Before anything else…
There is no one absolute way to build your Squarespace membership site.
But, there is the easiest way.
From deciding a name for your member area to adding subscriptions, we’ll teach you all the ins, outs, and everything in between to build your membership site from the ground up.
Ready? Continue reading this article to find out more!
How to Build a Membership Site with Squarespace
Assuming that you already have your own Squarespace website, this article will focus on building content for your new members through its built-in membership page – Member Areas!
Let’s get started!
Step #1: Enable Your Member Areas
The first thing to do is to enable the member area on your Squarespace website.
- To do this, go to your Home Menu
- Go to Settings
- Toggle the ON button for the Member Areas
This will expand the sidebar where you will be allowed to create your own and navigate through other pages – such as managing existing members and configuring other settings.
Step #2: Start Creating Your Membership Pages
- Under the Management title on the sidebar, click Create Member Area. Here, you can start building your own membership website – starting from the name, of course.
- Once inside the Member Area, click the + button beside it. Think of a unique name for your member’s area.
- Consider the online courses you are teaching. Are you a fitness coach? Someone who teaches multimedia arts?
The more related the name of your Member Area to your online courses, the better. Some examples include Your Yoga Haven or even something cheesy as Your Exclusive World of Art.
The important thing is the name has brand consistency. Members will immediately correlate your name to your content.
Step #3: Set Your Membership Fee/Member Plans
Under the same page where you set the name for your members’ area, you will be asked to set a fee.
This membership fee could be a one-time fee, recurring, or you can even give it some content for a free trial period.
If you choose the recurring option, you can also set the renewal frequency for it. Click Done.
Step #4: Upload Your Members Only Content
Membership content could be anything that makes your online course stand out.
Remember, people are tapping into your expertise. That’s why your content must be unique and filled with information that would only be found on your member pages.
In that way, your existing members will find VALUE in exchange for their subscription to your paid membership site.
To do this, under the name of your Member Areas, click Add Page.
Squarespace enables different layouts for different purposes such as:
- Blank Page (if you want to build your protected content from scratch)
- Page Layouts (if you want to use a customized layout by Squarespace)
If you want a pre-formatted page with all the elements you would need for a specific type of content, you can also consider the following:
- Blog (for your stories, articles, and other content that are heavy on words)
- Store (use this if you want to promote your products and other services)
- Portfolio (commonly utilized by artists and those who teach art to show their finished works and work-in-progress)
- Events (highlight your events such as an exclusive webinar, meet-and-greet, etc.)
You may also opt to post a link if you want to direct your members to another page or website.
Step #5: Personalize Your Member Homepages
To make your membership area more aligned with your brand, it’s important to make the landing page attractive.
Out of all the member pages on your whole site, the member experience starts with welcoming them into your exclusive online course content.
The purpose of the landing page is not only for welcoming but also for linking out to the rest of the course pages.
If you’re wondering about your existing homepage, look for the Home Icon beside it.
Remember, the first page you add to your member areas will be your landing page. BUT, if you want to set another one as the landing page, simply follow the steps below:
- Go to the Home menu, then click Pages.
- Under Member Areas, search for the appropriate page that you want as the landing page.
- Hover over the page you want to use as your homepage and click the Settings icon beside it. This will open a pop-up Page Settings panel.
- In the Page Settings, scroll down and click Set as member homepage. A pop-up confirmation will then appear. Click Confirm then click close.
That’s it! Now, your membership site has a new homepage. If ever you decide to create another homepage in the future, just redo all the steps above!
Remember, if you delete your current homepage, the first page listed under will become the new homepage. If there are no other pages, your members will see a 404 error when accessing the protected content.
Note: If you don’t want your homepage to pop up in your site’s navigation, you can unlink it by clicking the + icon at the top left corner of the Not Linked section in your Pages Menu.
Step #6: Customize the Setup of Your Membership Site
Aside from the homepage, another important factor of a great Squarespace membership site is its organization.
When a member logs into their membership area, they will see a new navigation menu showing all the member pages containing your protected content.
You may opt to change how you want your member navigation to appear to your members. Simply follow the steps below:
- In the Home Menu, click Settings. After that, click Member Areas.
