Membership site vs online learning platform. What is the right one for you? In different Facebook groups I see people ask the question all the time, “What should I build my membership site in for my online course?”

And then people reply with all types of plugins that may or may not work for the questioners needs.

So, let’s get it straight right here, right now.

What is a Membership Site?

A membership site means that you have content, forums, downloads, videos, etc. available to a group of people that have purchased X membership level from you.

You may also have content available for Y group of people as well.

Meaning, you have people who pay you $30.month to get the basic level of content and others who pay you $97/mth to access the gold level content. You may even have an additional level for platinum members where they pay $397/mth to also get a 30 mins video call with you for example.

You may have new content released monthly, a private community as I mentioned, and it could go on forever.

Plugins for membership site allow you to block content for different membership levels; pages can be only for membership A, while community forums can be for member level B, etc. 

This is a membership site style and it can be enhanced further with add-on plugins.

What is an Online Course platform?

This is actually called a LMS (Learning Management System) and it’s slightly different from coaching membership site, in the way that it is built for online courses and to create an engaging experience for the course.

This allows people to become members when they BUY your course. The course they purchase is added to their profile and they can access it as per the rules you set out for it.

An LMS allows the progress to be saved, so if you have 12 modules, and your user only finished 3 of them…the next time they log in they can start at module 4 without remembering because the system will remember for them.

Plugins of this sort will also include progress bars, quizzing, drip-content, prerequisites, points, expiry dates, user profiles, and more, plus you can enhance it further with other add-on plugins.

Can an Online Course Platform ALSO be a membership?

YES! You can bring both together (or NOT if you don’t want the site too heavy) to create a highly dynamic experience for your users and a plethora of options for your site (creatively and financially).

Have questions? Let me know!


Amanda Ross
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Amanda Ross

Head Sparkologist

Amanda Ross has almost 20 year’s experience working in the web design and marketing space and believes that websites should be easy to use, and do what they are supposed to do! Amanda’s company SparkologyLab is focused on helping small to medium businesses to build smart brands in the digital space.  



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