How to create a membership site: Skills your team needs and challenges to look out for

Caroline Burk

Updated: Feb 15, 2024 · 9 min read

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If one of your goals for this year is to create a membership program, we’ve got your back.

Maybe you’ve already started the membership process and have been following along with our how-to series. In our first two articles, Jamie DuBose and Chris Davis shared details on how to create a membership site, how to know if a membership program is right for you, how to structure your program, tips for reducing churn and more.

With this article, you can continue preparing your own membership site by learning from another stellar Keap Partner: Melodie Moore, memberships specialist and founder of Business Tech Ninjas.

Melodie recently shared with Keap how she’s successfully scaled her membership site and the advice she gives her clients on how they can do the same. Watch the video and read on to learn the final few details you need to consider before launching your site, including what roles and skills are needed to manage your membership site, the common and ongoing challenges to look out for and the technology that can support you each step of the way.

What roles and skills does your team need to successfully implement or manage a membership site?

Creating a membership site and managing it are two separate tasks that each come with a unique set of challenges; but despite their differences, both projects require similar skills.

Melodie emphasizes that the most important qualities your team needs to implement and run your membership program are:

Technical aptitude

First and foremost, for anyone learning how to create a membership site, Melodie stresses that technological aptitude is a skill they can’t neglect. When you initially launch your site, there might not be many technology issues because you’ll still be trying to attract new members. However, once things ramp up, so will the need for technical updates and troubleshooting to sustain and grow your membership program.

While technical aptitude is essential, “it doesn't mean that you as the business owner need to have that technical aptitude, but you need to find someone on your team that does,” Melodie explains. So, as you set out on your membership journey, make sure you have a tech expert on deck who can be your go-to person for all things membership software operation and upkeep.


Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither are successful membership sites. That’s why Melodie emphasizes the need for patience. Patience enables you to look at your membership site with a clear, objective mind, which can be hard to do when you want your site to succeed and your hard work to pay off.

If you aren’t intentional about developing patience, “you can get so caught up in the emotion of it that you start to get really flustered,” Melodie warns. This flustered mindset can lead to discouragement, cause you to give up and keep you from seeing the steps you can take to make your program a success.

Patience isn’t easy to conjure up, especially when you’re excited to see results. So how can you set out on your membership journey with a clear mind? Set realistic goals and expectations for you, your team and your program from the start. Don’t put pressure on yourself by expecting your site to be an overnight success. Instead, set attainable goals to work toward. This will keep you from slipping into an anxious, impatient frame of mind, and it will also help you move forward at a steady pace, reaching one membership milestone after another.

Watch the video above for more of Melodie’s must-have skills, including the techniques you need as your membership program reaches revenue benchmarks.

What are some common, ongoing challenges you see from launched memberships?

Membership sites offer countless benefits — recurring revenue, increased bandwidth to serve more people, the ability to create a stronger community around your brand and more. While the benefits abound, that doesn’t mean there won’t be some obstacles to overcome.

Don’t let this reality deter you from learning how to create a membership program, though. Melodie has been through the process and helps other small businesses achieve growth with membership programs, so she knows what challenges you can expect. In her interview with Keap, Melodie warned against two common issues:

  1. Payment failures
    When payments fail, you don’t get paid and your customers don’t get what they came for. It’s a lose-lose. There are two sides to payment failures to avoid, with the first being cart failure.

    “A cart failure is when somebody goes to the checkout, clicks on the checkout button, and for whatever reason, it doesn't work,” Melodie explains. “Most commonly, we see this with AVS mismatches.” AVS (Address Verification System) mismatches happen when the address a customer provides doesn’t match the one the bank has on file for that card. It’s a simple mistake, but it can cause big frustrations.

    To remedy this, Melodie recommends thinking carefully about which fields you include in your checkout form. In her video, Melodie shares the same thing she tells her clients: “You don't want to take away all of the fields because then your instances of fraud could potentially go up.” So, the key is to include all necessary fields and have enough for security purposes, but exclude any that could be redundant or hinder your customers from successfully checking out.

