More and more blogs and websites create a member area or a customer area, a closed area for Google and normal readers, which is accessed by paying a subscription or a fixed amount. It usually gives access to information that people are interested in enough to want to pay to access, exclusive content that is not published anywhere else.
Creating a member area or customer area with WordPress is not difficult, and advanced programming knowledge is not required, although it is not an easy task for a novice WordPress user either.
There are very complete and complex plugins that allow you to create complete client areas or member areas, in which the website administrator can implement any type of exclusive functionality or publish any type of exclusive content.
In this article, we are going to talk about the best WordPress membership plugins.
How to Choose the Right Membership Plugin
If you already know what type of membership site you are going to create, you already have a lot of money. Of course, as always, you should look for certain characteristics in membership plugins that will make your choice much more accurate.
Although these WordPress membership plugins are certainly becoming more complete and practically having one can cover everything you need (thanks to the fact that they offer paid add-ons), I can assure you that certain characteristics are different and that not everybody has.
Therefore, you have to look carefully, and buy the plugin that best suits your needs (since some plugins have some features and others have others). These are the most important features a membership plugin should have:
- Easy Setup and Setup: You shouldn’t need to have a PhD in computer science to get a WordPress membership site up and running. All you would have to do is install the plugin, enter the payment gateways information, and add the levels and you should be up and running, ie an easy-to-understand and configure the plugin.
- High and low management: When you create a membership-level system on your website for any product or service you must manage payments every month. Without the help of a very powerful WordPress plugin that makes your life easier in this regard, you are lost. If it is an online course and the payment is only one, everything is easier, but it is when you offer monthly payments that it starts to get complicated.
- Recurring payments: Together with the above, another of the aspects that should be most valued when choosing a membership plugin is recurring payments since once you establish a subscription system it is interesting that it is automatically renewed with the minimum effort.
- Drip content: The membership plugin should give you the option of offering the content to the user little by little and, above all, when you decide (days, months or years). The purpose of this is to prevent a user from becoming a member, accessing (or downloading) all content, and unsubscribing. This feature should be portable to any type of subscription you have established.
- User profile management: What would a membership plugin be if you cannot manage user profiles to give them the necessary permissions or to modify any aspect?
- Multi-Level Membership System: A plugin of this calibre should be able to offer the ability to create different member levels (eg Basic, Professional, and Premium) to offer much more specialized content depending on the member level.
- Log in through social networks: Although not critical, a plugin that allows your users to log into your website with their social networks will improve engagement with your brand and make entering your website quick and easy. I also have a good list of WordPress plugins for social networks in case the one you choose does not include this option.
- Discount coupons: If you don’t use WooCommerce (which already has it included), a coupon system is a very interesting feature to be able to offer discounts for those users who are more recurring and to increase sales on your sites.
- Payment gateways: When you are creating a membership site, it is normal that you do it to get paid for your work. Therefore, establishing payment gateways is critical (like the means of payment in an online store ). The normal thing would be a POS (normally you need to install WooCommerce), PayPal (also know its alternatives ) and Stripe.
- Forums and live chat: When you create a membership site, one of the aspects that makes it shine is customer support. One of the most important weapons to get it right is to create a closed forum for members (preferably with BBPress, although there are many other WordPress forum plugins) and a live chat with which to create an efficient and fast communication channel.
To choose the right WordPress membership plugin for your WordPress website, it is not necessary to install the best on the market, or the most expensive one. It is better to have your feet on the ground and make a disbursement knowing which plugin is the best for you for what you specifically need.
Best WordPress Membership Plugins
MemberPress is one of the most popular WordPress membership plugins out there. It only has a premium version, but the price is very affordable unlike most of its competition plugins.
MemberPress allows you to create unlimited free and paid membership levels. You can create levels so that the same users can upgrade or downgrade their subscriptions.
Members will be able to manage their own subscriptions from the front end of the private area. With the Corporate Accounts add-on, you can also create group memberships with sub-members within the same account.
MemberPress gives you many options to restrict content. You can massively restrict content in several ways.
- All content on a page
- Entire categories
- Full pages
- Post Types
- Sections or individual widgets
- drip content
- Block content after a certain amount of time
- Restrict partial content using a shortcode or with PHP
- Restrict files and downloads
- Integrate discount coupons
MemberPress has three plans adapted to different characteristics and usage limits:
- Basic Plan – $149
- Plus Plan – $249
- Pro Plan – $549
Despite its name, Restrict Content Pro does much more than restrict the content on your website – it’s a full-fledged membership plugin. Like MemberPress, Restrict Content Pro is relatively easy to set up and doesn’t require any programming knowledge.
