I read through this a couple of times and tried the Demo site again, and I think I figured out my confusion with the signup / membership flow.
Here’s what I think I need to do:
Note: my site is 100% paid, there’s no free tier
I have a static sales page (outside Discourse) with an application form. If the application is approved (manual process), I’ll send an invitation to join from within Discourse.
new member signs up and gets a new account in Discourse.
new member logs in to Discourse and sees…an empty forum, but for one topic about ‘creating a membership’ [perhaps this is where the pro-course-static-page comes in, and I can have a static page with payment options instead?]
That topic [or static page] has two options: a monthly recurring payment and an annual recurring payment. Each link or button goes to the membership page I created within the Procourse plugin.
New Member completes the payment and is added to the Member group, which has access to the full forum.
I think I’m on track here. But #3 and #4 are questionable to me. Am I missing an easier / more obvious path?
PS - I thought the payment page would come first, before the new member created an account. The need to create an account first was a big mental block for me, but I understand why. I think.