WordPress powered membership sites have become extremely popular in recent years and building membership sites with WordPress has been playing catch up to demand for some time.
It is probably safe to say that nowadays, the sophistication of WordPress membership site plugins has reached the point where virtually anyone with the will and a little investment can soon have their first membership site up and running.
Membership sites come in all shapes and sizes and you certainly don’t have to use WordPress as a platform if you don’t wish to. There are plenty of alternatives out there and some of these were powering membership websites long before WordPress got much of a look in.
Having said that, with so many webmasters and bloggers now using WordPress, it is natural that for those among them thinking of building their first membership site that they will gravitate towards the platform with which they are most familiar.
There are various plugins available nowadays that can make the job much easier than it used to be and so we decided to compile a list of WordPress Membership Site plugins to assist users who are considering building such sites.
Wishlist Member is one of the better known premium plugins and has gained a great following and a string of glowing testimonials. You can see a brief overview of the plugin in the following video presentation.
If you need features such as Sequential Content Delivery, Multi-Level Access, Secure RSS Feeds, Control Viewed Content, integrations with Mailchimp.com, file protection, infusionsoft and more, this plugin incorporates all these features and more as well as having its own API. Regular updates are free to purchasers too and the plugin continues to evolve and grow. You can find out a lot more about Wishlist Member at their website. Certain feature may require additional payments.
Magic Members is another popular plugin and many of its adherents claim it is better than Wishlist Member. That of course depends greatly on your own requirements and preferences.
Some of the key features of this plugin are a download manager, integration with Authorize.net and WorldPay, member only RSS feeds and more. If you want the ability to run an affiliate program from within your membership site, MagicMembers offers an additional plugin called MagicAffiliate which is fully integrated with MagicMembers and the WP Ecommerce plugin.
The plugin comes in at the same price point as Wishlist Member so the choice between the two comes down to available features and perhaps user interface and aesthetics based on personal preferences.
MemberWing is an extremely powerful membership plugin which combines most of the features offered by the previous two products and adds a whole swathe of its own. The power of this plugin is reflected in its price which is considerably higher than the aforementioned options too but if you need or want most of its functionality it is hard to beat.
The plugin can do so much that listing all its capabilities would require an entire post in itself but it supports more payment gateways, has its own API and enables you to build and launch virtually any kind of membership site your imagination can come up with. Online stores selling access to digital downloads – ebooks, videos, podcasts etc. Integrate with autoresponders, such as Aweber and Mailchimp easily and build your mailing list automatically. Sell access to posts, pages and digital downloadable materials for a fixed fee or by flexible recurring subscriptions. Build opt-in list by offering automatic access to premium materials to free subscribers. Create and manage affiliate programs. Special SEO capabilities and powerful file protection functions that help you to protect your digital property against theft.
WP-Member offers a basic single site license for just $29.99 making it far cheaper than the the options mentioned above. However, if you want support there is an additional annual cost involved.
The plugin offers most of the features you would expect to find in a membership site but is not as comprehensive as MemberWing. It offers unlimited membership levels, unlimited subscriptions, free, trial and paid account types, content protection, content teasers, fall back and encryption protection and customizable registration and error messages. Payment gateway support for Google Checkout, PayPal and Authorize.net
WP-Member was once a subscription based plugin with recurring fees but now that it has moved to a one off fee for the single site license and added more features it represents much better value for money. There is a developer license too which costs $199 annually and can be used on up to thirty sites.
Digital Access Pass is another popular and highly regarded plugin with a multitude of features that rival MemberWing in terms of comprehensive options.
Payment processors supported include 1ShoppingCart (and all private labels), ClickBank and Paypal Standard, for shopping cart Digital Access Pass directly supports Authorize.net, Paypal Express Checkout and Paypal Payments Pro. There is no need for any third party shopping carts as Digital Access Pass itself becomes your Shopping Cart.
Other key features include a built in affiliate program that supports pay per lead and pay per sale so it is a good option for anyone who wants an easy way to offer their own affiliate program. The plugin also offers file protection, pay per view pricing and pay per download and subscription based memberships.
There are plenty more features that make this plugin worth a serious look.
WP-eMember is another attractive option and comes in at a very competitive price. Its affordability might suggest that it is somewhat short on features but that is actually far from the case.
WP-eMember costs less than $50 and includes unlimited licenses so you can use it on as many sites as you like.
The list of features is pretty impressive and although it doesn’t include a shopping cart or affiliate program the company offers its own in house plugins that will enable users to include these options if they wish. All the other expected options are present and correct including content protection, unlimited membership levels, autoresponder integration and real time reporting.
For a solid basic membership site WP-eMember offers a good package and you can customize it to suit your needs with a wide range of add on features as required.
WP-MU & BuddyPress is not strictly speaking a membership site plugin but we feel that it should be mentioned in this article because it does offer many things that users might be looking for when considering their options. WP.MU is an installation and hosting service for WordPress Multisite (MU) + Custom themes and plugins + BuddyPress + bbPress.
WP-MU or WordPress Multi User offers a complete range of themes, plugins and hosting options which enable users to build things like social networking sites and forums. Depending on your your plans you might want to take a look at this option which is why we have included it here as a well established and respected platform.
This is only a very brief rundown of some of the most popular and well known membership site plugins for WordPress and there are others available which may or may not be better suited to your budget and/or purposes. If you think we have missed any that deserve a mention please feel free to leave your own recommendations and feedback in the comments section.
Below we have also embedded a 56 page guide to running a profitable membership which contains some useful information, tools and links. If you prefer to download a copy to read at leisure and for future reference go ahead. You are also free to share the report on your own sites.