Once you’ve selected a theme for your WordPress site, be it a blog, a shop, or a site for educational courses, something you’ll need to think about is whether or not you want to make it a membership-based site.
If so, it’s time to head over to the plugins. Of the numerous themes and plugins available in the WordPress library, there are a variety of membership plugins that will require visitors to register in order to access your premium content.
Whether you’re hoping to maximize profitability or merely limit access to those serious enough to want to register, choosing the best WordPress membership plugin could be a crucial step in the site creation process.
The Benefits of Membership Plugins
Content that requires membership makes a statement: “This content has value.”
Whether that value encourages actual purchases or simply requires an email address for regular newsletters and updates, having people take that extra step to attain your content creates a mutually beneficial relationship between you and your new members.
Many site owners use this as a way to create recurring income for themselves, with the membership requirements being a monthly or yearly fee. Others may use it to offer access to courses and other materials that non-paying visitors can’t see. Regardless of what you offer, you’ll likely find that you create a much more loyal user base when membership is required.
What kind of membership plugin do you need?
It can be incredibly difficult to change a membership plugin once you’ve selected and implemented one, so you’ll want to do plenty of research before making your choice. Some things to keep in mind are:
- Ease of use, especially if you’re setting everything up on your own and aren’t a professional developer.
- Compatibility with your current WordPress theme, which you can test on a WordPress install.
- The unique design and features you’d like to show on your website.
Once you’ve addressed the above necessities, take a look at some of the top choices available.
The well-designed memberpress is easily a top contender, and is intuitive and flexible in its design. Instead of having to re-work large portions of your site in order to accommodate a membership plugin, memberpress allows you to simply install it into your current site, set up your payment gateway and products, and immediately start marketing and networking to encourage new members. In addition, the plugin works well in tandem with top email marketing services, so you don’t have to worry about your newsletters and update emails being altered once you integrate.
With memberpress, you can determine exactly which posts, products, courses, and materials require member access with little to no hassle, and can even set up a password-protected community forum specifically for members. It’s important to make your members feel special, even beyond the access their patronage gives them, so this can be a great way to foster your relationship with them and their relationships with each other.
memberpress also allows you to make coupons for the site. You can make as many as you want and have full control over when they expire or change.
Other built-in features include popular payment gateways such as PayPal, Stripe, and Authorize.net, and the plugin itself costs $129 per year for a single site.
This particular plugin is ideal if what you’re selling is online courses.
LearnDash was specifically created to help you sell learning materials, with options for memberships, subscriptions, and one-time purchases to give users options that will best suit their educational needs. The plugin helps you build courses from the application itself and is delightfully user-friendly for both creators and consumers alike.
You can make quizzes, have predetermined content released on a regular schedule, include forums and grades to encourage participation, and offer badges and certificates for achievements.
These last few features are LearnDash’s way of fostering those creator-user relationships discussed above, and can go a long way in forging loyalty among your members.
Similar to memberpress, LearnDash works with any current WordPress theme, so you won’t have to customize any coding in order to integrate. You can utilize any kind of media within the site, and the plugin is mobile compatible. The basic version of LearnDash is normally priced at $199/year for a single site, though it regularly goes on sale. For $229, though, you can secure licenses for up to 10 sites, and they throw in ProPanel, a management system that allows you to consolidate all of your content and assignments and send out course-specific communications to your members.
If you’re just looking for a basic, intuitive, and inexpensive option that will still allow you to set up the membership parameters you need, Paid Member Subscriptions is probably perfect for you.
There’s no predefined structure, so it easily integrates into whatever theme you’ve already chosen for your site (much like the options above). You can still manage memberships and access to content freely and with ease, and you’ll simply need to input your PayPal information for actual payments. Even though it doesn’t come with some of the extra bells and whistles that other options do, Paid Member Subscriptions gives you everything you need to have a successful membership site, and starts at $69/year for a single site.
So Which One Should I Choose?
Ultimately, the best WordPress membership plugin for you is going to depend on what type of content you plan to sell and how you’d like to manage it.
MemberPress is one of the best all-around contenders, with various features and add-ons available for users who want to make the most out of their membership experience. You can sell products, educational courses, media, and any number of other wares with this plugin and feel confident that you have full control over your site.
If you solely care about selling online courses and want to be able to manage your material, communicate with your members, and control who has access to what content, LearnDash will likely be the best fit. With its variety of management tools, you’ll never struggle to keep everything organized.
Paid Member Subscriptions, though less flashy than some of the other options, is an incredibly versatile and functional plugin for those who just want the option to get paid for their content and limit accessibility.