Issue #416

The Perfect Toolset For A Membership Site (In My Opinion)

In this week’s article, I’m going to “talk shop” a bit and get nerdy on tool choices for membership sites.

In helping a lot of my clients with their membership sites, I see a lot of different toolsets in play. A lot of different plugins.

Plus, if you’ve been following me for awhile, you know I’ve been through my share. I went from Amember to Wishlist Member to MemberMouse to Thrivecart and now to WooCommerce.

I’ve tried a lot of tools, too.

I want to be clear….

There is no one, right way to build a WordPress-based membership site. And the beauty of the WordPress environment is that we have so many options. Thing is, all those options can also make people go cross-eyed. 🤪

So, I thought I would spell out what I personally find to be the best package. And I’ll spell out why that is. My goal here is that this setup is easy to manage, but also offers the most flexible setup. It is future-proofed.

The toolset is as follows:

To start off, note that I am not using or recommending a “membership site plugin”. You don’t really need one, plus most of them just aren’t as powerful as the combo above. They work fine. I have clients using Wishlist Member, MemberPress, etc. They work fine, however because they work on member levels and not tags, they are more limited. Plus, typically the payment setups are pretty rudimentary. You’ve got a much more robust checkout experience and better control over the whole ecommerce/account setup of things when you use WooCommerce.

I use and recommend WP Fusion. It is simply one of the most useful plugins for a membership site you can have. And it will do everything you need in terms of protecting content and it will do it based on tags in your CRM. Which is so much more powerful and flexible than old-school member levels. See my WP Fusion review.

Then, you’ve got FluentCRM. Having a full marketing automation powerhouse right in-house that so tightly integrates with everything is just… so much easier. I’ve had clients come into me from Keap (or Infusionsoft), ActiveCampaign, ConvertKit and many others. But, there’s always that extra overhead of having to work with a remote email service. See my FluentCRM review.

FluentCRM does a great job and saves a TON of money over those third-party email list providers. FluentCRM + WP Fusion + WooCommerce make a gorgeous combination. They integrate beautifully.

People buy something. You tag ’em accordingly. And FluentCRM takes over and sends them the right emails. And WP Fusion unlocks whatever they’re supposed to be able to access after purchase.

As for the theme, I do like BuddyBoss Theme. However, unless you’re going to want some community functionality of the BuddyBoss plugin, their theme is overkill. Technically, any theme will work for your membership site.

And, yes, Elementor. As a long time Thrive Themes guy, why I am recommending Elementor in this package? Well, simply put, you have all the integrations with Elementor. And one of those is WP Fusion. Which means that you can easily show/hide entire page sections across your site based on tag. You can show notices, custom calls to action, anything you want. You can do that with Thrive Themes as well, but you have to be using their Thrive Suite almost exclusively. Elementor simply offers more flexibility.

Oh, and if you’re using the block editor for content, the Block Visibility plugin integrates with WP Fusion, too, so you can show/hide stuff based on tags. Bonus tip there. 😉

And as for online courses, I am using LearnDash. However, it is overkill for some people.

I have one client right now, for instance, who wants online courses. However, most of her courses are going to be a single lesson. Basically, a page with a video on it and some text. And she doesn’t really need any progress tracking. It’s just protected content. For something like this, we don’t even need a learning management system at all! We’ll just set up a custom post type for her courses. We’ll make it hierarchal in case she wants to break a course into multiple parts. And we’ll protect the whole thing with WP Fusion. Easy peasy.

See, not every setup for online courses needs a dedicated plugin. Sometimes, you can just do it with Wordpress built-in functionality. It just depends on the bells and whistles you need (or lack thereof). Most sites over-engineer their course setups way beyond what is needed.

For all of your forms, I recommend Fluent Forms. The integration with FluentCRM makes it easy as pie and I love you can see all of a user’s form submissions right inside their profile. Along with their full order history from WooCommerce, BTW.

The whole thing… just works. It makes administration of a membership site easier. It is easy for your members to get around and to control their accounts. You don’t have disjointed data because things are stored all across different third-party services. And you’re also not enslaved to expensive services where if you want to stop paying for it, your business shuts down.

It just works.

To dive deeper on all this, I am currently working on a big mega-post which is going to talk about building a membership site from scratch. It will dive deeper into the nitty-gritty of setting up the plumbing for all this stuff.

Obviously, every situation is a little different. So, if you’d like to hop on a call with me to discuss the best options for you, go ahead and schedule a strategy call and I’d be happy to talk with you about your site.

And, of course, if you’d like me to just build this stuff for you (or help you transition from your existing setup to a newer, better setup), then you can book my technical services.

I’m here to help. This is pretty much what I do all day. And I’d be happy to look at your site, too.

Here’s How I Can Help…

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  • I’ll Do It For You: Via my technical services, I can dive into your site and take care of the complex stuff for you. Whether it be just some tweaks… or building out a full membership site and marketing automation funnel, I can ensure your WordPress site is working for you and not the other way around.
  • Book A Call Anytime. Via a private one-on-one call, I’ll make your business… my business. Easy peasy.
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