Are you looking to build a membership site in WordPress? Want to know which is the best WordPress membership plugin? Choosing the right membership plugin is crucial for your business because a better platform means more opportunity for growth. In this article, we will compare 5 best WordPress membership plugins to easily create paid membership websites.
What to Look for in a WordPress Membership Plugin?
There are plenty of WordPress membership plugins, but not all of them have specific features that you may need for creating your membership site.
Some of them are good for selling subscriptions on a single level while others offer more diverse membership levels and subscription management features.
Some plugins offer drip content feature which allows you to slowly release new content to a user. While others are restricted to only offering hidden content.
You will also need to figure out which payment gateways you will use. Do you want to accept credit cards only, PayPal, or both? Your membership plugin should have support for your preferred payment gateways either built-in or through an addon.
Having said that, let’s see what you will need to start a WordPress membership site.
If you’d prefer written instructions, just keep reading.
What Do You Need to Run a WordPress Membership Site?
Membership websites are resource intensive, and choosing the wrong host can be detrimental to your overall performance. That’s why the first thing you need to do is choose the best WordPress hosting that you can afford.
If you’re on a budget, then you can start with Bluehost. Their Business Pro plan comes with a SSL Certificate which you need to securely collect payments, dedicated IP, and a dedicated support line.
If budget is not an issue, and you want the best performance, then we recommend using a managed WordPress hosting provider like WPEngine.
If you don’t already have one, then you will need to choose a domain name for your website. Here is our guide on how to pick the right domain name for your membership site.
Lastly, you will need to choose essential business plugins such as OptinMonster which helps you capture leads and boost subscriptions.
Now that we have covered what you need to start a membership site in WordPress, let’s take a look at our top WordPress membership plugins.
MemberPress is one of the most popular WordPress membership plugins. It is also the easiest to use and the most robust when it comes to features.
Pros of MemberPress WordPress Membership Plugin
Easy to Setup – MemberPress makes it simple to setup a membership website with WordPress. It can automatically setup pricing, login, account, and thank you pages for your users. Adding membership plans is also very straight forward.
Content Access Control – MemberPress comes with powerful access control, which allows you to restrict access to any content including posts, pages, categories, tags, files, etc.
Content Dripping – Content dripping allows you to show restricted content to members after a certain time. This is a very useful feature for selling online courses or learning materials.
Sell Courses – MemberPress lets you to easily create and sell online courses. It offers an interactive learning experience for users that focuses on course completion rate.
Integrations – MemberPress integrates with AWeber, MailChimp, GetResponse, and MadMimi email services. It also integrates with Amazon Web Services and BluBrry for podcast hosting.
Payment Gateways – MemberPress comes with built-in support for PayPal and Stripe payment gateways. Developer plan also adds Authorize.net support.
Cons of Using MemberPress Pro
Limited Payment Options – MemberPress only supports the three most popular payment gateways. This would be a deal breaker for site owners who live in countries not supported by these payment gateways.
Limited Integrations – While the plugin has enough support for popular services to run a membership site 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.
Pricing: Starting from $129 / year for the Basic plan and $249 / year for the Plus plan.
We think MemberPress is the most easy to use WordPress membership plugin for beginners. It is quick to setup with tons of powerful options.
LearnDash is a super flexible and extremely easy to use WordPress LMS plugin. It comes with advanced membership modules and tons of integrations.
Pros of Using LearnDash
Easy to Setup LearnDash is quite easy to setup and adding content to it much more simpler. It also comes with advanced tools to easily organize your membership content into levels, groups, etc.
Easy Content Restrictions LearnDash allows you to easily hide any content and restrict it to different membership groups.
Sell Courses – LearnDash allows you to easily create and sell online courses. It has advanced modules that allow you to better manage learning material than other WordPress membership plugins.
Drip Content – It comes with powerful drip content feature allowing you to roll out content to users on regular intervals or upon completion of levels.
Built-in Community Features It comes with tools to create highly engaging membership sites with quizzes, user badges, course specific forums, certificates, user profiles, etc.
Integrations & Payments LearnDash offers an amazing set of integrations and payment gateways. You can even connect it to MemberPress, WooCommerce, bbPress, Slack, etc.
Cons of Using LearnDash
Lacks some membership features – If you are trying to build a membership website without selling courses, then some of LearnDash features may not be useful to you.
Pricing: 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’s extensive set of addons and integrations allow you to build a highly-engaging platform.
Teachable is an all inclusive online courses builder. It packs membership website, LMS, discussion forum, email marketing, and analytics all under one dashboard.
Pros of Using Teachable
Ease of Use Teachable is easy to set up and does not require any technical skills at all. Creating membership content is a breeze and includes built-in tools to quickly create and upload videos, text, PDF, and more.
Drip Content It includes flexible drip content feature, which allows you to roll out content based on a users’ progress or subscription level.
Built-in Engagement Features It offers discussion forums, quizzes, contact forms, certificates, and other features to boost user engagement and build powerful online communities.
Cons of Using Teachable
Not a WordPress Plugin Teachable is not available as a WordPress plugin. Instead, you can integrate it to your WordPress site by adding links or a sub-domain.
More Expensive Teachable includes everything which makes it more expensive than other WordPress membership plugins.
Pricing: Basic plan starts at $39 / month, professional $99 / month, and business $499 / month.
4. Restrict Content Pro
Restrict Content Pro is a powerful contender for the title of the best membership plugin for WordPress. It is created by same team that’s behind the popular Easy Digital Downloads and AffiliateWP plugins.
Pros of Using Restrict Content Pro
Easy to Use – Restrict Content Pro beautifully integrates with the WordPress user interface. This allows you to easily figure out how to use it.
Built-in Integrations – Unlike other membership plugins, Restrict Content Pro comes with built-in integrations that other plugins ship as paid addons. It has Stripe, PayPal, MailChimp, MailPoet, email manager, CSV export, and many more features.
Payment Gateways – Stripe, PayPal, and Braintree come as free addons. Other supported payment gateways include 2Checkout, PayPal Website Payments Pro, PayPal Express, and Stripe Checkout.
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.
Excellent Support – There is 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
Fewer Integrations – It has fewer integrations with third party services such as email service providers than some other plugins on this list.
Pricing: $99 with 12 addons and single site license, $149 for 5 sites, and $249 for all addons and unlimited sites. There is also a $499 lifetime plan.
We found Restrict Content Pro to be one of the most easy to use membership plugin. It is also developer friendly, and comes with a great set of features that are perfect for all kind of membership websites.
S2Member is a popular free WordPress membership plugin with pro version available as well. It has been around for quite a while and has a devoted userbase.
Pros of Using S2Member WordPress Membership Plugin
Free Base Plugin – The s2Member base plugin is free. Anyone can download and give it a try. It is limited in terms of features and support but gives you a good starting point.
Content Dripping – S2Member Pro comes with content drip feature.
Payment Gateways – The free version supports PayPal. Pro version of the plugin supports Stripe and Authorize.net as well.
Integrations – Works with MailChimp, bbPress and BuddyPress.
Documentation & Support – S2Member has an extensive knowledgebase available to all. Pro users also get email based support.
Cons of Using S2Member WordPress Membership Plugin
Not very user-friendly – We found s2Member to be a little more difficult to use than other membership plugins.
Free Version Limitations – Free version only supports PayPal, limits to only 4 membership levels, and does not have drip content feature.