Membership sites are hot right now. With the promise of ongoing recurring revenue, more and more people are turning to the membership site model as an additional stream of income or even their main source of income. And since you’re reading this, I’m assuming that:

  1. You’re interested in starting up your own membership site.
  2. You’re a WordPress user.

You were probably thinking, since WordPress has plugins for almost anything imaginable, then why not a membership site, right? Well, you thought right.

In fact, there are quite a few, meaning your question should be which WordPress membership plugin is right for you?

The Two Types of WordPress Membership Plugins

Before we start mentioning names, you should know that there are two main types of plugins that will help turn your WordPress site into a membership site.

The first are plugins that are solely for running membership sites. And the second are plugins where memberships are just one of their many features or part of an extension.

Let’s cover the second type first which, for simplicity sake, I will call…

Secondary Membership Plugins

These are normally ecommerce plugins, such as WooCommerce. The main function of these plugins is ecommerce. The provision of memberships is only an extension of this main function. WooCommerce, for example, can be used to run membership sites by installing the WooCommerce Memberships and WooCommerce Subscriptions extensions.

Here are more ecommerce plugins that have membership functionality:

This may sound like a lot of work, but if you’re already using an ecommerce plugin, finding out if it offers a membership option is the sensible way to go. You’re already familiar with how the main plugin works, so the extension would be complementary and there would be a lower learning curve. Your customers would also have a more seamless experience when purchasing your products and subscribing to your memberships.

If the membership related features of the extension covers your needs, then your search for the ideal WordPress membership plugin is over. Sometimes though, you may find that the features you’re after are not available or maybe you don’t have a need for ecommerce. In this case, you’ll want to look at the…

Primary Membership Plugins

These plugins’ core function is to build a membership site. If you’re not going to sell a whole inventory of physical products, then this is where you want to look.

In the past few years, many WordPress membership plugins have emerged. One of the pioneers of membership plugins is Wishlist Member. Since then, there have been many more and I’m sure more are to come.

Here’s a list of the more popular membership plugins out there:

What To Look For In A WordPress Membership Plugin

With so many plugins on the market, how do you pick one? There are a couple of things you need to look out for before choosing a WordPress membership plugin.

Payment Integration

Chances are that you are already using a payment method of your choice. If you’re using PayPal, then move on to the next section because most plugins have PayPal integration. However, if you use something less obvious like eWay, for example, then your choice of plugins drops tremendously.

There is also the fact that some membership plugins have been built specifically for one payment method. Take Memberium, for example, which was built solely for Infusionsoft. And it takes advantage of a lot of Infusionsoft features that are not available with other payment methods.

Email Integration

I’m sure you learnt pretty early on that “the money is in the list”. Segmenting your prospects, customers and members into email lists is always good practice. So, the next thing to look at is whether the membership plugin integrates with your autoresponder service. This is not essential, but it makes your life a lot easier.

If you’re using Aweber and Mailchimp, you’re pretty much covered. However, if you’re using a different service, you’ll have to see which plugin supports it.

Most plugins will enable you to add members of each membership level into their own list when they sign up and remove them when they cancel their subscription, but there are some plugins that will add all members to the same list. So, you may want to look out for this.

Features

Now that we’ve sifted through all the membership plugins and found the ones that support your payment method and email service, it’s time to look at their features. Before you can do this, you need to know what you require. Here’s a quick list in order to help you out:

  • Drip feed content
    Do you want to be able to schedule the delivery of your content to your members? Drip feeding content is a popular way to retain members. Instead of giving them all the content immediately, you give it to them on a schedule. This is especially helpful if you’re offering course-type content. So, when your members first sign up, for example, they would be given access to Module 1. A week later, Module 2 is released to them. With the drip feed feature, you can set this up once and all your members will be put on this schedule automatically.
  • 1-click Upsells
    1-click upsells is a great way to sell a higher or additional membership level to your members. This happens when they’re signing up. So, for example, if they signed up for a basic membership level, on the thank you page you could invite them to upgrade their membership level to a gold membership level at a discounted fee. All of this happens with just a click of a button without them having to fill in their payment details again. Not many membership plugins have this feature. But, MemberMouse and Memberium are two that do.
  • Access to Multiple Membership Levels
    Some membership plugins like Paid Memberships Pro and Restrict Content Pro only allow a member to have access to one membership level. So, they’re either a basic member or silver member or gold member. This makes perfect sense, until you decide you want to offer all your members the option to also be a part of your special membership level. Or, if you’re using your WordPress membership plugin for a completely different purpose. For example, to offer courses. So, you’d want them to be able to sign up for as many courses as they want to. In this case, you’d have to go for a different plugin, such as Wishlist Member or MemberPress.
  • Support
    Support is of the utmost importance when you’re starting out with any new plugin. You want to be able to reach someone reliably when you’re having trouble. Even more so once you start getting member signups. With the membership plugins that have been mentioned above, you won’t have to worry so much about this as they all offer pretty good support. For some, you may have to pay to access support but it’s well worth the payment. If you’re considering another WordPress membership plugin not mentioned here, however, you should do your due diligence to make sure that their support team is up to par.

Cost

Ultimately, the deciding factor on which WordPress membership plugin to choose comes down to how much you’re willing to pay for it. The price ranges from free for a fully functional membership plugin like Paid Memberships Pro or $599/month for unlimited members with MemberMouse, and then you have the in-betweens.

To Sum Up

Choosing a WordPress membership plugin really depends on your requirements. There isn’t that one plugin that’s THE ONE for all membership sites. So, sit down and think about what you want to offer in your membership site. Then, out of all the membership plugins, cut down to those that support your payment and email service. Next, email them asking if they provide the features you need. Finally, boil down even further by choosing the plugin that meets your budget.

I hope you find the WordPress membership plugin that does it all for you. Let me know how you go.