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How Much Does a Membership Website Cost to Start?

How Much Does a Membership Website Cost to Start?
Written by Zaki

How Much Does a Membership Website Cost to Start?

Do you want to figure out how much does a membership website cost to start and run?

There can be a lot of different factors that will affect your membership website cost to start. You must break them down into all the various essentials to keep your budget under control.

Today on this topic, we will show you how much a membership website cost to start and run.

How to figure out a Membership Website Cost to Start?

To figure out a membership website cost to start, you will need to divide your expenses into components.

It includes choosing the right platform, payment processor, subscription addons, and other services/tools you would need. All of these things depend on the requirements of your business, growth strategy, and budget.

Keeping this article focused, we will analyze your subscription site costs in the major costs mentioned below:

  • Hosting + Set-up Costs for a Membership Website
  • Membership Payment Processing Costs
  • Membership Site Design Costs
  • Essential Addons and Extensions Costs
  • Premium Addons and Tools for a Growth Membership Site
  • Total Cost of a Membership Website
  • Tips about How to Keep Costs Down on Your Membership Website

There are many great membership platforms that you will be able to use to build a membership website. These major players in the industry are MemberPress (WordPress), Teachable, and Shopify.

Teachable and Shopify are Software as a Service (SaaS) platforms. They are offering the most effortless set-up initially, but they have higher costs and limited flexibility.

Essentially, they charge you based on transactions that will take over a large portion of your income over time.

That’s why we recommend using MemberPress, one of the best membership sites plugin on the market. They allow you to sell unlimited memberships without incurring additional transaction fees.


This plugin runs on top of WordPress, and it is already the best website builder worldwide used by more than 42% of all websites on the internet.

In addition, you get complete control over your subscription site, so you can choose your payment service, integration and add any feature you like.

It lets you control your membership website’s cost to start and adjust as your business grows. In the long run, you can save a ton of money and create a sustainable business.

MemberPress has built-in features for selling digital subscriptions, online courses, and even physical memberships such as associations.

Business owners using member presses estimate to earn more than 600 600 million in 2021.

Membership Website Hosting and Set-up Costs

To start a membership site, you will also require an account for a domain name and web hosting like any other website.

Typically, a domain cost is around $16.99 per year, and web hosting plans start at $7.99 per month (paid annually).

It’s not cheap, considering that you have to spend money on other ingredients as well.

Fortunately, the Blue Host team has agreed to offer WPPickle readers a 60% discount on hosting with a free domain name + SSL certificate that you will need to accept payment. Basically, you can start at less than 2.75 per month.

Bluehost is the best web hosting company in the world and is the official recommended WordPress hosting service.

Alternative Options: SiteGround is another excellent option if you are looking for an alternative. For more options, please choose one of our best WordPress hosting companies.

Next, you will need to obtain a MemberPress License, starting at $ 179 / year for a Website License.

It gives you all the features you need, such as no transaction fees, unlimited members, subscription management, the capability to accept online payments, marketing integration, easy course builder, email automation, and much more.


After finishing download MemberPress, you go ahead and follow our step-by-step instructions on how you can make a membership site in WordPress.

Estimated costs of hosting and set-up:

Domain and hosting: Starting from $2.75 each month – $25 each month
MemberPress: $179 – $479 (It depends on the plan of your licensing).

A Membership Website Cost for Payment Processing

What makes membership websites a profitable online business idea is the recurring revenue model.

MemberPress Strip and PayPal both support payment gateways that you will be able to use to accept credit cards. You will also be able to use Authorize. Net this payment method with your PRO plan.

Although the member press does not charge an additional transaction fee, the payment service provider (merchant bank) has a payment processing fee controlled by MasterCard, Visa, Amex, and other credit card companies.

You must pay this fee no matter which membership platform you are using. For example, PayPal might charge a fixed rate of 2.90% for a transaction amount and 0.30% for a domestic transaction. It will also charge an additional 1.50% for international transactions.


Similarly, the strip will charge you $2.9%, a $ 0.30 fixed rate fee, and an additional 1% charge for international transactions.

MemberPress’s advantage is that you do not pay them any transaction fees to use the platform. Also, your business grows as your payment processing costs decrease because the strip offers lower rates for higher processing volumes.

While other providers such as Teachable charge you an additional 5% transaction fee for using their platform that you pay for payment processing services.

Estimated costs of payment processing:

PayPal: 2.90% + 0.30 fixed rate. Additional 1.50% on international transactions.
Stripe: 2.90% + 0.30 fixed rate. Additional 1% on international transactions.

A Membership Website Cost for Design


Luckily, there are hundreds of paid and free website templates that are working excellent with MemberPress. Next, you have to select a design for your membership website.

However, you will want to stand out from the crowd with an outstanding design that looks well-polished and professional.

Not only will this make a good impression on your brand, but it will also help your users to visit your website more easily. It results in much and more sales and engagement.

There will be three design options you can select from based on your budget. We will discuss those designs in low to high pricing order:

No 1: Free WordPress themes

No 2: Premium WordPress themes

No 3: Custom WordPress themes

No 1: Free WordPress themes:

Free WordPress themes come with the clear benefit of saving profit, but they usually include customization options and limited support compared to premium or paid WordPress themes.

No 2: Premium WordPress themes:

Paid or premium WordPress themes always come with a price tag but include developers’ more priority support and customization options.

