Should you use WordPress to sell courses and memberships?

A group of people standing around a blue background.

I’m always talking about how I love the versatility of WordPress. It can literally do anything. (I haven’t found something it can’t do.) And today I want to share a purpose I’m really loving it for: membership sites!

What is a membership site? 

If your whole site, or a portion of it, needs to restrict content and provide information to certain users that isn’t available to the general public, this is a membership site! Although the functions of membership sites vary, they have something in common: members will have their own login information, and an area from which they access information.

You need a membership site if:

  • You want to charge people for access to premium content like an online course. 
  • You want to provide exclusive access for members. 
  • You’re selling online products and courses, or providing event access. 
  • You want to charge dues or monthly subscriptions.

Whether you want a new WordPress site, or want to integrate this functionality into an existing WordPress website in a cohesive way, the possibilities are endless. All of this can be set up for you, in a way that requires very little manual input. In the membership sites I work on, users control their own logins and passwords, so you can sit back and let people come, go, join, buy and access as they please.

What about cost?

When you create a membership website through WordPress, you pay your developer and pay web hosting and plugin fees. While the upfront cost may be greater, you’re not having to pay a monthly subscription fee to a community or membership platform, even if you have 100,000 members. Over time, those monthly fees can definitely add up. For my clients, the freedom and flexibility of WordPress alone are worth it!

Plugins I use for WordPress membership sites:

  • WooCommerce Memberships: A WooCommerce extension that brings WordPress content, shops, and memberships together.
  • Profile Builder: A user registration and profile plugin for WordPress.
  • WishList Member: Membership site software for online courses and content that integrates with multiple types of shopping carts.
  • Event Tickets: A WordPress plugin for managing ticketing and RSVPs for online and live events that integrates with various eCommerce platforms.
  • LearnDash: A WordPress LMS for building online courses.

Examples of what a membership site in WordPress can help you do:

Sell courses, videos, ebooks and materials online.

Fertility coach, Aimee Raupp, sells fertility and wellness content online. Customers can purchase digital courses, which they then have access to inside their membership portal. If they purchase more courses, those show up in their portal as well. We integrated WishList Member with WordPress to make this happen.

(I use WooCommerce and WooCommerce Memberships to sell my Client Onboarding Toolkit digital course.)

Is the paperwork and contracting side of your creative business bringing you down? My Client Onboarding Toolkit is a simple, 4-step digital course that walks you through my time-tested process for onboarding clients. Jam-packed with advice, tools, and templates designed for creative professionals, it’ll save you time, stress and frustration while making you look like the creative rockstar you are. You’ll convert prospects into paying clients with more clarity, sanity, and confidence than ever before. Learn more »

Provide event registrants exclusive entry into online competitions.

Screenshot of Kids Comics Unite Pitchfest Showcase.

Kids Comics Unite, an online community for kids comics creators, hosts gallery showcases of unpublished graphic novel projects that are reviewed by a panel of top agents and editors. Members can purchase a ticket to the online event in order to submit their pitch and showcase their gallery on the website. To accomplish this, we combined WordPress with Event Tickets, WooCommerce, WooCommerce Memberships and Profile Builder.

Have a member directory.

Screenshot of the Alliance of Women Directors Find a Director web page.

The Alliance of Women Directors uses WooCommerce, WooCommerce Memberships, and WooCommerce Subscriptions, to sell memberships. In addition to providing their members exclusive content, AWD also allows members to enter their profile info into a directory which is viewable and filtrable by the public. 

Give people perks.

Screenshot of the Accesso Club website home page.

Accesso Club is an exclusive amenities program offered to Accesso Partners’s clients and business employees. Their tenants can become members of the Accesso Club, where they gain access to events that are happening at Accesso buildings. This is all done through a WordPress membership site using WooCommerce, WooCommerce Memberships, and Event Tickets.

Host a virtual conference.

Stibo Systems responsive WordPress design

Stibo Systems, a multidomain master data management company, hosted a virtual conference during the pandemic. They went with a custom WordPress membership site solution so they could tailor their attendee experience exactly like they wanted. Learn more about how WordPress works for virtual conferences.

Like I’ve said a hundred times before, WordPress is for everything—including membership sites! If it’s something that can be done on the web through HTML, CSS, or Javascript, it can be done through WordPress. 

Want to talk about the possibilities of WordPress for your online course or membership site? Let’s talk.

About Jill Anderson

Hi, I’m Jill, a WordPress WordPress designer/developer who partners with talented designers, copywriters, and agencies on their websites, and their client’s sites. I’m passionate about crafting beautiful and innovative WordPress websites focused on clear positioning and positive user experiences. Get my free report, Get Your Website Done: 12 Actionable Steps for Designers, and check out my Client Onboarding Toolkit, a simple 4-step digital course for converting prospects into a paying clients.


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