In the following post you’re going to learn the benefits of running your own membership site along with some of the best membership plugins on the market – that includes free and premium WordPress plugins so there’s something for you, whatever your budget.
If you’re new to this membership site thing, then what you need to know is that there are a lot of people running niche membership sites that charge a monthly amount to subscribers in exchange for regular and usually exclusive content and they are making a killing.
Why are membership sites such a great business model? Subscription fees are recurring, it’s not just like selling an eBook where you get one payment from a customer and then that’s it.
We are talking seriously profitable.
So if you are an expert in your industry and can deliver some unique content, or at least a lot of great quality content that people would otherwise have to chase around for then you could be on to a real winner here!
There are plenty of these sites around, ranging from membership sites that specialise in teaching guitar or even golf right through to marketing or news websites.
A few examples of sites that do this include – Marketing Profs, EConsultancy and Smart Insights.
You don’t have to want to start up a content driven membership site with a pay wall protecting your content – you could just use it as an area for customers to download a single product or for a private community.
What you will notice is that membership plugins generally come with a crazy amount of features and the potential amount you can earn when you put a membership site into action means it’s worth spending some money on to get the right one.
That being said I have included some of the free plugins as a comparison to the premium plugins to help you come to a decision and find something that’s perfect for what you need.
Ok, let’s dive in ..
Premium WordPress Membership Plugins
I have put together some of the biggest premium membership plugins available on the market for you below, now what’s important to remember here that these types of plugins are generally packed with an insane amount of features in comparison to other plugins and so usually come with a higher price tag.
The saying “you get what you pay for” is so true, especially in this case and remember that the benefits of buying premium plugins means more features, better support and regular updates.
Optimize Press 2.0 Membership Plugin
Out of all of the WordPress membership plugins that are featured in this article, Optimize Press 2.0 will give you more in the way of features than anything else.
Primarily, Optimize Press is both a theme and a plugin that allows you to create incredible sales pages, landing pages and squeeze pages – along with membership pages.
Previously you had to go for another membership plugin like the ones I’ve mentioned below in order to secure and restrict access to content within your membership area.
That is now a thing of the past and Optimize Press thankfully now comes with its own membership plugin while also giving you the ability to use any other membership plugin (that’s if you really want to).
The amazing thing is the price point of this plugin is similar to some of the others I’ve included below.
Here are a few features you’ll get your hands on:
- Powerful IP address restrictions
- Download restrictions
- Your own coupon codes
- Completely customise your membership levels
- Supports 6 different payment gateways (including PayPal, Clickbank and Authorize.Net
- Integration with ShareASale, iDevAffiliate and other affiliate tracking solutions
- Drip feed content to your members
Don’t miss this one!
Digital Access Pass (DAP)
DAP has been around since 2008 and has shown that it can stand the test of time – the creators continue to push out updates to keep the plugin current and includes the following features (amongst a lot more):
- Unlimited members
- Unlimited products
- Sneak peek teaser content
- Built in affiliate system with 2 tiers
- Forum integration
- Easy to use shortcodes
- Trial products
- Advanced content dripping system
You can also use DAP on HTML/PHP sites as a stand alone script and the developers behind the plugin also offer free installation – which is awesome!
Magic Members has been a popular favourite for a while now and comes with some great features.
Some of which include:
- Unlimited membership levels
- A huge number of payment integration modules including PayPal, 2CheckOut, Authorize.net and many more
- Amazon S3 support
- Easy coupon creation (you can create unlimited coupons too)
- Drip fed content system
- Powerful import and export features
- Pay per post access
- And lots more …
Magic Members also offers updates for the next year and while this sometimes puts people off, it’s important to remember that it would be difficult for any company to continue to provide continuous updates and ensure the long term viability of the plugin.
Magic Members also comes with 3 bonuses, some social icons (these aren’t that amazing) but you do get the Magic Kicker plugin and a 20% discount on the Magic affiliate plugin.
Magic Kicker stops multiple people from logging into a single account which is an essential security feature and Magic Affiliate will turn your membership area into an affiliate power house that will allow your site to be promoted by other people.
It’s worth noting that these plugins both come as standard with InstaMember plugin as standard.
All in all, a very powerful plugin, but a few of the important things seems to be missing from the core plugin.
WishList has been a long time favourite within the internet marketing community because it’s a solid plugin with a great feature set.
