If you want to know how to setup a membership site with WordPress then the plugins covered in this article will help you with your objective. Not only are these plugins packed with features, but they are, for the most part, very easy to setup and use. The tools listed cover a range of budgets, from free to premium, and they are ideal for those just starting out, through to site owners looking for a high end professional solution.
In fact, if you need to add a members’ area to your website, and are using WordPress then you will be pleasantly surprised by some of the tools available to help you accomplish this. Keep reading to discover the best membership plugins for WordPress and get your site up and running today.
MemberPress – Membership Plugin
This is a well-regarded professional membership plugin for WordPress. It’s not free but it should have all the features you need and more to setup a fully functional membership website.
Once installed, this plugin allows you to restrict access to all the content on your WordPress site including pages, posts, categories, tags and files you’ve uploaded. Some other top features of MemberPress include:
- Management of unlimited members
- Create unlimited access rules
- Offer unlimited pricing pages
- Sell an unlimited amount of digital products
- Accept payments with PayPal Express Checkout and Stripe
- Automatically grant and revoke access when members join or unsubscribe
- Content dripping with timed release of access
- Premium support
When it comes to pricing, there are two plans available: business and developer. Both are billed yearly, but you can choose to pay just once and go on using the plugin without support and updates.
If you want a premium membership plugin that covers all the bases and gives maximum flexibility then MemberPress is a great choice.
Pros: This is a well-regarded option that is very easy to use. The support for digital products as well as managing a membership site makes this a versatile plugin.
Cons: The annual billing could add up to be expensive over time, but the option to renew and use the plugin unsupported is there.
This is a premium membership service that can be used on many online platforms including WordPress. It’s not an online service, but is a PHP script that you pay for access to, and then install on your own webhosting server. Non-technical users will be pleased to know that a free installation is included in the one-off fee and for WordPress users, there is a free plugin for easy integration with your site.
Some of the highlights from the feature list of aMember include:
- Unlimited membership levels and items
- Incremental content delivery for drip release
- Integrated with PayPal, ClickBank, 2Checkout and more
- Select fail-back payment processors
- Automated member signups and expirations
- Integrated modules including email newsletter, helpdesk and affiliate management
- Create coupon codes
This plugin certainly seems to have all the requisite features to manage a fully featured membership site. However, the user interface did feel quite dated, so it’s worth thinking about whether this option is the right choice for portraying your brand in the best possible way.
Pros: Available for a one-off fee, full access to source-code with ability to customise it to your needs, supports multiple payment options, comes with a few support videos for help with setup, integrates with other platforms such as vBulletin forums.
Cons: A comparatively expensive option, user interface not consistent with WordPress UI and appears dated.
If you are looking for a solution that will enable you to deliver an online course, or need a way to drip feed content over time, instead of making all your premium content available to your members in one go, then the content dripping abilities of MagicMembers are top notch.
While some other plugins feature this ability, including MemberPress, MagicMembers continues to draw praise for doing it the best. However, that is not all this plugin does, other top features include:
- Multiple payment gateway compatibility
- Integration with email newsletters such as Aweber and MailChimp
- Payment subscription support including daily, weekly, monthly and more
- Download manager for restricting file access
- Sequential course delivery for content dripping
- Pay Per View for paid access to specific content such as videos
- Automated expiration email reminders
The list of features is outstanding and is well-worth checking out. This is a premium membership plugin for WordPress, so you will have to pay to get access to it, but hopefully the revenue generated by your membership course will cover the cost in no time. There are three price plans to choose from and each comes with detailed support to help you get up and running in no time at all.
The only downside with this plugin is that the control panel doesn’t use the standard WordPress interface. This means the settings have the feel of being tacked on to your WordPress dashboard rather than seamlessly integrated. While this isn’t a major issue, it can make using the plugin feel less intuitive than it should be and might be something to consider when deploying MembershipMagic for clients.
Overall though, if you want a feature packed plugin that excels at content dripping and sequential course delivery, as well as everything else associated with running a membership site, then MembershipMagic is a highly recommended option.
Pros: The strong content dripping and sequential content delivery make this plugin ideal for those looking for offer a premium or members only online course. Also supports multiple payment gateways for making it even easier for your customers to sign up.
