4 REASONS YOU SHOULD only use A WordPress-based Membership OR course Platform AND THE ONE REASON WHY YOU SHOULDN’T
by Neta Talmor
Don’t start your own membership site or online course before reading this!
If you have been an online Entrepreneur for any period of time…
…you must have thought about offering your own membership site or online course to your tribe. Right?
It’s all the rave, and all the successful online marketers are doing it, so it is obvious why you would want to do it as well, I get that.
But you are confused and overwhelmed by all the options, features and prices (that seems to be the typical state we are all in, isn’t it?), and not sure where to start.
In this post I will share with you 4 reasons why you must choose a self-hosted WordPress membership/course platform, and the one and only time when you shouldn’t.
I will dive into:
- Why a self-hosted membership/course site that is installed on your WordPress website is preferable to a cloud-based membership/course platform (such as teachable, teachery, Kajabi etc.)
- Why you don’t need all the bells and whistles that some cloud-based platforms offer
- The risks you will be taking if you choose a cloud-based platform instead of a WordPress-based platform
- What you will be losing if you build your membership/course site on a cloud-based platform
instead of on your own WordPress website
Shall we begin?
Reason #1: price
Any way you look at it, a self-hosted WordPress membership or course site is cheaper than a cloud-based service. With hosting as low as only a few $ a month, and a typical one time fee of $99-$197 for a membership/course WordPress plug-in, you can build your membership site or online course and never have to pay for anything else ever again (some plugins require an annual fee for updates & support)
In contrast, cloud-based services (such as teachable, teachery, Kajabi, ClickFunnels, Rainmaker etc.) typically charge $39-$297 per month, and with some services, also a percentage of your sales on top of that. In the long run, these can add up to a lot and cut into your profit, or even increase your loss when you are just starting out.
Reason #2: features
In terms of features, almost all cloud-based services have advanced and robust features, and they sure look and sound good! Who doesn’t want all the bells and whistles? Everyone wants them, but are they really needed and will you even use them???
In my humble experience, as a serial entrepreneur who has built many different businesses in many different industries, and has served thousands and thousands of customers, I can tell you one thing for sure – at the end of the day, 90% of the customers (in all of my businesses!) want and need exactly the same thing and the special extra features of any product (that usually make it automatically more expensive) are rarely used or needed by the customer.
The same goes for membership sites and online courses – most likely, the basic features you will actually want to use for your own membership/course site, are available on all platforms and services anyway, and the likelihood you will actually use one of the more “shiny” features is low, and in any case, not crucial to the success of your membership site or course.
Having said all that, let me make it very clear that some of the best WordPress plugins for membership/courses include the same advanced features (AKA bells and whistles!) that are available on the cloud-based platforms, or can be achieved by adding additional WordPress plugins if needed. Because a WordPress website is 100% customizable, it means that when needed, it can be modified and customized with additional plugins or coding to include features that are not even available in the cloud-based platforms, as well as allow for full customization of the look and feel of the website, which is often limited with cloud-based platforms.
Reason #3: risks
This is a subject that is rarely talked about when considering what type of platform to choose for your membership site or online course, but is extremely important to realize early on.
If you build your membership/course site on a cloud-based platform (a platform that is not hosted on your own hosting, for example Kajabi, Subhub, teachable etc.), and you ever decide you want to switch over to your own self-hosted WordPress-based platform, you will have to do 3 things:
1. Rebuild your entire membership/course site on your new website.
2. Migrate all your students/members to your new website.
3. Transfer all the payments (especially recurring payment plans if you have a membership site) to your new website.
As you can imagine, this is not fun at all and can create a situation where you feel trapped and tied to your current service, but continue to pay the monthly fees, even if it doesn’t make much sense for you any more or if you are unhappy with the service.
If your build your website on your own WordPress website using a membership/course plugin, then you always have all the data and information stored on your own site and records.
Reason #4: Control & Ownership
For me, this is THE most important reason for not using a cloud-based platform and always using your own self-hosted WordPress-based membership and course platform.
When you create your membership site or online course on a cloud-based platform, you are essentially building your business on someone else’s real estate! Sometimes it is very difficult to avoid (for example, if you want to use a Facebook Page or Facebook Group to build your business, there is currently no real good alternative to Facebook), but in the case of membership and online courses, there IS an alternative that is in fact better in so many ways!
Building your membership or course site on your own WordPress website, means you have 100% control and ownership of EVERY aspect of your website, FOREVER. It’s your content, your students, your members, your hard work, so why would you want to give so much control to someone else over it? You never know what changes your service will make in the future (increase prices, change designs and features, or even go out of business…), and how those changes may affect your business.
I am not a paranoid person, I don’t tend to worry about things, and I don’t let hypothetical scenarios run my business, but I do like the feeling of having control over my business, my branding and my marketing, and therefore prefer to have as much as possible of that control. I assume you feel the same about your own business.
The One and ONLy Reason Why You Should Choose a Cloud-Based Platform After All
Imperfect action is better than no action at all
There is no denial that cloud-based services have their advantages, the main one being their ease of set-up (although that is not always actually the case!). Cloud-based platforms get the job done, and they usually do it easily and quickly.
If the anxiety and overwhelm of launching your own WordPress-based membership/course site are paralyzing you to the extent that you are not taking any action and you are unable to even think about launching your site, then by all means, go ahead and use a cloud-based service! Enjoy the ease of set up and leverage the momentum so that you can actually launch, and worry later about transferring it over to your own self-hosted site, when you are ready for it. It will be OK, and you will pass that bridge when you are ready. Taking action towards your goals is more important for your business than taking “perfect” action in the future.
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