What You Need Before Getting Started
Building a free membership website is just about as easy as falling off a log…well, maybe not quite that easy…but it IS easy. There are so many associated advantages to having a free membership site that the little bit of trouble and expense will be well worth the time and effort that are required.
To get started on building your free membership website you are going to need some tools. The first thing that you will need to secure is a web hosting service. There are actually two web hosting services that are excellent, reasonably priced and effective. You will have choices to make when you visit either of these two websites.
You will see that there are several choices of servers ranging in price from a measly $6.95 per month to a whopping $174.95 per month. The service that will most likely serve your needs for a very long time can be found under the fist choice of ‘Personal Hosting’. When you click on the ‘learn more’ link, you will see that there are several choices beginning with a ‘hatchling’ account and all the way up to a Semi-dedicated account. The one that will most likely serve your needs is the ‘Swamp’ account. It costs only $14.95 per month and will serve your needs for a very long time.
When you get to that site, click on the middle button that says ‘$14.95 more info’. You will see that you are being offered 500MB of disc space and a site builder for $14.95. Larger amounts of disc space are available for more money each month. I’d start with the $14.95 and then add additional disc space as needed. There is a Site Studio offered with all of the plans but it isn’t free with any of them.
Now you must have a domain name. Domain names are very specific and completely unique. When you type in a domain name, your computer takes you to that website and ONLY to that website. To start with you should think up several possibilities for your domain name. Using your own name in the domain name will make it easier to find one that hasn’t already been taken. You aren’t very likely to find the simplest ones to be available so you are going to have to get a bit creative. There are others, of course, but here are two places that you can register your domain name.
Here you will see that it will cost you only $8.88 to register your domain name. There will be many offers for additional names and products. What you really need here is a domain name for no less than two years. You do not need to pay for anything additional that is offered.
Here you will see that you can register your domain name for $8.95 per year. Again…you will be offered many extras but all you really need is to register your domain name for two years. The reason you need to register it for two years is that search engines really don’t like domains that are only registered for one year. Spammers tend to only register for one year at a time because they won’t be at the same location for anywhere near that long.
If you are going to have a membership website, then you must have the software that will accomplish that. There are basically three sites that you should visit and look over the product offered on each site.
The first site is aMember at http://www.amember.com/. The package is $139.95.
The second site is Launch Formula Marketing at http://www.launchformulamarketing.com/. There is no price available without giving primary email address so check this one out for yourself.
The third site is Butterfly Marketing at http://www.butterflymarketing.com/. This software sells for $1497.00 plus shipping and handling.
Theme and Content:
As with every website, there must be a theme as well as content. There is a saying among Internet marketers that, “Content is King” and that’s pretty accurate. The only way that you can keep members visiting even a free membership site is to keep it constantly updated and loaded with fresh and relevant content that pertains to the theme of your site.
There are many ways to get good content. There are article banks where you can download free articles for reprint. There are sites where you can get PLR material that will provide good website content. You can also hire ghostwriters to write fresh content.
One such ghost writing site Writing and Transcription Service is at:
Blogs or Forums:
Most hosting services (both of the ones mentioned above) have included a utility called Fantastico. This feature allows you to set up a blog or forum on your membership site. In addition you can install such things as customer support, content management systems, polls and a host of other things. You really need to poke around in your hosting service to see what all is available.
Installing a help desk is entirely optional. It is, by no means, a required feature for a free membership site. The software can be found at the HelpDesk website at http://www.perldesk.com/. The cost of the HelpDesk software starts at $99.95. Although this is not required the HelpDesk software can be very beneficial. It will allow you to you to organize your companies customer relations to a database backed browser based help desk.
This can save you a whole ton of headaches particularly if you have multiple businesses.
Okay, that’s about it. You need a hosting service, a domain name registered, membership software, a theme and website content, a blog or forum and maybe a Helpdesk. This will be enough to get your free membership website off of the launch pad.