Are you looking for the best WordPress membership plugin for your website?
With a membership site, you’re fully in control of your revenue stream. You don’t need to worry about one of your big affiliates canceling their program or losing that huge advertising deal. Nope! You own your revenue stream.
And there’s another major benefit of the membership site boom:
We’re spoiled for choice when it comes to quality membership site plugins. There are heaps of great WordPress membership plugins out there. And in this post, I’m going to take you through the best of the best.
Then, at the end of the post, I’ll talk through what to look for in a membership plugin, and I’ll give you my picks for which plugin you should choose.
First, let’s dive straight into all the best WordPress membership plugins.
The best WordPress membership plugins to power your community
MemberPress is a popular & well-supported membership plugin. Thanks to it’s broad selection of add-ons and standard features, it’s the most complete plugin we’ve tested.
First off, you can create unlimited membership levels with all kinds of trial periods and payment options. And you can even categorize different membership levels into “Membership Groups” to create predefined upgrade paths. That’s definitely a unique selling point!
You can restrict content in a number of ways. You can go broad and restrict whole categories or sets of child pages, or you can go granular and restrict only parts of a post/page. You can also restrict access to individual files to help you manage downloads.
And like the previous plugins, MemberPress lets you drip out your content on a predefined schedule.
MemberPress gives you all types of reports to see how your membership site is performing. And it also has a nifty feature called MemberPress Reminders which lets you send out emails when specific events occur, like an upcoming subscription renewal.
As far as integrations go, MemberPress hooks up with most major email marketing services, as well as the major payment gateways like PayPal, Authorize.Net, and Stripe. And you’ll really love this integration if you run an online course:
MemberPress can integrate with LearnDash, a popular learning management system for creating online courses using WordPress. That unlocks some powerful online course functionality. But MemberPress now has it’s own LMS included with all plans!
Unlimited coupons and a built-in affiliate program round out the feature set.
There’s also a number of add-ons available for the plugin.
Price: MemberPress starts at $179 per year
ARMember is a robust WordPress membership plugin that offers impressive features along with many free and paid add-ons. Using these add-ons, you can build a membership website that collects recurring payments from your members rather than just depending on a passive income source.
Best of all, ARMember allows you to build your dream membership website without even worrying about the coding stuff. This means, even if you have zero knowledge of coding, ARMember has all the set of features that are accessible to any non-tech savvy person.
- Content Restriction for different membership plans
- Let users delete their membership accounts
- Built-in support for prominent payment gateways such as PayPal, Stripe, Authorize.Net
- Send custom automated “Email Notifications” to the admins and users
- Pay Per Post feature to sell a page, post, or custom post type separately
Price: Free or $59 for a lifetime purchase (With 6 months of free support)
3. Restrict Content Pro
Restrict Content Pro is another popular membership plugin.
It originally was developed by the same developer as the Easy Digital Downloads and AffiliateWP plugins. However, it was acquired by Liquid Web/iThemes in 2020 via Liquid Web’s StellarWP subsidiary.
Liquid Web is one of the biggest companies in the WordPress space, which should give you confidence that it will be around for the long haul (always an important consideration when choosing a membership plugin).
The admin user interface is well designed and it fits right into the appearance of the WordPress admin area, creating a seamless integration on the backend. Restrict Content Pro is very easy to use and there’s helpful documentation displayed throughout the settings pages to ensure you’re able to get started as quickly as possible.
Restrict Content Pro gives you the ability to restrict access to your content in a number of different ways. You can restrict access to individual posts based on membership level or use categories and tags to restrict access. Some other features you get with Restrict Content Pro include:
- Create unlimited subscription levels
- Customer dashboard allows your customers to view and manage their account details
- Sell an unlimited number of digital products
- Accept payments with Stripe, Braintree, 2Checkout, PayPal Website Payments Pro, and PayPal Standard, and Express.
- Prorated upgrades and downgrades
- Flexible schedules for content restriction – e.g. content dripping, option to restrict access to past content, option to hard-set an expiration date
- Group memberships
- Customizable coupons
- Let members create network sites with WordPress Multisite
- Integrations with email marketing services
- Premium support and updates
Overall, if you’re after a quality membership plugin with ever-increasing features and amazing flexibility then Restrict Content Pro is an excellent choice.