- Click Member navigation.
- Choose where you want the logged-in members to view their membership navigation.
- Click Save.
Make sure to update your Squarespace’s version to 7.1 to enable other options on where to put your membership navigation.
Usually, the member navigation is at the top of your site, and when you hover over it, it will show all the member pages that they have access to.
Another way for a member to see their availed membership content is through the Customer Account panel. These are the steps for this to work:
- After the member logs into their customer account, the previous Sign in link in the main navigation will become Account.
- When a member clicks this link, the Customer Account panel will open.
- They can now view all the available online course pages in which they availed protected content.
And lastly, you may also opt NOT to show navigation by hiding the member area page links.
If you choose this option, however, remember to create a CUSTOM member navigation on the homepage for easier access.
Step #7: Subscribe to Member Areas
Before you can publish your protected content on your membership site and start accepting members, you must first subscribe to Member Areas.
To do this, click Select plan at the bottom of the Member Areas panel so you can select a pricing plan.
It’s important to note that the pricing for enabling Member Areas is in addition to your Squarespace website plans. This means this is NOT included in your initial payment plan.
We’ll discuss more of this below.
Step #8: Connect to Your Preferred Payment Processor
If your membership area requires one-time payments or recurring payments, it is important to connect the checkout page of your Squarespace website to a reliable payment processor.
To do this, follow the steps below:
- In the Home Menu, click Settings.
- Click Member Areas.
- Scroll down to the Paid membership section and click Payments.
Note: Payment processors in Commerce are SEPARATE from other payment processors you have connected to Squarespace.
You can connect to Stripe, Paypal, or both. The best payment processor for you depends on your location and the payment methods that you want to accept.
Stripe allows your customers to pay with their debit and credit cards without having to log into an account. Stripe accepts payments from the following:
- Visa (credit and debit cards)
- MasterCard (credit and debit cards)
- American Express
- Discover (US merchants only)
- Apple Pay (from customers checking out at a supported Apple device)
On the other hand, Paypal lets customers pay through their Paypal or Venmo accounts.
Is PayPal/A Gift Card Accepted for Installments?
Members cannot use Paypal or their gift cards to pay for membership content with recurring membership fees.
If one of your payment options is a recurring or installment plan, we recommend you to connect with Stripe, too.
How About for Other Currencies?
You won’t have a problem with this one.
After connecting a payment processor to your Squarespace website, the Member Sign Up Blocks will automatically display the associated currency supported by Squarespace.
This means you can change the currency at ANY TIME in the Payments panel.
Is There a Transaction Fee?
Yes. All membership sales have their corresponding transaction fee.
This will be discussed more below.
Step #9: Test the Membership Site Yourself
Before releasing your content out for the world to see, it would be better to conduct some pilot tests first.
In this way, you can minimize glitches and inconveniences for the customer by fixing small issues as they come.
To do this, you can sign up for any of your member plans yourself.
But, that means I would pay my own fee, too? You don’t have to do that. We’ll teach you a trick.
To test if your website works without paying a single penny, you can create 100% off coupon codes. This means you can check the ins and outs of your site without having to pay the fee for member plans.
Also, you can also check if your website is mobile responsive.
Researches indicate that more and more people are using their smartphones for digital learning, that’s why it’s important that a website can be accessed through phones.
How Squarespace Membership Works
A members-only area allows you to create protected pages that are only available after a subscription or a sign-up to avail the paid content.
However, the feature of Member Areas only protects the pages, not the files.
What does this mean? This means the files you upload under the protected pages are NOT exclusive to members.
Every file you upload – whether that’s a PDF, image, audio files, and PPT – has a direct link when you upload them to your existing Squarespace site.
In short, members could share with non-members the content of your online courses even when they are inside protected pages.
Don’t lose hope yet, though. We still have a solution for you and they are called – Membership Plugins!
What Is MemberSpace?
MemberSpace is an integration into the Squarespace site. It turns any part of any website into a membership site.
Unlike Member Areas, MemberSpace offers the ability to protect specific content.
Squarespace does not prohibit you to use a third-party membership site tool. If you are looking for more solid security, you may explore the perks of a MemberSpace account.
