How To Create A 6 Figure Membership Site Step By Step

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I think you will agree with me when I say:

 Starting a membership site is hard work.
But with the right guidance – it is much easier than you realise.

In fact, it is nothing more than a step by step process that you have to follow!

In today’s post, I am going to show you how I made $172,000 with my membership sites.

Let Me Introduce Myself

So who am I to tell you how to create a membership site?

Well, my name is Jason Chesters and I run

For the past 10 years, I have been making and running membership sites online, and these have served as my main source of income.

Last year alone my membership sites brought in over £108,000 (around $172,000).

The Benefits Of A Membership Site

There are a ton of benefits to starting a membership site or adding one to your current online business.

Here are just a few of them:

Increased Revenue

As I already pointed out, the financial benefits of membership sites are massive. It’s like selling a product, and then getting paid again and again each and every month!

 And that’s without having to worry about driving more traffic to your site.
Imagine having just 100 members paying you $40 a month!…. Yes, that’s $4000 a month. A steady stream of income every month is what most Internet marketers strive for.

Build loyalty

When you sell a one-off product you never really get the chance to build a relationship with your customer. The last interaction with them is probably the invoice you send to them!

If on the other hand, a customer becomes a member, you are providing a service and providing new information to that member on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.

 Doing this builds loyalty and respect.
This makes it much easier to promote new services and new products in the future. I still sell new products to the same people that I did 10 years ago!

Now that is a solid foundation for a successful business!

No Physical Product

Almost all membership sites provide information as their service. Information is FREE. It does not cost anything to provide it, no shipping fees and no stock to purchase.

You get to keep almost 100% of the profits!

Lots Of Free Traffic

One of the benefits you probably didn’t think of is a consistent flow of traffic. Take a look at this screenshot of one of my current membership sites…

analytics traffic membership site

Over 29,000 visits and 6000+ unique visitors!!

This site is not ranked for anything; it picks up hardly any search engine traffic.

I have no social media accounts linked to this site and it is not promoted anywhere else other than one of my own sites – which I’ll be explaining more about later.

Once you have a validated idea for a membership site… it’s time to create it.

How To Create A Membership Website?

You can create a membership site on WordPress easily by using a handy plugin called S2member. Which also happens to be free.

I am going to presume that you already have a website, or you know how to set up a website using WordPress.

If not you can get a domain & hosting really cheap to get started with.

It’s important that your site is based on the WordPress platform as we are going to be using a membership plugin to take care of all of the back end stuff that is required for the running of membership sites.

A2Hosting offers a one click installer for Wordpress if you get stuck.

1. Installing The Free Membership Site Software

In your WP dashboard, go to ‘Plugins’ & Add new

In the search box type: ‘S2member’ and click search

Now select the S2member plugin and Install it on your site:

s2member install

I have found S2member to be an excellent plugin and is the best membership site software in my opinion.

They offer a completely free version and a paid version, I have found that this free membership site software is more than enough for the majority of site owners!

The capabilities are superb and it offers many functionalities including easy payment integration with the leading payment gateways (Paypal, Clickbank, Google wallet,, etc…).

s2member membership site software

Now that you have S2member installed, I am going to run through exactly how to set it up correctly.

How S2Member Works

It’s important that you understand how the membership site software works. So here is a brief description on how S2member handles everything!

Step 1

When your visitors decide that they wish to join, they will be taken to a ‘membership options’ page (I usually call this page, ‘join’ or ‘subscribe’).

This is where you contain details such as the price of your product or service, and the actual payment buttons (PayPal button) for them to click on to ‘subscribe’.

Step 2

When the visitor clicks the ‘PayPal’ button they will be taken to the PayPal website where they check that the details are correct and agree to the terms.

Once they have finalized the payment they are returned to your site where you provide them, or offer them a username and password of their choice, which enables them to login to the member’s area!

The new member is also sent an email automatically, which contains instructions.

Step 3

Once the new member has completed this, they will then be allowed to login. The first page that they come to is the ‘Login welcome’ page.

From here you can then direct your members to other areas of your site that are protected by S2member.

If at any stage a ‘non member’ tries to access any of your ‘protected’ pages, they will automatically be re-directed to the ‘membership options’ page!!

Step 4

S2member handles this whole process automatically. You will also be re-billed every cycle until the member cancels their subscription.

The S2member membership site software even handles this for you. For example, if your member cancels their subscription on June 7th, they have actually paid up until June 25th.

S2member will realise this and sync with PayPal so it allows the user to still be able to login up until June 25th. After that they will no longer have access to your protected content!

2. Setting Up Your Membership Site

The first thing you must do is create 2 new pages called:

1 – ‘Subscribe’ – This is your membership options page.

2 – ‘Members’ – This is the first page that new members will see.

Once you have done this we can set everything up. Here is everything you need to do:

  • In your dashboard, click the S2member tab
  • Click on ‘General Options’

You will be presented with this screen:

how to create a membership site with s2member

We’ll now work through each tab to configure the settings…..

Deactivate safeguards…  Select ‘YES’

Security Subscription Key… Click ‘auto-generate’ and then copy and paste your unique key into notepad and save it somewhere safe!!

Local Host WAMP/MAMP Developers… This does not affect you unless you are setting up s2member in a local host, so just ignore this

CSS/JS Lazy loading… Leave this on the default setting

s2member Security badge… This is optional. I don’t bother with it but you may wish to display a security badge!

Email Configuration… This is important. Be sure to enter the email address that you want to associate with your membership site, enter the ‘from name’, and your ’email support’ email address if it is different.

I usually leave the ‘New email user configuration’ set to ‘NO’

Open registration…. If you want to offer a Free level of membership then select ‘YES’ if you are only offering paid levels of membership then enter ‘NO’. I’ll explain more about this later!

Membership Levels/Labels… This is where you set your different levels of membership. You can re-name them to anything you like. I will be covering this topic later in the post and it’s not something you have to set up straight away!

Login/Registration Design… S2member uses the standard WP login forms, but you have the option to customize the login page to fit the design of your site! there are lots of options here and it’s really down to your preference. You can add a logo, change font, size, background colour etc.

Registration/Profile Field options…. I select ‘YES’ for all options, but if you prefer the user to have an ‘auto generated’ password then you can choose this option:

s2member registration setup

Login welcome page… Remember the 2 pages we created at the beginning? Well, this is where you select your ‘Members’ page.

This tells the S2member plugin that your Members page is protected from none members and it also re-directs all members to this page after they login!

s2member login setup

Membership Option page… This is where we select the ‘subscribe’ page that we created earlier! This is the page that displays your payment buttons and is the page that ‘non members’ are directed to when trying to access a protected members page!

Member Profile Modification – This is optional. You can allow your members to edit certain criteria in their profile.

URL shortening service preference… I just stick with the default option which is ‘TinyURL’


ok, you now have the foundations of your membership site set up! It’s now time to set up our payment options.

3. Set Up PayPal Payment Options

S2member allows us to fully integrate with our PayPal accounts so that everything is handled seamlessly.

However, there are a few things you need to set up in S2member and your PayPal account.

I have everything covered right here…..

Click on ‘PayPal options’ in the S2member tab.

s2member paypal setup

As you can see, there are 6 tabs for us to customize.

PayPal Account Details

If you are using PayPal as a payment option then you will have to fill out all of the required fields. You will need your:

  • PayPal merchant ID
  • Your PayPal email address
  • Your PayPal API username ( In PayPal click >Profile >API ACCESS)
  • Your PayPal API password
  • Your PayPal API signature

You will have to access your PayPal account to find these details. Once you enter them you will be asked if you want ‘Developer/Sandbox testing.

Make sure you select ‘NO’ when your site is live.

Enable Button Encryption… I always select ‘YES”. This will produce encrypted PayPal buttons, which makes it safer for you!

Enable logging routines… Select ‘NO’. If you ever experience any issues then turn this feature on and you can view all of the logs to detect errors!

