How To Create A Client Portal With WordPress: Top Tips You Need To Know
Imagine that you just signed on a new client.
After they pay your first invoice, you schedule a meeting to go over the specifics of your first engagement together. Everything is going great and they're excited to work with you.
As your call comes to an end, they ask a seemingly innocuous question:
“By the way, where can we keep track of everything you're doing for us?”
Little do they know, you have a tangled set of systems set up in the background that you're a little embarrassed to talk about.
“Well… I use Asana for project management. I can join your ClickUp group if you prefer though. And all the documents we'll use together are in a private Google Drive folder I can share with you. Oh, except videos. I have those in Dropbox. I'll make sure your assistant gets those. And if I'm not responding to your emails, you can always find me on Slack. And don't forget, my invoices need to be paid by the 5th of the month…”
Does this instill the confidence you want in your client? Can you see how this could result in a never ending stream of email threads with people who are just looking for things? Wouldn't it be amazing if there was a single place where all of these different tools, documents, and systems could be managed?
Fortunately for you, there is!
It's called a client portal.
And in this article, we'll show you exactly what a client portal is, look at some real life examples built with WordPress, and even give you a mini-blueprint you can use to build your own.
If you're looking for a way to organize everything you use in a client relationship – like file sharing, payment processing, and account management – this article is for you.
Let's dive in.
What Is A Client Portal?
A client portal — also known as a member portal — is a centralized hub where you can manage all of the important systems, documents, and tasks your customers need.
It's a place where you can do things like:
- Share public & private files
- Track the status of projects or services
- Create a private and customizable login area
- Collect payments for one-time projects or ongoing retainers
The purpose of this type of portal is to put everything your clients need in one place. This can help you save time and energy by not having to send the same email with your Google Drive or Dropbox link to your clients every time they need it.
It's a really appealing idea. Think about it for a second…
Instead of having all the important documents, systems, and processes you use with you clients spread across a number of different tools, like…
- Google Drive or Dropbox
- FreshBooks or QuickBooks
- Calendly or Acuity
- GSuite or Slack
- Asana or Monday
…you can bring them all under one roof.
Keep in mind, it's not like a client portal will make all these tools unnecessary. Not at all. In fact, you'll probably still use a lot of them. The purpose of a client portal is not to replace these tools, but to make finding them quick and easy for you and your clients.
A client portal can essentially be the answer to a lot of the repetitive questions you get from your clients:
“Where's our project contract again?”
It's in the portal! ✅
“Can we get a copy of your last invoice?”
It's in the portal! ✅
“When's our next meeting scheduled?”
It's in the portal! ✅
The design of your client portal will largely depend on your specific business model and the needs of your customers.
That said, most client portals have the following 5 things in common:
- A private & secure login area
- Payment collection & billing management
- Self-service account management features
- Private document & file access
- Access to support or scheduling tools
To help give you some ideas of how you can create your own client portal, let's explore some well-known examples. From there, we'll look at a few people who've used WordPress & MemberMouse to build some pretty cool custom WordPress member portals.
3 Examples of Well-Known Client Portals
First up on our tour of client portals is one we're probably all familiar with: your internet service provider. As much as it might pain us to voluntarily think about our ISPs, the fact that you're reading this means you have one. 😉
In this example, we'll look at Xfinity. Even though this is technically more of a customer portal, it has all the core ingredients of a client portal:
- A protected login area
- Access to private documents
- Account and billing details
- Service management
- And more!
Imagine how tedious it would be to manage your internet service without this customer portal. You'd have to call or email every time you wanted to update or check something about your account. And we all know how that goes!
Regardless of how you feel about your ISP, you have to admit that having access to this sort of customer portal makes life pretty easy for you. Think about the ways you could incorporate what you see here in Xfinity's portal into your own private client area.
Next up, let's look at a client portal that's a bit more niche than an internet service provider. Hopefully this will give you an idea of how flexible this content delivery model can be.
Sierra Springs is a popular water delivery service. And they have an excellent client service portal for all their customers:
When you login to the client portal, you can:
- Manage your bill
- Check or change your next delivery date
- View your contract details
- Cancel or change your service
- And more!
Are you starting to see the trend here? A client portal is really just a place where you – the business owner – make all the information your clients need readily available.
For our last example of well-known client portals, let's look at another universally recognizable one: your bank. The website for a bank like Chase or Citibank is really the ultimate client portal. Not only do they need to have public facing pages, processes, and documents — their private pages need to be ultra secure and extremely personal. What's more sensitive than your banking information?
A bank's client portal has to be able to provide access to:
- Checking, savings, and investment account statements
- Account creation or cancellation processes
- Bill management, client support, and more
5 Examples Of Client Portals Built With WordPress
Now that we've defined what a client portal is and examined some well-known examples, let's look at some client portals that are built with WordPress and MemberMouse. Our hope is that these examples will show you just how versatile this model can be.
Credo is a fantastic example of a client portal built with WordPress. Founded by entrepreneur John Doherty, Credo is a marketplace that connects online businesses of every shape and size with pre-vetted digital marketing agencies and service providers.
What's great about Credo is that they serve two types of clients in one single portal: Businesses & Marketing Service Providers. Businesses in search of digital marketing professionals fill out request forms. Then Credo can match those requests to the best-fit service providers. Plus, whether you're a business or a provider, you can login to a private client area to manage your account and check the status of your projects.
Pretty cool, huh?
If you want to learn more about how John built Credo, you can check out this podcast episode we recorded with him.
