Password Management Systems

All paysites must have a system in place to manage their passwords. A password management system needs to have the ability to either assign a username and password or allow the user to select his own. A password management system must also be able to automatically put the username and password into the .htpassword file in the password protected directory or use a similar method to allow only paid members to enter the password protected directory. Finally, the password management system must be able to expire or remove passwords for users that have cancelled their memberships or whose credit cards have been declined. While there are many ways to automatically manage passwords, there are three systems that I would recommend.

The best system on the market is MemberGate (www.membergate.com) however it may not be the best solution for someone just beginning with membership sites. Mainly because it carries a hefty price tag; it starts out at $4,000 and can go as high as $15,000. Plus it requires a Windows Server running ColdFusion which most is not standard for most websites. But it will handle all your payment processing, password management, and even your member’s area content management.

A less expensive solution is aMember (www.amember.com). This is a script that has been around for a long time and is very stable. It’s only $140 and will integrate with most merchant accounts as well as 3rd party systems like ClickBank and PayPal. It will also handle an affiliate program and the price includes installation.

The third solution I recommend is CC-Bill (www.ccbill.com). This company offers a web-based solution with no startup cost however they take a small percentage from every transaction. CC-Bill is a 3rd party credit card processor, which means they will process all major credit cards using their merchant account and send you a weekly check for all your sales, minus their transaction fee. They will also install and manage the password management system, so all you have to do is create the content for your site. They are a turn-key solution and even have a built in affiliate system.

There are other membership site solutions available like Visiongate, Memberstar and EasyMemberPro.

Content Management Systems (CMS)

The heart of every membership site is controlled by a content management system. Some membership sites don’t use a content management system, instead the operator of the sites create their own custom HTML pages using website editors like FrontPage or DreamWeaver. However, your job will be a whole lot easier if you automate the process by installing a CMS system. While there are many good systems for sale, some of the best one’s are free. Many membership site owners simply use a WordPress Blog for the inside of their member’s area. By installing a free pre-designed template, you can drastically alter the look and feel of WordPress so it doesn’t look like a standard blog. You can visit http://www.wordpress.org to download current WordPress software, and then visit http://themes.wordpress.net to download a custom template/theme.

Another free content management system is Joomla (http://www.joomla.org). Joomla is very modular and the average non-programmer can get the basic package up and running without much technical knowledge. Available plug-ins will allow the website operator to create forums, and other applications.

You may also consider using a system like PHP-Nuke (http://phpnuke.org), that will create a community inside your member’s area. There are thousands of add-ons and blocks that you can add to PHP-Nuke that will allow you do almost anything you can image.

Other free CMS systems to consider: