A growing trend in the entrepreneurial world, membership sites are the ultimate pie-in-the-sky portal to a passive income where one can freely release content on a one-to-many scale, unencumbered by time.

The sad truth: More entrepreneurs entertain the idea of a membership site than actually pull the trigger. Why? Unforeseen technological roadblocks tend to cast a deceptively large shadow on the planning process when, in fact, they are merely requisite stepping stones to a thriving, profitable membership product.

Having to acquire a file host or a payment gateway should by no means dead-end your impetus. In this article, we break down and offer resources on how to make short work of each technical component, why it’s important, and how it fits in with the big picture of your membership site.

By the end, you’ll have gained insight into the following:

  • A home for your website
  • A platform to manage your content and end-user experience
  • A method of taking payments
  • A lead collection, member management and follow-up tool
  • A place to host your media files

1: Web Hosting

Before you do anything else, put some thought into where your membership site will live online. A common oversight in the beginning stages, acquiring a stable web host early on will prevent any catastrophic issues once your site is live.

Whereas a membership platform — which you’ll procure next — is a home for your content, a web host secures your site an address on the web.


Tip: If you don’t already own a domain for your new membership site, you’ll need to acquire one. Use the following resources to learn more and ask the right questions when it comes to selecting a dependable domain registrar:

Many web hosts also offer domain name registration on top of web hosting, eliminating the need for a separate domain registrar. With that in mind, when it comes to web hosting for your membership site, you’ll find yourself with three concrete options. Follow these links to find out what they are and determine which serves your business and membership model best:

2: Membership Platform

The linchpin of your membership site, your membership software, not only determines how seamless or frustrating your end-user experience is, but it also determines ease of use when it comes to managing and updating content on your site. It’s the engine under your hood — so choose wisely.

Given its price, flexibility and broad selection of membership plugins, WordPress continues to be the platform of choice for entrepreneurs launching their first membership site. That said, there are plenty of great alternatives to WordPress out there — each with its own strengths and limitations.

Below is a list of recommended membership platforms available to any entrepreneur on a budget:

WordPress Options




Wishlist Member



aMember Pro



Restrict Content Pro

Paid Memberships Pro

Zippy Courses

Non-WordPress Options




Wild Apricot

3: Payment Gateway

By putting your content behind a paywall, you transform an ordinary website into an ecommerce membership site.  At this point, there’s one crucial component you’ll need in order to conduct transactions and collect that passive income: a payment gateway.

To help you make the right choice, check out the helpful resource below:

4: Automation Software

A membership platform paired with the right automation platform makes a hands-off approach entirely possible. While a membership platform houses all your content, your automation software will manage new member onboarding, payment reminders and member follow-up — among other things.

Ontraport’s automation engine encompasses all your membership site needs with its robust follow-up functionality. Featuring a turnkey membership solution, PilotPress, the software allows you to launch a members-only website on which you can deliver digital products, manage member log-in, create unlimited levels of access, manage payments, and much more to create a remarkable experience for both you and your customers.

5: File Hosting

Most experts will tell you not to host your audio and video files on the membership platform itself. With little exception, performance is generally slow and file protection is mediocre at best. Check out these resources for all the answers as well as great alternatives to hosting audio and video on your membership site:

For a reliable video host, check out the following:


With the right combination of tech solutions in place, your membership site becomes a well-oiled machine — a site that runs itself while you sit back and generate new content on your own terms. Let us know in the comments if you have any great tips and resources!

About Martin Cogburn
Martin Cogburn, Ontraport's Senior Content Strategist, cherishes and strives to master the art of great storytelling. Originally from Frankfurt, the German native attended UCSB after growing up in the Santa Barbara area. Martin wears multiple hats in his role at Ontraport: story producer, blog author, scriptwriter, and content curator -- all of which get his creative juices flowing. On top of that, he's an avid film enthusiast. Name any movie and there's a pretty good chance Martin can tell you all about it.