Choosing the right WordPress membership plugin is essential if you are planning to monetize your content.
Imagine these plugins as adding a form of a members-only section to your website. It’ll grant you an option to secure some of your content under a paid subscription model or whatever method you’d think would suit you best.
You’re probably using similar services yourself every now and then. Yet, choosing the right membership plugin for your own website might seem a bit tricky. After all, it may very well turn out to be a critical step for the future of your business growth.
No worries, I’m here to help you out!
What a Membership Site is Used For?
There are a few ways how a membership plugin can enhance your website. In fact, most of them include features that do much more than just lock away certain content.
- Premium services. Whether you’re creating online courses about home cooking or providing online consultancy on topics of legal matters, having a stable platform to provide these services is key. Quality comes at a price.
- Premium content. It’s important to note that you’re not simply hiding your content from unwanted eyes. Premium content allows you to provide your customers with new and exclusive material than you might be giving out for free. It adds a personal touch for your customers who might be asking for something more special.
- Community forums. People do love to discuss different topics that they’re passionate about. Why not provide them with an environment where they can express themselves among like-minded people. It’ll help your community to grow with potential new customers.
- Building an email list. Growing your contact list is a powerful way to develop marketing strategies for your business. Nobody enjoys finding a random promotional email that is completely out of their interest.
7 Best WordPress Membership Plugins
Most of these WordPress membership plugins will provide all of the basic tools that you need. However, not all of these options share the same features, like custom content pages or online course builders. So, it’s important to understand what you might be looking for.
MemberPress is one of the most popular WordPress membership plugins out there. It’s really easy to set-up and is packed with tons of additional features – advanced access rules or content dripping, for example.
It has a dedicated online customer support team. If you ever run into any issues that are just a bit out of your expertise, you’ll find the help you need.
- Easy to set-up. MemberPress boldly claims that it’s one of the easiest membership plugins to set-up, and rightfully so. There are very few steps of the initial setup and it doesn’t require any coding skills.
- Content access rules. With a powerful content restriction ruleset, you can control who sees your posts, pages, tags and pretty much anything you would want.
- Integration options. MemberPress is no stranger when it comes to working with other plugins and extensions – MailChimp, PayPal, Amazon Web Services, just to name a few.
- Pricing. It’s one of the more expensive choices on this list, although you are paying for a premium quality service.
Choosing MemberPress as your WordPress membership plugin of choice is a great idea. It has everything you need to get your membership site started and more.
MemberPress comes with three available payment plans – starting with a Basic plan from $149/year, $249/year for the recommended Plus plan, and $349/year for the fully-featured Pro plan.
WooCommerce Memberships is another great plugin. When it comes to ecommerce sites in general, there’s hardly anything better than WooCommerce WordPress plugin.
Memberships are merely a part of this brand’s family. WooCommerce powers more than a quarter of all online stores out there. Now, you’ve got to admit, that almost screams out the word “reliable”!
- Purchasing club. One of the great features of WooCommerce Memberships are members-only products. More available options to control who views your content allows you to make better decisions for your business.
- Unlimited membership levels. Make as many levels of membership options as you want. You have full control here as well.
- One big family. Since Memberships sits under the WooCommerce name, you can rest assured that it will be easy to integrate and work alongside with other WooCommerce products.
- Additional expenses. Memberships is more of an addon for the WooCommerce plugin. While it doesn’t take much work to set it up, you may find the need to buy additional extensions to further boost your site’s functionality.
If you happen to choose Memberships, you can be positive that you’ll receive excellent support from a company who have years of expertise under their belts.
Overall, this is a great choice who need a membership plugin for their ecommerce store.
To power up a single membership site with WooCommerce Memberships it’ll cost you $149/year.
However, for $249/year, you’re allowed to set-up to a whopping number of 25 licenses. Talking about a bargain! Furthermore, if you’re unsatisfied with your product, they do offer a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Despite what the name implies, Restrict Content Pro can do more than restrict content. Yet, it’s more lightweight than its competitors but is nonetheless a solid membership solution for you to try out.
- Easy to use. Restrict Content Pro features a sleek and simple design that easily blends itself alongside the WordPress admin area. It’s also really easy to use and any information you might need you can find on the settings page.
- Built-in integrations. Payment processors such as Stripe, 2Checkout or PayPal are already built-in at the side of Restrict Content Pro. If these add-ons don’t work you, other payment gateways are also supported. For example, it works great with the most popular ecommerce plugin out there – WooCommerce.
- Email integrations. You’ll need a Pro payment plan for a chance to use most email integrations. That might come off as somewhat expensive.
Restrict Content Pro is definitely one of the easier plugins to use. All of the most useful features are here – customer dashboard, subscription levels, discount codes and so on.
There are three payment plans available, starting with an entry-level Personal plan from $99/year or fancy yourself a fourth option by getting their Ultimate one-time purchase license for $499 with lifetime updates and support.
If you’ve been skimming through this list looking for a more affordable solution then I’ve some good news. Paid Membership Pro is a free WordPress membership plugin for you to use. While it does offer a couple of paid premium version options, all of the core tools are available for no cost.
- “Add On” system. Paid Membership Pro is a system of add-ons that can be activated and/or deactivated as needed. Some of these add-ons are free, but for a fully-featured experience, you’ll have to choose one of their premium plans.
- Custom content pages. A feature that allows you to create and customize pages for each. That way you can provide them with custom content just for their viewing pleasure. However, this is not included in the free version.
- Not user-friendly. The plugin is not exactly built as a user-friendly solution and that might intimidate some people. You might run into some issues if you don’t have coding knowledge.
