Starting a membership site is a great way to build an online community and establish authority while earning passive income.
But not everyone succeeds at it.
If you want to launch a successful membership website, you have to take inspiration from the top membership sites that have already done it.
Keep reading to find:
What Is a Membership Site?
A membership website is an online community that offers exclusive content hidden behind a paywall. Users can only access that content when they become a member. The membership program’s content could include:
Digital products (such as templates or e-books).
Online memberships have existed before the content creator era. They were used to restrict content for security purposes (e.g., banking). When WordPress became popular, it became easier to extend functionality using membership plugins and builders.
These WordPress plugins and builders introduced a few features that differentiate membership sites from regular websites:
Members-only area. This is where members access their profiles and exclusive content. It’s the most crucial part of the membership website since users pay to access it.
Online payment processor. An online payment processing system is the easiest way new and recurring customers can pay for their memberships. Ensure that the online payment system you use is secure and accepts multiple payment methods, such as credit cards.
Membership levels. Top membership sites offer different membership options. Some membership site owners have a freemium business model where they provide free content and then upsell to customers by providing premium content once they purchase a paid membership.
Characteristics of Top Membership Sites
The most successful websites have a few features in common, and it’s no different for the top membership sites. When building your own membership website, take note of the characteristics that make the top membership sites successful:
Security. Websites, in general, should be secure, but any website that processes payments or deals with personal information must have an extra layer of security.
Fast-loading. Visitors expect your website to load in two seconds or less. Membership sites often contain large files, which can hamper site speed. Use a reliable web host and a content delivery network (CDN) to speed up your website.
Easy-to-use. Your membership site should be easy to navigate. Members need to be able to find information quickly and easily.
Original. Your membership site should reflect your personality and philosophy. People can subscribe to other websites, but they choose yours. Make it worth their while. Use modern web designs that are easy to navigate, fast, and mobile-friendly.
Responsive. The top membership sites are accessible on both desktop and mobile devices.
Trustworthy. The top membership sites provide testimonials from happy customers as social proof. Having the best security practices in place also improves your trustworthiness.
SEO-optimized. One of the best ways to attract new members is to provide free content that search engines can index. Hook users in with content and lead them down the sales funnel.
Membership Website Examples
Food Blogger Pro.
Dollar Shave Club.
These are the top membership sites from different niches. Keep reading to learn more about what makes them stand out.
Copywriting is an in-demand marketing skill. Copyblogger helps users improve that skill by providing both paid and free resources.
Copyblogger is a prime membership site example. It draws customers in with high-quality blog posts and offers free membership so customers can access additional resources. Users who want to learn more can subscribe to the website’s premium option, Copyblogger Pro.
2. Melyssa Griffin
Melyssa Griffin is a former teacher turned entrepreneur. She was one of the first online course creators, providing resources to help people grow their email lists and Pinterest accounts. She has helped over 20,000 students and turned her blog into a multimillion-dollar company.
One of the keys to Melyssa’s success was providing free content and collecting emails through a landing page. She promoted her website via email marketing and social media.
3. Food Blogger Pro
In 2013, Bjork and Lindsay Ostrom, the bloggers behind Pinch of Yum, started Food Blogger Pro at the request of their community. Today, it’s one of the top membership sites, providing information on creating a food blog and running an online business.
The Ostroms’ membership website has helped over 10,000 members by providing perks such as online courses, membership forums, and members-only Q&As.
Unlike our other membership site examples, Food Blogger Pro offers a yearly membership that gives access to both old and new content. It also offers a money-back guarantee, which many prospective members may consider a sign of trustworthiness.
4. Dollar Shave Club
Dollar Shave Club (DSC) is different from our other membership site examples. While the other sites offer gated content, DSC uses its membership website as a [subscription business](/blog/starting-a-subscription-business).
The company started in 2011 with a subscription model that delivered affordable but high-quality razors to your home for $1/month. Its flexible subscription options empower members to choose products and how frequently they’re delivered.
The company had over 3.2 million subscribers when Unilever acquired it in 2016.
5. Nomadic Matt
Nomadic Matt is a travel blogger who’s been traveling the world since 2006.
Matt offers many free resources for travelers through his blog and other lead magnets. Visitors who want more can subscribe to membership tiers that provide access to different levels of premium content.
How To Build a Membership Website
Now that you’ve seen a few of the top membership site examples, you can start learning how to build a membership site.
While you could use membership plugins to build a WordPress membership website, there’s an even easier way to do so.
Nexcess’ WPQuickStart for Memberships is a solution that combines the customizability of a WordPress website with the ease of using a website builder at an affordable price. Developed by Nexcess’ experts, WPQuickStart’s intelligent technology lets you create a membership website complete with:
Top membership plugins Restrict Content Pro and Kadence Pro ($349 value).
Fully Managed WordPress hosting by Nexcess.
Built-in payment integration with Stripe, Braintree, 2Checkout, Authorize.net, and PayPal.
Automated emails for your email marketing efforts.
Multi-level membership plans.
Final Thoughts: Membership Site Examples — 5 Winning Websites To Inspire You
Building a membership site with exclusive content is an excellent way to monetize your brand and establish thought leadership. Take a page from these membership site examples, and you’ll be on your way to creating a successful membership site.
Start building your own membership site with Nexcess’ WPQuickStart for Memberships today.