In 2018, it occurred to me that my little brick and mortar yoga studio could reach so many more people if I could just figure out how to take it online.
This was pre-covid, mind you, before the whole world had pivoted to online offerings, so there weren’t as many options for hosting on-demand videos as there are today — and frankly, I’m glad there weren’t. Here’s why:
Most of the membership hosting platforms out there have at least one of the following issues that I DID NOT RUN INTO because I built my site from scratch:
- They are expensive
- They want a portion of your membership proceeds — so as you grow, you pay them more and more
- They have limits to the size of videos you can host — a major problem for me because my 60-min classes are often in the 20GB range even after I compress them
I was DETERMINED to create a membership platform that:
- Wouldn’t break the bank,
- Allowed me to keep my earnings as I scaled, and
- Gave me no limit on how much I could upload.
I’m happy to say that after some trial and error, I succeeded. And today, I am proud of the membership experience I have been able to create.
If you’re thinking of building a membership site too, here are 7 reasons why you should (and one reason why you shouldn’t).
In this article I share with you the MOST ESSENTIAL TOOLS I used to build and grow my yoga membership site from scratch, keeping money in my own pocket in the process.
To be clear, if you’d like to build a paid yoga website of your own, it will cost you some money. But — and it’s a big but — you won’t be locked into some partnership where a big company is taking a percentage of your earnings forevermore. This is the DIY, go-rogue version of a membership site — for those bold enough to keep their own revenue.
You do NOT need to be a tech whiz to make use of these tools — they are all quite user friendly. With some intense focus, you could be up and running in just a couple days.
Onto the goods!
This post contains affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something I may earn a small commission. I only recommend products I believe are truly valuable. Thank you!
The EXACT TOOLS I Used to Build My Membership Site
(without giving the proceeds to some big company)
Table of Contents
Choose your site's name
Go to Google Domains first because I have noticed that other domain registrars tend to charge more money.
I wouldn’t belabor this step. Choose an obvious name, check its availability, and make the small investment.
Et voilà. A piece of the internet is yours.
Start a self-hosted website
Be sure to head to WordPress.org and not WordPress.com because you will want full access to your files and total control over your domain name.
WordPress itself is totally free to use, but you will need to hook up with a hosting provider to get your site up and running.
Don’t worry. The process is as easy as clicking the big blue button on the right.
3. SiteGround Hosting
The BEST host I've ever worked with
When I first got started, I didn’t know what to look for in a host. I ended up not choosing wisely.
Their dashboard was confusing, their customer support was non-existent, but the worst was that their servers were slowing my site down — badly.
They have a Site Tools dashboard that is so well designed and easy to use it makes you WANT to log in.
Their customer service is top notch, available 24 hours, and they don’t make you feel stupid for asking dumb questions (like I did).
SiteGround couldn’t be easier to work with, and best of all, my site is lightning fast now. Despite having hundreds of embedded videos and dozens of plugins, my site loads in less than a single second. Proof right here:
SiteGround’s plans are very reasonably priced.
Once you select a plan, they will give you the option to proceed with an existing domain or to choose a new domain name.
4. Elementor or Elementor Pro
Create a beautiful website with ease
I happen to use the Pro version, but there is a totally free version too.
I absolutely love this website builder because it requires zero coding AND YET gives me 100% customizability. If I DID so happen to want to code, it allows me to do that too.
Basically, if I can envision it, I can build it with Elementor easily. I use this design tool for both for my yoga membership site and my blog.
Elementor is a drag and drop website builder, so it couldn’t be simpler.
They also have a free WordPress theme, “Hello Elementor” which is incredibly lightweight and makes it beyond easy to design a beautiful, fast-loading membership site.
Finally, my favorite part
Memberful is a very easy to use membership plugin built especially for WordPress users who want to host members. It takes care of ALL OF the administrative tasks associated with running a membership site, like:
- Protecting my posts so that only paying members can see them
- Collecting payments via Stripe
- Sending email reminders for things like expired credit cards and expiring subscriptions
- Integrating with other tools I use, like email providers
- Tracking member analytics, such as:
- how customers have found me
- which plans are performing the best
- my rate of churn, and
- much more
What I really like most about Memberful is that over the five years that I’ve worked with them, they’ve continually improved.
- They’ve added more integrations
- More analytics tools
- Updates to plans, discounts, referrals, and more
- They’re continuously polling their membership hosts to ask what our needs are
Any issue or question I’ve had has been answered promptly, professionally, and even sweetly.
I’m committed to Memberful by now, and I love how simple they make it for people to sign up with me.
More things I love about Memberful:
Their signup forms
- The signup form is so simple and pretty.
- Their forms are friendly across devices.
- I can easily import my branding colors and logo into the signup form.
Their monthly pricing is really fair and reasonable, and they have a totally free option too.
Easy-to-use email software
Every good membership host needs a way to stay in touch with her members.
The reason I jumped ship from another email provider to ConvertKit is that ConvertKit makes it easy for you to design customer journeys with visual email sequences.
It’s everything you’d need and expect from an email provider, and it integrates seamlessly with all of the other tools I use.
Video hosting service
I embed my classes into WordPress posts, and Vimeo’s servers make this very easy for me to do without slowing down my website.
I simply set my videos to “unlisted,” and copy the embed link to insert into my protected (members-only) posts.
Full disclosure that I ALSO use YouTube’s TOTALLY FREE “unlisted” videos option. However, I embed from Vimeo for each video as well for two major reasons:
- Many of my members from outside the U.S. report a better user experience with the Vimeo hosted classes
- Vimeo’s players can easily cast onto other devices, so if students want to take class on their TV screen, they can do so easily.
There you have it!
The exact tools I used to build and grow my yoga membership site.
If you’re a yoga teacher looking to bring your offerings into the online space, building a membership site is a great way to stay connected to your audience no matter where they live.
I have absolutely loved hosting my membership site, and I’ve loved adapting it according to my students’ needs and desires.
As the world shifts toward more and more online education, it’s a great idea to offer your teachings in the online space.
You could certainly hop aboard one of the many pre-built platforms that have cropped up over the last few years. But if you want to keep your own proceeds, then don’t be afraid to build your own site — it can definitely be done!
Let me know if you have any specific questions (in the comments below)!
Leigha Butler is the founder of LBY, an online portal for yoga lovers who want to take their practice to new heights. Stay superlatively supple and strong for life. You can learn more or sign up for a free trial right here.