Membership sites are an increasingly popular way to monetize a website. With a membership site, you restrict access to some or all of your content. And if users want access to that restricted content, they need to sign up or pay. Simple enough, right?
I love membership sites because you’re fully in control of your revenue. No need to worry about a canceled affiliate program or losing a major advertiser.
But if you want to create a membership site with WordPress, you’ll need a plugin. And that’s the topic of this post…
I’ll be going in-depth and reviewing Magic Members, a premium WordPress membership site plugin that’s packed with features. I’ve got it freshly installed on my test site, so let’s go through and take a look at whether or not you should use Magic Members for your next membership site.
Without further ado, here’s my Magic Members review.
Magic Members Review: Overview Of Features
Before I go hands-on with Magic Members, I want to talk about its features in an abstract sense. Here’s everything you get when you launch your site with Magic Members:
- Unlimited membership levels – create different membership tiers with their own billing options.
- Multiple membership levels per user – individual users can purchase multiple membership levels, which lets you monetize in some interesting ways.
- Drip content – if you don’t want to give access to all content at once, Magic Members lets you slowly drip it out.
- Download manager – make sure only authorized users can download files.
- Custom subscription length – great for running trial periods.
- Partial restricted content – you can choose to only restrict some content while leaving the rest public.
- Pay per post/view – you can charge for individual posts or page views if you’d like.
- Tons of integrations – Magic Members has heaps of integrations with payment gateways and external email marketing services.
How Are Membership Levels Handled?
When you install Magic Members, it automatically creates three different membership levels:
You can edit or delete those membership levels if you want. And you can also create your own membership levels. As many as you want:
Once you create a membership level, you have an immense number of configuration options. You can choose:
- Billing type (ongoing, one time, etc).
- Role (corresponds to WordPress user roles)
You can also configure what happens after a user’s account expires. For example, you can choose to downgrade them to a free plan or just remove their access completely.
You can also configure the pages used for each membership level as well as whether or not to offer a trial:
And one unique thing is restricting the number of IPs allowed per account. If you’re concerned about people sharing accounts, this is a good option. Just be careful to not limit your users too much.
One thing I like about the membership creation process is how much microcopy there is in the dashboard. The microcopy makes it easy to navigate what would otherwise be a confusing number of options. Good job, Magic Members crew!
Overall, you have a great deal of flexibility over how each membership level functions.
How Do You Manage Members?
You can manage individual members from inside your dashboard:
If you have a large number of members, Magic Members gives you a huge number of sorting and filtering options to quickly drill down to specific members. And you can also easily export members if needed:
How Do You Restrict Content?
Magic Members lets you restrict content in a few different ways. You can do everything from:
- Restricting access to your entire site.
- Just restricting certain full posts/pages.
- Only restricting specific parts of posts/pages.
In the Content Control tab, you can choose how you restrict content. If you want to restrict your whole site, you just need to select the FULL option.
On the other hand, if you want to manually restrict content by individual posts and pages, you can select the PARTLY option.
Assuming you select PARTLY, you can restrict individual posts/pages in the WordPress Editor. You’ll see two new options for restriction in the editor.
First, you select which membership levels will have access to see the private content on the post/page.
Then, you use the Magic Members shortcode builder to actually choose which content is restricted. If you want the whole page to be restricted, you just put everything inside the private tags generated by the shortcode builder. Otherwise, you can just restrict certain portions of your content:
This method for content restriction is fairly standard for membership plugins. So if you’ve ever used another membership plugin, you should feel right at home with Magic Members.
How Does Drip Content Work?
Drip content is a popular membership site feature. Instead of dropping all of your membership content at once, it allows you to slowly release it over time. This is great for keeping your members engaged and coming back to your site.
Drip content also lets you run online courses and other cool tweaks.
Basically, with drip content, you’re like watching a TV show on cable TV. Without drip content, you’re like Netflix – readers can binge all of your content at once. Get it?
Magic Members gives you that choice. You don’t have to drip your content. But if you want to, it’s super easy to set up. In fact, you can set it up at the same time as other content restrictions.
