Do you want to create a membership site in WordPress?
A membership plugin can transform your regular website into a platform where you can offer exclusive content, online courses, communities, and other resources to members who have subscribed or paid for access.
There are quite a few options available for WordPress, so we went ahead and tested the most popular ones.
In this guide, we’ll give you our first-hand review of the best WordPress membership plugins for your site.
How to Choose a Good Membership Plugin
Choosing the right membership plugin for your WordPress site depends on what kind of membership website you want to create. It helps to clearly outline what you want to achieve with your WordPress membership site.
Are you offering paid courses to monetize your site, exclusive content, a community, or something else?
It’s best to first understand your site’s purpose so that you can select a plugin that aligns with your goals. That said, here are the key features you’ll need in a membership plugin:
- Ease of Use: Look for plugins with user-friendly interfaces. The easier the plugin is to set up and manage, the less time you’ll spend on technicalities and more on creating content and engaging with members.
- Integration: The plugin should integrate seamlessly with your existing setup. If you’re using e-commerce plugins like WooCommerce, check for compatibility.
- Payment Gateways: Make sure it supports the gateways you want to use to accept payments.
- Membership or Subscription Levels: If you plan to offer different levels of access, you’ll want to be able to create multiple premium membership tiers.
- Content Management: It should be easy to manage and organize your content within the plugin. Can you organize it by membership levels, and does it support different content types (posts, pages, videos, etc.)?
- Drip Content: If you’re planning to release content gradually, ensure the plugin supports drip content functionality.
You can also look for reviews and ratings from other users. Their experiences can tell you a lot about the plugin’s performance and user satisfaction.
And one more thing. Make sure the plugin you choose has reliable support and documentation. This will go a long way when you face issues or hiccups with setup, configurations, and simply running your membership site.
Now let’s take a look at our pick of the best membership plugins you can get started with right away!
Best Membership Plugins for WordPress Websites
For this review, we installed each of these plugins and took them for a test drive to see if they deliver on what they promise.
MemberPress is by far the most powerful WordPress membership plugin in existence. It offers everything you’ll need to create a successful membership site. Plus, it’s built with scalability in mind so you can keep expanding your membership offerings as you grow.
This all-in-one plugin is designed for anyone to use, no matter your skill level. So you can create restricted areas where people need to sign up or pay to access content.
You get to pick and choose what you offer like exclusive content, online courses, or other goodies to your website visitors who become members. You also control who gets to see what on your site and when.
Next, you can easily add payment options with just a few clicks.
Here are the key features you’ll love about MemberPress:
- User Access Control lets you control who can access different parts of your website
- Content Restriction to specific membership levels. You can lock specific pages, posts, and custom post types.
- Tiered Membership Plans each with its own set of benefits, content access, and pricing
- Customizable Content Dripping to release content gradually over time
- Easy Payment Integration to accept one-time fees or set up recurring subscription models
- Membership Management to get an overview of your members as well as view every member profile individually
- Automatic Upgrade/Downgrade according to member payment and status
- Coupons and Discount codes to get more signups
- Content Protection to protect your content from being accessed by non-members
- Integration with Email Services to automate member communication and keep them engaged
- User-friendly Interface with straightforward setup, content access, and payment options
- Detailed Reporting for insights into your membership site’s performance
MemberPress works well with a wide range of WordPress themes and plugins, allowing you to maintain the design and functionality of your website.
You also get access to customer support, documentation, and resources to help you with any issues or questions you might have.
MemberMouse is another really good membership plugin designed for WordPress sites.
It lets you offer paid content, member subscriptions, and digital products to your audience. You can set passwords to protect pages and posts that contain premium content, PDFs, videos, software and more.
Plus, MemberMouse offers easy member management as it comes with a simple CRM (customer relationship management). There’s also a dashboard to view members, automate tasks, track activity logs, and more.
MemberMouse comes with all the essential features of tiered memberships, drip content, and payment integrations. Aside from that, here’s where MemberMouse stands out:
- Member’s only area
- Automation tools
- Password-protected courses
- Custom checkout and upsells to boost sales
- One-click product purchases
- Coupons and special discounts
- Metrics like lifetime customer value, retention and churn rates, and affiliate channel tracking
MemberMouse will also handle overdue payments for you. You won’t have to worry about missing out on revenue from members or subscribers who haven’t made their payments.
The only area we felt lacking is that there are fewer integration options with payment gateways and email service providers. If that’s not an issue, this is a really great plugin to go for!
