We’re facing an ever growing world of new online membership and subscription-based businesses—and with that growth comes loads of freelance services you can offer these budding businesses.

You might be thinking: no thank you. There was a time I also assumed that e-commerce clients were notoriously unpredictable and demanding.

In this case, though, the membership and subscriptions market may be too big an opportunity to ignore if you want to expand or productize your freelancer services.

This guide aims to facilitate the growth of your freelance or small business agency with a specialized focus on membership websites. We’ve included ideas to support freelance developers and non-developers, who can use these strategies to grow their current client base and expand on the services they offer to existing clientele.

Freelance Services you can sell to membership site businesses

Why specialize in membership websites?

Modern membership site entrepreneurs share a set of common characteristics. If you understand these customers, you can make more money by selling the specific services they are looking for.

Later in this guide, we dive into the specific development knowledge and business skills you need to land a membership site client.

But first, ask yourself if niching-down is the right choice for you…

You already have a “type” of website you do well.

You’ve already carved a niche in a particular type of website development. Perhaps you’ve been freelancing for a while and started to focus on sites for local restaurants or regional non-profit organizations.

Guess what: this expertise easily translates into offering membership features to your clients, many of whom would be very happy to reap the benefits of a subscription model.

  • A local restaurant, for example, could use a membership area for customer loyalty or private coupons by email.
  • An NPO can use membership to collect recurring donations and maintain a list of donors.

E-commerce clients are notoriously difficult. No thanks.

Many developers are convinced that the e-commerce customer will be too demanding and troublesome to please.

In my own experience, past e-commerce clients have blamed the technology for their low sales.

Worse yet, the operators were completely unprepared for the aspects of e-commerce they had to maintain, such as shipping, taxes, and product returns.

While this may be the case, the flip side is that e-commerce easily proves the value of a website investment.

When a site is making money, in this case subscription revenue, your client is more inclined to spend money on a developer for continued development and maintenance. This is much harder to validate for a static website.

TL;DR: You should be offering freelance services to the membership commerce sector.

  • E-commerce clients are difficult. BUT you can easily prove value.
  • The market of online e-commerce and membership businesses are growing like crazy.
  • People are happy to spend money on a website that makes them money.

What makes a successful membership site client for your freelance services?

There are all sorts of entrepreneurs, associations, organizations, and subject matter experts who want to start a membership site. What’s more, many of the clients you have already built a website for will benefit from membership features, too.

Take a look at your personal and professional networks. With a little creativity, even the most unconventional businesses could benefit from starting a membership site.

We are not saying you should force a membership site on all of your clients. Rather, you should focus on the clients that would see value from a membership site. If it makes sense, pitch the possibilities of recurring income, delivering regular value to their audience, or transforming an in-person business to a virtual one.

The characteristics below will help identify the kind of people who benefit from starting a membership site. Have a look at the list below and try to match some of these features with people in your network.

  • People who have expertise in a specific topic.
  • Customers who may or may not have an audience. If they already do, great. If not, that’s an added opportunity to help them build one.
  • Someone who is comfortable with technology, but could use some help getting set up.
  • Customers with a unique product offering or service.
  • People with big personalities.
  • In-person business owners looking to move their business online.
  • Natural content creators.

Already a few people in your network or client list may be coming to mind. You might be surprised with the number of people close to you who would benefit from your services.

Live Stream Replay: Freelance Services You Can Offer to Membership Site Owners

In this live stream recording, Kim Coleman explains how you can get started offering freelance services for WordPress membership sites. Pay close attention to all the ways you can serve the growing membership site market.

WordPress Membership Site Services for Freelance Developers

If you are going to become a freelance membership site developer you need to become very familiar with your tools. We are going to assume that you are already familiar with WordPress. So, the obvious next step is to find a membership plugin that can offer you the reliability and features you need to build successful sites for your customers.

We recommend that you use Paid Memberships Pro, the most complete WordPress Membership Plugin and the plugin we have developed.