Cons: The interface uses a custom design, rather than following the standard WordPress interface, which might be confusing for some users.
OptimizePress 2 – WordPress Membership
We recently published a full OptimizePress 2 review, covering the best features and usability of this landing page builder for WordPress. However, it’s worth another mention here as it does allow you to enhance the membership functionality of your WordPress site.
OptimizePress 2 comes with a number of templates specifically for dealing with membership sites and is a great tool for those looking to optimise the signup pages of their site. The page builder makes it very easy to setup and customize the landing pages for your membership offering, and the membership portal aspect of the plugin works with a range of membership plugins. If you want to customize the sign up pages, login forms and membership lesson and module listings then OptimizePress, used in conjunction with a supported membership plugin equals a powerful combination.
Pros: Comes with a very large selection of templates. The page builder is also very easy to use, giving you access to an unlimited amount of designs. Ideal for any type of landing or registration page, not just membership sites.
Cons: Does not delivery membership management functionality to your site, and must be used in conjunction with a supported dedicated plugin.
Wishlist Member Plugin
Wishlist Member is a premium membership plugin that is renowned for being able to give you lots of control over how your content is restricted and made available, and to which members. This also means that there are lots of options to explore, which can sometimes be confusing for new users. However, lots of settings and expansive menu systems are often the price you pay for this level of control over your membership site and premium content.
Some of the features of this premium WordPress membership plugin include:
- Create unlimited membership levels
- Sequential content delivery and auto-upgrades of membership levels
- Easy ability to hide or restrict individual pieces of content from non-members
- Handles free, trial and paid memberships
- Integrates with PayPal and ClickBank
- Secure RSS feeds
- Subscription length control with auto-expire
- Free previews with protection after the ‘more’ tag
- Partial content display for protecting as little as one sentence within a post
The plugin also comes with a good selection of support material to help you get started such as video tutorials, support guides, one year of unlimited updates and one year of unlimited support. Wishlist Member is available for $97 for the single site license, or $297 for the multisite license.
Developers might want to give this one a miss though, as the plugin code has been encrypted. This means you can’t easily dive in and make any adjustments to the plugin to help it better fit your needs. Also, it’s worth pointing out that if you are an existing customer of Pressable (formerly ZippyKid), or plan to use their managed WordPress hosting service in the future, they do not allow use of the Wishlist Member plugin due to performance issues.
This WordPress membership plugin does have everything you will probably ever need when setting up and managing a membership site or restricting access to content using registered user accounts.
Pros: Lots of control over how your membership site works, comes with a risk-free 30 day trial and integrates with PayPal and ClickBank.
Cons: Unable to view or edit the plugin code so making custom alterations is not an option, not supported by some managed hosting services.
Cart66 Cloud allows you to do many things with a WordPress installation, including managing an eCommerce store which sells physical products or digital downloads. It also functions as a membership plugin for WordPress, allowing you to sell and restrict access to your site using subscription payments and recurring billing.
Some of the top membership features of the Cart66 Cloud plugin include:
- Sell membership access using the recurring billing engine
- Make content available on a drip basis
- Allows subscribers to manage their own billing information in the customer portal
- Supports over 50 payment processors
- Restrict access to pages, posts, sections of content or entire categories
- PCI compliant with no requirement for having your own SSL certificate
- Auto-membership expiration email reminders for members
There is also a 30-day no risk money back guarantee so you can take Cart66 for a test drive.
Pros: Also features eCommerce functionality for multipurpose sites, works with lots of payment processors, multiple pricing plans available, options including monthly or annual payments, attractive admin interface
Cons: Purchase requires monthly or annual recurring payment subscription which can soon add up over time,
Restrict Content Pro
This is another premium option, this time from Pippin’s Plugins. The admin user interface is well designed and it fits right into the appearance of the WordPress admin area, creating a seamless integration on the backend. Restrict Content Pro is very easy to use and there is helpful documentation displayed throughout the settings pages to ensure you are able to get started as quickly as possible.
