Do you distrust guys who say they can make you “your own” website? Are you just curious about how paysites are made?
There are many reasons and uses to have a pay area on your site. First of all, if you have tons of pics which aren’t quite portfolio quality but which you hate “going to waste” on your hard drive, at least they have the potential to make money if you have a pay area of your site. Secondly, if you have fans who constantly ask to see more pics, you should be making them happy while making pocket change for yourself! Thirdly, but certainly not lastly, why not??
Here’s how to make a basic website, with a basic members area. It’s not rocket science, and costs only around $9-$12 per month (depending on if you pay monthly or yearly, or apply any discount codes).
First, you need to go and buy yourself a domain name, if you haven’t. Go to Active-Domain.com and be sure to add the “who is proof” privacy protection for an extra 2 or 3 bucks. You can also get a domain name through CertifiedHosting, free (depending on the offer), but to make it private will cost extra.
Then, you need to set up hosting. Get this from CertifiedHosting. They are adult friendly and I’ve used them for years. I recommend the “Geek Plan” to start with.
Please click this affiliate link, so I’ll get credit for the free website design advice I’m giving you:
After you get a hosting plan, you will need to point your domain name servers to CertifiedHosting.
If you ordered from Active-Domain they’ll send you to your control panel on domainpanel.com. After clicking on your domain name, it will look like this – just click “update name servers” and type in the host information that hostgator sent you (it should be something like this: NS123.certifiedhosting.com )
After that, you need to sit and wait for about a day, or overnight. Sometimes a few hours. This gives the server time to tell the whole world wide web that your domain exists.
To access your control panel, you will go to yourdomain.com/cpanel – if you’re using CertifiedHosting.
In cpanel, you will see a techie looking interface like this:
You’re looking for “Softalicious”, or “install WordPress” which is where you install WordPress from.
See WordPress in the sidebar? For your free area, you want to install WordPress in the root directory – so don’t make a subdirectory! Fill in the blanks and the prompts… and then you will have installed WordPress. If you need help with this part, I can do a free WordPress install (no customization) provided that you’ve successfully clicked the CertifiedHosting link and I’ve gotten credit for referring you… or you can google how to install WordPress or ask the friendly folks at CertifiedHosting for help.
Now, your WordPress site will look pretty generic… so you will need a pretty theme. My favorite place for themes is ElegantThemes.com - for one low price ($39) you get access to all their themes for a year. I like them because their themes are easy to customize, compatible on all devices (iphones, androids, computers, macs, Internet Explorer, FireFox, etc), and they’re elegant. My members area was on an ElegantThemes theme for a long time, as my previous design of this site. WooThemes.com is my other favorite site for free WordPress themes (this free area is currently using a premium theme from Themify). I’ve been having fun with the themes from Themify.me, which run between $39 (for 1 theme) and $89 (for all their themes).
I could write a ton on how to customize WordPress, but, staying on topic, this is just covering the basics of how to make a basic site with a members area. Don’t forget to install a stats tracking plugin, though, so you can tell where people are coming from – I like JetPack.
Making your members area
This is the part that so many people are scared of… but don’t be! It’s as easy as 2 clicks and repeating the basic WordPress installation steps above!
Now, alot of people like to use subdirectories for their members areas. This is the traditional way. I am scared that it’ll get confused with WordPress directories, so I make a subdomain for my members. Since writing this first version, I have been advised by Zombaio that subdirectories are more compatible with their automatic payment processing script.
From your cpanel, find “subdomains”. Create a new subdomain called something like “members” – so it will be members.yoursite.com. Go back to Fantastico. Install WordPress in that subdomain. Install and customize a pretty theme.
Now, this is where it gets questionably secure. Before most payment processors will accept you, you will need some content in your members area. The easy thing to do is to not password protect your members subdomain, and hope that nobody surfs on it. If you’re using theRude.com content embeds, your site will be up quicker and it’s harder to steal (I think). I would recommend password protecting your members area, while you’re building it out.
From cpanel, go to “password protect directories”. Your subdomain will show up as a folder. Click it and follow the prompts. This is how mine looks… and see, CertifiedHosting even has a video tutorial on exactly how to do this!
So, now that is done. The hard part is upon you – post your members content and finish making your site pretty! You can extend WordPress, in your members area (or free area) to have chat, forums, link exchanges, and more. I really love WordPress because of the tremendous potential to extend it.
For security purposes: under “settings” “reading” click: For each article in a feed, show — Summary. You do NOT want members being able to forward your updates to others! Underneath that option, click “Discourage search engines from indexing this site”.
If you’re just looking to make photo galleries, the easiest way to create these is by using the “posts” without any additional plugins (although a lightbox is a nice touch, the lightbox/carousel that comes with JetPack is very adequate).
Your members videos and WordPress (this is the hardest part)
In browser streaming is a huge PIA. If you’ve never touched wordpress, I recommend just making a screenshot of your video clip and linking to wherever you’ve uploaded it (in the members subdomain). Streaming video can be the hardest part of using WordPress for your members site. I pay for the video embed plugin available from iThemes.com – but there are others which are free. I would look for HTML5 video plugins that allow self hosted videos (some only work with Youtube). Lately I’ve been using a plugin called wp-filebase, which works just as good as Ithemes video player, but is free (although not html5).
If your files are smaller than 64 megs, then you should be able to upload them within WordPress. Otherwise: To upload videos into your members area, go into file manager in cPanel, and navigate to your members subdomain (which will show up as a directory). If you are NOT using wp-filebase: Create a file called “clips” or something – this keeps everything in one place and organized. You can even create this file in “wp-content” which will ensure that your clips don’t accidentally get fucked with if you make a page called “clips”. If you are using Wp-Filebase: the path to your uploads will look like yoursite.com/members-area/wp-content/uploads/filebase – and if you made any categories, they will show up as folders.
You can try this, pasted in the HTML tab:
OR, you can use Filebase’s shortcode generator from within the editor when you click “add new” “post”.
For your videos to be cross browser compatible, you’re going to want to make sure they’re in MP4 format (h264). If you’re going for HD videos, around 5000 megabits is a good compression, but you can still get good quality videos (and much smaller) at 1000 mbps.
If you just want to let your members download your clips, it’s SO MUCH easier. Link to the video files like you would anything else.
Once you have some content in your members area, then you need to get approved by a 3rd party company such as Zombaio, CcBill, or Verotel tickets club. These companies all have password protection systems and will install and set you up to accept new members for free!
That is how to make an attractive pay to access website with WordPress in a nutshell. You can’t really mess up the design of an already attractive template up too bad, so there’s no excuses for poorly designed websites.
As you can see, your domain name and hosting per year will cost under $150, and possibly as low as $60-100. If you use a free WordPress theme and free plugins, you can keep your yearly costs super cheap! That's only $6 - $12 per month.
For more WordPress info, you should check out these links, which is where I send my clients anyway: