Building A Membership Site with WordPress

Earlier, we talked about choosing a CMS to run your membership site. I made it clear that my preference was to use WordPress. Now, how do you go about building a membership site with  WordPress? After all, isn’t it meant for blogging?

Well, yes it is. Which is why WordPress would be ideal if your membership site offers frequently updated content that does not need to be ordered in a certain way.

To turn WordPress into a membership site, you would obviously have content that’s available to members only. So, the question is, how do you restrict access to that content?

There are two ways to protect your WordPress content:

  1. Protect the entire folder in which WordPress is installed.
  2. Protect premium posts for member access only whilst leaving others free for the public to see.

Although it would be much easier just to protect the whole folder in which WordPress resides, it is much more effective if you only protect premium posts. That way, you can showcase some of your content to entice people to sign up as a member.

Using an External Script

When I first started using WordPress, the best way to turn WordPress into a membership site was to use an external script called Amember. In fact, I am still using Amember for my WordPress-based membership site.

The reason I use Amember is because it integrates with multiple scripts. For example, right now I use WordPress to manage member content, SMF for the coaching forum and PerlDesk for my helpdesk. I can set up Amember in such a way that when a person signs up to become a VIP member they can access the WordPress site, the VIP forum and the helpdesk using the same username and password. Without having to register several times.

The problem with Amember is that it doesn’t actually “protect” your content. It merely adds and deletes members to your WordPress database. You will therefore, need another script that does the actual protection. And I chose to use the free version of the MemberWing plugin. And so far, this has worked perfectly for me.

Using a WordPress Plugin

If you don’t have a dire need to integrate your member database to multiple scripts, then you’re probably better off choosing one of the WordPress membership plugins.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that there are quite a few decent membership plugins now compared to when I first started using Amember. Unfortunately, I am unable to review any since I’ve never tested them. But here’s a list for you to checkout.

There are two groups of plugins. The first one offers content protection only whilst the second offer protection as well payment intergration.

  1. Content Protection Only
  2. Content Protection + Payment Integration

That should give you plenty of choices to choose from. If you stumble upon any more plugins, do share it with us by leaving a comment.

  • Paul

    Bina, great informative article – maybe also include the wishlist plugin – the beauty of this one, is that because it's a wordpress plugin, it allows you to either protect the full content according to post/page/category OR just protect the content following the –more– tag – which is excellent for marketing teasers. As with many of the others, it also integrates with payment systems, email systems like aweber etc. I use it extensively myself now for all membership sites. It does many other things, but direct integration as part of wordpress is its biggest advantage.

    all the best,


    • Bina

      Thanks for sharing the wishlist plugin, Paul.

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  • Philippa Kennealy

    I think the commenter means WishListMember – a WP plug-in to run a protected membership on a part of your WP site.

  • Daren

    I concur with Paul. I've been doing some digging on best membership site options and WishList is phenomenal. It's what I will be using for mine.



  • The Blog Builder Guy

    I just ran across your site. The membership plugins list was very helpful. Thank you!

  • Ravi Jayagopal

    I was hoping to throw my membership software, , into the ring here :-)For a feature comparison of different membership scripts, see:!- Ravi Jayagopal

  • Jonathan O’Shea

    I’ve been setting up membership sites for my clients for over a year now and I highly recommend the aMember-Wordpress combination as it hasn’t failed me yet.
    Just install the WordPress plugin for aMember so that it combines the logins, then you can protect the posts using the HidePost plugin and the Roll Out Posts plugin ( – written by me!).

    Hope that helps :)

  • Bina

    Thanks for the input Jonathan. I haven’t used HidePost before but may give it a go on a client site.

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  • tech guy

    i am looking for nice plug in to create a membership site and also there must be good security .

    you have listed some plugin lets which which one works for me n tnks.

  • Greg

    This post was a great find. From what everyone says above I think I'll give WishList a try even though I have a copy of EasyPay Pal. I'll test them against each other and see who's the best

  • Brett

    Hi Bina,

    I’m digging your info/reviews of these different membership platforms. I’m trying to figure out which platform would be the best for the community I’m developing right now, but like you I’m not really a techie and would like something that works as simply as possible.

    I have Delicioused your site for future reference.

  • Bina

    Hi Brett,

    I would be difficult to recommend something without knowing for sure what kind of setup you’re after.

  • Torben Bendixen

    Really great post, as I am going to start a membership site.
    I will go through the different plugins to check what is best for me.

  • Julian

    Hi, definitely I'll consider one of these plugins for our site, too. We'd like to create a membership area to allow only members to download protected files. Hmmm, maybe in conjunction with other plugins like wp-download we can accomplish this idea.

  • Bina

    Hi Julian, you can actually do this with Amember.

  • James W

    great post, which one do you recommend?

  • Web Development Company

    Great article. Straight and to the point. Easy to understand and informative. Thank you for sharing.

  • OnlinebzDOTcom

    It has been a while now since this was posted, any new updates on plugins?

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