Running a membership site can be a huge task, so you’ll want to make sure that the platform you’re running on is easy to use and offers all the features you need. There are several membership plugins available for WordPress that can help you to create a members area on your website and monetize your content.
Whatever your needs and budget, there’s a membership plugin to suit. So let’s get stuck in and find the right one for you.
To start things off, we’ll take a look at MemberPress – a powerfull “all-in-one” solution that promises easy setup and management for a premium price tag.
MemberPress claims to be the easiest membership software around, which is definitely a plus point if you want to get up and running as soon as possible – all you have to do is install the plugin, enter payment gateway details, and setup some products and you’ll have an instant membership site.
Some of the features that MemberPress offers include:
- Access rules to restrict access to pages, posts, custom post types, categories, and pretty much any kind of WordPress content, depending on the membership or digital product they’ve bought
- Password protected forums
- Coupons with customized expiry date and number of uses
- Dynamic customizable pricing pages
- Content dripping and content expiration
- Affiliate program (with pro license)
- Clear reports
- Member subscription management
- Easy payment gateway integration
MemberPress offers three membership levels depending on the features you need and the number of sites you want to use it on:
- Basic (use on one site, payment options of Paypal and Stripe, 11+ addons such as captcha and popular email services) – $129 a year
- Plus (use on up to 10 sites, works with Authorize.net, can sell corporate accounts, 23+ addons including WooCommerce and ConvertKit) – $249 a year
- Pro (use on up to 30 sites, everything that the plus account offers plus included Affiliate Royale plugin and advanced addons) – $369 a year
- Easy to set up and manage
- Highly customizable with advanced access rules
- User dashboard cuts down on administration time
- Lots of features
- Big selection of integrations
- Great support
- One of the more expensive options
- Requires yearly renewal payment
- Payment gateways are limited
MemberPress offers pretty much everything you could want in a membership plugin but it’s expensive and only supports a few payment gateways.
Restrict Content Pro is another premium membership plugin that offers a very similar feature set to MemberPress:
- Easy setup
- Discount codes
- Built-in integrations
- Drip-feed content
- Clear reports
- Member management
- Member emails
- Free, trial, and premium subscriptions
Restrict Content Pro offers 5 different license options ranging from $99 a year to a one-off $499 payment:
- Personal (for use on one site with 12 add-ons) – $99 a year
- Plus (for use on up to 5 sites with 12 add-ons) – $149 a year
- Professional (for use on unlimited sites with 29+ add-ons) – $249 a year
- Ultimate (everything that the professional license includes, with lifetime support and updates – $499 one-off payment
The pricing works out a little cheaper than MemberPress, especially for the more expensive licences. If you plan to run a membership site long-term, the Ultimate licensce works out great value for money as it’s a one-off payment for unlimited support and upgrades that works out the same at two years of the professional license.
- Easy to use
- One-off payment option works out cheaper longterm
- Several payment integrations including Stripe, PayPal, 2Checkout, Authorize.net, and Braintree
- Great support
- Fewer email service integrations than other pro plugins
Restrict Content Pro is a comparable and cheaper alternative to MemberPress and it offers more payment integrations. However the email service integrations are limited to a few of the most popular services.
Ultimate Member is currently the number one membership plugin in the official WordPress plugins repository, with over 100,000 active installations and an average rating of 4.5 so you can be confident that it’s well tried and tested.
The plugin is designed as more of a community- building plugin with automatic user registration, attractive user profiles, and member directories, however there is a content-blocking feature included.
- User self-registration and profile setup
- Member directory
- Content restriction
- User role management
- Automatic emails
- Paid extensions available for integrations and additional functionality
Ultimate Member is free for the basic plugin, which may be enough for you if you want to set up a membership area on your site for mainly social purposes.