Some of the features of RCP include:
- Create unlimited membership levels
- Create free, trial and paid subscriptions
- Create and offer discount codes
- View all payments from all members in one place
- Restrict access to whole posts, pages or just sections of them
- Easy membership management for current and expired members
- Set expiration dates for memberships
- Integration with PayPal as standard and other gateways via extensions
While this plugin might not be as flash or fancy as some of the other options out there, it’s an affordable and easy way to restrict access to content on your site, while also taking payments on a number of subscriptions levels.
Pros: Very affordable, thoughtful user interface that slots right into the standard WordPress admin area, range of extensions available for expanding feature list.
Cons: Some features standard on other products are available here as extensions, no option to time release content or drip content to users, lacks integration with other services and platforms out of the box.
This premium plugin is a ‘point-and-click tool for creating membership sites and landing pages’ from the Copyblogger team. It certainly looks good, but how do the features stack up against the competition:
- Accepts recurring payments
- Automatically drip content out over time
- Sell access to ebooks and other digital downloads
- Split-test your landing pages from within WordPress
- Create private forum areas with vBulletin
- Process payments with PayPal and Authorize.net
- Offer promotional coupons
It’s a well-rounded package that has a strong leaning towards marketing and giving you the tools to encourage your readers into signing up for your membership content.
As for the landing page functionality, Premise comes loaded with the ability to create eight landing page types, giving you control over their appearance from fonts to custom graphics, without the need to touch any code.
There is just one pricing option, which is a one-time payment of $165. This gives you access to unlimited use, updates and support. Premise also has a 30 day risk free money back guarantee should you be unhappy with the product.
Pros: Includes a landing page builder for increase your number of members, works with other services such as vBulletin, bbPress, and PayPal, sign new members up directly to your AWeber or MailChimp list.
Cons: Only supports payments via PayPal and Authorize.net, price tag comparatively high.
Paid Memberships Pro
This is a great option that will cost you nothing to get started with. Yes, this is a free membership plugin that you can begin using today in order to restrict access to the content on your WordPress site to selected users. There are also two premium options for this tool. The premium price plans will give you access support including documentation, premium content and members-only forums, but apart from that, it’s the same functionality.
As for the plug in itself, it’s got a great feature set making it a solid choice for anyone looking for a no-budget tool. Some of the standout features include:
- Unlimited Membership Levels
- Easy Payment Gateway Integration
- Flexible Pricing and Free Trial Periods for your members
- Accept recurring subscriptions
- Set access and membership levels for individual pages and posts
- Customise the notification email messages
- Edit or replace the default plugin pages for login etc.
- Offer discount codes
- Drip release content over time
- Expand the features with free extensions and add-ons
While Paid Memberships Pro is lacking the ability to drip content over time, out of the box, there is a free add-on that has been made for just this feature. The plugin has been released by the PMPro development team and is available from GitHub. Information about the other free extensions and add-ons can be found on the add-ons page.
Pros: The main draw of this plugin is that it is free to use on as many sites as you want, it also comes packed with features. The third party add-ons allow for easy integration with a range of other services you are probably already using.
Cons: Need to install additional plugins and add-ons to get access to some standard features, however they are free and easy to find.
Quick Membership Plugin Comparison Table
|Membership Plugin Comparison|
|Content Dripping||Digital Downloads||Recurring Subscriptions||Price|
|Paid Memberships Pro||Y||Y||Y||Free†|
|Cart66 Cloud||Y||Y||Y||$25 per month|
|Restrict Content Pro||N||Y||Y||$42|
* one year of support and updates
† no support with free option
‡ six months of updates
Conclusion: The Best Membership Plugin for WordPress
With high quality free and premium options available, anyone can start offering restricted access content on their site to their members and subscribers. Whether you want to build a private community or a premium online course, you should be able to setup your site in a very short amount of time using one of these plugins.
While the above plugins only represents a small sample of the many membership tools out there for WordPress, they should be enough for most user’s needs. Unfortunately there is no one size fits all best WordPress membership plugin, as while the above are all well rounded products, they have their own strengths and weakness, not to mention price tags.
Before making a choice, it’s a good idea to be clear on exactly how you plan to manage your members area and what features you will need, such as content dripping, course delivery, recurring payments, ease of use, custom landing pages or pay per view access. Once you know your requirements, making a decision will be much easier.
Have you setup a membership site and if so which plugin did you use?The Best WordPress Membership Plugins to Match any Budget by Joe Fylan