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The membership site phenomenon seems to be dying off. The get-rich-quick folks tried it (half-assed, as expected),and failed miserably. But there are many people making large sums of passive monthly income with them.

And that’s the appeal. That’s why it attracts so many people. But they quickly realize it’s more work than the imaginary Clickbank push-button software that they buy day in and day out. And THAT’S why membership sites are so lucrative… low competition.

Getting Your Membership Site Setup
The two biggest excuses I hear as to why a membership site is not doable for the average internet marketer are… it’s too “technical” to set up and it costs too much to create. I’m about to solve both of those excuses with the use of two FREE tools.

They are WordPress and S2Member.

WordPress is a content management system that provides a nice user interface for designing a website or blog. And S2Member is a membership site plugin that allows you to protect specific areas of your website.

It’s a VERY easy-to-use plugin. If you run into any problems installing it or setting it up, take a look at their Video Tutorials. Don’t just give up and move on to the next shiny object.

I could probably do a video on how to use it and set it up but I just think it’s so easy to figure out on your own, plus… they’ve got a great set of videos you can watch on their site.

Adding Content
This is where I like to shine. This is also where most people fail. You need to come up with something that people WANT to pay for every month. Just writing a blog post or two every month probably isn’t enough (unless you’re writing about something REALLY cool and unique that provides a tremendous value to your customers EVERY MONTH).

Think about what you pay for every month… cable, phone, internet, the gym. These are all things that you like and are  happy to pay for. You need to come up with the same thing for your customers.

Online tools are another great membership site idea. I can think of three right off the top of my head that I pay for each every month without even thinking about it… Email Marketing, Graphics Creator and Hosting. These are VERY lucrative membership sites. Providing a valuable tool for someone that they can’t get anywhere else.

Packing It Full of Paying Members
There’s no secret here… the idea is to get as many people in front of your offer as possible. There are a few strategies that I feel work the best, in the shortest amount of time.

The first is ezine advertising. As “1998” as that sounds, it still works. The trick is finding the right ezine. You want one that consistently delivers great content to their readers and has a good following so you can be sure your offer is seen.

The best resource available for locating these types of ezines is The Directory of Ezines. There’s no other resource I know of that allows you to sort thousands of ezines by subject, number of subscribers, price of advertising and more. I recently purchased lifetime membership and it has already more than paid for itself!

Another strategy I highly recommend is using forums. The results may not be as quick as ezine advertising but the possibility for success is definitely there. You want to start interacting on the forum. Reply to posts with good, quality answers and be sure to include a call-to-action in your signature.

For both of the strategies above, I suggest sending the traffic to a squeeze page where you offer something for free. Once they’ve opted-in, show them an offer for your membership site. Lower price points will work better for people who may have just met you.


  1. Hi Duston, I like your good practical advice, a membership site would indeed be a wonderful project, and of value to all concerned if done with sincerity. I think what I struggle with is determining a decent topic, cause, problem, reason to create one. Your Hosting/Graphics/Email marketing online tools idea-i wonder if you could elaborate on how one would translate this into membership sites-Do you mean providing these services, and building the members wround this? For instance i have a gold hostgator re-seller account which I can set up hosting for people, but Hostgator themselves offer this already at a cheap rate, why go with my service-? Or do you mean something else?

  2. Duston McGroarty Reply

    Hey Michael – one way to use hosting for membership purposes is… give your members free hosting for being a member of your site.

    So, if you have a site about internet marketing or small business marketing, you could give them free hosting as long as they stay a member.

    You’ll find once people have hosting with you, they’ll stay forever no matter what the content of the membership site is.

  3. Hey Dustin,

    Great post.

    How does S2Member compare to other membership plugins like OptimizePress and Profits Theme??

    • Duston McGroarty Reply

      Hi Phil – That’s a misconception a lot of people have… OptimizePress and Profits Theme are just WordPress themes. They do not actually manage access to your content like a membership plugin would do.

      A few examples of different membership plugins are S2Member, Wishlist and DAP.

      For a free option, I prefer S2Member. But Wishlist is who I use for all of my sites just because of the different options they have.

      • Sorry you are incorrect in one part. Profitstheme DOES handle membership. Optimzepress does not. Profitstheme does NOT need a third party plugin as does Optimizepress.

        • Duston McGroarty Reply

          I stand corrected. Thanks Paul! I wasn’t aware Profitstheme handles the membership side of things as well.

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