The Pros and Cons of Building Your Own Membership Site
Building a great membership website is no small task. It takes time, resources, and planning to produce a quality site that will serve as the backbone of your online business.
Many entrepreneurs and businesses are faced with the decision of build or buy? In other words, do you build the site yourself or hire someone else to do it? This can be a critical decision for teams and individuals with limited resources. So we decided to layout the pros and cons of building yourself.
Pros of Building Yourself
Building a site yourself will definitely save you some money. Great membership sites typically cost anywhere from 5-20k, depending on size and complexity of your project. By building yourself you can preserve that capital for other expenses like marketing, advertising and sales. This [cost] is probably the number one reason people elect to build instead of buy.
By building your own site you will learn a ton of things along the way. You’ll learn how to setup web hosting, how to create web pages, how to run online ads, etc. You’ll gain a basic understanding of websites and how to get them up and running. This initial experience is certainly valuable, especially in the tech world.
You’ll have complete control over your site as the developer. This allows you to create your own destiny, which can be helpful for startups that need to move fast. You’ll also be empowered to make changes and updates whenever you see fit.
Cons of Building Yourself
Unless you’re a programmer, building a site yourself will take MUCH longer than hiring it out. This means more time learning and more time to market. More importantly, this takes time away from what you should be doing – growing your business.
Companies like MemberDev have been building membership sites for years, which allows us to build fast and efficiently. This also allows you to use your time more efficiently in other areas like sales and marketing.
Chances are you didn’t major in computer science or get formal web development training. So it’s foolish to think that a few online tutorials will give you the skills you need to build a great membership site. Sure, you might be able to buy a theme and get a decent looking site up quickly… But it takes a lot more than that to build a site that will engage visitors and get them to take out their credit card.
Most of our customers at MemberDev approach us with a “half-ass” site that was slapped together with a pre-made theme and some plugins. They all realized that the quality of their site directly impacts their conversion and engagement metrics (i.e. getting users to sign up and remain members).
One of the most important aspects of building a membership site is ensuring that it’s scalable – i.e. something that you can grow and build upon. This often involves technical decisions that are tough for non-technical folks to understand and make. For example, if you pick the wrong platform or plugin for your membership site you could encounter the need for a full re-build after only a few months of being live. These kinds of scaling issues can cripple an online business with limited funds and resources.
Because of this, we always start our projects with discovery calls to understand the current and future needs of our clients, which helps set them up with technology that’s scalable for growth.
So… to Build or Buy?
The intentions of this article were not to influence you either way, but rather provide some insight on the pros and cons of each option. The decision to build or buy depends greatly on a few key factors:
- Funds – What kind of capital do you have access to?
- Time – Do you have the time to learn web design and build a quality site?
- Resources – What kind of resources and skills do you have?
If you’ve got time on your hands and you’re pretty resourceful, then building yourself is probably a better option. On the flip side, if you have a little money saved and you need a site built ASAP, you should probably hire out and focus on other areas of your business.
Photo credit: Mike Kenneally
Ali is the founder of MemberDev. He's a serial entrepreneur and software engineer with over a decade of experience building technology. Ali's spent the last 5 years focusing on membership websites and the subscription business model. He loves helping start-ups and small businesses with early stage development and growth.