Pricing for a premium or paid WordPress themes often starts at $30 for one year. Here you can see some of the most popular membership website themes:

  • Divi – One of the most adaptable WordPress themes acceptable to make any website, including membership websites.
  • Astra – Astra is also one of the popular multipurpose WordPress themes that work outstanding with membership websites. It has dozens of starter website templates and a 1-click set-up.
  • Ocean WP – is another flexible WordPress theme that comes with options of powerful customization.


No 3: A custom WordPress theme:

Custom WordPress Themes are created when you hire a WordPress developer/designer to code a unique subscription website theme for your website.

It allows you to add custom features to your site and create a unique design that stands out from other membership websites.

However, custom WordPress themes can cost too much. The cost will depend on the features you would like to incorporate and the expertise of the developer/designer.

A custom theme can cost between $ 1500 and $ 6000 for a medium business. The enterprise-level design may cost even more.

Membership Website Design’s Estimated Costs:

Free to $30 for a WordPress theme.

$1500 – $6000 for a custom design.

Essential Addons and Extensions Costs


MemberPress runs on top of WordPress, which means that you will be able to add more features to your site by using plugins.

A WordPress plugin is a software that adds new functions to the website. For instance, there are contact form plugins, social media plugins, landing page builders, and much more.

Here are also plugins explicitly made for MemberPress as well.

The WordPress plugins majority are available for free. Even many paid/premium plugins also have a free or lite version that you can use.

Whenever possible, you should try to keep your subscription website costs low by using the free plugin.

Here is a quick list of very important WordPress plugins you might need right now. These all plugins are available for free.

Must-Have Features

WPForms – it allows you to add a contact form to your membership site easily.

MonsterInsights – Connect the membership site to Google Analytics to see how users find and use your site. It will help you learn how to make more sales by bringing in more users.

WP Mail SMTP – Emails are essential to run a membership site. WP Mail SMTP Solved the problem of delivering WordPress emails by sending emails accurately using the SMTP server.

Marketing and Search Engine Optimization “SEO”

All in One Search Engine Optimization “SEO” – Easily optimize the membership website SEO to receive much and more free traffic from search engines.

PushEngage – Easily send push notifications to your users on desktop as well as mobile. It helps, improve conversions increase website traffic, and grows your business.

OptinMonster helps you improve conversion rates by converting website visitors/users into subscribers and paying customers.

Bonus Tools

SeedProd – An intuitive drag and drop page builder that lets you quickly create custom landing pages and design layouts.

Uncanny Automator –To manage your membership website, it creates automated workflows. It will save your time and create the best user experience for your visitors.

RafflePress –To boost engagement and grow your traffic, it easily runs giveaways and contests for your members.

Need more features? Here are some essential WordPress plugins you might want to check out. Many of them are free or have a free version.

Estimated costs of addons and extensions:

Free to Unlimited.

We will recommend you to begin with a plugin of free version if possible. It will keep your costs down, and you can decide to buy paid/premium plugins once your business grows.

Addons and premium Tools for a Growth Membership Website

We recommend that all users starting with shared hosting and using free plugins and themes to keep your costs down. It saves you money and lets you focus on growing your business.

Once your business starts to grow, you can choose to invest in additional features and premium tools. The following are some other features that you can add to your website later to justify the cost.

Email Marketing – We recommend using constant communication, the best email marketing service for small businesses. For advanced marketing automation, you can use either Drip, HubSpot, or ConvertKit.

Live Chat Support – Live chat software helps you convert more and more users into paid members. We recommend using Live Chat, the best customer service platform on the market. (Cost: Starting at $ 16 per month)

Business Phone Service – A business phone number lets you manage your business calls using a number easily. We recommend using Nextiva, one of the best phone companies for small businesses. (Cost: 18.95 per month)

Note: All of these additional services are not required to create a membership website. As your business grows, you may choose to add them to your website.

Building a Membership Website Total Cost

Now that we’ve covered the key areas of cost, let’s look at the total cost of creating a membership website.

Keep in mind that your costs will increase as your business grows, or you will be able to invest more in it. We have divided the cost range into three categories.

  • Starter Membership Website: $17.66 for each month or $212 for each year (Shared hosting $2.75 / month, MemberPress $179 / yearly, free theme and plugins).
  • Growth Membership Website: $300 – $1000 (WordPress hosting upgrade $4.99 per month, MemberPress Pro $299 per year. marketing services and paid plugins).

The costs could go higher for enterprise-level membership sites. They will need to select a dedicated hosting server, custom design, and hire developers/designers to write custom WordPress plugins.

The best thing about using MemberPress to build your membership site is that you charge cost control.

That means you do not pay for anything you do not need right now, and you can still build a powerful membership website.

Tips to keep the Costs down on Your Membership Site


Building a membership site with MemberPress and WordPress will allow you to select how you spend money on your membership site.

We recommend all creators to start scale and small their website as their business grows up.

Now a lot of users compare their website with already established websites in their industry. It is not a fair comparison as those businesses have been around longer and already have a revenue stream to justify spending more money.

As a starter membership community, you do not need Flash Premium features from Gate at all.

You can start with a shared hosting plan on Bluehost, which gives you a free domain + SSL. Then, you can purchase the Member Press Basic License Plan and start to build your membership site.

For the essential features, you can rely on free themes and WordPress plugins. You will might be amazed at what you will be able to do with this free plugin.

As you start a business, you can begin investing in premium/paid features. Still, you will find the best WordPress coupons and deals to get discounts on all the services and top tools.

We hope this article was helpful for you and helped you understand how much a membership website cost to start.

If you have any questions about this topic, please comment below.

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