Thrive Apprentice is a WordPress LMS plugin developed by Thrive Themes. LMS is a learning management system that’s designed for creating and managing online courses and training programs.
Thrive Apprentice gives you a way to create a membership program around online courses. So if your focus is on creating online courses and not looking for a full-fledged membership solution, Thrive Apprentice is the way to go.
You can create structured online courses with lessons, modules, and topics. This makes it easy to organize your content and guide learners through a structured learning journey.
The plugin features a simple drag-and-drop editor that enables you to create lessons and arrange them in the desired order. You can add text, multimedia, and other content elements.
Thrive Apprentice also lets you embed various content types, including videos, audio files, PDFs, quizzes, and more.
Added to all this, learners can track their progress within a course, seeing which lessons they’ve completed and what’s next. This is a great way to motivate learners to continue and complete the course.
Plus, if you ever want to expand the WordPress membership side of your site, you can integrate seamlessly with MemberPress.
Here’s where Thrive Apprentice stands out:
- It comes with a user-friendly interface and a simple drag-and-drop editor
- Easy course builder with modules, lessons, and topics
- Supports a variety of content formats, such as videos, audio files, text, images, quizzes, and more
- Responsive designs so courses will look good on all devices
- Learners can easily track their progress through the courses, marking completed lessons and modules
- Integrate with email marketing
All of this makes it exceptionally easy for beginners and non-technical users to create engaging online courses without a steep learning curve.
Keep in mind though, to accept payments online with Thrive Apprentice, you need to connect it with a checkout plugin like WooCommerce.
WishList Member lets you create and manage exclusive membership sites with various levels of access. You can offer unique content and benefits under each level.
It comes with an easy-to-use interface where you can restrict access to specific pages, posts, or content types based on membership levels.
The plugin supports content dripping so you can release content to members at periodic intervals.
Next, you can easily manage members, including their registration, access levels, and subscription status. It also provides tools for handling cancellations and renewals. You can quickly set membership expiration dates, offering time-limited access to your content.
The great part about WishList Member is that it makes it possible to set up one-time payments, subscriptions, and trials. You can integrate with popular payment gateways and then let your users choose what kind of payment plan they want to opt for.
If you already have WooCommerce or PayPal set up, it’s much easier to integrate your membership plans into your website as the plugin works with all popular shopping cart solutions like 2Checkout.
Here’s where WishList Member stands out:
- Offer various membership tiers with distinct content access
- Tailor the membership plans and areas to match your brand
- Integrate with popular e-commerce platforms for streamlined transactions
- Engage members through built-in email notifications and announcements
- Access reports on member engagement, sign-ups, and revenue generation
With WishList Member, you won’t be left guessing what’s working. You can access reports and analytics on your membership site’s performance, including member engagement, sign-up rates, and revenue.
Easy Digital Downloads is a WordPress plugin that’s specifically designed for selling digital products. This makes it well-suited for offering membership plans that include digital content such as e-books, courses, software, and more.
The plugin is built to be highly flexible and can be adapted to various types of membership models. So you can sell access to specific products, membership levels, or subscription plans.
You can set up various payment gateways including Stripe, PayPal, Braintree, and Authorize.net. So users can pick their favorite option based on their preferences and geographic location.
Now, Easy Digital Downloads has premium addons if you want to expand the features on your site. So for instance, EDD Recurring Payments and EDD Members add membership features to your digital product store.
You also get powerful insights and analytics into your site’s performance:
The platform is backed by a helpful support team and extensive documentation, so you’ll have all the resources you need to guide you through the setup and management of your membership plans.
Key features of EDD include:
- Tailored for selling digital goods and memberships
- Addons to easily add more functionality
- Supports various gateways like Stripe, Amazon Payments, and PayPal
- Automatic recurring payments and one-time payments/li>
- Built-in shopping cart
- Unlimited file downloads for users
- Offers hooks and filters for advanced customization
Learndash is similar to Thrive Apprentice in the sense that it’s a powerful LMS platform. It’s a WordPress plugin that helps you create and manage online courses on your website.
You might use LearnDash if you want to teach something, like a course, class, or training, to others through your website.
Want to make your content more engaging? Learndash supports videos, quizzes, assignments, and discussions to get users to interact with the course.
You can release lessons over time as they progress through the course. Learners can track their progress and manage their course history. And once they complete the program, you can award certificates to learners for recognition.
Learndash lets you offer one-time payments, subscriptions, or free courses. Plus, it seamlessly integrates with all popular WordPress themes and plugins for customization.