PayPal IPN Integration… This does not require you to enter any details but you do need to login to your PayPal account and enable your IPN

>Account profile > Instant Payment Notification Preferences > Enter settings and turn IPN ‘ON’

PayPal PDT Identity/Auto-return Integration… Login to your PayPal >Account Profile > Website payment preferences > Make sure the auto-feature is turned ON

You will then be shown a PDT token. You have to enter this here:

paypal pdt token

Sign up confirmation email…. This is already pre-filled for you but it allows you to edit the confirmation email that will be sent to your new member after they have completed payment.

This is useful and you should customize it as you wish!

Specific Post/Page email… Similar to above except this is for when your visitors Pay to access a certain piece of content on your site as a one-off!

They don’t actually become a member. I’ll discuss more about this later!

Automatic EOT behaviour… This is a pretty clever feature built into S2member. There are a few options for you to choose from but the pre-filled settings are good!

Basically, this tells S2member to cancel a members account if they cancel their subscription payment, open a dispute, or have a refund. This is what makes the whole thing run so easily!

Here are the settings that I use:

s2member my settings

Congratulations! You just set up a fully functioning membership site :-)

Ok, that is all of the required fields that you need to fill out for your membership site function properly.

Now you may notice that there are a few other tabs that we have not covered, but don’t worry, as we don’t need to worry about some of these.

There are some extra features that you can fill in if you are operating a more advanced membership site, for example,  you can integrate an affiliate program into the mix!

You can configure all sorts of download restrictions if you are selling downloadable products!

4. Setting Up Your Payment Buttons

This is really simple and only takes 2 minutes!

Go to S2member > PayPal buttons

For now, we will presume that we have just 1 standard level of membership, and we want to charge $30 per month, but we also want to offer a discount to more committed members.

So let’s offer 6 months membership at $150.

Click > PayPal buttons for level #1 Access

Fill in the options. For our example above, this is how we fill it in:

s2member payment button

As you can see, we are offering $30 on a monthly basis! You do have the option to offer free trial periods, new member discounts, etc.

Once you have filled in the options simply hit ‘Generate Button Code’

Copy the code that becomes highlighted and then simply paste this code onto your ‘subscribe’ page that you created earlier. It’s as easy as that!

Now you can create a completely new button for $150 on a 6 month recurring basis. Generate the button and then copy/paste it onto your ‘subscribe’ page!

Your options are endless. There are so many different variations that you can make any payment offer that you wish!

Advanced Membership/Payment Options

The example above is probably the most basic setup you can have.

This is great when starting out, but you find that as your site grows, you want to add different levels of membership, or even a pay per post option!

I’ll show you how to set up different levels of membership:

Lets go back to the > S2member > PayPal Buttons page.

advanced paypal buttons

In the RED box I have highlighted the different possible levels of membership.

Let me explain how they work:Flevel

In the earlier example we set up a PayPal payment button using the ‘Level 1 Access’ and we were charging $30 per month!

Now, let’s say that you introduced even more great content or a more exclusive service. You can create a new level of membership (Level 2 access) and charge more for this service.

So you could charge $50 per month for your ‘really top-notch’ stuff!

In the future, you might introduce a new product or piece of software and you can create a 3rd level of membership, and you could charge $70 per month.

You see where I’m going here!!

The default ‘names’ for the different levels of membership are:

  • (Level 1 Access) Bronze
  • (Level 2 Access) Silver
  • (Level 3 Access) Gold
  • (Level 4 Access) Platinum

These names are quite fitting and work well, but you can actually call them anything!

Ok, so let’s say that we have set up the 3 different levels of membership.

This is how your members would be able to see your content because s2member does a great job of applying restrictions to areas of your site.

This is how it would work-

Level 3 Member ($70 per month) would have access to > ALL level 3, level 2 and level 1 content

Level 2 Member ($50 per month) would have access to > level 2 and level 1 content only

Level 1 Member ($30 per month) would have access to > JUST level 1 content

As you can see, this can come in very handy and it’s extremely easy to set up!

It is even possible for existing members to upgrade or downgrade to a different membership level without taking out a new subscription!

Pay Per Post/Page Option

This is the tab that I have highlighted in Green, and this gives you the option to charge your visitors to view a certain page or post on your site as a one-off fee.

The visitor does not become a member as this feature works totally independent of the membership levels, but they do gain access to 1 piece of content.

There are many instances in which this feature is useful.

You could write a great ‘How To’ guide and then cut off the content half way through so that your visitor has to pay you to unlock the remainder of the guide!!

You could just save your really good articles and charge visitors a small fee to view them!

So here’s how to set them up:

In Green I have highlighted the ‘PayPal pay specific post/page buy now button’. Click on this tab

As you will see, this is the same as the previous ‘PayPal button’ set up, except this time you must choose which Page or Post you would like to restrict!

To do this you must go to:

S2member > Restriction options >Specific post/page access > You then need to enter the page ID of the posts/pages you want to charge for!

Basically this ‘restricts’ the page and stops people viewing the page who have not paid!

pay per post

Once you have done this, go back to the  ‘PayPal pay specific post/page buy now button’ tab and fill in the details like we did previously.

Entering your price, description, and currency. You also have to select the post/page that you are creating the button for. You will see a drop-down list, simply click on that and select the page!

Click > Generate Button and copy the code

All done!

Setting up ‘pay per posts’ is really easy and quick! This is a very powerful feature of S2member and I’m sure you can think of some great ways of using it.

5. How To Set Up Your ‘restricted’ Content

Now that we have our membership site set up, it’s time to put it all together and add ‘restriction’ rules to all of the pages, posts, and categories that we want for ‘members-only’.

If you have just 1 level of membership, then you simply assign ‘#level 1 access’ to all of the content that you want to be hidden for members only.

The easiest way to do it is to go to the posts or pages you want to use, and click edit.

You will notice in the right side bar that there is a options box for S2member:

s2member post options

Simply click on the drop-down menu and select: #level 1

s2member level select

Make sure to click ‘update’ after you have done this to implement the changes.

What this has just done is:

a) Made this post/page viewable to paying members ONLY. They can only access this content by logging in.

b) It restricts all ‘non-members’ from seeing this content, and if they do try to access it, S2member will re-direct them to your ‘subscribe’ page.

Allocating multiple levels of membership

Just as we have done above, except this time you have to choose which content you want for different levels of members.

#Level 1 being the lowest and #Level 4 the highest. Simply select which level you want for each of your post/pages.

members only

That’s it! you now have a fully functional membership site ready to accept new members and payments!

This is the basic set up and it works very well.

How To Build Your Membership Base

The key is to build trust with your membership base

How do you do that before getting them to sign up?

You give them a Free membership!! Either:

  1. Offer a Free trial, say for 1 week.
  2. Offer a free level of membership

Or my favourite method…

 3) Offer a FREE membership service on a different site in the same niche!
You can either do this on 1 site or like I do and have a completely separate site for building a free membership base, or in other terms, an email list.

One of the toughest tasks that most site owners face is actually building a membership base of people willing to pay you a fee every month!

I actually describe how I built one of my lists to over 36,000 subscribers which made $172,000 profit last year alone!!

Method 1 – Offer a Free Trial

People love to try things out before actually jumping in and purchasing.

One of the features of S2member is the ability to set up a payment option that gives the subscriber a trial period, and unless they cancel within the trial period, they are then automatically billed at the end of their trial and their paid membership begins.

Your offer may look something like this:

“Free for 7 days, then £19.99 a month”

I showed you have to set this up previously. The PayPal button options with S2member are endless and you can create all sorts of scenarios!

THE ADVANTAGES of using this method is that you greatly increase your sign up rate. Providing your information/service is good, you will gain a lot more members than if you didn’t offer a free trial.

Method 2 – Offer A Free Level of Membership

Another great feature of S2member is that it gives you the option to use different levels of membership, as we have already discussed.

