How to Create a Fan Subscription Site (like Patreon) with MemberPress (In 6 Steps)

Whether you're a musician, a prominent travel writer, or another public figure, engaging with your fans is one of the most valuable things you can do. If you don't invest in connecting with your fan base, you could quickly lose your followers or become irrelevant.

The success of sites like Patreon has proven this true. But Patreon charges membership fees and takes a cut of revenue. You also don't control pricing or policy changes with the platform, which can be frustrating when you're trying to build your community online.

What's worse, Patreon has been known to remove membership pages and even censor content if they don't like it. If this were to happen to you, all the people who had paid memberships with you would be unable to see your content – with very little warning.

Fortunately, there's a great alternative to Patreon – starting your own membership site. With your own fan subscription site, you can:

  • Completely customize for how you want to do business
  • Keep your profits rather than hand some over to a third-party
  • Maintain control over how members are charged and memberships maintained
  • Retain your independence

The best thing is that creating a membership site or adding membership functionality to your existing fan website with MemberPress is a quick and easy.

In this detailed guide, we outline the benefits of starting a fan subscription site. We also walk you through six steps to get your site up and running in no time. So, let's get moving!

Why You Should Consider Starting a Fan Subscription Site

A membership site is a platform where your fans can sign up for exclusive content. You can entice your fan base to subscribe to your site, and then regularly update it with new material. This exclusivity can be beneficial for both you and your fans, because you can make extra income and help your followers learn more about you.

Fans tend to have an emotional connection to the people they follow and admire. Therefore, it's important to remember that your content should be beneficial for both parties, and continue to strengthen the relationship you share.

The OnlyFans membership site signup page

As mentioned, fansites like Patreon are incredibly popular. OnlyFans (a site similar to Patreon) has more than 500,000 new users every day. But, like its competitor, OnlyFans takes a big cut of your income – 20% from every payment you receive.

In contrast, if you set up an independent membership site for your fan base, you can hold on to more of the profits and control the content you share. That might include original creative content (e.g., songs, written work, or other material related to your expertise), community-based forums for fan base discussions, and even instructional videos.

A MemberPress Fandom Membership Site Example: Terrell Owens

Terrell Owens Official Website homepage

Legendary football wide receiver Terrell Owens was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 2018. That marked the end of his 15-year career, but retirement hasn’t slowed him down a bit. 

Today, Terrell uses his official website to relate with his fanbase as an actor, humanitarian, loving father, fitness expert, motivational speaker, vinter, and entrepreneur. Built with MemberPress, the site allows him to share his thoughts and expertise through podcasts, videos, blog articles, and more.

How to Start a Fan Subscription Site (In 6 Steps)

If you decide to start a membership site for your fans, you'll be glad to know it's not hard. In this section, we'll explain how to do this using the MemberPress plugin in just six steps.

But first you'll need to have a WordPress site up and running. But don't worry. It's easy! This walkthrough will help you with the basics.

You'll also want to choose a theme. Just do a Google search for the term “WordPress themes for fansites”, and you'll be inundated with amazing options. Once everything's all ready to go, you can start setting up your membership site by following these six simple steps.

Step 1: Install the MemberPress Plugin

First, you'll need to purchase a MemberPress subscription. Then you can download the installation file from your MemberPress dashboard. This will also provide you with a license key that you will need to enter when you install the plugin in WordPress:

An image of the MemberPress account site.

In your WordPress dashboard, you can follow these steps to install the plugin: Plugins > Add New > Upload Plugin > Choose File.

You should then open the MemberPress file you downloaded, install it, and activate it. Finally, you can enter your license key to complete the installation.

Step 2: Design Your Membership Plans

Next, you can set up the membership plans for your website. In this step, you will create the plans and adjust settings like pricing information, billing types, and membership options.