Restrict Content Pro is ideal for a situation where you already have a lot of content on your blog. And you have decided to change that content into a paid product. Blocking already existing pages and posts so that they can only be viewed by registered members is a very easy task to perform.
With Restrict Content Pro we can develop an unlimited number of subscription packages, prices and levels. Be it free, trial or paid memberships. You can also show your visitors, through a widget that includes the plugin itself, the most popular memberships among your clients.
Promotional coupons, sales and discounts can be activated either for a percentage of the total order or a flat one-time fee decrease. As an extra, PayPal, Express or Stripe can be integrated. In addition, we will have the help of extensive support documentation and introductory videos that explain, in detail, how to fully configure the plugin.
- Easily create membership plans and procedures
- Many integrations come free with this plugin, while other plugins offer only paid versions, i.e. PayPal, Stripe, Mailchimp, and CSV export
- Create free, trial, and premium subscription plans with an unlimited number of subscriptions
- Manage members area easily from the dashboard (easily view active, pending, expired and free users)
- Send welcome emails to new users
- 30-day money-back guarantee during a trial period
Restrict Content Pro has three plans adapted to different characteristics and usage limits:
- Basic: $99 – 1 site
- Pro: $149 – 5 sites
- Advance: $499 – Unlimited sites
LearnDash is a popular WordPress membership plugin that works for serious academic institutions, solo course builders, and everything in between.
LearnDash only comes in a premium version, but it is quite competitively priced compared to many of the other membership plugins.
It can help you create unlimited courses, add unlimited lessons and topics, ask your students, require assignments, etc. It also includes built-in features for charging one-time or recurring access fees, as well as advanced features like content dripping, course prerequisites, and more.
Overall, it is definitely one of the best options when it comes to WordPress membership plugins.
- The drag-and-drop builder helps you create multi-layered courses with the ability to reuse your session to speed up your existing classes.
- The advanced quiz feature comes with eight question types, whatever you want to use in your quizzes.
- Drip feed content management allows you to schedule your courses during a specific period.
- LearDash’s Prerequisites feature helps you define your course orders, so your students know which course to take in which order.
- It comes with a huge list of embeddable plugins like woo commerce, stripe, samcart, zapier and many more.
- With LearnDash, you can easily create and sell online courses thanks to its advanced modules, which greatly help you manage different learning materials.
- Basic: $159 (1 site)
- Plus package: $189 (10 sites)
- Pro package: $329 (25 sites
Before knowing Memberpress, my favourite membership plugin for WordPress was Paid Membership Pro. Paid Membership Pro has a free version that allows us to test the plugin and its basic features but also has a Premium version that allows us to use all the options and functionalities that Paid Membership Pro offers.
What I like the most about Paid Membership Pro is its interface and its ease of configuration, since the learning curve to use the plugin is much less demanding than Memberpress or S2Members.
Paid Membership Pro also has many plugins to complement each other it is one of the main differences between the free version and the Premium version.
The Premium version of Paid Membership Pro for WordPress has modules for such interesting things as the integration with Paypal Pro or Paypal Express, the implementation of a complete affiliate system and many other modules for customizing the members’ area.
Finally, we are going to list the advantages of Paid Membership Pro in a summarized way.
- Allows to restrict access to different content types, post types, and courses
- Allows the blocking of multiple sessions from a single IP
- Create unlimited membership levels with flexible pricing (including free memberships, free trials, subscriptions, and one-time payments)
- Supports six payment gateways, including PayPal and Stripe
- Built-in reports for Sales and Revenue, Signups and Cancellations, and Member Visits, Views, and Logins
- Its interface is quite good and intuitive, I think it stands out from the other plugins for this
- Free: $0
- Standard: $247 per year
- Plus: $397 per year
- Builder: $697 per year
S2Members is a very complete plugin, we can also say that it is very powerful, but unfortunately, its configuration interface is quite outdated and that makes it not very intuitive for average or beginner users.
If I had to highlight the strong point of the S2Members membership plugin, it would be its compatibility, almost at the same level as in the case of Memberpress.
We must also take into account that there is a free version of S2Members, so we can test it well before buying it, although we do want to use more specific features such as payment by Stripe, and integration with Clickbank or Paypal Pro.