  • Subscriber (When a member cancels, they become a subscriber and are denied access to all paid content)
  • Bronze
  • Silver
  • Gold
  • Platinum

This allows you to offer different levels of membership and charge different amounts depending on different levels of service you offer!

This gives you the opportunity to offer 1 FREE level, and 1 or more multiple levels.

How To Set It Up

Go to > General Options > Membership levels/labels

Here you can re-name your levels,  #Level 1 is called (Bronze) so re-name this to something like: ‘Free Access’ or whatever your preference.

Obviously this will be your lowest level of membership. Now all of the posts/pages that you want available to ‘Free Members’ you just select #Level 1 access.

You can do this on the actual ‘edit view’ of the page like I showed you earlier, or you can go to > Restriction options and select the page ID’s.

Now this means that all members from your lowest level (Free Access) members & upwards will be able to access these pages!

For your paid members, Re-name #Level 2 access to something of your choice ‘Paid member’, ‘elite member’ ‘whatevermemberyouwant’

Now these will be your paid members and every post/page that you only want accessible to paying members you simply add the appropriate restriction option to that page.

  • Non members can’t access any of your restricted content
  • Free members can only view certain pages which you have specifically chosen
  • Paid members can view all content on your site
  • Optional… you can create higher levels of membership as we have already discussed

Method 3 – Build Your Membership Base On A Separate Site

This is the foundation of my business model and it’s something you should seriously consider doing!

All of the big sites do it including all of the big earners online. Even offline businesses have started to do it.

I was in the Ralph Lauren Shop yesterday and when I went to the checkout they had an iPad set up on every till and they ask every customer for their email address in return for 20% off vouchers!!

Email marketing is powerful, trust me!!

If you can build a free membership base then you can set up new paid membership sites and have real paying members anytime you like:

build membership flow

Why Is This My Favourite Method?

You only have to focus your attention on building traffic to 1 site:

  • Every time you launch a new membership site in that niche, you get paid subscribers from day 1 without any other source of promotion!
  • Every time you release a new product or service, or want to promote an affiliate product, you already have a client base to sell too.
  • Loyalty and trust. This is the most important factor. By offering a separate ‘free service’ you get the chance to build trust with your subscribers. Help them out when they need it, give them good quality ‘free content’. Offer them something of value for nothing!

When you have done this you have just massively increased your chances of gaining paid members!

Why does Matt earn great affiliate profits? Because he provides us with great information for free, including a number of detailed tutorials.

He has our trust, therefore we are much more likely to purchase products that he recommends!!

Build a big subscriber base and then build mini-sites around it :-)

How To Build Your Free Subscriber List, Traffic & SEO

Building an email list requires targeted traffic to your site. There are a number of ways to drive traffic to your site and Matt has it covered right here on his blog.

You can follow Matt’s Buzz Bundle review on how he drives traffic to his blog.

Don’t forget you can always resort to simply stealing customers from competitors.

If you want to take the SEO route then you can follow Matts Tiered Link Building Video’s or my guide on ‘How to build a private blog network‘, which is something that will boost your rankings!

If you have funds available you can always take the ‘paid’ route and the most popular Pay Per Click sources are Google Adwords and Facebook Ads. Before diving into paid traffic you must be certain that your landing page converts well.

The main purpose of your landing page is to capture the visitors email address. So make this as easy as possible for them!

Give them a reason to sign up. Offer them something of value. Try to spark excitement, or curiosity!

For example….

“I have something really amazing for you…. But I can’t show it to you right here!! Enter your email address and join me on the other side”

Not great I know, but this sparks curiosity with the reader and they are more likely to sign up!

Building an email list is a totally new post in itself so I’ve only touched on the basics right here.

How To Keep Your Members Happy

Building a free subscriber base and then getting them converted to ‘paid members’ is only half of the job.

If your members are going to keep paying you every month you better make sure to provide them with valuable, up to date, and fresh information!!

There are different types of membership sites that you can create, and these are the most popular, and usually the most profitable:

Software Subscription

One of the most popular types of membership site is a Software license based site where you pay a monthly or yearly fee to access certain software!

There are a lot of these kinds of sites in the SEO and Internet marketing niche and you have probably come across a few of them already. Examples are Aweber, Link-Assistant and Link Emperor.

To keep your members subscribed, you need to make sure that your software does exactly what the user wants. Customer support is an important factor along with regular software updates!


There are a lot of membership sites that offer tuition or advice on specific subjects.

If you are going to run this kind of site you could either update it every month with new content and tutorials, or you could have all of your content pre-written and automatically send it out to members via an auto-responder!

I’m sure many of us would be happy to pay to access Matts Blog for the quality of information he provides!

Another good example would be to offer a course.. ‘How to build a successful online business in 12 months’

Or, ‘How To Start A Successful Blog And Make Money Online Step By Step


Offering a service such as Forex tips, sports betting tips, stock and shares etc. are a good way to run a membership site because the member is paying you for updated information.

Provide good tips and your members will keep paying you!


Probably something you don’t want to get involved in but the adult industry is set up perfectly for membership type-sites, as you may have already guessed ;-)


If you have built up a really good quality community then you could charge your visitors to become exclusive members! we see this with some of the top forums online.

You can pay to access an ‘elite’ group of people

Although there are lots of different types of membership sites, building long term members boils down to one simple rule: Offer a great service!!

Just give your members information that they could not find elsewhere and solve problems to their solutions! The majority of searches on Google are from people search for a solution to a problem.

Give these people the answer and you are on your way to a successful business.

Wrapping It Up

This post has become fairly long, and this is because I didn’t want to leave anything out.

 Starting or adding a membership site to your business can reap massive rewards!
If you have a lot of information to offer then this maybe a great opportunity for you to boost your income.

When I first started out there was no ‘membership site software’ or plugins like S2member, everything had to be done manually.

These days everything can be set up to run automatically, and as I’ve just shown you how to create a membership site step by step – what are you waiting for?

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I create a membership website for free?
If you want to create a successful (and free) membership site, just follow these 5 steps:

  1. Installing The Free Membership Site Software
  2. Setting Up Your Membership Site
  3. Set Up PayPal Payment Options
  4. Setting Up Your Payment Buttons
  5. How To Set Up Your ‘restricted’ Content

Do membership sites make money?
Membership sites can be extremely profitable- if you’re able to make people join your site. This is not an easy task. You need to know your customers (target) and where to find them to be able to bring them to your site and convert them into active members.

How much does it cost to create a membership site?
It really depends. If you have the skills, the time and the patience, you can create a membership website for free.

But if you decide to hire a professional to do it for you, the cost can vary widely depending on who you hire, how much experience they have, if they specialize in membership websites and what kind of add-ons they provide. The price could be anywhere from $200 at the low-end to $20,000 at the high-end.

267 Responses

  1. Kay

    I setup a “Specific Post/Page (Buy Now) Buttons” I finally got everything up and running but when I test it out I see that the link to the page breaks after I do updates to the page. The link ends up displaying a message that says Your Link Expired Please contact Support if you need assistance. I setup the link to expire in 30 days (720 option). Anyone know how to fix this? I saw a file in the community for the expired link issue but when I added it to my site this weird text jumbled and appeard at the top of my membership pages.

    • Matthew Woodward
      October 27th, 2021 at 9:13 am

      Hey Kay- I think the best for you will be to contact their support team as it says on the message. They will be able to help you and answer all your questions.


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        • Matthew Woodward
          March 4th, 2019 at 1:29 pm

          No problem!

  16. Thabo Khoza

    I couldn’t be more grateful for this invaluable information which I had been looking for for years. God bless you

    • Matthew Woodward
      February 11th, 2019 at 6:16 am

      Glad you finally found what you were looking for Thabo

  17. Simeon

    I’m soo inspired by your journey of success and can’t wait to start my own jorney in the line of work. As soon as NOW ,pls mentor me,I have no idea in this field but I’m willing to put the work in.
    Do you do webinars.

  18. Erick

    Bro you are awesome, Donation link?