What Is the Best Way to Include Membership Programs in Squarespace?
Membership programs could be integrated into any kind of membership site.
The best way to include membership pages is to ensure that they are under a membership site that is appropriate for you!
For example, if you need more security with regard to your content, choose MemberSpace or other third-party tools.
However, if you are not that rigid when it comes to your protected pages, you may opt to use the built-in Member Areas instead.
How to Customize Your Squarespace Membership Site
One of the reasons why customization is important is it makes you STAND OUT from your competition.
Squarespace is a website builder that allows for A LOT of customizations. From plug-ins to integrations to other third-party tools, you will never run out of options!
But of course, let’s focus on making your membership site more effective and functional.
Customizing Your Checkout Page
One of the essential features of a functional page is its ability to gather information and get to know your members more.
Another purpose of the checkout page is to remind the customers of everything they have added to their cart and are due to pay. PLUS, the corresponding transaction fees.
Some customers feel “cheated” when they discover there’s a transaction fee for the sale, so it would be wise to remind them early on.
You can accomplish this by utilizing the custom checkout form. The following steps will guide you through the process.
Step 1: Enable the Custom Checkout Form
- In the Home Menu, click Commerce then Checkout.
- Scroll down and click Additional Fields.
- You will find at the bottom of the panel Enable Custom Checkout Form.
- Click Edit Custom Checkout Form to start building the form.
Step 2: Edit the Form
In this step, you can add and edit fields. Squarespace made it easier by providing a preview to the right.
You can edit accordingly and a preview will show your progress in real-time.
- Replace the Form Name field with the name of your form.
- Click Add Form Field. You can add as many form fields as you’d like depending on your purposes. You can edit the title and add a description below for each field.
- Check Required in the Form Field if you want to disable submission of the form without that information.
- Click Done after creating each field. Remember, you may click Edit or the Remove button anytime.
- Click Save to publish your form.
Note: You can only create a single custom checkout form for your whole Squarespace site. If you sell other products/services outside the membership area, the custom checkout form will be the same.
Customizing Your Customer Email Notifications
One of the most essential features of paid memberships is being notified through your email.
Did you know that email newsletters have a much higher engagement rate than other types of digital marketing?
Not only that but member emails are known to drive a higher number of people who sign up and create a new account.
You can customize a lot of email types under the Customer email notifications.
We will highlight the three most-used emails – welcome email, cancellation email, and customer account emails – under your membership site.
#1 Welcome Email
Just a fun fact, subscribers who receive welcome emails upon their sign-up show 33% more long-term brand engagement.
The welcome email is received by those who just purchased their membership and is received IMMEDIATELY after their sign-up for the member areas.
The welcome email is not just for “welcoming”, but it’s also a useful tool to invite your new members to sign in to the membership site, and it also links to the member area homepage.
The time after the sign-up is crucial, as the customers make their first impression of the membership and what your online courses offer.
That is why in your welcome email, you can guide them on the essential features of the membership area, especially if your Squarespace is a new site.
#2 Cancellation Email
As they say, it’s much easier to get the old customer back than onboard a new one. The same goes for your membership.
Cancellation emails are a crucial part of the membership cycle. Not only do they ask for feedback from your members, but it is also a way to RE-ENGAGE them and get them back.
There are three reasons why a member would receive a cancellation email. These are (1) you removed them from a member area; (2) you deleted the protected pages and lastly; (3) they canceled their membership subscription.
#3 Customer Accounts
Customer accounts could be created by your customers upon their sign-up. It may be a free or a paid membership.
Either way, the purpose of having customer accounts is to build a deeper relationship with your site visitors, where other features are made available for them such as:
- Saving their payment method
- Securely putting their shipping addresses
- Having their own shopping carts
- Preserving their online order information
The email will be sent to the customers after their sign-up or after resetting their password.
Customizing Your Access Denied Screen
One of the perks of having a membership site is its exclusivity to members.
If a site visitor attempts to enter when they are logged out of their account, they will be shown the Access Denied screen.
The same goes when that site visitor does not have an active membership. The Access Denied Screen contains the following details:
- Fee option picker. This one allows site visitors to avail themselves of the membership offerings. This element works especially if the membership has two payment options. This allows a fee option before they sign up. Note: You can’t customize or remove the text of the option picker.
- Headline. This part welcomes all the members to the membership site.
- Description. This part is under the headline. You can use this to remind your members that the content is only accessible through their subscribed customer account.
- Sign up button. In case the site visitor is not yet a member, your screen will show the Sign-up button. By default, the screen will only show the word “Join” if you only have one protected page. But, if you have two or more gated content, the button will display the fee for each.
- Sign in link. For existing members, this button can be clicked to gain access to their customer account.
How Can I Customize the Text of My Access Denied Screen?
To change the text showing on this screen, simply follow the steps below:
- Click Pages under the Home Menu.
- Under the Member Areas, hover over one of the pages and click the Settings icon beside it.
- In the General tab, click Edit access denied screen.
- Select which Member Areas you would like to apply this to.
- Customize the Headline and Description message.
- Click Save.
What Makes Squarespace a Good Membership Platform?
Aside from being an amazing platform and website to build your online course, Squarespace offers marketing features and tips, too!
First, Squarespace allows its users the FREEDOM to use its own membership site. The different membership plugins enable you to choose which one is the BEST for the needs of your course.
Although it already has its own built-in Member Areas, you can still opt to use an external membership plugin like MemberSpace.
Other than that, Squarespace allows for one-time purchases and offers a lot of options for your member plans.
Your customers can either opt for a one-time payment or a monthly payment plan for their purchases.
Have we mentioned that Squarespace’s membership site also allows your active members to have their own community forum?
Honestly, there are times when your students will just do the requirements of your course for course compliance. Don’t blame yourself, there are really just days like that.
BUT, there is a cure for that!
Squarespace Member Areas can be enabled to preview post comment in a blog post for student view.
In this way, your students will see the comments of other learners and even engage in some learner discussions.
Did you know that a sense of community and connectedness with other students and even the instructor are huge factors in having a great retention rate in your class?
#3 Free Trial
One of the best things that we liked about Squarespace is they offer a 14-day free trial, no commitments.
Unlike other websites, Squarespace does not require you to put in your credit card information to access the free trial.
Do you want to know what the best part is?
You will have access to MOST premium features, including custom coding. This enables you to really understand how Squarespace works as a platform before you subscribe to a plan.
Didn’t know about the free trial when you created your Squarespace website? No problem! You can start a new trial from a site that you have already created.
If you have multiple sites, you can also use a new trial for each. Isn’t it amazing? In this way, you can determine which site you want to subscribe to for a plan.
How Much Does a Squarespace Membership Site Cost?
Of course, if you want to upgrade your site, there are always different options you can choose from. Let’s talk about them below.
For $10 a month, you can already get one area wherein you can add unlimited members.
Have we mentioned that it also comes with 24/7 customer support, Squarespace extensions for better management, and integrated analytics?
Talk about such a complete package, and that’s only the surface. Here are other features of the Starter Plan:
- No ads or Squarespace branding
- You can already offer discounts and promotions
- Option for a one-time payment or a recurring payment structure
- Member management
- Option to pay through Paypal or Stripe
The Starter Plan comes with a 7% transaction fee, but with all the features and perks you get, it’s a pretty good deal.
At $20 per month, the Core Plan contains all the features of the Starter Plan but with increased areas for those who availed of a membership.
You have three-member areas, which means you can add more members-only content on your site.
PLUS, you get a lower transaction fee at 4%, which is such a win when you have a lot of new membership accounts coming in.
Are you the type of instructor who publishes different kinds of content and wants to monetize ALL of them?
If you are, then this is the plan for you.
For $40 per month, you are entitled to 10 member areas, PLUS a transaction fee of 1%.
Considering the transaction fee and the packages of other websites for course building, Squarespace ensures that every instructor gets the compensation they deserve for their hardwork.
And that’s what we have on how to build a Squarespace Membership site.
We hope you learned a thing or two from us and that this article answered some questions you may have on building your own website.
Let us know your thoughts and comments below!
And if you want to look for other options, here are some of the Best Membership Platforms Online!