2. Commercial Loan Broker's Institute
The Commercial Loan Broker's Institute is a high-touch member portal that serves — you guessed it — commercial loan brokers! This client portal is full of just about everything a loan broker needs to be successful:
- Documents, agreements, and other helpful tools
- Website design & marketing services
- Legal support, networking opportunities, & team training
- And more!
Plus, it has all the core components of a client portal we've already identified — like a private login area with account management features.
“The Institute provides a broad variety of services to commercial loan brokers. And we handle the billing for all of it through MemberMouse. By setting up each service as a different bundle we give our clients one place to login, manage their services, and access everything – from watching their most recent video training to downloading pre-event materials.”
If you're looking for a perfect example of a client portal built with WordPress, look no further than the Commercial Loan Broker's Institute.
3. Coffee & Contracts
Coffee & Contracts is another awesome example of a client portal. They help real estate agents build powerful online presences with social media marketing strategies. Coffee & Contracts gives its clients access to content calendars, video scripts, social media post ideas, and so much more.
Plus, in their client dashboard, a real estate agent can access all the content associate with their membership, manage their account and billing details, and contact support. It has everything they need all in one place.
Next up is RiskRevu – an outstanding client portal built with WordPress and MemberMouse. RiskRevu helps insurance agents manage, automate, and optimize their client experiences. They focus on helping agents streamline data collection and form completion. Basically, they make it much easier and faster for insurance agents to get the information they need from their clients.
In RiskRevu's client portal area, agents can:
- Customize their profiles
- Personalize their users' experience
- Customize, share, and embed forms
- Manage their account & billing
- And more
A cool thing about RiskRevu is that they give you the option for a single user account, or an agency style account. That means an agent can have between 1-25 users associated with a single account. The way they do this is with the Groups add-on for MemberMouse. If you're looking for a way to create “umbrella accounts,” this is how you can do it!
This add-on gives your members the ability to add their own users to their account. It's perfect for larger teams, agencies, or organizations. If this is something you'd like to offer as well, you might take a look at their setup for inspiration.
“Our platform allows agencies and their agents to streamline the data gathering aspects of certain sales processes and service tasks. This saves time over picking up the phone, asking a million questions, or typing out an email with all those questions in it.”
If you'd like to hear the story of how Kurt Thoennessen – the founder of RiskRevu – built his client portal, you can check out this podcast episode we recorded with him.
5. Global Travel
Last – but certainly not least – in our review of WordPress member portals is GlobalTravel.com. They are a client portal that helps travel agents start, build, and grow their careers. They bring a wide variety of products, services, and tools under one roof so that it's easy for their clients to access everything they need.
Here's a quick look at what Global Travel clients get in their portal:
- Account management
- Webinar & teleconference access
- Commission tracker
- Forms & document downloads
- And more
How To Create A Client Portal With WordPress
Now that we've clearly defined what a client portal is and looked at some inspirational examples, let's cover how you can create your own member portal using WordPress. We've broken this process down into three “broad strokes.”
1. Payment Handling
One of the first things you'll want to consider when building your client portal is how you want to handle payments. Do you want your client payments to be managed by the same tool that grants access to the portal? Or do you want to use a 3rd-party invoicing tool like FreshBooks?
This will largely depend on your working relationship with your clients. For example, if you'll send them project-based invoices or have them on a monthly retainer. The reason it is so important to clearly identify this is because you'll need to determine if you want access to your client portal to be directly tied to payment.
Here's what we mean:
If you plan on sending your clients invoices, you'll want a way to give them access to your portal that isn't linked to an active payment. However, if you plan on billing on a retainer basis – monthly, quarterly, annually, etc. – you may want a way to automatically revoke access to your client portal when payment stops.
Fortunately, you can do both of these things with a tool like MemberMouse. With our platform, you can collect payments directly from your clients on any terms you choose – on a recurring subscription, a one-time fee, or even breaking up a single payment into a payment plan.
2. Access Rights
The next thing you'll want to consider as you build your client portal is access. Where do you want your clients to access the resources they need? Due to the confidential nature of client relationships, most choose to put this information behind a private login in a protected area. This is where you can put things like contracts, reports, and private links.
Because of the nature of individual client relationships, you'll also want the ability to customize who gets to see what in their private client areas. There are a number of ways you can customize this sort of access with MemberMouse. For more information, check out this article from our support center.
3. Account Management
Finally, the last big thing to consider – there'll be a 1000 little things based on what you want to build – for your client portal is how you'll handle account management. Remember, the whole reason you're building a client portal in the first place is to make life easier for you and your customers.
So, you'll want to make sure your clients can update their account information, add a new credit card, view payment history, etc. without clogging up your email inbox. If you choose to use MemberMouse to build your client portal, these articles from our support center should help you create an account management system that's easy for your clients to use:
- How can members update their credit card information?
- All about the My Account core page
- How to send automated & customizable PDF receipts
For bonus points, you can also embed your calendar or a link to your private Slack channel in your private client area so your clients know they always have a way to reach you.
Thank you so much for joining us on our exploration of WordPress client portals!
We hope that you have a much clearer idea of what these are and how you can create them. This is an amazing content delivery model that can make life much easier for you and your clients.
While it may seem like a client portal is a complex creation, remember that it all boils down to just a few core principles:
A client or customer login area
Payment processing & billing features
Self-service account management capabilities
Private document access & file storage
& Access to support or scheduling tools
From there, all that's left for you to do is customize the experience you want your clients to have.
If you have any comments or questions about how you can create your own client portal with WordPress, please feel free to add a comment below. We'd love to hear from you!
Matt is our enthusiastic Content Manager here at MemberMouse. Originally from Chicago, Matt now resides in the Pacific Northwest with his wife and cat. He loves reading, writing and getting outdoors.