To do this, go to MemberPress > Memberships > Add New. There you can choose how much to charge for fan membership, how often your fans will be charged, and what content they can access:

Membership section of the MemberPress plugin

You should consider your fan base's needs, and what kind of content you want to provide. For example, you may want to offer different levels of subscriptions, so more casual fans can purchase a cheaper plan with less content, and hardcore fans can pay more for exclusive access.

You may also want to offer a free or discounted trial period. This can allow your audience to see your content and decide if they want to continue paying for ongoing access.

Step 3: Change Access Settings for Your Membership Plans

Once you have your fan memberships in place, you can customize access settings to determine who can view what content. You will need to go into MemberPress > Rules. There you can give fans access to certain parts of your site and restrict them from other content:

Content and access permissions in the MemberPress plugin

For example, you may offer more videos, exclusive forums, or personal content to your hardcore fans who pay for a higher subscription level. Make sure to save each rule after you create it, and remember that you can set different rules for each of your membership plans.

Step 4: Create a Sign-Up Link

Next, you can create a link for your fan site's registration page. This step allows people who visit your website to navigate to sign up easily.

In your WordPress dashboard, go to Appearance > Menus > Manage with Live Preview:

Menu customization screen in WordPress

This directs you to the WordPress Customizer, where you can add the membership link by going to Primary Menu > Add Items > Memberships > Add New Membership:

Customizing primary menus in WordPress

Step 5: Create a Login Link for Your Fan Site

You can now create a login page and link for your fan membership site. Without this step, your audience won't be able to log in to the membership section.

You can customize this by going to MemberPress > Settings > Pages > MemberPress Login Page > Auto Create New Page:

MemberPress login page on WordPress

You can edit and customize this login page as you like to create a better user experience for your fan base.

Step 6: Promote Your Fan Site

Now you have a membership website for your fans! Finally, you should consider how you will entice your fan base to subscribe to your new site. These are a few methods you could use to get the word out:

Coupons in the MemberPress plugin

You should consider focusing on what attracts fans to your content in the first place. For example, if you are a musician, you can advertise that signing up to your site will give access to unreleased songs and original material.

Add More Features

Once your site is established, you can take advantage of MemberPress' many amazing integrations to add new features to your site. Consider things like:

Conclusion

Connecting with your fans is one of the best ways to keep them loyal and invested in your work. Whether you create music or art, or you inspire people to change their lives, targeting content to your fans can be incredibly valuable.

In this guide, we explained how to start a membership website for fans in just six steps:

  1. Install the MemberPress plugin.
  2. Design your membership plans.
  3. Change access settings for your membership plans.
  4. Create a sign-up link.
  5. Create a login link for your fan site.
  6. Promote your fan site.

How will you connect with your fans via your new fan subscription site? Let us know in the comments section below!

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About John Hughes

John is a blogging addict, WordPress fanatic, and staff writer.

Comments




2 Comments

    [email protected]

    October 7, 2021

    I switched from Patreon to MemberPress, and I am very pleased with the independence including having my own domain! I moved all my Patreon posts onto my blog, which allowed me to organize all my content much better! The MemberPress Downloads plugin is working very well, and designing my own website has been fun with Elementor. There are so many benefits of using MemberPress instead of Patreon! MemberPress also allows me to create yearly subscriptions at a discount, so there are fewer transactional fees, which means members/patrons actually pay less while the creator keeps more. MemberPress courses is also a great feature Patreon lacks! One thing I wish MemberPress and/or WordPress were better at would be the member/patron communication with the creators. bbPress and BuddyPress both suffer from user interface issues that drive members away from wanting to communicate. Most members prefer putting comments under posts instead of BuddyPress or bbPress, which shows how lacking those options prove to be. It would be ideal if MemberPress had its own solution to replace BuddyPress or bbPress, more similar to Patreon. The communication within Patreon is the only feature I miss.

      Paul C

      October 11, 2021

      Thanks for the feedback! Check out BuddyBoss, it might have a better UI that you're looking for.