Personally, I think that S2Members is one of the best membership systems that exist for WordPress, in fact, with many functionalities for which other plugins need to add modules, S2Membershas is directly integrated into the code of the plugin itself.
Another difference between the free version of S2Members and the Premium version is that the Premium version allows for much more customization. With this, we will achieve that it is much less noticeable than it is WordPress and at the same time also that it is much less noticeable than it is S2Members.
- Protect Content
- Unlimited Paid Membership Levels
- File Download Restrictions
- Affiliate Program Integrations
- Compatible w/ Caching Plugins
- Content Dripping Shortcodes
- Free: $0
- Pro version: $89 (1 site)
- Pro version: $189 (unlimited sites)
6. WooCommerce Memberships (By GoDaddy)
To be able to use it, you need to have WooCommerce installed, the plugin excellence to create an online store on your website. Basically, this plugin is best for Woocommerce sites.
In addition to boosting it with WooCommerce Memberships, if you want to be able to enable recurring payments (very likely if you’re thinking of starting a membership site), you’ll need WooCommerce Subscriptions.
WooCommerce is a free plugin, which is characterized not only for being the most popular to create online stores with WordPress but also for the (high) price of its premium extensions.
If we start talking about weights, this is the heaviest option without a doubt. Keep in mind that here you are setting up a system that allows you not only to have a membership site but to set up an entire online store as well if you want to: WooCommerce weighs 9.4MB; WooCommerce Memberships about 1.1MB and WooCommerce Subscriptions 2.3MB. tablets.
It is important that you keep this in mind, and that you are aware that, if you choose this option, you will need powerful hosting plans.
You can enable the system to notify the user a few days before their membership ends, and also when it has already expired. Not to mention the reminder emails (to notify of the renewal of the recurring payment).
As it is an infrastructure supported by the WooCommerce framework, you will see that you have at your disposal more options and greater flexibility directly related to the sale of the product itself (as in online stores).
- Only allow membership owners to receive individual product discounts
- Combine the benefits of various membership plans into one
- Send emails about membership plan actions
- Very flexible membership functionality
- Discounts and member-exclusive perks
- Built-in customer service
- Integrates with 3rd-party plugins
- Customizable emails for notifications/reminders
- 1 year: $199
- 1 year: $398 (with more premium extensions)
This plugin offers a free version in the official WordPress repository, but it is heavily deprecated and you will not be able to use it to sell subscriptions.
For this, you will need to have the “Extended Pass” version, which costs $199 per year for a site, or at least with the extension of recurring payments (Recurring Payments) for $199/per year. Watch the below-given video to setup easy digital downloads easily:
The free version weighs about 4.5MB, to which must be added the 199KB of the Recurring Payments extension. Ideal for sites that want to function as a catalogue of digital products with downloadable files: that is where its strongest point is.
Easy Digital Downloads allows you to carry out an exhaustive follow-up of the downloaded files: it shows the download date, and the user’s IP, and you can limit the available stock, and create a link that expires.
They provide more useful features as well.
- User management with their payment history.
- Allows you to apply discount coupons.
- Statistics and earnings reports (less complete than MemberPress)
- Allows you to host the files on external platforms such as Dropbox or Amazon S3, etc.
- Free: $0
You have seen some best WordPress membership plugins, of different prices and features. Telling at a technical level what each plugin gives us is something slightly simple to do.
It is enough to find out a little on their official pages and you could already get a slight idea of what you can achieve with them. But there is some information that is not so objective but is the result of experience and having messed with various sites.
And that is what we want to offer you since we consider it to be the most valuable.
- If you want to sell training or access to a platform at different price plans, and depending on the plan, the user can consume one content or another: your best option is Restrict Content Pro.
- If you want to have an online school or academy with different courses, that you can sell at different prices according to your marketing strategies, you are even interested in the possibility of managing groups of students with several teachers, etc… Then MemberPress is your ally.
- If you already have an online store created in WooCommerce and you want to sell a recurring payment product, go for the WooCommerce Memberships + WooCommerce Subscriptions combo.
- If you are thinking of having a kind of small marketplace where you can sell downloadable digital products (ebooks, PDFs, templates, checklists, etc.), Easy Digital Downloads may be the most appropriate tool.
This is all from our side. We hope this article has shed some light on the best WordPress memberships plugins.