Squarespace announces ‘Member Areas’ for paywalled content

Member Areas can be used to put courses, webinars, white papers, and more behind a one-time or subscription paywall.

Squarespace announced on Monday that Member Areas are available for all Squarespace sites. The tool comes with three monthly or annually billed plans: Basic, Core, and Pro. Each plan includes unlimited members, no Squarespace branding or ads, and the ability to include discounts or promotions to purchasers. 

What sets the Member Areas plans apart is the number of areas and the transaction fee. 

Member Areas can be set up as free, billed once, or billed on a subscription basis to site customers.

Smart pricing from Squarespace

Considering the popularity of gated and subscription content as a form of recurring passive income for individuals and small businesses, users of the Member Areas will likely grow out of the Basic plan quickly. Many businesses offer free content in exchange for an email address to capture leads—a practice that would burn through your one basic Member Area. 

There are workarounds of course; offering the free content for any newsletter signup, for example. But small businesses looking to take advantage of Squarespace’s integrated email marketing, sleek website design, and integrated ecommerce tools to promote their Member Areas are likely to quickly graduate to Core or Pro plans.

But the pricing is comparable to the WooCommerce subscription plans announced last month. WooCommerce offers subscription support for free for WooCommerce Payments customers or $199 a year. Squarespace’s Core plan is just over that at $216 annually.

Getting the business priorities straight

Squarespace offers easy setup, modern-looking design, and well-integrated features. For many small businesses, it’s valuable to have their ecommerce, email, website, Google tools, and payments all centralized in a single provider. This is something rarely found for small businesses, which often have to cobble together a marketing stack of free or low-cost tools just to make it worth their time.

But the tradeoff for centralized marketing often comes at the cost of customization. Squarespace has recently released a set of SEO tools to help small businesses do better on the web including custom title and meta tags, support for Google Analytics and Search Console connections, canonical links, AMP support, and cleaner HTML and URLs. There’s an extensive SEO checklist for new websites, but Squarespace offers no direct SEO support.

What you get is a basic level of SEO coverage without much room for customization. When website builders offer clean HTML and URLs, they really mean that they control how the text you enter into their platform gets translated into code. This leaves little room for special cases or customization—which growing companies will often find they need support for. 

Squarespace built these tools for small businesses

For both Member Areas and SEO tools, Squarespace offers a good starting place for small businesses who don’t have the access or budget for SEO or development teams. They still provide good options for building websites with integrated email campaigns and ecommerce. Squarespace also recently launched support for enterprise companies called Select available by quote only—although this feels like a jump from the rest of the services. 

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Tamara Scott is a writer and content strategist based in Nashville. With a background in English education, she plans and writes clear, instructive content for marketers and technology users of all skill levels. Follow @t_scottie