Let’s start at the very beginning – it’s good to get the fundamentals locked in before we start.
Building an e-commerce site like a shop is very different from building a membership site.
What is an online shop?
A shop sells products to customers.
Products can be physical, they have a size and weight and need to be shipped like a teapot, or they can be virtual to download to the customers’ computer like an ebook or a song.
Transactions, where the customer pays for the product or multiple products, happen once. It’s done, the items are bought and then shipped out to the customer.
The customer may come back to your shop to buy something else at another point in time and they will go through the same process, but a different transaction.
What is a membership site?
A membership site gives customers access to something for a period of time, defined by the membership access level they purchased.
Some membership levels may last for a week, a month, a year or a lifetime!
Customers get a username and a password to access your special content.
The content can be anything that a customer perceives as being valuable, like a training course, a knowledge base, stock photos and videos.
Some membership sites have multiple levels of access, the more a customer pays, the more goodies, or different goodies, they get access to.
When a customer stops paying the membership, they lose access to the protected content.
What’s the difference?
With a shop, the customer buys the product and it becomes theirs to do with it or access it as many times as they like.
With a membership site, when a customer stops paying for the membership, they lose access to the content. The content is not theirs, they have only been paying for access to it.