This WordPress membership plugin offers features that you can rarely find among its competitors. If you simply want to try out any WordPress membership plugin when starting out, Paid Membership Pro is a perfect place to start.
Yes, Paid Membership Pro plugin is one of the few free solutions out there, yet, there are two paid plan options for you to choose from – there’s a $297/year plan called Plus and a $579/year Unlimited plan.
s2Member is another free membership plugin offering Pro versions both for a single-site license and for an unlimited amount of domains. Yet, just like Paid Membership Pro, s2Member membership plugin offers a free of charge version.
It has all the basic, most common membership features. Knowing how much you get for the price, this plugin is a real bargain.
- Jam-packed with features. There’s a lot s2Member can offer – content restriction options, unique IP restrictions, access to the source code and on and on.
- Multiple membership levels. Using the free version of the plugin you can create up to four levels of membership for your users. Getting a premium plan will get you unlimited customization options towards these levels.
- Steep learning curve. You can spend literally hours learning and tweaking everything that it brings to the table. So, if you’re searching for an easier approach at creating a membership site, I suggest you look elsewhere.
If you’re looking for a plugin with tons of features and you really don’t care how much of your time it will consume, then you can hardly beat s2Member. It’s a really powerful WordPress membership plugin.
s2Member comes with a free Framework version. A single-site Pro version license will cost you a one-time purchase of $89, while an unlimited-site option is available for $189.
Ultimate Member is another lightweight membership plugin for WordPress. It’s built to be a simple solution for getting the job done. It has a wide range of available paid extensions and primarily focuses on community features. The basic framework is free to download.
- Easy to use. Ultimate Member is built to be user-friendly both for you and for your future customers. User profiles, member directories, user accounts – these features were created with a specific goal to build online communities.
- A wide range of extensions. There’s a lot to choose from here – Instagram, WooCommerce, bbPress, MailChimp, only to name a few. You can buy an All Acess Pass to unlock all of their available extensions or purchase each one separately.
- No built-in payment gateway support. If you’re planning on using PayPal or Stripe you might need to install and tweak a lot more than just a single plugin for them to work.
Ultimate Member is built from the ground up to be a breeze to set-up and power your membership site with almost no hassle. All in all, it’s a great choice to consider.
It features two Extension passes – for a $249/year you’ll get access to all of their extensions and any updates that would come later on. If you wish to get a little their official Ultimate Member WordPress theme, that will cost you $299/year.
LearnDash is a little bit more interesting since it primarily focuses on universities or training organizations. It’s a perfect solution if you’re planning on creating online courses as ut features an advanced course builder specifically designed for selling e-lessons.
- Advanced course builder. A feature that is specifically designed for selling online courses. It includes a drag-and-drop Course Builder and is a powerful tool to reach your students as quickly as possible.
- Specific features for online teaching. It’s always nice to be recognized for your hard work. LearnDash allows you to award learners with certifications and badges and features tools for making quizzes or course-specific forums.
- Oriented towards selling e-lessons. It really all comes down to what you’ll be using LearnDash for. Other than selling online courses, it really doesn’t offer much.
If you have a specific goal to build a membership site designed for selling online courses, look no further – LearnDash is for you. It’ll be really difficult to find anything else that is more suited for such a purpose.
They offer three one-time purchase options starting from the Basic package of $159, a Plus package of $189 or a Pro package of $329.
Things to Look out for From Membership Plugins
When choosing a membership plugin always try to have an idea what it will be used for. Figure out your core business objective first.
So, here are a few questions you should ask yourself when trying to choose the right plugin:
- Is it easy to use for a beginner? If so, is any coding knowledge needed?
- Is it compatible with the theme that you would like to use? What about other plugins? Will it integrate well with Google Analytics or your favorite email marketing service?
- What features are you looking for in a membership plugin? Will you be specifically selling online courses or will your website be used for something else, say ecommerce?
- What about your budget? Can you afford more expensive options on this list? Maybe you should try something basic first?
Now, Let’s Decide the Best Option for You
Choosing the right WordPress membership plugin can be a bit overwhelming at first. After all, there are a lot of options. However, do try to remember that you don’t need to be too picky about it.
Most of them, if not all, come with some form of a free trial option. So, don’t be afraid to bounce and experiment a bit between two or three options in the beginning.
In summary, here’s a short list of what was discussed:
- MemberPress – the most popular membership plugin out there, featuring an incredibly simple installation process.
- WooCommerce Memberships – an overall best choice for all of your ecommerce store needs.
- Restrict Content Pro – a lightweight membership plugin solution with powerful built-in integration.
- Paid Membership Pro – features an “Add On” system to further extend your website’s functionality.
- s2Member – has a steep learning curve, but offers an impressive amount of features.
- Ultimate Member – lightweight and a great choice for building online communities.
- LearnDash – a perfect solution for creating and selling online courses.
If you’re still not sure what to pick, here’s a quick rundown:
- If you’re looking for something that’s easy to use, is reliable and is popular among thousands of WordPress users – look no further than MemberPress.
- If you just want to test out what a membership plugin can do in the first place or simply want something more lightweight – try Paid Membership Pro.
- If you’re planning to specifically create and sell online courses on various topics – LearnDash is here for you to help out.
No matter what you choose, you will most definitely not be left alone in the dark – online community forums can offer help to with all kinds of questions. Other than that, most of these membership plugins offer a dedicated support team should you run into trouble.
Good luck on your future business and most importantly – have fun while you’re at it!