If you use WordPress for your business, personal, ecommerce or organisation’s website you’re bound to have at least heard of WordPress plugins. WordPress Membership plugins are just one form of software that can be used in conjunction with your website to restrict access to your content and information to paid, subscribed or registered members. If your business is dependent on subscription or membership plans, knowing which are the best membership plugins to use for your wordpress members area is essential.
There are dozens and dozens of plugins available online and while they all offer value, they’re also all unique in one way or another. In this article, we’ll go through the top 8 WordPress membership plugins and highlight their benefits, features and restrictions to help you keep your content exclusive and your website restricted.
Creating a WordPress Member Site
When you integrate a membership plugin you’re able to customise the experience that different visitors to your website have. You can restrict lower tier or non-subscribed members to certain functions, whilst opening up other aspects to different subsets of users.
If your business or website does not require or accept registration from users in some form of membership and subsequently offer a different or catered experience to them, then you might be better off looking for a different type of plugin.
A few points to note:
- You don’t have to necessarily “restrict” non-members to offer different forms of online experience.
- Your membership or subscription does not necessarily have to cost a fee.
- You can offer different tiers of membership even amongst the subscribed.
Types of WordPress Membership Plugins
Even within the world of membership plugins, there are a variety of different types.
This plugin might include private message boards or private communities of select members.
This allows you to determine which forums are available to which types of members (or conversely unavailable to non-members).
This allows you to offer exclusive content, such as online courses, specifically to certain users.
This allows you to offer specific members special discounts or unique deals.
This is similar to exclusive content but can be simpler in execution as it simply provides two layers of content: standard and premium, as opposed to offering multiple channels of exclusive content.
Some WordPress membership plugins will allow your members to create their own websites within your network.
While these are among the most common types of plugins, it’s important to note that this list is far from exhaustive.
The right plugin for you will depend almost entirely on what you’re looking to achieve for your wordpress members only area. Here are some of the considerations you should bear in mind when tossing up between different membership plugins.
The type of content you want to restrict or control access to needs to be supported by the plugin you choose to use. Make sure to bear in mind whether the plugin you’re considering allows you to restrict entire pages whilst also offering you control over the minutiae of specific content. Alternatively, you might be looking to restrict certain types of your content or categories. Or you might simply be looking to restrict non-members from downloading your protected content.
Certain plugins can even let you set limits over your restrictions. You can set content to be restricted until a certain date or be slowly unrestricted over time. The more control you need, the more choice your plugin needs to offer.
Levels for subscribers
Some plugin users want the simple functionality of blocking non-members while allowing in subscribers. But if you offer multiple levels of subscription or tiers of membership you’ll want to keep an eye out for a plugin that offers that level of complexity. Certain plugins may also only allow single subscriptions per user, or not allow group subscriptions… Make sure that you know how your membership structure works before choosing a plugin.
If your membership is going to cost a fee you’ll need to make sure that the plugin you use provides the payment platforms or channels that you need. Have a think about the other functionalities that are important to you: Is there a free trial period or a limited time full refund offer? Are you planning on offering sales, promotions or codes for discounts? Keep this in mind as you peruse various plugins.
Not all WordPress membership plugins play well with other plugins. If you want a specific function that is reliant on another plugin, such as WooCommerce site integration, you’ll need to take note of whether your membership plugin offers seamless integration and the correct features.
It all sounds pretty good, right? So why choose? Just go for the plugin that does it all! Well, like most things in life, if you want the world you have to pay for it. Some plugins are free and some cost upwards of a couple hundred bucks, and there are plenty in between. Your budget may determine not only which plugins are actually practically under consideration but also which features are necessary for you to prioritise.
The Best Membership Plugin for WordPress
While we’ve endeavoured to highlight the best features of each of our top 8 chosen membership plugins, it’s important to note that this should just be the start of comprehensive research into your chosen plugin as there’s a ton of information we could not include for brevity’s sake.
MemberPress is among the more popular of plugins and whilst affordably priced it does not come in a free version.
In terms of restrictions, you’re able to restrict entire pages, categories or types of posts as well as individual parts of content.
MemberPress lets you protect your online files indefinitely or for a specific set of time and offers effective prevention of unauthorised content downloads.
There are no restrictions on the free or paid membership tiers available and your members will be able to upgrade, unsubscribe or change their membership themselves. Additionally, you’re able to offer free trial periods and discount codes to members.
- Offline payments
- Affiliate Royale
- Object storage externally
- Various other LMS plugins
The basic version costs $149.
The Plus version costs $249.
The Pro version costs $349.
2. Restrict Content Pro
This is a reliable and reputable plugin that offers bulk and content specific restrictive capabilities.