Paid Memberships Pro has powered thousands of membership sites for over 12 years. We deeply understand the online business of memberships and subscriptions. Our plugin is fully open source and highly extendable for developers. Begin by learning the basics of Paid Memberships Pro and build out your skillset over time. You don’t have to be an advanced developer to get started.

Learn the Basics of Building Membership Sites

  1. Complete an initial setup of Paid Memberships Pro. You can set the plugin up in a staging site or on a local development server. Following our initial setup docs will show you how to set up the core plugin.
  2. Learn how to protect content. PMPro includes a variety of ways to protect content in a WordPress site. Membership sites often require some combination of each of these protection methods:
    1. Membership shortcode
    2. “Require Membership” metabox
    3. “Require Membership” block
    4. pmpro_hasMembershipLevel function
  3. Set up a payment gateway: We recommend using Stripe as the site’s primary gateway alongside the Add PayPal Express Add On. This combination is the most direct to set up and maintain.
  4. Learn how to add custom profile fields to membership checkout or member profiles using the user fields feature in PMPro. Create fields using the settings page or code more complex user fields using the User Fields API. This feature allows you to build application forms, registration forms, and profile forms for members. You can add most HTML form field types, from simple text input to file uploads and more.
  5. Browse our library of other Add Ons. We have an large collection of free and premium Add Ons that offer more features for membership sites. These Add Ons are, like our core plugin, all open source and all available on GitHub for free.

Advanced Membership Site Development Services For Freelancers

Already learned the basics of Paid Memberships Pro? It’s time to go deeper. In our customer support area, we see a huge range of unique requests from members. To succeed in building complex websites, you need to deeply learn the Paid Memberships Pro platform.

Developers love that PMPro is fully open source and unbelievably customizable. The next set of resources will help you prepare to offer custom solutions for your customers.

Advanced Services to Offer as a Freelance Membership Site Developer

  • Advanced Plugin Integration: Membership sites often require a blend of multiple plugins to deliver all the necessary features. As a developer, you can offer services to connect with other plugins or third party platforms.
  • Extend Core Features: Explore our library of action and filter hooks that allow you to further customize site features and appearance. Customizations made via action and filter hooks work alongside the core plugin and Add Ons. This ensures that you can always update the core plugin as new security updates or features are released.
  • API Integration: Offering to connect the membership site to external software via APIs is a high-value service. Refer to our API documentation for more help understanding this topic.
  • Maintenance, Security, and Debugging: Learn how to debug a WordPress website and some common developer-focused topics like how to safely use a staging site.
  • Caching and Speed: Explore advanced caching techniques for membership sites to learn the most common issues that crop up, and how to safely cache content in protected sites. Also check out our guide on how to speed up PMPro.
  • Membership Analytics: Consider developing custom reports for the metrics and stats that matter most to your client. This can help clients to better understand their user base, monitor member engagement, and make data-driven decisions to improve their site.
  • Multilingual Support: If your client’s audience is international, providing multilingual support on their website can be a great value-add. This would involve not only translating the content but also ensuring that all elements of the site function properly in multiple languages.

Each of these services adds considerable value to a membership site, and could help you differentiate yourself in the freelance market.

Freelance Products and Services You Can Offer as a Non-Developer

Not a developer? Haven’t built a WordPress website before? No problem.

Running a large scale membership business is a lot of work—even if you can do it as a company of one. The development to launch the site is just the tip of the iceberg.

Members demand continued value for the life of their membership. Blog posts need to be written. Social Media accounts need to be managed. Members need their questions answered.

There is a huge opportunity for non-developers to offer services for membership sites, too. Below is a short list of the more “non-developer” roles needed to grow and maintain any online membership site.

Content Creation and Course Creation

High-quality, engaging content is crucial to keeping members engaged and attracting new ones. If you have a knack for writing or creating multimedia content, your skills are in high demand. You could offer services in writing blog posts, creating video tutorials, designing infographics, and even developing full-fledged online courses related to the membership site’s topic. You’d be responsible for ensuring the content aligns with the brand’s voice and, ideally, delivers value to members.