What does WishList Member integrate with? – All of the popular mailing list providers such as Aweber, iContact, GetResponse, Mail Chimp and Infusionsoft.
WishList Member also integrates with a number of affiliate networks and payment gateways including; PayPal, 1ShoppingCat, Clickbank, QuickPayPro, Ultracart and more.
Here are a few more of the features that you get here:
- Unlimited membership levels
- Paid, trial or free membership levels
- Drip fed content
- Subscription length control
- Teaser content
- Secure RSS feeds
- And much more..
Similar to Magic Members, you get 1 year of unlimited updates and some great support guides and tutorials to help you build out your membership site.
WishList Member also has a customer centre packed with resources and tips to help you in addition to the regular support guides for the plugin.
For those who purchase the multi-site license, you will get access to two custom build WordPress themes designed specifically for use with WishList Member along with some additional resources.
Member Press is a powerful plugin from a company called Caseproof – if you haven’t heard of them then chances are you may have heard of their other plugins – Pretty Link Pro and Affiliate Royale.
Member Press offers a great range of features including:
- Drip fed content
- Straight forward yet detailed reporting
- Coupon codes
- Easy integration with WordPress forum plugins such as BBPress
- Complete control over who sees what
Another great thing about Member Press is the ability to integrate custom code which makes the possibilities almost limitless.
Member Press is a powerful plugin with plenty of integration options and if you’re not sure that this plugin will be straight forward enough to setup then I recommend you check out the tour on their website – this walks you through every single screen you’ll see within the plugin so you can get a feel for it.
Premise is a powerful plugin from the folks at Copyblogger Media that allows you to make powerful and functional membership sites.
This plugin goes a step further because you can also use it to create a number of different landing pages.
The great thing about this is that you don’t need to worry about whether your WordPress theme can handle the creation of landing pages because this is a plugin and will run alongside your current theme.
Copyblogger are experts in writing effective and persuasive copy so you know that you are in safe hands. They also give you access to a bunch of seminars and guides that will help you get your membership site and landing pages converting really well.
Some of the membership features include:
- Recurring payments
- Easy to setup private forums
- Password protected content libraries
- Ability to handle digital sales
- Compatible with Authorize.net and PayPal
This is a powerful plugin that’s backed by a leader in the marketing industry and you get much more than a membership plugin here.
This aptly named membership plugin is brought to us by WPMU DEV and they make some extremely impressive plugins.
Considering the pricing of this plugin, it’s got a fantastic range of features along with some that you don’t find on many plugins. They include:
- Drip feeding
- Control content access using shortcodes
- Free trial option
- Compatible with Authorize.net, 2Checkout and PayPal Express
- Drag and drop interface
- And lots more..
You can choose to get this plugin on its own from just $9 or you can go for their monthly plan which starts at $19 per month.
Why pay them monthly? Because you get access to 350+ premium themes and plugins along with access to new releases and updates.
Free WordPress Membership Plugins
Chances are that for what you’re wanting to do with your website, a full on premium membership plugin may just be overkill.
I’ve included a number of the top free plugins that are straight forward to use and could be just what you need.
If you have searched for membership plugins in the past then I’m sure that you’ve probably seen S2 Members mentioned a number of times.
They do have a premium version but since S2 Members is primarily known for its free version I wanted to included it in this section.
For a free plugin S2 Members has a great feature set and a bunch of different customisable options – you can change things like email templates, login welcome page, high level security and the ability to choose exactly what content you’re protecting along with protecting your file downloads.
S2 Member makes it easy for you to incorporate external affiliate systems such as iDevAffiliate and ShareAsale but doesn’t come with its own system.
There are some limitations because membership levels are limited to 4, you can’t use free registrations and the payment methods do come with limitations too – but considering it’s free, damn you do get a lot!
To lift these limitations there is a pro version available.
WP Members is another free plugin that makes it really easy to restrict access to particular pieces of content or just create a straight forward membership site.
One of the things that I like about this plugin is that the login and registration options can easily be added to the sidebar with a widget and they also appear in line with the content, as opposed to on the usual WP login page which opens up some extra possibilities.
You can expand the registration fields as much as you like and choose to only approve accounts manually along with the ability to add a captcha to stop spammy registrations.
Overall this is a straight forward plugin to use that makes it really easy to just restrict your content.
Where do you go from here? Take a look at some of the membership plugins above and see which ones fit with what you’re trying to accomplish.
What experience have you had with membership sites? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.