Some of its feature highlights include time-sensitive restriction functions, content expiration dates and the periodic removal or addition of restrictions on content over a set period of time.
Restrict Content Pro allows for both free and paid membership tiers and gives your members control over their subscription, as well as free trials and discount offers.
If you’re looking to offer single subscriptions for groups, you’ll need a group add-on.
- Campaign Monitor
- bbPress (requires additional plugin integration)
- WP Job Manager (requires additional plugin integration)
- Easy Digital Downloads (requires additional plugin integration)
- WooCommerce (requires additional plugin integration)
Personal Plan – one site – $99
Plus Plan – five sites – $149
Professional Plan – 18 pro add ons/unlimited sites – $299
Ultimate Plan – 18 pro add ons/unlimited sites & unlimited support/updates – $499
3. WooCommerce Memberships
Using WooCommerce as its base, this plugin allows for membership-related restriction for both ecommerce sites and other websites.
From posts to categories, you can control what, how and when your content is restricted, as well as to whom.
There are no limits on levels or tiers of subscriptions or, if you’re using an ecommerce website, you can simply make purchases or access free.
Members can manage their subscriptions independently as well.
- All WooCommerce payment gateways
- Automattic Sensei LMS plugin
$199 – This does not necessarily include all the WooCommerce extensions you might need, such as offering recurring subscriptions.
4. Paid Memberships Pro
This plugin comes with a free version that still offers all of its features making it particularly unique. There are additional paid versions with even more add-ons as well.
Content restriction options include post types, categories and individual content parts.
Through the use of add-ons you’ll also be able to create RSS feeds for specific streams of members, drip release content, offer network sites, and limit post views per user.
There’s no limit to the number of levels of membership, group memberships are available, and your members can have multiple tiers of subscription.
Additional features include variable pricing, limits on failed payments, discount offers and free trial periods.
Payments in the form of one-offs and recurring are available.
- Download Monitor
Free – 18+ free add-ons
Plus – 5 sites – $297
Unlimited – unlimited sites – $597
5. Paid Member Subscriptions
This plugin is an affordable WordPress membership plugin that comes in both free and premium versions.
The free version offers restrictive options for individual parts of content only, while the paid versions allow more restrictive options and drip release of content.
Paid Member Subscriptions provides unlimited levels of membership tiers and the paid version also offers multiple memberships for individuals and group memberships too.
Free trials, coupons, variable pricing, one-time registration fees and free trials are also all supported.
- Profile Builder
Hobbyist – one site – $69
Pro – unlimited sites – $149
The MemberHouse offers a ton of great features despite not being GPL licensed like many other options in this list. This will restrict your code editing ability.
The restriction capabilities include both categories of content and post types, plus SmartTags which allows you to customise the content for each level of membership. You can also set periodic releases of content and shareable but restricted content for members.
Membership levels are unlimited but members can only have one level at a time. Features include free trials (or paid trials), discount codes, single click upsells, payment plans and gifting functions.
Various extensions and additional plugins can be used to add lacking features such as group membership.
- Email marketing services
Integration is limited due to the inability to edit the underlying code.
Builder – up to 5,000 active members – $39.95 per month
Advanced – up to 50,000 active members – $99 per month
Premium – up to 100,000 active members – $299 per month
Members is a plugin that offers content restriction capabilities at no cost. There are no advanced subscription tiers or payment features in this lightweight plugin however.
You are able to restrict specific content according to the user tier for WooCommerce, Meta Box and Advanced Custom Fields parts of your site, among others.
Due to the fact that Members works with the default WordPress roles there is no independent management of subscriptions by members.
- MemberPress integration for payments only
- Meta Box
- Easy Digital Downloads
This plugin is among the more popular of free WordPress membership plugins. While it does lack some advanced features it is a good free plugin.
You can’t restrict large amounts of content but you can restrict specific posts, post types or pages while the file-specific restrictions are limited to the premium add-ons to the plugin.
Subscription levels are limited to members and non-members with no option for increasing subscription tiers.
- PayPal integration with paid add-ons
- WooCommerce integration for WooCommerce’s payment gateways
- The Events Calendar
- Easy Digital Downloads
Add-ons, group of add-ons and premium support – $125
Let’s GO with your WordPress membership site today
The right WordPress membership plugin for you will depend on what you want from your site and for your members. While any of our best 8 plugins make for a great option, we recommend further research to find the right one for you. But that doesn’t mean you have to do it alone.
The team at GO Creative are experts in all things business websites, WordPress and membership plugins and are always happy to have a chat with you to help match you with the perfect plugin. So get in touch with us today!