Email Marketing and “List” Building

Building and nurturing an email list is a key component of any successful online membership business. Freelancers skilled in email marketing can help develop newsletters, create segmented email campaigns for different member tiers, and utilize automation to increase engagement. Your role might also include creating lead magnets to grow the email list and reviewing campaign performance to drive future efforts.

Social Media Management

Social media is a powerful tool for promoting an online business and creating a community around it. As a social media manager, you’d develop and carry out a social media strategy that aligns with the site’s overall goals. This could involve designing content in Canva, creating and scheduling posts, responding to comments and messages, managing paid ads, and monitoring performance analytics to fine-tune the strategy.

Accounting Services

Running a membership site involves multiple financial elements, including member subscriptions, expenses, and potentially payroll. Freelancers with accounting experience can offer invaluable support in tracking income and expenses, preparing financial reports, and helping the business stay compliant with tax laws and regulations.

Legal Assistance

Membership sites must consider several legal aspects, such as ensuring compliance with privacy laws, handling copyright issues, and creating member agreements. If you have a legal background, you can offer services like drafting terms of use and privacy policies, giving advice on copyright matters, and helping the business stay updated on legal changes.

Membership Management and Member Support

Ensuring members are satisfied and their needs are met is crucial to the success of a website. Roles in membership management and member support could involve handling member inquiries, resolving issues, and doing technical support. Additionally, you might be involved in managing the member database, reaching out to lapsed members, and offering hands-on service to ensure members get the most out of their subscription.

Running Seasonal Sales and Promotions

Strategically timed sales and promotions can significantly boost member signups and revenue. If you have a knack for marketing, you could manage seasonal sales campaigns and other special events. This might involve planning the promotion’s theme and timeline, setting up discounts, creating marketing materials, and measuring the campaign’s success. A tool that can greatly assist in this role is Sitewide Sales, an all in one solution for WordPress ecommerce flash sales like Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Each of these roles offers a unique way to contribute to the growth and maintenance of an online membership site beyond the realm of development.

Getting Meta: Create Your Own Membership Site

Thinking one step ahead, why not leverage your freelancer skills by creating your own membership site? Could you deliver these services on a subscription basis?

  1. Identify Your Services: Start by identifying the freelance services you excel at and can consistently deliver. Whether that’s development, maintenance, content creation, email newsletters, or member support, choose services that you’re confident in and that are in high demand among site owners.
  2. Package Your Services: Next, consider how you can bundle your services. You might offer different packages based on the scope of services, or create tiers based on different levels of service scope. For example, a basic package could include monthly WordPress updates, content creation and social media management, while a premium package could add email marketing and membership management.
  3. Set Up Your Membership Site: Once you’ve defined your services and packages, it’s time to set up your own membership site. There are numerous plugins you can use to do this, such as Paid Memberships Pro. Make sure your site is easy to navigate, with clear explanations of your services and packages.
  4. Market Your Services: With your site set up, now it’s time to attract members. Utilize the same strategies mentioned earlier: content creation, email, social media promotion, and even sales and promotions using tools like Sitewide Sales. Show potential members the value you can provide and how your services can help grow their sites.

By creating your own membership site to offer your freelance services, you’re not just providing valuable services to other businesses, but also establishing a scalable, recurring revenue stream for your own business. This embodies the power and potential of the membership model…and you’re living proof of it!

Seize the Opportunity: Freelance Products and Services for Membership Site Owners

The online membership and subscription-based market is expanding at an unprecedented pace, offering endless ways to grow your freelance business.

From development to content creation, email marketing to legal assistance, every skill set has the potential to contribute significantly to the growth and maintenance of a membership site.

But one thing stands out, and that’s the importance of the platform. WordPress, paired with Paid Memberships Pro, provides a robust, flexible, and feature-rich environment to build successful membership sites. It’s the ideal sandbox to play in (free!), whether you’re developing advanced membership features or creating engaging content.

So, why not take the first step today? Check out Paid Memberships Pro plans and familiarize yourself with the platform that could become your ticket to the world of membership sites. You won’t just be expanding your freelance services; you’ll be opening doors to an entirely new realm of possibilities. It’s time to seize the opportunity.

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