month (Group), $140/month (Community), $240/month (Professional), $440/month (Network), $530/month (Enterprise), and $900/month (Global).

Easy membership management software that works for you! Now you can automate and simplify membership tasks for yourself, your members, volunteers, and board. Wild Apricot’s #1 Membership Management Software has everything you need in one solution.

So there you have it. The 18 best software options for creating your membership site.

At this point, you’ve learned what a membership site is and looked at some examples of successful ones. 

You’ve also learned how to decide whether it would be a better choice for you than an online course, how to validate your membership site ideas, and how to choose the right tech for you.

You might be wondering: what’s next?

Let These Membership Site Examples Inspire You

Now it’s time to go forth and create!

If building a membership site is the right choice for you, you have plenty of examples to inspire you and all the tools necessary to get out there and start building. It’s time to validate that your idea has a good chance of succeeding, pick your technology of choice, and make your members’ dreams come true.

If you decide to build a membership site, you may like to join us in our Free Hybrid Courses Bootcamp. Online courses are typically an important part of membership site offerings, so it’s essential to have a winning course to have a winning membership site.

Let’s Start Building Your Online Course!

In our FREE Hybrid Courses Bootcamp, we’ll walk you through how to transform your knowledge and expertise into a profitable online course… one your students will love.
Course Builder's Bootcamp

2 thoughts on 4 Great Membership Site Examples + How to Create Your Own

Amar Kumar

Hello Jessica,

Membership sites are essentially a hub where your learners can get ongoing access to your content, a community, and possibly even you as a course expert.

I’ve read a lot of articles about membership sites at other blogs and websites. Most people think that the key for success with a membership site is attracting members, but that’s not entirely true.

You have reflected very relevant point for this topic and these will surely help people and I learned too from this post.

Thanking You!

With best wishes,

Amar Kumar

Jessica Glendinning

Thanks a bunch, Amar! It’s true – it’s more complicated than just “get members.” 🙂

Comments are closed.