You’ve decided you want to build a membership site or online course. Now, you’re asking whether you should build it using WordPress or go with a hosted platform. This overview article aims to show you why building your membership site or online course with WordPress gives you greater flexibility and control over your site, especially as you scale up.
You should build your course or membership site on WordPress so that you have…
- Full Control of Your Site from Functionality to Design
- The Ability to Switch Membership Plugins
- Freedom and Ownership of Your Content: No Content Lock-in
- The Best Tech Stack that all Integrates: Plugin Integrations
A “membership site” could be many things, but at its core, it is just a site that has content you want to protect. In other words, a site where you must be a “member” in order to access the site’s content.
Of course, there are various different ways to make a membership site with different strategies for allowing people to access content. You may have a site where some of the content is free and open to anyone, but other content is premium, and you have to be logged in to view it.
Not all membership sites are paid. You may have a business model where it makes sense to offer a membership site at no cost to your existing customers or clients. We have seen medical practices use membership sites to educate patients of risks and procedures before they have an operation – the cost of the site/training is built into the operation.
The most common sites we see at Memberium are based around online courses.
A WordPress solution such as Memberium will let you sell…
- Online Courses
- Membership Sites w/Community
- Digital Downloads
- …and more
Choosing the platform to build your membership site or online course is a big decision. Even if you’re just starting, switching down the road when you have existing subscribers or students can complicate things.
Getting started on the right platform from the get-go will help you grow and scale in the long run.
Here are 4 key reasons you’ll want to create your membership site or online course on WordPress over any hosted non-WordPress options.
The more flexible your business is, ultimately, the more power and strength you’ll have. If your business is too stiff or rigid, that’s bound to prevent you from growing and cause problems. In today’s age, rapid change can happen overnight – with technology, in your market, with your competitors or the economy. When you’re unable to change how your course or membership site works/looks, that can be a huge opportunity cost for you and your business.
At its core, Memberium is built to give you a maximum level of flexibility to do what you want with your site. It also comes with the flexibility to keep up with your business as it grows. With this high level of flexibility, you’ll be able to change and adapt your site as your business needs change over time.
Being based on WordPress, using Memberium, gives you the freedom to add or remove any other plugins as you see fit. You can change your theme (look and feel of the site) as you like, with full control over your site’s code and hosting. You’re in the driver seat with full control over your platform. Can you imagine if early on in Amazon’s history, they used eBay or another platform to sell products online? The point is, if you’re planning on building a serious business through your course or membership, you want full ownership and control over the platform that you’re building your course or membership on.
When you’re using other hosted course or membership platforms, you’re limited to the default features, making it hard to grow or improve. By design, these SaaS platforms’ goal is to keep you locked into their platform and make it costly or next to impossible to switch once you start.
With Memberium, you have full ownership of your content on your site since it’s in your WordPress site that’s open source. You can see all the code involved. You have the freedom to change, extend, or add anything to your site as you see fit. You can even switch to another membership plugin if you want to since you own everything in your WordPress site. Having this level of flexibility is essential if you’re serious about growing your business. This leads us to our next point.
Building your course or membership on WordPress gives you that control we just talked about, which extends to the choice of a membership plugin. As your site expands or the market changes, you may need to add a feature to your site that your current membership plugin does not support.
The obvious next step is to try and get the developers of that plugin to add the functionality for you. Many developers are willing to work with you if it improves the software for everyone, but sometimes they’re slow to add the feature or flat out never add it.
If you’re using a platform you don’t own or control; you have no recourse. You could move completely, but only that one piece needs to be changed. With WordPress, you’re free to deactivate and active plugins at will. This means you can swap out membership plugins (or any plugin) with relative ease.
Of course, some migration may be involved depending on how the membership plugin worked. Still, the principle remains: you can easily replace just the membership plugin/functionality without having to redo everything else.
The other option is you could hire your own developer to extend the existing membership plugin for you. Since WordPress is open-source, you have the flexibility to hire third-party developers to create custom functionality for you. You wouldn’t be able to do this on a hosted platform since they don’t give you access to the code which powers the platform.
The bottom line, with WordPress, you’re free to choose what membership plugin to use, and you can switch plugins without having to rebuild everything.
If you’re trying to move away from a hosted course or membership platform, you’re probably experiencing this right now: content lock-in.
These hosted platforms are often difficult to move away from because you can’t easily get your content out. Whether this is by design or a technical limitation – it probably varies from platform to platform. The fact of the matter is that the content you spent time, energy, and money creating is your content, and you should be free to take that content wherever and whenever you want.
Building your platform on WordPress gives you the most flexibility in exporting your content should you need to. Not only would it be rare that you’d need to leave WordPress in the first place, as explained in previous points, but if you do need to move away, WordPress gives you tools to export your content.
Since many of the hosted platforms limit you in how you can extend the functionality and design of the site, they have to include as many features as possible to cater to everyone’s different needs. The result is that some of the functionality you need may be there, but there may be another slew of options that add complexity and bloat to the site.
This problem of “all-in-one,” “throw-it-all-in-the-kitchen-sink” membership solutions loading down your site with unnecessary features also exists on WordPress. Still, you have the freedom and choice to choose a plugin that prioritizes integration over half-baked, built-in functionality.
When it comes to Memberium, we only focus on what we do best, which is allowing you to run a fast, automated course or membership site that you can depend on.
Memberium takes a unified approach in working with other WordPress plugins and WordPress standards so you can do what you want with your site and have the flexibility to work with other best in class WordPress plugins.
Most “all-in-one” membership platforms don’t do many of the things they say they do, very well at all. By design, these “all-in-one” solutions make it very difficult to work with other plugins or other pieces of software.
We know we’re never going to be the best LMS plugin for WordPress. We know we’ll never be able to create a better community plugin than BuddyPress or BuddyBoss. Instead of loading ourselves down with extra, unnecessary features and trying to be the next overhyped “all-in-one” platform that underdelivers.
Memberium’s built to work directly, side by side, with all of the best WordPress plugins that do what they do best. This is part of what keeps Memberium so fast.
This also allows you to build your site the way you want, without being held back by “all-in-one” plugins designed to lock you in or limit what you can do with them.
A big frustration among business owners is trying to connect all their different plugins and software that aren’t built to work together. Memberium allows you to have a unified WordPress experience with all of your favorite plugins working together seamlessly. This allows you to connect Infusionsoft directly with these other plugins. With this, you can better automate your site and combine them with Memberium to create a powerful and unique experience for your customers.
Memberium comes with 33+ built-in integrations that help connect Infusionsoft to some of the best WordPress plugins. You don’t have to pay any extra fees or install any add ons to use these. They’re all included in any Memberium plan and built into Memberium’s core code.
You can probably see how WordPress is the way to go if you want ultimate control and flexibility when it comes to your online course or membership site. Paired with a powerful membership plugin such as Memberium and other best in class plugins that suit your needs, you’re tech stack won’t be holding you back from exponential growth.
If you’re just in the beginning stages of building a membership or course, strongly consider the points above when choosing between WordPress or a hosted platform. Although the thought of an all in one solution is tempting now, as you grow, it could be the main limiting factor.
Hopefully, this article provided you with some insight to guide your decision making. If you have questions, Memberium offers a twice-weekly “Office Hours” webinar, open to everyone, where we can discuss topics just like this one. Register for Office Hours here.
Why Should You Use Memberium?
When you have all seven of the core components that Memberium’s built on working together, you get a powerful membership site or course that will automatically generate new sales for you. Deliver an amazing experience for your members while it simultaneously allows you to create more recurring revenue for your business.