Using the right membership plugin for your WordPress site can make a huge difference when it comes to increasing your profit by having a recurring online income. With the help of it, you can build a members-only section of your website and be able to generate a steady, passive income stream, build out an email list and use the members’ contact information to send offers and deliver targeted ads.
There are many elements involved in building a subscription website, so you will need special plugins as many functionalities are not included within WordPress’ core offering. There is a wide variety of membership plugins for WordPress, so you will have plenty of choices. If you’re still unsure about how membership plugins can help you and which are the most useful ones, keep reading. You will discover plugins for non-tech savvy people, and also for site owners or freelance developers who need a high-end professional solution.
WordPress membership plugins are usually used to control access to the content on your site, but actually, they can do more than this. Therefore, aside from restricting access to files or to particular pieces of content, these plugins allow you to collect membership payments and set multiple membership levels based on predefined criteria. For example, there are membership plugins that automate various important tasks, provide full control over discount coupons, offer paid or free content to your members.
The Benefits of Membership Sites
The main benefit of building a membership site is the fact that you can create content and sell it or give access to numerous people. If you’re planning to build a community of people that have the same interests, then you will find WordPress membership plugins very useful.
Thus, depending on your requirements, there are certain features to keep in mind when you need to choose a membership plugin:
- Multi-level subscriptions: you can set various dynamic prices for subscriptions, which gives you the opportunity to upsell and provide particular pieces of content or features to your highest-paying subscribers.
- Content drip tools: users can receive content over the course of a few days or months based on predefined criteria. It is also possible to drip particular posts or menu items.
- Course creating tools: it’s very easy to create and sell online courses by setting the price, delivering content automatically, according to a predefined schedule.
- Member management: it offers you the possibility to limit user access depending on their membership levels; you can charge various prices or you can offer free memberships if you want.
- Recurring subscriptions: they can transform into a passive income stream that can increase step by step, over time.
- Support for multiple payment gateways: these are a must-have as they allow you to implement access restrictions and payment options quickly and easily.
- Email marketing and communication tools: once visitors subscribe to your content or register, their contact details can be used to send them offers or to create targeted ads.
- Coupons and discounts: this feature is important as it offers you the possibility to create coupons and trial offers and have control over them. You can set an expiration date and when these coupons and discounts can be used.
- Support for live chats and forums: it’s an easy way to communicate instantly with customers and visitors, as well as finding solutions to their concerns. For example, an online course that you’re providing can have a forum created, so that the users registered for this particular course can talk with other users who registered for the same course. Participants can also be limited to the course they are learning.
In this article, you will find details about five membership plugins and their main features and advantages.
Memberpress is one of the most popular WordPress membership plugins that allows you to create various membership levels, various payment options, and trials. You can also restrict parts of a page or post, drip out content on a pre-established schedule, or create membership groups. It hooks up with many email marketing tools, payment gateways, learning management systems and it provides various reports and reminders. Other important features are the following:
- Control over accessing any type of content
- Various types of reports about site performance
- Reminders for sending out emails when certain specific events occur
- Smooth user experience
- Set various rules and configure membership groups
Memberpress also allows you to build an unlimited number of membership packages. With every new membership package that is created, the plugin auto-generates a new registration page for that particular package and also a new pricing box. Additionally, users can easily manage their subscription details, billing information, as well as editing the content. The Basic plan costs $149/year, the Plus plan is $249/year and the Pro plan is $349/year.
Paid Memberships Pro
Paid Memberships Pro is also very known and easy to set up. One of its main features is that it comes with its own WordPress theme. This is extremely useful as sometimes themes are not compatible with all membership plugins. Unlimited membership levels with flexible payment terms are also available. If you need to set up recurring payment cycles, price trial periods, restrict content on an individual basis, or whole categories, maybe this plugin is the right choice for you.
What’s lesser-known about this plugin is the fact that the restricted content can still rank in the SERPs by displaying an excerpt of it to non-members. Moreover, the paid version allows you to display ads differently, based on particular membership levels. If you’re looking for payment gateways and email marketing services, you will benefit from this type of integration as well.