    • Matthew Woodward
      July 30th, 2018 at 10:22 pm

      Haha nice try Erick. Use the contact me page if you wanna talk links :)

  19. Shantell L. Jones

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    • Matthew Woodward
      June 25th, 2018 at 12:10 pm

      Thanks Shantell

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  23. Diana Fitts

    WOW! Thank you so much! I’ve been following your work for a while and this is exactly why. Your attention to detail and ability to give value to your readers is flawless.

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 2nd, 2018 at 11:13 am

      Wow thanks for the feedback Diana

  24. mico pascal

    i liked that

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 2nd, 2018 at 11:46 am


  25. Jhon Simth

    This is the perfect way to teach something about.
    really helpful

    thank you.

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 2nd, 2018 at 2:21 pm

      Glad you found the style useful Jhon

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    • Matthew Woodward
      April 3rd, 2018 at 9:03 am

      Good to know

  28. Hassan Aziz

    Thanks for the Tutorial,Helps a lot.

    • Matthew Woodward
      August 8th, 2017 at 10:22 am

      No problem Hassan

  29. Jame

    Awesome Post ! Thank you for sharing

    • Matthew Woodward
      May 10th, 2017 at 8:27 am

      No problem Jame!

  30. Darren

    Great post. very easy to follow.

    I want to create a membership site where members can upload their own content (such as an author site where authors can upload images and blurbs of their own books.

    Can this be done on s2Member?

    • Matthew Woodward
      May 5th, 2017 at 8:58 am

      Hmmm I’m not sure, perhaps look at BuddyPress? Might need to combine it with S2Member

  31. Samantha

    Thank you for your information, it is great for setting up a membership site.

    How do you have a membership based business directory/listing?
    So the membership profiles are linked in with the business Profiles.
    Then those business profiles are searchable based on categories and certain criteria.

    Any assistance on which programs can be used together and be user friendly would be appreciated :)

  32. Mary Diaz

    Oh my gosh!! G-d bless you abundantly. I couldn’t have done it without this easy to follow explanation. THANK YOU SO MUCH. i just set it up in one of my WP pages to tested it.

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 14th, 2017 at 7:25 pm

      No problem Mary :)

  33. Jenn

    Great step-by-step for a non-HTML person. It was easy to do, a little bit of stress, but I got it done. I’m using the tool a little differently for people to buy programs that are for a period of time, rather than subscriptions, but I think it will work. Now…how do I test it?! I want to make sure it works for my potential clients. The only way I could think of is to sign up myself under a different name/email. Any thoughts?

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 4th, 2017 at 12:35 pm

      Yeah step through it like your an actual customer

  34. Odira

    Great post. I just started a forum. I will be trying out some of the tips you mentioned on it. Thanks.

    • Matthew Woodward
      January 20th, 2017 at 9:31 am

      Please let us know how you get on

  35. Jarold

    Hi, im planning to start a membership site and I have a question though….. Do I have to create a fresh WordPress install and do I have to get a separate domain for it? Thanks a lot guys…. :-)

    • Matthew Woodward
      January 20th, 2017 at 9:48 am

      You can build it on a subdomain or a sub folder, however you want it to be!

  36. Tip Jones

    This is, by far, the BEST Membership Site building tutorial I have come across. Thank you so much Matt for doing this.

    • Matthew Woodward
      January 20th, 2017 at 1:22 pm

      I can’t take credit for this one :)

  37. Dustin White

    I am in IT and had started researching how to make money online with a paid membership site. My idea was tell people how to create a site using their own personal skills. Pretty much what your site helps so much with right here. Is that okay with you? If so, I only plan on providing membership to the content, but could I advertise your tools to help them grow their sites?

    • Matthew Woodward
      December 12th, 2016 at 3:36 pm

      Feel free to do what you would like to do Dustin, you don’t owe me anything!

  38. Tammie

    Brilliant! The most useful/helpful/thorough tutorial ive read in a long time.
    And easy for me to understand being new to this world.
    Thank you!

    • Matthew Woodward
      December 13th, 2016 at 9:55 am

      No problem Tammie!

  39. wandera

    Hi,my question is,does PayPal works world wide,if not how can I run a membership site in africa,Kenya.thanks alot.

    • Matthew Woodward
      November 27th, 2016 at 5:49 pm

      Yes it does

  40. Ludovic

    Hi, Thanks for your post. Very interesting.

    Questions :
    Do you use Learndash into your membership website ?
    And do you use it with S2Member ?


    • Matthew Woodward
      November 2nd, 2016 at 12:35 pm

      Yes I used LearnDash but I actually use Memberium for the membership side, but that is 100% irrelevant – you can use any membership script you want and LearnDash also has some basic membership functionality built in.

  41. Bart

    Hi I was wondering where I could find information about the laws and legal requirements of running a membership website. I would like to know if there are any legal restrictions for misrepresenting yourself or your product on your membership site. Also would hiring a lawyer be a smart move for a membership site owner or is this a bit over the top?

    • Matthew Woodward
      October 26th, 2016 at 2:54 pm

      Why would you want to misrepresent yourself? That is not a good way to do business

  42. Ms Osler

    Thanks so much !! Question ?? What about people who want to set up a membership site and PayPal us not an option .. what do you recommend?

    • Matthew Woodward
      October 26th, 2016 at 2:56 pm

      You can select from a number of payment processor that s2member integrates with

  43. MAddox

    I started following your instructions and am already stuck.
    “Uploading your own plugins is not available on”
    So I can seem to find everything after Plugins > add new
    Is there something I am missing, or not seeing??

    • Matthew Woodward
      October 12th, 2016 at 10:28 am

      You are meant to use a self hosted Wordpress install, not – for example you can get a free domain and 1 click install of Wordpress at Justhost

  44. Leroy

    Great tutorial Matthew. I used it to set up my site. Your instructions are easy to follow and very functional. But I wonder how long it took you to write this post?

    Thanks again!!

    • Matthew Woodward
      October 4th, 2016 at 10:33 am

      Well, I didn’t write it – but when I have written similar posts, around 10 hours.

  45. Cindy

    Thanks for this great info however,being a new be to building a website, can you tell me where I can find a website to build my site that I can implement all of your great stuff here. I have built a website but when I finished it I couldn’t have the type of membership I wanted. Do you know where I could start? I could really use the help. Thanks ks do much!

    • Matthew Woodward
      September 26th, 2016 at 11:44 am

      You’ve not really provided any details to help you

  46. J

    How much content do you need to start a site?
    I have a lot of information when it comes to Parenting and Relationships, Psychology and neuro-chemestry, and even leadership relationships…

    lots of different way I could go, If I just wanted to focus on one thing lets say Parenting, how much content do I need per week/month/year?
    do you give out the content slowly via email, or do you just add new content to the site week by week?

    • Matthew Woodward
      September 13th, 2016 at 9:28 pm

      You could start with 4-6 articles and drop out as many or as little as you want, as long as what you publish is genuinely helpful.

  47. Lenni

    Great tutorial!

    If my membership site included videos, actually daily videos would be my main source of communication.. is that possible? And could I have the videos automatically appear to paid members?

    • Matthew Woodward
      September 5th, 2016 at 9:03 am

      Yes you could do that

  48. sandra

    I would like to get assistance from you. Am using a mac pro how can i get the plugins to work?

    • Matthew Woodward
      August 16th, 2016 at 11:14 am

      The plugins run on Wordpress which is nothing to do with Mac or Windows

  49. Elle

    Wordpress does not allow to add new plugin. They only have a list of their own.
    So, what did you guys actually do?
    Thanks so much.

  50. Anil

    hi, this is very informative, I did it as your explained, but how how to show membership registration and subscription page. I created the pages as you said but pages are blank.

    • Matthew Woodward
      August 8th, 2016 at 12:35 pm

      Please reach out to s2member support

  51. James Katt

    Flat out, this is the best article I have seen on how to create a membership website. Thank you very much for your work and gift to us!

