How to Build a Chat Website and Charge Membership
By Louise Balle
If you're looking for a way to make your website more interesting and to bring in more income for your Internet business, you may want to consider installing a chat room to your site. A number of services available allow you to buy custom chat rooms. You can then also require visitors to purchase a membership, whether it be a yearly or monthly subscription, to continue to use your chat rooms.
Build your site as you would normally using HTML or another programming language. You can even just create a very simple HTML page with simple code and little content like "Welcome to Our Chat Room" for the moment (see References for a simple example).
Find a chat services provider, like ChattersOnline.com or ParaChat.com. Check with your web hosting company first because it may also offer you this feature free. Install the script on your homepage by simply copying and pasting the code into your HTML homepage file.
Sign up for an account with a membership services site like AuthPro.com, SentryLogin.com or CoffeeCup.com (see Resources). These services offer convenient, easy-to-use online software to password-protect your site, request payment from visitors and manage your users.
Fill out information about your site, including the entry URL that people will see when they log in (the chat room landing page from Step 1) and your decision to require payment from customers. The membership services provider will save your settings and give you a link to your registration and login page.
Select the option to enable payment processing on your membership services account. This will allow you to configure the service to work with PayPal to accept payments. Set the subscription terms, including the price, and whether this will be a regular subscription or a one-time payment.
Sign up for a business PayPal account (see Resources). Click "Profile" on your dashboard, then "Instant Payment Notification" (also called IPN). Click "Edit IPN" and then enter the payment notification URL that was given to you by your membership services provider.
Retrieve your PayPal button from the configuration area of your membership services account and add it to your website where visitors can pay and register for your chat site. (You can also create and use your own button image called "Register to Chat Now" to make the action clearer for your visitors.) When someone clicks that link, he will automatically be sent to your PayPal payment page.
Set your registration page, which your membership services provider will give you, as the URL where the user will go after she successfully completes payment. With some services, the username and password will be generated automatically, so you can just link the person directly to the login page. Your settings in Step 4 should send the user directly to the chat landing page after she has logged in.
Paste the password protection code, which your membership services provider will give you, into the header area of your chat landing page so that only paid users who have logged in can access it.
Create another link or button titled "Chat Now" in your image design program for people who have already registered previously. Post it on your homepage. When a user clicks your "Chat Now" button, it should take him to your login page.
- Be sure to give your web visitors instructions for how to download any software that is needed to view the chat room. For instance, Java is a common requirement.
Louise Balle has been writing Web articles since 2004, covering everything from business promotion to topics on beauty. Her work can be found on various websites. She has a small-business background and experience as a layout and graphics designer for Web and book projects.