    Another part of payment failures to be aware of is missed payments. If your membership program will have automatic subscription payments, missed transactions can become a problem. Many of the clients Melodie works with assume their customers’ payments are working, so they don’t have a system in place to quickly catch when credit cards don’t work. Melodie recommends fixing this by simply monitoring your payments each month to see who you expect to pay and who has failed to do so.
  2. Complexity
    The next challenge to keep in mind is complexity. Over time, your membership program will change and grow, and that’s a good thing. The hard part comes if you’re not trimming things along the way.

    “As a business ages, you have to be pruning things out and getting rid of things that aren't working,” Melodie explains. If you don’t prune parts of your program, you’ll end up with an overly complex, non-cohesive model, which can leave your members confused and disappointed.

    A routine audit of your membership program is a straightforward solution to this issue. Taking note of what’s working and getting rid of what’s not will improve the user experience of your membership site and make it easier for you to operate.

How does a business determine what tech to use for their membership site?

Your membership site has to be built and housed somewhere, which requires you to choose a platform. Melodie makes this decision more digestible and easy to navigate by breaking your options down into two categories:

If the concept of a membership program is totally new to you, and you’re dipping your toe into how to create a membership site, Melodie recommends going “with something as turnkey as possible.” This means you’ll want to start with a platform-based technology.

A platform-based solution is any membership technology that isn’t custom-built for your business. It’s user-friendly and a great starting point, but “what you gain in usability, you lose in flexibility,“ Melodie cautions. A platform-based solution has less customization abilities, which doesn’t matter for some businesses that are just starting out, but it can be a deal-breaker for those whose membership programs rely on the freedom of flexibility.

WordPress-based solution
WordPress-based solutions offer the flexibility and customization that platform-based options lack. These sites can grow with your membership model, so you’re able to start with only the things you need and add more features as you see fit.

Unless you have a WordPress wizard on your team, you may need to hire someone to build this site for you, but it will be worth it in the long run if you plan to grow your program into an eight-figure revenue stream. “Start with that solid foundation on a WordPress site, and then just build on it. But keep it simple. Don't add more things than what you need just because they're cool.” Melodie advises.

Essentially, if you want to hit the ground running and don’t mind a structured, less flexible membership site, go with a platform-based technology. If you want an adaptable site that will grow with you and if you have the budget to hire a web developer, a WordPress-based solution will be your best bet.

Melodie’s favorite helpful features for her membership site

There’s a lot of technology your business uses, and those tools are great, but it helps to have one platform that can keep everything in order. Otherwise, your program can get chaotic quickly.

For over 10 years, Melodie has built membership sites for her clients and helped them through this struggle. “I love tools, and oftentimes our membership sites are working with a lot of different tools and softwares and things,” Melodie explains. “But you need to have one place where you have that single source of truth.”

So what’s Melodie’s source of truth? Keap’s small business automation and CRM.

Keap’s ability to integrate seamlessly with other software and technologies is what makes it so valuable to Melodie. The marketing, sales and workflow automation features help her and her clients stay organized, keep the chaos at bay and monitor all their campaigns and tools in one place.

Another aspect of Keap Melodie finds integral to her membership program is the automation builder. This helps her be “proactive with solving issues before they become infected problems.” Keap allows her to build an automated marketing sequence with multiple layers of triggers and corresponding actions.

For example, a common point of failure Melodie describes is when a password isn’t created for a membership site, which prevents users from accessing their subscription and any necessary communications. Keap helps remedy this by checking for a password on a contact’s record, and if one isn’t present, it will create one, notify the team and deliver the welcome message so the client doesn’t miss it.

“That second layer allows me to be proactive,” Melodie details. “This is possible in a lot of CRM tools, but the amount of work it takes me in them as opposed to Keap is why I keep recommending Keap as our go-to solution for membership sites.”

Melodie shares more about Keap and valuable information about how to create a membership site in her video, so make sure to add it to your watch list. And if you’re ready to get started on your program, consider letting Keap’s small business CRM and business automation software help. Explore Keap with a 14-day free trial (no credit card required).

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