    • Matthew Woodward
      August 1st, 2016 at 12:41 pm

      No problem James glad you enjoyed it!

  52. Marshall Brown

    Is this the right way to go to start a website where sellers pay me to make a profile and I drive them customers? And would I have to code wordpress to enable them to set up a profile?

    • Matthew Woodward
      July 23rd, 2016 at 11:00 am

      I am not sure what you mean sorry

  53. Abi

    This was sooo helpful. Thankfully, the first time round is the most painful and it should be easy for me to set up in future. Thanks!

    • Matthew Woodward
      July 6th, 2016 at 5:16 pm

      Hell yeah it is! and you can always use something like WPClone to clone the site as a template for others in the future

      • Abi
        July 19th, 2016 at 11:16 am

        Thanks for the tip :)

        • Matthew Woodward
          July 23rd, 2016 at 11:01 am

          No problem!

  54. John

    Great info.
    Can you set up each level so it only delivers that levels content?

    Do you have any tips specific to starting a fitness sit?

    What is the best way to set-up workouts to be delivered – As a post or page?

    • Matthew Woodward
      June 13th, 2016 at 9:56 am

      Yes you can set up levels like that and I would probably deliver with posts, but it doesn’t really matter

  55. Woolker

    Hi there Jason,

    This is really an awesome article. Congrats!

    It answers almost all my primary questions about building a membership site.

    But here is my issue…

    I want to start a free affiliate marketing course and recommend the students to get their site running via my affiliate links. And I want to pay them INSTANTLY about $.50 for every task completed in the process of the course.

    How do I do that, please? I mean do I need a special plugin for that?

    I’ve gone over the web without being satisfied.

    Thanks in advance. And that sure is a great post of yours.



  56. Ali

    Hi Matthew, thanks for this amazing post..!

    I’m wondering that have you any experience with solo ads to driving traffic for your membership websites.. Let’s say we buy 1000 Tier1 quality clicks, and how many of those clicks may convert to paid members..(assume we include backend promotions) have you any idea or experience with that..

  57. John Banks

    Insane post! Total thanks to Jason for putting this together and for you hosting it Matthew.

    First time here, lots of great info.

    We have been on the fence with what to use for our membership program and this has certainly thrown another in the mix.

    I really like memberfactory but not sure about the cloud hosting of everything. Personally I think I like the control of having them built within wordpress – s2 solves this issue.

    Can it only accept Paypal? For example, if I wanted to make affiliates able to promote this can I put it on JVZoo or Clickbank for example?

    Kind Regards,

    • Matthew Woodward
      February 16th, 2016 at 12:51 pm

      I think S2 integrates with just about anything!

  58. Iyke

    l fine this post very interesting and useful for me and others who are new in this business, l have this blogger site and yet can not fine my feet and very confused as to where lam going and what next to do. l have learnt a lot here and will always come back for your help, Can blogger use S2 membership site?
    l want to stay with affiliate market, please look at my blog and advice me, l have to keep paying my bills if not lam doomed.

    • Matthew Woodward
      December 17th, 2015 at 3:32 pm

      By Blogger, do you mean Blogspot?

  59. Zeeshan Arshad

    Nice article and helpful for people who want to make membership site with WordPress.

    For those who want to create membership sites, before your own ideas, think what the real people PROBLEMS are. If you focus on your idea, advertisement and wait for real money, that’s may not be the real way.

    Focus on what PROBLEM you are going to solve, and what your existing (if any) active buyers or subscribers really NEED or having PAIN to be SOLVED.

    Think about the last time you reached a membership site and just CLOSED it due to FACT of something? And, you wished to be a member but the reason caused you to quit. (maybe price? or what?) Remember that experience, so DO NOT repeat it for your own membership site.

    Freelance Web Professional,
    – Zeeshan

    • Matthew Woodward
      December 2nd, 2015 at 4:33 pm

      Basically, find the 10 biggest problems in your niche and solve them.

  60. Maani

    This is really good article to start membership site.

    But, I have a question. If I want to give some content in week and subsequently different content weekly thereafter to members then how to do it with S2 plugin. I mean members will get content progressively and not at once.

    • Matthew Woodward
      November 12th, 2015 at 9:20 am

      You read the documentation from S2 which reveals all :)

      • Maani
        November 12th, 2015 at 8:11 pm

        Thanks for your reply and help.

        • Matthew Woodward
          November 13th, 2015 at 9:42 am

          No problem :)

  61. Carsten T


    Is it a good idea to sell a membership as a WSO or is this a better option for the OTO, and what price range is best…read that $9.99 a month is a good pricepoint

  62. Hans

    Hi Matt,

    Thanks for the reply, i found my answer and the site is up, but what is the best way for getting targeted traffic ? i read a couple of posts on your site, but not sure where to start.


  63. Tracy Labrecque

    I make costumes and swimwear…I would like to add a membership section to my site. What are your suggestions of what I could do? What content? Like how to’s? But also, I don’t want to give away the way I do make certain projects. Any ideas?

    • Matthew Woodward
      November 1st, 2015 at 1:47 pm

      Well what do your customers want? You should know that better than me!

  64. chris robb

    Hi, I’m starting a website and I’m having trouble with playing videos and it buffering as the subscription is based around this uts a huge problem? Also how do you make it secure so its two key code and one IP address (signed in at one time) please help as I’m so close to starting up and its getting frustrating thanks

    • Matthew Woodward
      October 19th, 2015 at 10:02 am

      I just use something like S3 Media Maestro to lock down videos/files

  65. chris robb

    I really want to know how to stop the subscribers just passing around a password so that everyone of their friends can use the site? Please help

    • Matthew Woodward
      October 19th, 2015 at 10:04 am

      You can’t

  66. Isaac

    I’m also running s2 member on my site. I want to offer a payment options of so much $ for so many months so that it is broken up but I notice in S2 member you either have the option for ongoing subscribers or one time payment options only.

    Do you know how to work around this. I’ve tried other sources as well. Great article on membership sites!! Keep on rocking!

    • Matthew Woodward
      October 14th, 2015 at 9:46 am

      Hmm I think you would need to ask their support team directly

  67. Hans

    Great stuff !!!

    Thank you for all the details, after reading your post, i decided to give it a shot, i opened up an account with justhost and integrated WP, but i’m stuck on the steps for PayPal, especially the API, do i need a developer’s account to enable API, cause i don’t see that !

    Waiting patiently for your reply,


    • Matthew Woodward
      October 12th, 2015 at 9:09 am

      I would look at the plugins documentation in more detail

  68. Felix Futuri

    Thanks for the great post. I have a question for you, or anyone else that runs multiple sites though, and I didnt see it addressed in the post. That doesn’t mean it’s not there though :)

    When you set up paypal, there is only one return url when setting up IPL or whatever, so what do you do when you have multiple sites on multiple domains? I suppose you could pass a parameter in the url and then redirect but is there an easier way?

    • Matthew Woodward
      October 7th, 2015 at 8:57 am

      Thats above my head sorry but if it doesnt get answered here I would get in touch with one of big plugin providers and for sure they will know the answer

  69. Robert Stallard

    Great tutorial, thanks.
    Once we have the name and email address from our capture page does the enquirer then get a sales page with a sign up link? Or do we send them to the subscribe page on the web site? If so, then would they not be distracted around the web site?

    • Matthew Woodward
      September 21st, 2015 at 9:44 am

      You can do whatever you want to do

    • Gabi
      October 5th, 2015 at 7:47 am

      Matthew and Robert,

      I hope you don’t mind me chiming in on your comment…

      Personally I wouldn’t send a new subscriber to a sales page straight of the bat. I don’t think one free product is enough to build the kind of trust you need to get an email subscriber to become a paying member.