Paid Memberships Pro is a very extensible plugin as it includes both free and premium add-ons. It includes add-ons for many small features that provide you a lot of flexibility. The main features are these ones:
- Unlimited membership levels with flexible pricing such as trials, one-time payments, free memberships
- Integrated with many 3rd party platforms
- View reports on sales, revenue, signups, expirations, and cancellations
- Fully open-source, 100% GPL
Depending on your needs, you can choose the free plan, or the Plus plan, which is $297 or the Unlimited plan that costs $597.
Restrict Content Pro is also one of the most popular plugins that provides unlimited subscription levels and flexibility as you can choose the free version, a trial, or premium subscriptions. Users can move between plans or can choose a one-time fee.
If you want to try it before buying it, you can check Restrict Contents PRO’s live demonstration site. It is easy to install as it requires no coding knowledge. Moreover, the plugin provides many built-in integrations and its main features are the following:
- Content dripping
- Membership emails
- Unlimited subscription packages
- An unlimited number of discount codes
- Easy to use reports
- Built-in integrations
- Members management
- Unlimited subscriptions packages
- Emails to new members, reminders, email payment receipts
Another useful feature of this plugin is the built-in tracking that displays your sign-ups and earnings over a particular period of time, payment history, and your members’ data, which can be exported in CSVs. Plus, a custom dashboard widget shows you which memberships are the most popular with your customers. Their pricing plans vary from $99/year for the Personal plan to $499/year, which is the Ultimate plan.
Ultimate Member is a free tool that allows you to create social membership communities where users can sign up quickly and easily. Content can also be restricted and the dashboard is very well organized, which makes it a breeze to use in spite of its numerous features.
The plugin has the following benefits:
- Allows to add user profiles to your site
- It can become very extensible using paid add-ons
- Member directories
- User account page
- Conditional navigation menus
- Custom form fields and conditional logic for form fields
- Custom user roles
- Display author posts comments on user profiles
- User locations
- Infinite subscription packages with one-time payments, recurring charges or trials
With its premium extensions you can add features like private messaging and social followers, so users will enjoy beautiful and detailed profiles. It is a versatile plugin that allows you to build a wide variety of membership sites as it’s packed with multiple features and functionality, but it’s still lightweight.
Moreover, if you want users to log in or register using their social networks, you can do this with the social login extension. You are free to choose the social media networks and you can display the buttons on the login and registration forms or anywhere else on the site using shortcodes. There are two pricing options – the Extensions Pass which is $249/year and the Extensions + Theme Pass which costs $299/year.
Wishlist Member WordPress plugin comes with many features and is used by approximately 47,000 sites all over the world. As it’s user-friendly, it will turn your WordPress site into a membership site very easily. Its main features include:
- Unlimited membership levels
- Sequential content delivery
- Shipping costs integration
- Multi-level content access
- Member management
- Free professional icons, themes, support guides, and free training
It provides a high level of control over how your membership site works, granted, and protected access. As there are many settings and options available, it may seem difficult to use by someone who has just started with membership sites. Nonetheless, its core components are easy to set up, so in just a few minutes everything will be ready. You can choose from four pricing options: $147/year, $197/year, $297/year, and $397/year.
Recommendations on how to choose a membership plugin for WordPress
As right now the standard for membership plugins is to create unlimited membership levels, it’s important to take into account other things such as how much flexibility over trial periods there is, if a user can have multiple membership roles and how much control you have once a user’s membership expires.
There are other recommendations that can help you choose the most effective WordPress membership plugin such as making sure the tool has the integrations you need. For example, if you need MailChimp, but the plugin doesn’t support it, then you would need to choose a different one.
Although you shouldn’t switch membership plugins, sometimes you can’t prevent that from happening. That’s why it’s extremely important to first check if your membership plugin allows you to export member lists in a format that other membership plugins can import.
Aside from the above suggestions, it’s important to understand which is the best mix of features, flexibility, and price. Do you want something that lets you get started for free, will you need customer support or are you a tech-savvy person who can solve any issues? The answer to all these questions will help you choose the most suitable membership plugin for your WordPress site.
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