The free version does offer locked content, but to add additional functionality you’ll have to purchase extensions, priced from $25 a year. These extensions offer features such as:
- Mail service integrations
- WooCommerce integration
- bbPress integration
- Social login
- Real-time notifications
- User friends
- Online notifications
If you want to use a lot of extensions, you can also buy a bundle which gives you access to all extensions for $199 a year.
- Free for basic version
- Lots of social functionality
- Good solution for setting up a social membership site
- Nice design
- Does offer as many features as other membership plugins
- restriction of content is limited (no drip-feed)
- No payment gateway – you must pay for the WooCommerce integration if you want this functionaliy
- Lots of complaints about bugs in latest issue
Ultimate Member is a great-looking plugin if you want to focus on growing a community of users. However it does seem that there are some bugs that need ironing out in the latest version – hopefully the developers with be responsive about getting these issues sorted out. If you’re wanting to set up a paid membership area to serve premium content, you’ll probably find another plugin more useful for you.
Quite a few membership plugins offer support for WooCommerce but if you’re already using WooCommerce and you want something that slots in seamlessly and works well with other plugins like WooCommerce Subscriptions and WooCommerce Name Your Price, you’ll probably want to look at this one first.
As the plugin is so integrated with WooCommerce, it enables you to grant access the membership area on buying products, as well as selling memberships or automatically assigning them. You can also hide products from non-members, turning your store into a purchasing club.
- Drip-feed content
- Supports wide range of payment gateways
- Offer member discount codes for store products
- Offer free shipping of products to members
- Membership notes to communicate with members
- Automatic member emails
WooCommerce Memberships is offered as three different licenses:
- Single site – $149
- Up to 5 sites – $199
- Up to 25 sites – $249
However if you need additional functionality such as recurring memberships that is provided by one of the other plugins like WooCommerce Subscriptions, you’ll have to pay extra for this plugin (WooCommerce Subscriptions is $199 for a single site license)
- Great for combining physical products and memberships
- Extensions offer support for pretty much any payment gateway
- Flexible content restriction
- You may need to pay extra for the WooCommerce subscription plugin for some functionality such as recurring payments or account upgrades and downgrades
- Payment gateway not built into core plugin
- No reporting
If you already have a store selling physical products and you want to integrate this fully with a membership option, WooCommerce Memberships is a great choice. However it is also not the cheapest – particularly if you have to buy multiple plugins to get the functionality you need. For those who don’t currently use WooCommerce, there are better options out there.
Paid Memberships Pro is a flexible premium plugin that enables you to set up many different types of membership site including e-learning sites, premium content, social communities, directories, and product subscriptions.
- Flexible membership pricing
- 6 supported payment gateways
- Extensive content restriction options
- Customizable reports
- Over 60 premium add-ons available
Paid Memberships Pro offers three license options:
- Free (access to the basic plugin with 14 free add-ons)
- Plus (support for up to 5 sites with 78+ add-ons) – $297 a year
- Unlimited (support for unlimited sites with 78+ add-ons) – $597 a year
The free option means that it’s easy to review this plugin before you make any financial investment, and the free add-ons it come with include integration with Aweber, MailChimp, bbPress, and WooCommerce, membership roles, and more. If you want to take payments, you’ll need to upgrade to one of the premium licenses
- Free plan means you can set up a membership site for nothing if you don’t want to take payments
- Many advanced features available via add-ons
- Fully integrated Memberlite theme available (free for basic theme or $47 a year to include demo content, forums, and advanced tutorials)
- Expensive if you just want to use it on one site
- More complicated to set up than some other options
Paid Memberships Pro is a comprehensive option with a wide set of features. While there’s no single site license, making it more expensive than other plugins, the free version is worth a look if you won’t be taking payments. The fact that there’s also a free theme available for this plugin, means that this is a great deal and you can set up a professional-looking membership site without parting with any cash.
Which is the Best Membership Plugin?
If you’ve tried any of these plugins, or we’ve missed your favorite, we’d love to know about your experiences – please let us know in the comments.