How to Build a Membership Website
5 Best WordPress Membership Plugins (Compared)
If you plan to build a membership website and would like to know the best WordPress membership plugin with which to implement your desired features, then continue reading this article. It is very important to choose the right membership plugin if you plan to build a standard membership website. Building a standard membership website will translate to more opportunities and conversions.
In this article, we explained in detail the pros and cons of the 5 best WordPress membership plugins we know so far. This is to help you easily create a paid membership website.
WordPress Membership Plugin Features
There are lots of WordPress membership plugins in the WordPress repository. However, not all of them have specific features that you may need for creating your membership website.
Some of these membership plugins are good for selling subscriptions on a single level while other membership plugins offer more diverse subscription management features and membership levels.
Some membership plugins offer drip content features. This feature allows you to slowly release new content to a user, while other membership plugins are restricted to only offering hidden content.
You also need to know the payment gateways you will implement on your website. You need to choose between accepting credit cards only, PayPal only, or both payment options. Your choice of membership plugin should have support for your preferred payment gateways either built-in or through an addon.
Having said these, let’s see things you will need to start a WordPress membership website.
Things You Need to Run a WordPress Membership Site
Membership websites are resource-intensive, choosing the wrong web hosting service will be your first mistake. It will be detrimental to your overall performance and success. This’s why the first thing you need to do is choose the best WordPress hosting service that you can afford.
If you’re on a low budget, then you can start with Bluehost or HostGator. The Business Pro plan of Bluehost comes with an SSL Certificate which is a must to securely collect payments online. It also comes with a dedicated IP and a dedicated support line.
If you want the best performance and budget is not an issue for you, then we recommend using a cloud WordPress hosting provider like Google Cloud Platform.
You will need to choose a domain name for your website if you don’t already have one. Choose a domain name that reflects the area or focus of your membership website.
Having covered what you need to start a membership WordPress website, let’s take a look at our top WordPress membership plugins.
This is one of the most popular WordPress membership plugins. MemberPress is also the easiest membership plugin to use and the most robust when it comes to features.
Pros of MemberPress WordPress Membership Plugin
a) Easy to Setup
MemberPress makes it simple to set up a membership website in WordPress. It can automatically set up pricing, account, log-in, and thank you pages for your website users. Adding membership plans is also very straightforward in MemberPress.
b) Content Access Control
MemberPress also comes with powerful access control. This access control allows you to restrict access to any content including posts, categories, pages, tags, files, etc.
c) Content Dripping
This feature allows you to show restricted content to members after a certain time. This is a very useful feature for selling learning materials or online courses.
d) Sell Courses
MemberPress also enables you to easily create and sell online courses. It offers an interactive learning experience for users that focuses on course completion rate.
MemberPress seamlessly integrates with other plugins and services such as AWeber, GetResponse, MailChimp, and MadMimi email services. It also integrates with Amazon Web Services and BluBrry for podcast hosting.
f) Payment Gateways
MemberPress comes with built-in support for PayPal and Stripe payment gateways. The developer plan of MemberPress also adds Authorize.net support.
Cons of Using MemberPress Pro
a) Limited Payment Options
MemberPress only supports the three most popular payment gateways (PayPal, Authorize.net and Stripe payment gateways). This would be a deal-breaker for site owners who live in countries not supported by these payment gateways.
b) Limited Integrations
While the MemberPress plugin has enough support for popular services to run a membership website efficiently, it still lacks integrations with some other popular services. The plugin is easily extensible, and you can pay someone to integrate a third-party service you would like to use.
The price of MemberPress is a bit high for a beginner who is on budget. The price of MemberPress starts from $129 / year for the Basic plan and $249 / year for the Plus plan.
MemberPress plugin is quick to set up and has tons of powerful options. We believe that MemberPress is the most easy-to-use WordPress membership plugin for beginners.
This is another super flexible and extremely easy-to-use WordPress membership plugin. LearnDash comes with advanced membership modules and tons of integrations.
Pros of Using LearnDash
a) Easy to Setup
LearnDash is very easy to set up. Also adding content to LearnDash is much simpler. LearnDash also comes with advanced tools to easily organize your membership content into levels, groups, etc.
b) Easy Content Restrictions
LearnDash allows you to easily hide any content and restrict it to different membership groups.
c) Sell Courses
LearnDash allows you to easily create and sell online courses. Also, LearnDash has advanced modules that allow you to better manage learning material than other WordPress membership plugins.
c) Drip Content
LearnDash comes with a powerful drip content feature. This allows you to roll out content to users at regular intervals or upon completion of levels.
d) Built-in Community Features
LearnDash also comes with tools to create highly engaging membership websites with user badges, quizzes, certificates, user profiles, course-specific forums, etc.
e) Integrations & Payments
LearnDash offers an amazing set of integrations and payment gateways. You can even connect LearnDash to WooCommerce, bbPress, Slack, and even MemberPress, etc.
