Let's start by addressing the elephant in the room. We are assuming that you will use Membership Software for WordPress. There is a reason for that. WordPress is at the core of almost every site we build for business these days. It is also responsible for powering over 25% of the web.
Why Use WordPress for Membership Sites?
WordPress is open source software and benefits from a huge development community. It is completely free to use in every sense of the word. You can create unlimited commercial sites with WordPress without any license fees. There are thousands of WordPress themes and plugins to customise your website further. That makes WordPress sites a powerful way to manage & sell access online memberships.
Here is just a small sample of the big brands using WordPress sites….
- The New York Times
- Walt Disney
- The Rolling Stones
- Mozilla Firefox
- Bloomberg Professional
- Sweden, Yes the country!
An Introduction to Membership Plugins for WordPress
We've reviewed the majority of popular WordPress membership software over time. There are only a few that we keep coming back to, and some that we straight out recommend that you avoid! We created this membership software guide to help you decide which makes sense for you.
To give you an idea of the scope of our research, we have tested the following solutions over the years…
Sample of The Membership Software for WordPress We've Reviewed.
- Digital Access Pass
- Memberium for ActiveCamapaign
- Memberium for Infusionsoft
- Membership 2 Pro by WPMU Dev
- OptimizeMember by OptimizePress
- Paid Memberships Pro
- Restrict Content Pro
- S2 Member
- Wishlist Member → Full Review
- WooCommerce Memberships
The WordPress membership site plugins listed above are effective to varying degrees. Plus there are plenty of others that have been forgotten over time. But we still make sure to check in with new options regularly in case we are missing a trick. However the rest of this guide is dedicated to the solutions that we personally use and recommend right now…
How to Choose The Right Membership Software For Your Site
Unfortunately there isn't a one size fits all solution for WordPress membership sites. If there was, it would probably be Wishlist Member as we've used it with countless types of sites over the years. BUT just because it has worked doesn't necessarily mean it is the right choice for you… Consider the features you need when selecting the best membership plugin to use on your site.
Membership Software Features to Consider
- Shopping Cart & Payment Gateway Integration
- Number of Membership Levels
- Concurrent Membership Access
- Level of WordPress Integration
- Flexible Membership Periods
- Member Management Features
- Action Based Content Delivery
- Time Bound Content Delivery
- Smart Content Redirection
- Partial Content Display
- Search Engine Access
- RSS Feed Security
So What Are The Best WordPress Membership Plugins?
Best Free Membership Plugin for WordPress
If you only want people to sign up to access your site, then you may be OK with a free plugin like Members by Justin Tadlock.
As an aside; Do you use ActiveCampaign for marketing automation?
If so, you can get the Memberium for ActiveCampaign for free whilst it is in beta. That is what we are using on this site! It is a great solution if you are already using ActiveCampaign but it will have a cost once it is out of beta.
You can also look at the free version of Paid Memberships Pro which is more powerful than Members. But if you ever need the addons (which you probably will eventually) then the price jumps up to about $200.
Best All-Around Membership Plugin for WordPress
If your requirements are more advanced you may need to invest in a premium membership plugin. Wishlist Member includes features such as; flexible content locking, recurring payments & email marketing. It is a powerful membership site plugin with deep WordPress integration. It also contains many third party integrations for a seamless membership experience.
Best Membership Plugin for Ecommerce Focused Websites
WooCommerce is the most popular eCommerce plugin for WordPress for physical products. It offers the functionality that you'd expect from a full eCommerce focused solution. By using WooCommerce you can also use any of its extensions. One of which is the WooCommerce Memberships extension which adds full membership functionality.
To get recurring payments with WooCommerce Memberships, you'll also need a subscriptions plugin. WooCommerce Subscriptions is the most popular but comes at a further cost ($199 at the moment).
WooCommerce Memberships isn't the only way to run a membership site with WooCommerce. There is a very popular plugin that lets you link Wishlist Member with WooCommerce. This way WooCommerce can manage your sales whilst Wishlist Member controls the memberships.
There are lots of options when selecting a membership software solution. WordPress makes managing your content easy and membership plugins help manage the access.
Wishlist Member is the best all round membership plugin for WordPress. For advanced eCommerce features you may want to use WooCommerce Memberships & Subscriptions. Or you can simply hook Wishlist Member in with WooCommerce using a third party plugin.
If you just need something free to get started you can use Paid Memberships Pro. But keep in mind that you will probably end up paying for it eventually. And migrating between systems can be a complicated process, so try select the best one the first time!
Want a Custom Membership Site Built For You?
The Modern Entrepreneur also offer complete custom done-for-you membership site services. If you'd like us to get your membership site up and running for you then this is the perfect opportunity.
We will create a WordPress powered membership site using the best membership software. Of course “best” meaning the one that most accurately matches your requirements. All you will need to do is add the content and you are ready for launch…