When you’re running your first membership site you may be tempted to host the content for your members directly within WordPress however, just because you can do so, hosting files this way is not always a good idea. In this post I’m telling you why and what the alternatives are when it comes to hosting files.
WordPress offers you the functionality to store both videos and pdf files inside the native media libary. Where you only upload a limited number of documents or very short videos, hosting files within WordPress is not going to cause you issues. However, when you’re running a membership site, it’s likely that there will be a large number of videos and pdfs to accomodate (over a period of time) and these can slow down your site. In my opinion, you’d want to give your members the best experience possible and there are other places where you can store files and videos and give access to your members.
Hosting Files Options
Dropbox offers cloud storage and has extremely affordable prices. I use Dropbox to store pretty much all of my files, images etc. to ensure they are always backed up. I use dropbox to store some of my freebies I send out to my list as well, and it’s really easy for people to download them from here. Overall I love how it integrates with my Mac, simply displaying as a normal folder. No need to open Dropbox in the browser to upload my files – although you can do that if you need to retrieve your files on other machines. Dropbox also offers it’s own mobile app, making it easy to upload images from your phone for example.
Pricing: The first 2GB are free and Dropbox Pro (1TB of storage) costs £7.99 in the UK currently. They also offer a bonus scheme where for every person you invite to Dropbox, you receive 500MB free storage. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but I had built up my free storage to around 5GB already, just by inviting the odd person to Dropbox – and I wasn’t trying very hard.
Google Drive offers similar features to Dropbox, however I find the access to Google Drive slightly annoying. Your Drive is linked to your Google Account. In my role as a VA I have access to around 20+ Gmail Inboxes and that means I have to sign out of 1 account, then sign in to the other one and then retrieve the file I need and reverse the process. It would not be an option for me to replace my Dropbox storage with Google Drive. However sharing links to access certain documents in your Google Drive works a charm, so it’s a viable option for this purpose. I also share Google Docs, Sheets etc. with my clients and they are obviously inside the Google Drive.
Price: up to 15GB free (shared between Gmail Account, Google Photos and Google Drive) and then $9.99 per month for 1TB. This makes it currently slightly more expensive in the UK than Dropbox.
The best option to me for hosting files, particularly if you will end up building up a large selection of documents, is Amazon S3. Amazon S3 is a “simple storage service for the internet”. Well, I’m not sure about the word simple. it’s so simple in it’s design, that it actually took me a good 20 minutes to understand how the files are organised and how I upload more of them. However, read through the documentation here, and you’ll work it out in no time. The point of S3 is NOT to be pretty or user-friendly, but to allow for larger-scale storage, and this may be just what your membership site will turn into over a period of time.
Pricing: The pricing structure is a little more complicated, BUT the cost for using S3 for low-end users is minimal and definitely a very good deal!
Video Storage Options
Now let’s move on to looking at video storage. Here you want to make sure that your videos are private, so they cannot be accessed from outside of your membership site. To do that, the video hosting service, needs to have the option to restrict where this video can be embedded and who can see it.
I love Vimeo Pro personally. It’s easy to add your video, customise the experience for the end user (your members) and adjust the brand colours etc. on the video player. It’s also easy to list your videos as private and tell vimeo to only embed them on a certain domain.
Pricing: £14.00 per month
Wistia also has great customisation options and also allows domain restrictions on your videos. I personally prefer the Vimeo options as I find them more inuitive, but the main deal breaker for me is the pricing. The cost jumps ridiculously high after you have used up your 3 free videos. So if you are creating a membership site with new weekly drip content, you will go up to the next higher plan on Wistia and the cost, well, see below for yourself.
Pricing: Free for up to 3 videos, then $100 per month for up to 150 videos.
Well, as you can see there are plenty of options for hosting the larger files for your members. Now, over to you, tell me a little bit more about your setup or your plans? How are you hosting and protecting your files and videos? What do you like about your system?