      • Matthew Woodward
        October 5th, 2015 at 8:27 am

        It depends, you could get them through the door with a low value offer

  70. Soren

    Great tutorial – I thought it would cost tons of money owning a membership site :)
    One question though: Can you restrict access to level 1 if you’re on level 2? .. I consider offering some 3-6 month packages (my students ‘graduate’), but there should be 3-4 seperate levels. It wouldn’t be smart to pay $30 per month for package 4, and then get the rest unlocked for free :P

    • Matthew Woodward
      September 16th, 2015 at 12:15 pm

      Yes I’m pretty sure you can do that easily

  71. Gabi


    As always, timely information. I’m starting to think you can read my mind and know exactly where I am in developing my business. I suspect you’re telepathic!


    I’m at the point of setting up my membership site but was wading through all the plugins and options. I was going to go for Memberships Pro and LearnPress combined. But I changed my mind after reading your epic post.

    I read somewhere that for members to keep paying the membership fee you must provide content worth much more than the actual subscription fee.

    For example: a $50 monthly subscription requires content worth $500. Obviously the worth is based on the subscribers perception. It might only cost $30 to create once off or a few hours of time. But it’s got to look and feel like $500. I’m not sure just how accurate the ratio is but it does make sense. So offering special gifts from time to time to each level might be a way to keep them subscribed.

    I won’t bore you with my strategy but I do have one question…

    Does the free version of s2Membership allow for upgrades where members on a lower level only have to pay the difference in the amount to move to a higher level?

    Cheers to you both for the kick-ass content.

    • Matthew Woodward
      August 19th, 2015 at 3:46 pm

      Haha thanks Gabi :)

  72. Bharat

    Please help me.
    How to setup members dashboard example-(edit profile, current earnings, payouts) any other option.

    • Matthew Woodward
      August 19th, 2015 at 3:49 pm

      I would get in touch with support of your membership plugin directly

  73. Michael K.

    Jason, you made my day!

    Thank you for your hard work… I couldn’t stop reading it…LOL.

    Do you think comments would work fine in the members area?

    Thanks again (Matt you’re the best)

    • Matthew Woodward
      August 14th, 2015 at 8:34 am

      Yeah why not – you could even add a members bbpress forum

  74. Karen

    True if I’m looking at the possible quality of the plugin. But I’m not looking to spend that right now, so my question is, to do a membership site, is there any way around Office Auto Pilot? Every plugin I install on Word Press is telling me that I need it in order to make my membership page work correctly? Just wondering is if anyone else is knowledgeable in regard to a less expensive alternative for now.

    • Matthew Woodward
      August 7th, 2015 at 7:31 am

      Just use something like s2member

  75. Karen

    I am interested in setting up a membership section on a website. Looking around at and playing with plugins like Simple Membership, and a couple of others, I kept seeing that I need to configure Pilot Press and get an API from Office Auto Pilot which is $297/mo just for the basic plan to automate and make the membership site go. Is there any way around Office Auto Pilot or InfusionSoft for my membership site?

    • Matthew Woodward
      July 29th, 2015 at 1:35 pm

      How much are you going to sell the membership for?

      • Karen
        July 29th, 2015 at 2:40 pm

        Initially $49.99. Later on there may be different levels and upgrades, but for right now just the one price.

        • Matthew Woodward
          July 29th, 2015 at 3:56 pm

          Will that integration make it possible for automation campaigns to generate those extra sales per month needed to pay for the integration?

          • Karen
            July 29th, 2015 at 4:00 pm

            It looks like a really good automation, marketing and database tool. It’s just that for each plugin I tried using on Wordpress, I kept getting a message saying that I NEEDED this account set up to get the API code and that I needed to configure my settings via Pilot Press, but Pilot Press directed me to Office Auto Pilot. I would LOVE to find a way around spending this much right now. If it’s just necessary, sure the memberships can cover it.

          • Karen
            July 29th, 2015 at 9:04 pm

            I guess that would be a yes since it also tracks leads, includes marketing by way of Social Media as and based on website visitor/customer interests (tracking what they are clicking on), email marketing and I believe there is an SMS component. This is just what I could see from the Demo video, but I am not at all familiar with it. I do want my content to be password protected.

          • Matthew Woodward
            July 31st, 2015 at 8:48 am

            Then I think you have answered your own question :)

      • Karen
        July 29th, 2015 at 3:57 pm

        $49.99/mo. There is only one membership rate at the moment. May add upgrades and levels later.

  76. Casey Dennison

    One hell of a post (well.. guide) you have here. I think this (IMO) is the best way to go. I’m going to build trust through my personal blog and eventually launch my first membership site.

    • Matthew Woodward
      July 6th, 2015 at 10:11 am

      Good luck Casey :)

  77. Greg De Tisi

    Just about to start a membership and this is very helpful. True value and delivery I am going to re-read this if it takes me 3 weeks to make it work so be it.

    • Matthew Woodward
      July 6th, 2015 at 10:30 am

      Good luck with your ventures :)

      • Greg De Tisi
        July 6th, 2015 at 3:53 pm

        Cheers Pal! Much appreciated! :))

  78. Virtuespower

    What a beautiful and information rich article. I really apreciate the work you did guys. I was also thinking of starting a membership website. I will go on and will bookmark this blog for future reference. Thanks a lot and may God bless you and be more successful and keep on helping us.

    • Matthew Woodward
      June 10th, 2015 at 10:17 am

      I hope it helps you out =D

  79. Michael

    Amazing post Matthew. I’m just starting on my journey to become a entrepreneur and have a ingenious subscription mobileapp/webapp idea. Wondered if you would be free to skype sometime?


    • Matthew Woodward
      May 21st, 2015 at 5:15 am

      I dont have time to take anything else on at the moment sorry =/

      • Michael
        May 21st, 2015 at 5:51 am

        That’s fine Matthew just wanted some brief advice or direction, but if you can’t spare the time no problem.

  80. Lisa

    Hi Jason & Matthew :-)
    Wow, this is an excellent and thorough post. Thanks very much for your work. I’m going to get started right away :-) Well done.

    • Matthew Woodward
      May 13th, 2015 at 4:14 am

      Good luck Lisa =D

  81. JosephineM

    This is a great article. I really want to start a membership site. I don’t have a domain and hosting yet. What do you think is the best Plan in Justhost which I will really need in my membership site? Another question is, what is the best way to avoid my videos to be downloaded? can I use certain software for the video?.. Thank you..

    • Matthew Woodward
      March 4th, 2015 at 8:12 am

      Just get started with the basic Justhost plan

  82. JeremyWA

    Thx for this nice guide, i’m trying to create an e-learning membership site, do you have any suggestion for a nice wordpress theme?

    • Matthew Woodward
      March 1st, 2015 at 11:26 am

      Not really, just one you like with a clean layout that is responsive

  83. Ernest

    I want to build a membership site in which I can sell digital files.

    What website or software do I need to make this website come true?

    • Matthew Woodward
      November 19th, 2014 at 5:08 pm

      Try reading the post

  84. Tarannum Khatri

    Is it possible to integrate other payment option with s2 member?

    • Matthew Woodward
      November 19th, 2014 at 5:22 pm

      It is indeed!

      • Tarannum Khatri
        November 20th, 2014 at 3:35 am

        How to I integrate other options?

    • Avale Alemyehu
      August 22nd, 2015 at 9:35 am

      I agree this

  85. Adam

    Great tutorial!

  86. Kawser

    Hi Matthew,
    I have one question. Is it possible to make a membership criteria in a way where subscribed members can view the full page (all the contents in a page) and non-subscribed users will only show a part of the page? More clearly and with example: say I have a post with a video tutorial, the full post including the video tutorial will be seen by the subscribed members, and only the post will be viewed by the non-subscribers. Is this criteria can be defined by this plugin? Thanks in advance.

    • Matthew Woodward
      August 25th, 2014 at 10:16 pm

      So 1 page but only members can see all of it, non-members can only see part of it? Yes it can do that

      • Kawser
        August 25th, 2014 at 10:27 pm

        Thanks a lot Matthew for the answer and for this great post (I know it is a guest post).

  87. Diophantus

    Hi Jason,

    regarding to this “You could write a great ‘How To’ guide and then cut off the content half way through so that your visitor has to pay you to unlock the remainder of the guide!! ”

    How do I cutt off the content half way ? Do I insert a shortcode halfway or I direct visitors to another page after they had paid?

    Please reply. Thanks

  88. Chris

    Jason & Matt,

    Another GREAT article! One monster post that gives a lot of solid info.

    I have two real n00b questions…

    And this is assuming you have a free content site (like Matt’s) with a separate member’s area. Maybe a course or forum or something similar linked off the free site’s homepage.

    1.) Does the S2 plugin hide the membership-only pages/posts from anyone not subscribed? So when a “general” visitor sees the site, will they see any of the restricted pages/posts names in the menu, or in any of the content widgets, or anywhere on the site – or will these restricted pages/posts simply not exist on the main site unless you’re logged/subscribed?

    2.) Once subscribed, will the user still see all of the elements of the free site (menu, widgets, sliders, etc)?

    If I want the membership area to be unique from the main free site, then installing a different theme in another folder seems to make sense. But if I install S2 into this new folder theme, would S2 see the “member” and “subscribe” pages in its config UI that are sitting on the main free site?

    I’m very confused (and probably making this harder than it is??). :-(

    How do you handle this??

  89. Stuart Walker

    Great post Jason. I’m definitely looking into adding a membership option to my site soon so I’m gonna bookmark this for later and put it to use.


  90. Dr. Bo

    This article is what I was searching for…It tells you step by step what to do in order to have membership website… And probably this is one of the best articles about that topic. Thanks a lot

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 30th, 2014 at 6:21 pm

      Glad you enjoyed it

  91. Arun Kallarackal

    Hi Jason,

    That was a concise guide! You literally covered the topic inside out! Right from the benefits of starting a membership site to keeping all the members happy, you described it all in detail!

    That free plugin you mentioned in the article will come handy for sure. Looking at the specs, I think that the free version of the plugin will just do the task! :)

    The step by step guide to building membership base also has been well written and explained by you.

    If I’m ever to build a membership site, I’ll sure make use of the tips and suggestions shared in this article.

    I found the link to this post on Kingged.


    • Matthew Woodward
      April 26th, 2014 at 10:48 am

      Inside out back to front upside down – how I wear my underwear sometimes!

  92. Sunday

    Quite an interesting tutorial! Its so practical and elaborate. I have never considered having a membership website in the past but I see that this tutorial opens up a window of interest and opportunity I can explore. Thanks for sharing this Matt!

    This comment was shared in where this article was found.

    Sunday – contributor

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 26th, 2014 at 10:46 am

      Thanks for the share mi amigo!

  93. Alexstar28

    got a question i am building a site for a client and found and added this plug-in which looks good so far but i will be changing the domain over to my clients domain when the site is complete, but i noticed while setting up the paypal that it is all linked with the domain so will i need to set it all up again when i change the domain or will it detect the change of domain.

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 25th, 2014 at 1:03 pm

      I would consult the documentation on what to do during a domain change

  94. Stoimen

    Thank you for the tutorial!

    I have a couple of questions, though.

    What forum plugin would you recommend to use for a membership site? (The members pay so that they have access at the forums)

    I also want to limit the number of members and give them only the access to a particular area of the forum. Any suggestion how can I do this?

    Best wishes,

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 24th, 2014 at 10:39 am


      I suppose that depends on your membership software and what that can integrate with

  95. sim

    How do you stop members sharing their login details with non-members?

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 25th, 2014 at 1:06 pm

      Lock it down with IP limits / auto expiring streaming/download links

      • Simone
        April 29th, 2014 at 5:02 pm

        Where can I find more specific information about how to do this with my membership site currently?

        • Matthew Woodward
          April 30th, 2014 at 6:23 pm

          Try s3 media vault?

    • Jason Chesters
      April 29th, 2014 at 10:00 am

      There is a feature built in that allows you restrict multiple IP’s logging in

  96. Tyronne Ratcliff

    Another epic post in the books! Granting free access to a membership site would be perfect for an affiliate bonus. Give your buyers free access to the site. Then let them upgrade to the premium content for a nominal fee. Have a good one!

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 18th, 2014 at 9:55 am

      Nice tip!

  97. Roque

    Another quality tutorial, two thumbs up to you both!

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 16th, 2014 at 9:23 am


    • Jason Chesters
      April 16th, 2014 at 10:39 am

      Thanks mate, appreciated!!

  98. Gcampton


    Pretty damn good advice. Although that s2member requires pro version to have a subscription from what I can see of the screenshot you posted.

    There’s a few others out there, some or at least 1 that probably are 100% free.

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 16th, 2014 at 9:24 am

      Any idea what they are?

    • Jason Chesters
      April 16th, 2014 at 10:41 am

      You don’t need the pro version! everything I explain here is using the free version, including subscriptions. There are also many more capabilities if you are good with coding!

      • Jorge
        August 24th, 2015 at 1:32 pm

        Great piece of content! I was setting it up while reading your tutorial. The only thing you did not mention (I think) is that you need to create a business paypal account to be able to get the ID and make the buttons work, I was going crazy trying to find it.

        Thanks a lot again

  99. Phil

    Matt and Jason,

    wow, another epic post. I really love the in-depth detail of how you build your sites. I also like your outlined strategy. Thanks so much for sharing this with the community. Matt’s blog is really one of my Wikipedia sites when it comes to IM topics like SEO etc. :-)

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 16th, 2014 at 9:24 am

      Haha thanks!

  100. Muhammet Taşdemir

    Great techniques Matthew… I love it… Thanks :)

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 16th, 2014 at 9:25 am

      Wasn’t written by me ^^

  101. Pete Tunbridge

    Thank you, Mathew, for this wonderful tutorial…

    I am starting a small Membership Site and found this information to be invaluable – much more concise and to-the-point than many eBooks on the subject.



    • Matthew Woodward
      April 16th, 2014 at 9:25 am

      Hope it helped you out!

  102. Stefan

    Thats what I am doing, just using phpFox, with more advanced social community features and paid membership.

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 16th, 2014 at 9:26 am

      Is PHPFox worth a crack? I just use it for links ^^

  103. Nauval

    Hi Matt, can S2member plugin provide a replica site to a member?

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 16th, 2014 at 9:26 am

      What do you mean?

      • Nauval
        April 16th, 2014 at 9:30 am

        Like a referral site…

        • Matthew Woodward
          April 18th, 2014 at 9:58 am

          Ahh so members can refer new members and get paid? I’m pretty sure it has affiliate stuff built into the pro version

    • Jason Chesters
      April 16th, 2014 at 10:36 am

      I think you are referring to Amember, is this correct? S2member offers a lot of the features that Amember does. It really depends on what specifications you require. I have found that S2member offers more than enough!

  104. Kirsten Rutherford

    Wow what an in depth and really informative blog post. I have been thinking about adding a membership site in the near future so I will def be referring back to this post. Thanks for sharing :)

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 16th, 2014 at 9:26 am

      Now you know how :)

    • Jason Chesters
      April 16th, 2014 at 10:42 am

      Thanks Kirsten, glad you found it helpful

  105. Nikhil

    Hi Matthew,
    Great tutorial. This membership guide is really great. S2membership plugin is great to build a membership site, but it has some limitation. You can also use some free as well as a premium plugin for membership site available in Wordpress repository.
    But this guide is really awesome…. :)

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 16th, 2014 at 9:33 am

      Any you recommend and why?

      • Marc
        April 17th, 2014 at 1:33 pm

        Member Mouse and Restrict Content Pro are other good options. I haven’t used S2member so I can’t really say they are better. RCP is a well-coded simple option. It doesn’t have a ton of features, but it has everything you need, it’s easy to set up and use, and it’s reliable. Member Mouse has a lot of advanced features like upsells and downsells (to save a member who is cancelling). Member Mouse has a monthly fee based on the number of subscribers so it will cost more, but it’s a great product.

  106. Damon

    Jason. Nice article. S2Member is a great plugin and works a treat. The trick is to produce content tht people want to pay for. I think some people grab low quality PLR stuff and just post it as is and expect people to be excited by it. A membership site concept doesn’t need to be original but I think the content does. Damon

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 16th, 2014 at 9:27 am

      Well with high quality PLR the market is usually big enough :)

  107. Michael Cox

    Great post as usual Matthew, i don’t comment very often now but I’m always reading your stuff..


    • Matthew Woodward
      April 16th, 2014 at 9:27 am

      Thanks Michael!

  108. Pete Tunbridge

    Thank you, Mathew, for this wonderful tutorial…

    I am starting a small Membeship Site and found this information to be invaluable – much more concise and to-the-point than many eBooks on the subject.



    • Matthew Woodward
      April 16th, 2014 at 9:28 am

      Which eBooks did you buy?


    What an excellent post! It really did give a complete overview of getting up and running with a membership site with S2 as well as the importance of building a list.

    I definitely got a lot of benefit out of it and am sure others will too. Lately membership sites have been the ‘hot girl’ of product development so this is definitely ‘the right post’ at ‘the right time.’

    Just out of curiosity – are there any paid membership plugins that are preferred for any reason in your opinion? (Hint, hint – review some :) )


    • Matthew Woodward
      April 16th, 2014 at 9:31 am

      Hey GOY

      Long time no speak =D Hows it going?

      I could do some detailed reviews of membership plugins if there is demand!

        April 16th, 2014 at 4:20 pm

        It might be great if you did. I’ve been tossing around the idea of membership sites for a few months and started development on one.

        There were some things I looked at before making the move into development and they would probably make excellent points for reviews. They were:

        – Does It Drip Feed Content (unlock over time)
        – Does It Offer Membership Levels (as s2M does)
        – Is It Compatible With Affiliate Programs (JVZoo/ClickBank/PayDotCom)
        – Will It Work With Forums (VB, IPB or phpBB)
        – Does It Self-Collect Emails For Easy List Segmentation (such as dividing between membership levels)
        – Is It Compatible With SSL

        Just some thoughts.

        • Matthew Woodward
          April 18th, 2014 at 9:57 am

          Thrown it into the idea pot – but it sounds like your already best positioned to write it! Post it on GOY or guest post it here ^^

  110. Mistress Ploppy

    If I was from the US, I would say, ‘You rock!!!!’ as I’m British, ‘One rocks and is an upstanding gentleman!!!

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 16th, 2014 at 9:32 am

      tally ho!

  111. Tom

    Wow, what an epic post.
    I always wondered how to set up membership sites as I would love to have an incomestream with recurring billing. Now I have a good guide on how to set it up. Many many thanks.

    Apart from the setup guide, the most important part of this post is the one about keeping the visitirs happy. The content needs to be stellar to keep them and also to attract more members (by word of mouth promotion).
    Do you have any data on how long your members stay subscribed on average? I once read that the average membershp only lasts between 3 and 6 month.

    Thanks again for providing this useful post and also for sharing additional insights.


    • Matthew Woodward
      April 16th, 2014 at 9:32 am

      I will let Jason answer that one :)

    • Jason Chesters
      April 16th, 2014 at 10:48 am

      Thanks tom, glad you liked it. There is no real answer to your question Im afraid because it all depends on the type of service you offer and the quality. I have had members that last just 1 month and members who have stayed subscribed for well over 12 months for exactly the same service.

      People’s circumstances change a lot which has an affect on the time they stay subscribed

      You probably are close in saying that the average is around 3-6 months though

      • Tom
        April 27th, 2014 at 9:09 am

        Jason, thanks for your reply. Sure, the time someone stays subscribed depends on the quality and also the benefits he gets from the product.

    • Marc
      April 17th, 2014 at 1:39 pm

      I’ve run membership sites for a few years and from my experience the average length will vary from one site to the next. One thing I like to do that will increase the length is to offer longer options, like an annual membership. If there is a bit of a discount for the annual membership a number of people will sign up for it, and you’ll get that payment upfront. If it costs you a lot to maintain the site (if you are outsourcing work for people to create content for you) getting that money upfront can be a big advantage because you can re-invest it and make the site even better, which leads to more membership signups.

      Also, if you’re setting up recurring payments with PayPal expect to have some of them fail. PayPal doesn’t really give you a reason for the failed payment (I’m not talking about a cancelled payment here), but it could be that their credit card expiration date, a failed credit card payment, or maybe a lack of money in their PayPal account if they are paying with the balance. This is another reason that I like offering long-term memberships, because it reduces the number of failed payments because you are getting it upfront.

      • Tom
        April 27th, 2014 at 9:15 am

        Hi Marc,
        I see the benefits for having longer term offers for the membership. You don’t have any customer aquisition cost anymore and the lifetime value of the customer is probably higher. Also you only appear very seldomly in your customers creditcard statement.
        This brings me to an other question: the monthly membership fee.
        I read somewhere that you shold keep it below a certain threshold (e.g. 10$ per month) so it doesn’t pop into the eye too much when your customer checks his statement and he is not tempted to cancel his subscription.
        Do you have any experience with this?

        Any feedback is highly appreciated.

  112. Philip

    Great tutorial! I thought about a Membership site for some time now but haven’t found a good niche yet.

    This got me motivated again.Thanks!

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 16th, 2014 at 9:33 am

      Good luck =D

  113. Jason Chesters

    Hey Matt, Thanks for using my guest post!!

    Hope everyone enjoys it


    • John Banks
      February 15th, 2016 at 6:28 am

      HI Jason!

      Just want to say thanks for putting this together. Been looking at s2 member for our site for a while now. It looks like it will be the choice now!

      Awesome tutorial – really great action taking post.



  114. Michael Bely

    Hey Jason.

    Thanks for the tutorial.
    According to your experience, how long does a person stay on average as a paid member?

    • Beni
      August 3rd, 2016 at 10:20 am

      that really depends on what you offer for said membership level. If a costumer /client/member finds out that they don’t like what you offer.. they will be unsubscribing fast.
      But then.. if the info you are providing, and/or service is of a great value to them, they will never leave!

  115. Sgt. Kraut

    And how can you prevent someone from spreading the private content all over the internet?

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 16th, 2014 at 9:33 am

      Lock it down with s3 media vault perhaps

    • Michael Bely
      April 16th, 2014 at 5:00 pm

      It’s $1mln question.

      After many thoughts and read discussions on this issue I’ve taken away that the best effective way to deal with it is to use it. In other words, try to turn the stolen content into your free advertisement.

      It is easier said than done, but anyway :)

      • Joseph Msiska
        December 15th, 2015 at 9:28 am

        I need your help with setting a membership site using wordpress, how much can it cost me if you do it for me. I am new and it can long long time to do it myself.

        • Matthew Woodward
          December 17th, 2015 at 2:55 pm

          I would highly suggest you get your hands dirty and do it yourself, you will learn an awful lot which will save you an awful lot of money and time in the long run.

        • Martin Kellerman
          October 14th, 2016 at 9:09 am

          You could create a job on Upwork, asking for someone to do it for you.

        • Daniel Pacitti aka dannybigwolf
          October 29th, 2016 at 3:31 pm

          Joseph, This is so very easy to do on your Own! Try it. Just get er done then fine tune later. Start with a free membership and maybe a level 2 paid. Use quality items to draw your Free members to become Paid members. I am starting mine this very evening. I have searched high and low for this Quality Info and am Very Thankful. I have a CB membership site builder and this info is far more informative and open to whatever you want! Keep me in your loop and send updates on your progress. We can share notes.

    • Tommie Lewis
      December 15th, 2016 at 4:58 am

      Thanks for this great tutorial. I personally use Magento platform and the extension Private Sales & Flash Sales by Plumrocket which helps me a looot with managing my membership site.

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