Whenever you create a post or a page, you can also choose the Post Delay:
So if you set a post delay of 7 days for the Member role, a new user with that role won’t see the post until they’ve been a member for at least 7 days.
Super easy to set up. And it’s also very easy to use different dates for different membership roles.
What About Pay Per Post?
One fairly unique thing about Magic Members compared to other membership plugins is that it lets you sell access to individual posts or pages. So you could run a regular membership site, but have some unique pieces of content that you sell access to on an individual basis.
I think it allows for some pretty nifty monetization methods. And it also lets you create a sort of “ala carte” membership site where users can either sign up for an unlimited plan or choose a limited plan and buy some individual posts.
Like the other restriction methods, you set up pay per post in the WordPress Editor:
You have a lot of flexibility for how you sell posts. For each post, you can set:
- How long the post is available for purchase.
- Whether or not the access is limited to a certain number of days.
- The number of views the buyer can use (so you could charge per view if you make this “1”).
Can You Give Out Coupons?
Coupons are another important feature of membership plugins. With Magic Members, it’s easy to generate coupons.
You can create coupons that discount:
- Flat amount
- Full subscription package
- X billing cycles of a subscription package
- Special trial package
And you can choose whether or not the coupon use is unlimited and whether it has an expiration date or not.
Basically, you have a lot of flexibility. You could hand out coupons for 20% or for a full free month of a certain membership level. Or lots of other combinations.
What About Email Marketing Integrations?
Email marketing is an indispensable part of any membership site. So when you’re picking your membership plugin, make sure it has the necessary email marketing integrations.
Magic Members lets you hook up with:
- AutoResponse Plus
- Constant Contact
- Get Response
It’s a pretty good integrations list. But it is missing some integrations that Restrict Content Pro has, notably Campaign Monitor.
What Payment Gateways Are Offered?
Magic Members offers integrations for a huge number of payment gateways. You should absolutely be able to find a payment gateway that works for you. Currently, that list includes:
- PayPal (3 different methods)
- And lots more options that I’ve never even heard of.
What About Adding a Forum to Magic Members?
Another nice thing about Magic Members is that it offers built-in support for forums other than bbPress. Restrict Content Pro has a bbPress add-on, but nothing else to my knowledge.
Comparatively, Magic Members integrates with Simple:Press and Mingle forums out of the box, which is a nice touch.
How Can You Tell How Your Membership Site is Performing?
To give you an idea of how your site is performing, Magic Members includes a number of reports. You can quickly view reports for:
- Payment history
- Membership details
How Easy is It to Set Up Magic Members?
Despite having an interface that looks like it’s straight from the 1990s, Magic Members is pretty easy to work with. An interface style update would definitely be pleasant, but not necessary. The Magic Members interface is perfectly functional, albeit ugly.
Any membership plugin you choose is going to take a while to set up. That’s just the nature of membership sites. They’re complicated things.
In that regard, I’d say Magic Members is fairly similar to all of the other membership plugins I’ve tried. It takes a while to set up, but not through any fault of Magic Members. There’s just a lot of options that need configured to get your site running.
Magic Members does try to help out – for example, it automatically creates pages for registration and account management. But there’s only so much it can do without your input.
Does Magic Members Have Good Support?
I didn’t interact with Magic Members human support for this review, so I can’t comment on that. But Magic Members does have a very detailed written support knowledge base.
You can find guides and troubleshooting for pretty much every feature and issue you might encounter:
How Much Does Magic Members Cost?
For a single-site license, Magic Members costs $97 one-time. With that, you get one year of support and updates.
A 3-site license runs $197 and unlimited license runs $207. So…don’t buy a 3-site license 🙂 If you need more than one license, you’re much better off splashing out the extra $10 for the unlimited license:
If you want support and updates past the first year, renewal is only $47 per year.
Should you go with Magic Members? I think the combination of pay per post and drip content allows for some really cool opportunities. And while I didn’t like the interior interface, that’s not a huge issue. Beyond that small gripe, I definitely think it has all of the features you need.
Plus, Magic Members offers a full-featured 7-day trial. So you don’t need to take my word for it. Just sign up for the trial and give Magic Members a spin.