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Share content and connect with your customers with a membership site

Connect with customers through your membership site. Here's how to create membership posts, get feedback, and build a community around your content.

Picture this: An online community of like-minded people all focused on accomplishing the same goal, supporting each other, and benefitting from your valuable expertise, content, and digital products. 

That’s the power of a membership site. 

Building a membership site lets you provide exclusive content to your customers in exchange for a monthly or annual subscription fee. You make money directly from your subscribers by offering them valuable content they can't find anywhere else.

When you create a membership site with Podia, you can communicate directly with your members by posting updates, get real-time feedback on your membership site content, and build a community around your niche.

Plus, Podia is the only membership software you need to sell memberships, host your content, and post regular updates -- no WordPress plugins, blogging platforms, or forum add-ons necessary. 

Here's how it works. 

How to create a membership site and build an engaging membership experience with Podia

When you build your membership site with Podia, you can interact directly with members through your posts and comments. And with no post or file limits, you can give your members as much content as they need and post as often as you'd like. 

Here's how to build an interactive membership site with Podia.

(Want to follow along, but don't have a Podia account? Sign up for a free 14-day trial.)

Step 1: Create your membership site

Go to your Podia dashboard, then click on Memberships.

If you don't already have a membership set up with Podia, it's time to create one. Give your membership a name, then click "Create your Membership".

Step 2: Set up at least one membership plan

Before you can start posting on your membership site, you need to create at least one membership plan.

Membership plans are the different tiers of your membership program. You can set up different plans to offer different levels of access to your products and content.

Podia lets you offer unlimited plans, but for now, let's just create one. 

Click "Plans," then "Create a plan".

When you create a new plan, you can give your plan a name, set up monthly or annual pricing for your plan, and choose whether you want to offer members a free trial.

To accept payments, make sure you have your PayPal or Stripe account connected to Podia. 

(Not sure how much to charge your members? Check out our guide to membership site pricing.)

This is also where you'll select which products to include in your plan. Since we're only creating one plan right now, let's go ahead and select all of the available products.

Next, scroll to the bottom of your product list and click "Save as draft" or "Publish plan…"

If you click "Publish plan…," you'll be reminded that, once a plan is published, you won't be able to change the price. If you're happy with your pricing, go ahead and click "Publish plan".

Step 3: Create a membership post

Before you can launch your membership site, you need to create at least one membership post. Your first membership post should welcome new members and let them know more about what they can expect from your membership.

To create your first post, click on "Posts," then "Create a post". 

Give your post a title and write your welcome post. You can add images and GIFs to your post by dragging them into the Editor, or upload a video by dragging it into the area labeled "Video".

(We'll share more ideas for membership posts later on.)

For your welcome post, toggle "Pinned" to keep the post at the top of your membership posts, so it's the first thing all new members see. Pinned posts are a great way to welcome new members, share evergreen resources, or lay out community guidelines.

For example, Minessa Konecky uses the pinned post on her Social Strategy Squad membership site to keep the group's curriculum close at hand. 

You can also choose who has access to your post.

If you create a public post, anyone who comes to your membership site can see the post, members and non-members alike. Public posts are also indexed on search engines, so you can even use them as a stand-in for a more traditional blog.

If you make your post private, you can gate content by membership levels, allowing specific members to see more premium content. Keeping premium content offerings behind a paywall can entice free members to upgrade their membership plan. 

Podia also makes it easy to let your members know that you've published new content. Just toggle "Send members an email when published," and they'll be notified as soon as your post goes live.

Last but not least, you can schedule your content in advance by clicking "Schedule".

Then, choose the date and time you want your post to go live.

When you schedule your content in advance, you can make sure your posts go live on time -- whether you're in front of your computer or not. 

Step 4: Publish your membership site 

Once you publish your first post, your membership site can go live. Click "Publish!"

And just like that, your membership site is live! You can click "Promote" to share your membership on social media, copy your sales page and subscription URLs, and even embed your Podia checkout on another site.

You can also customize your membership sales page at any time by clicking inside the Editor, pictured below.

Step 5: Engage with member comments

As soon as you post new content, members can like and comment on your updates, giving you instant feedback. 

Membership comments help you engage your audience by inviting them to share their thoughts, ask questions, like content, or spark conversations on any of the content you share.

You can see all member comments in the "Comments" tab.

From here, you can reply to comments -- and we definitely recommend that you do so.

One of the key ways to build a membership community is responding to members' comments and questions and engaging them in conversation. Not only can they learn from you, but you can learn a lot from them, too. 

Keep reading to learn how. 

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Spark conversations and gather valuable member feedback 

To make the most of these membership website features, use membership posts as a jumping-off point for conversations and connection.

As we covered earlier, a pinned welcome post makes it simple to give new members more information about your membership site, like in this pinned post on the Step By Step Painting membership site.

Welcome posts can also be an opportunity to make your membership feel like a community from day one. Ask new members to comment on the post and introduce themselves.

Here's a welcome post template you can use to encourage new member intros:

Thank you for joining [membership site name]! We're so excited to have you.

As a member, you'll receive monthly bonus content, early access to all new courses, exclusive discounts, and more fun surprises.

Keep an eye on your inbox (and this page) for updates, conversations with other members, and everything else you need to make the most of your membership. 

Please feel free to ask questions, participate in discussions, and help us make this community the best it can be.

But first, go ahead and introduce yourself in the comments so we can all get to know each other.

Let us know your first name, where you're located, and what your goals are for [topic/niche].

Looking forward to an exciting 2021!

If you use this template, make sure to acknowledge each comment, even if you just say, "Welcome, [name!] We're so excited to have you."

Membership posts also make it easy to interact with your customers. And when you interact with your customers, you can learn more about their pain points, goals, and reactions to your content. 

Ask specific questions in your posts, then reply to comments to make your members feel heard.

Here are some conversation starters you can include in your membership posts:

  1. What are your biggest challenges when it comes to [topic]?

  2. What do you want to learn more about?

  3. How can I help you succeed and meet your goals?

  4. What was your most important takeaway from our last discussion?

  5. What was your biggest success last month? What advice would you give others who want to achieve that?

Not only do these questions help you learn more about your members, but you also open up conversations for them to have with one another -- conversations that form the foundation of an engaged, thriving membership community.

Membership posts and comments can be a great customer research tool, too.

When you actively seek out your customers' feedback, you can validate product ideas and create more of the content and products your members want.

Plus, your customers want you to take their feedback into account: 91% of people believe that companies should fuel innovation by listening to buyers and customers.

To make the most of your customer feedback, use the A.C.A.F. feedback loop:

  1. Ask your customers for feedback.

  2. Categorize the feedback.

  3. Act on the feedback.

  4. Follow up with the customers who initially shared their feedback.

Use membership posts to figure out what kind of content resonates with your audience. In addition to asking them directly, look at how customers engage with your posts. Do they like and comment the most on webinar recordings? Podcast episodes? Plain ol' text posts?

At the end of the day, every community is different. Figure out what works best for you and yours, then go out there and create more of the content your audience wants -- and make sure to bring them along for the ride.

Podia makes it easy for creators to keep members up-to-date and build engaged communities on membership sites. Try it out for yourself with a 14-day free trial.

A portrait of Rachel Burns

About the author

Rachel is a content marketer for Podia, an all-in-one platform where online courses, digital downloads, and membership websites – alongside their creators – thrive. When she’s not writing, you can find her rescuing dogs, baking something, or extolling the virtue of the Oxford comma.