Cons of Using LearnDash
a) Lacks some membership features
some of LearnDash’s features may not be useful to you if you are trying to build a membership website without selling courses.
the price of LearnDash Starting from $159 for a single site license with 1 year of support and updates.
LearnDash is the perfect solution if you want to sell online courses on a paid membership website. It has an extensive set of add-ons and integrations that will allow you to build a highly engaging platform.
This is an all-inclusive online courses builder. Teachable packs membership website, LMS, email marketing, discussion forum, and analytics all under one dashboard.
Pros of Using Teachable
a) Ease of Use
Teachable is very easy to set up. It does not require any technical skills at all to get started. Creating membership content on Teachable is a breeze and includes built-in tools to quickly create and upload videos, text, PDF, and more.
b) Drip Content
Teachable includes a flexible drip content feature, which allows you to roll out content based on a users’ progress or subscription level.
c) Built-in Engagement Features
It offers discussion forums, certificates, quizzes, contact forms, and other features to boost user engagement and build powerful online communities.
Cons of Using Teachable
a) Not a WordPress Plugin
Teachable is not available as a WordPress plugin. You can integrate Teachable to your WordPress site by adding links or a sub-domain.
b) More Expensive
Teachable includes everything which makes it more expensive than other WordPress membership plugins.
The price for the Teachable Basic plan starts at $39 / month, professional $99 / month, and business $499 / month.
4 Restrict Content Pro
This is another powerful contender for the title of the best membership plugin for WordPress. Restrict Content Pro is created by the same team that built the popular Easy Digital Downloads and AffiliateWP plugins.
Pros of Using Restrict Content Pro
a) Easy to Use
Restrict Content Pro beautifully integrates with the WordPress user interface. This allows you to easily figure out how to use Restrict Content Pro.
b) Built-in Integrations
Unlike other membership plugins, Restrict Content Pro comes with built-in integrations that other plugins add as paid addons. It has Stripe, PayPal, MailChimp, CSV export, MailPoet, email manager, and many more features.
c) Payment Gateways
Restrict Content Pro adds Stripe, PayPal, and Braintree as free addons. Other supported payment gateways include 2Checkout, PayPal Express, PayPal Website Payments Pro, and Stripe Checkout.
d) Works with Easy Digital Downloads
If you are running Easy Digital Downloads to sell digital products, then Restrict Content Pro is the perfect companion for that.
e) Excellent Support
Restrict Content Pro has extensive free documentation available for all users. You also get professional support by email with very fast response times.
Cons of Using Restrict Content Pro
a) Fewer Integrations
Restrict Content Pro has fewer integrations with third-party services such as email service providers than some other plugins on this list.
The price of Restrict Content Pro starts from $99 with 12 addons and a single site license, $149 for 5 sites, and $249 for all addons and unlimited sites. There is also a $499 – lifetime plan.
Restrict Content Pro is one of the most easy-to-use membership plugins. It is also developer-friendly. Also, Restrict Content Pro comes with a great set of features that are perfect for all kinds of membership websites.
This is another popular free WordPress membership plugin. s2Member also has a pro version. This plugin has been around for quite a while and has a devoted user base.
Pros of Using S2Member WordPress Membership Plugin
a) Free Base Plugin
The s2Member base plugin is free. Anyone can download and give it a try. s2Member is limited in terms of features and support but gives you a good starting point.
b) Content Dripping
S2Member Pro comes with a content drip feature.
c) Payment Gateways
The free version of s2Member supports PayPal. The Pro version of the s2Member plugin supports Stripe and Authorize.net as well.
s2Member works with MailChimp, bbPress, and BuddyPress.
e) Documentation & Support
S2Member has an extensive knowledge base available to all. In the Pro version of s2Member, users also get email-based support.
Cons of Using S2Member WordPress Membership Plugin
a) Not very user-friendly
s2Member to be a little more difficult to use than other membership plugins.
b) Free Version Limitations
The free version of s2Member only supports PayPal, limits to only 4 membership levels, and does not have a drip content feature.
The base plugin is free, then the Pro version for a single site license costs $89 USD. For unlimited sites, the pro version costs $189 USD.
MemberPress is believed to be the best option for the WordPress membership plugins. It has all the features that you would need with great documentation and support.
If you want something simple and flexible in a membership plugin, then Restrict Content Pro is a great option. The team behind this has a proven track record for producing excellent products.
If you want to sell courses on your membership website, then we recommend using LearnDas. LearnDas comes with powerful features to create and sell courses online.
We hope this article helped you find the best WordPress membership plugin for your site.