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Running a membership site is one of the best ways for you to monetise your traffic if you have a community around your brand. Paying for private access to a community or content has been around since the early days of the internet. From private forums to YouTubers building private communities and creating member-only videos to help them monetise their channels, running a membership-only community has many benefits such as:
- Cultivate your high-quality followers
- More loyal subscribers
- More funds to create even better content
- Ability to up-sell members to higher price products
That said, let’s get started with our short but thorough list of WordPress membership plugins to help you get your membership site up and running.
MemberPress is a popular & well-supported membership plugin. It includes all the standard features you’d expect plus a few nifty tricks.
First off, you can create unlimited membership levels with all kinds of trial periods and payment options. And you can even categorize different membership levels into “Membership Groups” to create predefined upgrade paths. That’s definitely a unique selling point!
You can restrict content in a number of ways. You can go broad and restrict whole categories or sets of child pages, or you can go granular and restrict only parts of a post/page. You can also restrict access to individual files to help you manage downloads. And like the previous plugins, MemberPress lets you drip out your content on a predefined schedule.
MemberPress gives you all types of reports to see how your membership site is performing. And it also has a nifty feature called MemberPress Reminders which lets you send out emails when specific events occur, like an upcoming subscription renewal.
As far as integrations go, MemberPress hooks up with most major email marketing services, as well as the major payment gateways like PayPal, Authorize.Net, and Stripe.
Price: MemberPress starts at $129 per year
Selling a course? LearnDash is a WordPress learning management system trusted by companies, universities, training organizations, and entrepreneurs worldwide for creating (and selling) their online courses. But don’t let that deter you from using it when you’re just starting out. It is quite easy to set up and adding content to it much simpler. It also comes with advanced tools to easily organize your membership content into levels, and groups.
LearnDash also comes with a range of built-in features for you to create highly engaging membership sites with quizzes, user badges, course-specific forums, certificates and user profiles. It comes with powerful drip content feature allowing you to roll out content to users on regular intervals or upon completion of levels.
In terms of pricing, LearnDash, the price is set to a one time purchase starting at $159 and that's all you need to ever pay.
Price: LearnDash starts at $159 one time purchase
Restrict Content Pro is one of the biggest names when it comes to membership plugins.
Restrict Content Pro lets you create unlimited subscription levels. You can choose between free, trial, and premium subscriptions, which gives you a good deal of flexibility. You can also get creative with pricing. For paid memberships, you can choose to charge a certain fee for a set period, as well as an optional one-time fee. This combination allows for some interesting pricing structures. For example, taking a page out of gym memberships, you could charge something like $50 per month with a one-time $100 sign up fee.
A unique function from Restrict Content is that If users want to move between plans, they can easily upgrade or downgrade plans themselves and their fees will automatically adjust, without you having to do the manual changes. Only if you allow it, of course.
To structure membership content, Restrict Content Pro lets you restrict content on a per post basis. Or, you can use shortcodes to only restrict specific content inside an otherwise available post/page. You can create coupon codes, though only for a flat rate or percentage. Combined with restricting the codes to specific membership levels, this still allows you to create a variety of promotions.
Price: Restrict Content Pro starts at $129 per year
S2Member is a popular free membership plugin. It has a surprising variety of features for a free plugin, though they are limited.
As is the standard, you can restrict posts/pages, custom post types, and categories. s2Member also adds a couple of other neat restriction methods, though. You can restrict BuddyPress, specific URL fragments, as well as specific pieces of content inside full posts. And you can also restrict streaming media and file downloads. You’ll also get helpful tools like email templates, custom login welcome pages, IP restrictions, and brute-force protection.
Unfortunately, the free version is limited to 4 paid membership levels and lacks the ability to create coupon codes or drip content, among other feature restrictions.
So if you’re serious about creating a membership site, you’ll almost certainly need to go with one of the premium versions to get those restricted features. And at that point, you’re probably better off with choosing one of the other premium options on this list.
Price: S2 Member is FREE to start!
MemberMouse is an easy to use WordPress membership plugin that allows you to accept payments, manage customers, deliver premium content in a password protected. MemberMouse lets you create both membership levels and bundles. Membership levels are what you’d expect from any membership plugin, but bundles allow you to sell individual posts/pages (or groups of posts/pages) on a one-off basis.
Just like the rest of the plugins listed above, MemberMouse’s feature list is quite similar to MemberPress or Restrict Content Pro so we probably don’t need to repeat this again.
What makes MemberMouse different is that instead of paying a one time fee of $100+ like the others, this one takes payments on a monthly basis, even offering a free 14-day trial to get you up and running. So if you want to get test the waters with only a small fee upfront, then MemberMouse is a good choice for you.
Price: MemberMouse starts at $19.95 per month for up to 1,000 members
To round it up, if you’re serious about starting out a membership site, and you don’t mind spending just over $100 to get it up and running, MemberPress is the plugin to go for. If you just want to try something out and see how things go, then S2Member is free to get started or MemberMouse is quite affordable too at just $19.95 a month, so you don’t have to pay a large lump sum.
However, just beware, unlike tools such as email marketing platforms to webinar platforms, you can’t easily switch over a membership plugin that easily.
So iif you’re not strapped for cash at the start, then it might be worth getting something more robust like MemberPress to start.