Because of all the interest in Teaching Sells and membership sites in general, people have been asking about my own membership site, Authority Blogger, so I thought I would tell you how I built it, and how you can easily create your own membership site using WordPress.
The main component of my membership site is WordPress. One of the free reports that Brian is giving away with his Teaching Sells launch is “How to Build and Launch a Quick and Easy Membership Site” and I was pleased to see he explains that you can build a membership site using the blog software. Back though when I started building Authority Blogger, almost everyone I knew scoffed at using WordPress to build a membership site – the “done thing” was to use Joomla, Drupal, specific offerings like Membergate, and various other online services.
When I logged into Brian’s Teaching Sells course I was nearly persuaded to go the Joomla route – it really is a very good system, but I knew I wanted to get something out quickly and easily, and being the geek I am, I would have spent time procrastinating learning a new system.
I had some experience with Drupal, enough to know I didn’t want to build another membership site around it. Joomla, as mentioned, was going to be a learning curve I did not want to face, and I knew WordPress inside out. There was really no other choice for me at the time.
I went with the following solutions:
- WordPress as the content management system
- Amember as the membership solution
- VBulletin for the forum
My big mistake was with the forum – I set that up first only to find I could not retrospectively add Amember control without screwing up the existing user accounts. Amember along with the VB plugin can integrate, I just set it up wrong. Lesson learned. This means when someone joins I have to get them to sign up again, this time at the forum and manually give them permissions to the members-only forum area.
Now I know there are easier ways, but this approach worked for me all the same 🙂
- When you first visit you see the public-facing WordPress installation. This contains some pages of information that drive you to either sign up, buy or go to the forum. Members can also see the login link here.
- When you buy or log in you go through an Amember installation. I actually outsourced setting this up – it’s not the simplest of software – but you can also get installation as part of the license purchase.
- Within the Amember-controlled membership directory I created another WordPress install. This is where the lessons are kept and all the mindmaps, process map flowcharts and ebook PDF downloads. Go to anything in that directory on the server and you are asked to login, including going to the lesson web pages.
- For video and audio I use Amazon S3 hosting – for speed and also because these multimedia files get BIG, so I do not want bandwidth charges!
- To make the course easy and fun to consume, lessons are structured as bite-sized blog posts, grouped together as series using the in-series plugin, which unfortunately is no longer supported by the developer. Grouping the lessons into series creates a bunch of “mini courses”, so there is for example one on blog seo, another on launching your blog, and one on product creation, etc etc. This also means I can keep adding and adding – there are now around 100 individual lessons and I do not see me ending soon, heh.
A nice touch about Amember is every customer can also be an affiliate so they get commissions for recommending the course to friends and colleagues. I think that is nice, a recommendation from an existing customer and user of a service is always more persuasive than someone who has not used a product.
I am currently working on a “version 2” refresh for the coming season, and because of the modular structure and organization being based on WordPress, that is much more efficient to do. It makes me glad I chose to go the way I did.
Now though there is another option for creating WordPress based membership sites called Wishlist Member. Check out the video here. So far I have been very impressed with it, much easier for us WordPress jockies. My next courses will be built around Wishlist rather than Amember.
I hope that answers your questions but do let me know in the comments if there is anything I haven’t explained or anything you would like me to expand on …