Key features of Learndash include:
- Easy set up
- Build structured online courses with lessons and topics
- Show/hide any content to different membership groups
- Create course-specific forums
- Connect to popular apps like MemberPress, WooCommerce, bbPress, Slack, and more
WPForms is the best form builder for WordPress and you can build any kind of form you need for your site.
The reason it’s on this list is because it lets you create a membership login for your site.
So if you’re looking to create a simple membership site without investing in a full-fledged expensive membership platform, then WPForms has a great solution.
The plugin comes with ready-to-go templates for login forms and user registration forms. This lets you password-protect your site so only members can enter.
You can add form fields like dropdowns, multiple choice, images, and more to collect all the info you need from members.
WPForms integrates with payment gateways like Stripe, PayPal, Authorize.net, and Square. So you can also charge a fee for joining your membership program.
Next, the plugin has a long list of integrations and addons so you’ll find every feature and connection you need. This includes Constant Contact, AWeber, Drip, Mailchimp, Zapier, Google Sheets, and more.
You can automate what happens when a user signs up like sending them a welcome emails and creating WordPress user roles and user profiles for them.
The plugin also comes with anti-spam protection and captcha options to keep spammers out.
Here’s what stands out about WPForms when it comes to creating a membership site:
- Readymade form templates and a drag and drop editor
- Powerful form fields to get the data you need
- Payment, email, and marketing integrations
- Smart conditional logic to show/hide form fields based on the user’s response
- Automated confirmations and notifications
- Easy form embedding with the WPForms block, widgets, and shortcodes
- Easy entry management
- Supports file uploads, post submissions, and multipage forms
That’s our list of the best membership plugins for WordPress. Up next, we’ll answer the most popular questions our users ask.
FAQs on WordPress Membership Plugins
Is there a free membership plugin for WordPress?
Some membership plugins offer free versions with limited features, while others are paid. Free WordPress membership plugins can be a good starting point, but for more advanced functionality, you might need to invest in a premium version or add-ons. Restrict User Access is a free plugin to create a simple membership option on your site.
Is MemberPress free to use?
No, MemberPress is a paid plugin. The Basic plan costs $179.50 per year for a single site license.
Do I need a membership plugin to create an affiliate program?
If you want to create an affiliate program where you reward users with a commission for promoting and selling your product, it’s better to opt for an affiliate plugin like AffiliateWP.
You can use a membership plugin, however, plugins like AffiliateWP come with all the features tailor-made for affiliate programs. This allows you to manage affiliate partners, commissions made, coupon codes or affiliate links, payouts, and more.
What is gated content in WordPress?
Gated content is digital content, such as articles, videos, downloads, or resources, that is hidden behind a “gate” or a paywall. Users need to take a specific action before they can access it. They may need to provide their email address, sign up for a newsletter, or become a member of a website. A great tool to add gated content is OptinMonster.
Are there other membership plugins that are not on this list?
Yes, there absolutely are! We like to give our users just the top-performing choices. Other membership and subscriptions plugins include Restrict Content Pro, WP-Members, S2Member, aMember Pro, Paid Memberships Pro, Restrict User Access, Ultimate Member, WooCommerce Memberships, and ARMember. You may also want to check out BuddyPress if you want to create a community or social network website.
Can I integrate a membership plugin with my existing website?
Yes, most membership plugins are designed to integrate smoothly with WordPress websites. We recommend installing the plugin on a staging site to test out changes and compatibility.
Can I restrict access to specific content?
Yes, most membership plugins allow you to restrict access to pages, posts, files, and other content types based on membership levels. Only authorized members can view premium content.
How do I use a WordPress membership plugin?
You’ll need to install and activate the plugin on your WordPress site. After that, every membership plugin has a different process for installation, setup, creating membership levels, protecting content, setting up payment gateways, and configuring access rules. Most plugins provide documentation, tutorials, or guides to help you through the process. This is also why it’s also important to make sure you have access to customer support.
Can I create unlimited membership levels?
If your membership plugin allows you, you can create unlimited membership levels. Though, this isn’t advisable. It’s always best to have an attainable membership level for users.
That’s all we have for you. We hope this guide helped you find the right membership plugin for your WordPress website. Since you’re setting up a membership site, you might also want to see our list of the best WordPress page builders to create a stunning look for your site.
Our favorite is SeedProd which comes with a visual frontend editor that makes it so easy to create any page you need for your membership site. It’s also packed with conversion-focused elements like opt-in forms, countdown timers, and contests too.