There are four pricing plans available, all of which now give you access to all pro features (which wasn’t the case before the StellarWP acquisition).
- Personal – $99/year for use on one site.
- Plus – $149/year for use on five sites.
- Professional – $249/year for use on unlimited sites.
- Ultimate – $749 one-time for lifetime support and updates and use on unlimited sites. You also get all future add-ons at no extra cost.
The free version of Restrict Content Pro is now more powerful than it was before, which might make it a workable option for simple sites. However, most people will still want the Pro version for serious membership sites.
Pros: Restrict Content Pro is extremely versatile and gives you maximum control over access to your content. Drip it out, lock past content, set content to expire, and go public after a certain time – all of this is possible with Restrict Content Pro. It’s also pretty cheap with the new pricing plans.
Cons: You might need to use some custom CSS for the frontend dashboard pages.
4. Paid Member Subscriptions
Paid Member Subscriptions is a lightweight, but still flexible, WordPress membership plugin that comes in both a free version at WordPress.org, as well as two premium versions that tack on a bunch of extra features (without breaking the bank).
The free version gives you access to a good amount of functionality, which makes it a great entry-level membership option for those on a budget. Without cracking open your wallet, you’ll be able to:
- Create multiple membership levels.
- Charge money for different membership levels via PayPal standard. The free version only works for one-time payments, though.
- Restrict access to content based on a user’s membership level.
- Create front-end member registration and login forms
Just with that, you can already create a fully-functioning, albeit basic, membership site.
If you’re willing to pay, you can also add a lot of other helpful features.
For example, you’ll be able to drip out content over time and create global content restriction rules for post types or taxonomies, rather than restricting content on a one-off basis.
You’ll also get a lot more options for payments. You can offer discount codes or “pay what you want”, and you’ll get more payment gateways like Stripe and PayPal Express. You’ll also be able to automatically collect recurring payments for subscriptions, and members can have multiple membership levels and manage them from their own account area.
Finally, you get a bunch of helpful integrations. For example, you can integrate with bbPress to create a members-only forum, or you can integrate with WooCommerce to restrict access to your store and offer special members-only discounts.
Price: Basic free version. The paid version starts at $69 per year, or $149 per year for all features.
MemberMouse is one of the most feature-rich membership plugins out there.
First off, MemberMouse lets you create both membership levels and bundles. Membership levels are what you’d expect from any membership plugin, but bundles allow you to sell individual posts/pages (or groups of posts/pages) on a one-off basis.
So you could, for example, sell a one-time special offer to people who are already premium members.
MemberMouse also lets you drip out your restricted content. And they include this really cool feature that lets you experience your course as a member would. Basically, you can manually change how “old” you test account is to quickly see things how new subscribers would.
It also includes a widget that lets subscribers see what content they have access to, and what restricted content is still to come.
As for that restricted content, MemberMouse lets you restrict by posts, pages, custom post types, and categories.
MemberMouse also includes a ton of neat tools for optimization. You can split-test prices and test both upsells and “save-the-sale” downsells. All built-in to the core plugin.
You can also offer tons of different coupon codes and integrate with heaps of third-party email marketing services and payment gateways. MemberMouse even includes an API for you to sync in custom ways.
Honestly, discussing MemberMouse’s features deserves a whole 3,000 word post of its own.
Just be aware, while MemberMouse does have all of these cool features, you get them by sacrificing developer-friendliness (that is, MemberMouse is not GPL). So if you want to make little code tweaks to how MemberMouse’s functionality, you can’t do that, whereas with other GPL membership plugins, you can.
Price: MemberMouse starts at $24.08/month (paid annually) for up to 5,000 members.
What to look for in a WordPress membership plugin
Picking a WordPress membership plugin is a more invested process than most other types of WordPress plugins. See, no matter which plugin you choose, you’re going to spend a ton of time setting it up. It’s just the nature of the beast.
The plugin you pick could have the best interface in the world, but there are just a ton of settings that require human input with a membership site.
So when you choose a WordPress membership plugin, you want to pick one that has all the features you need. That way, you won’t get a nasty surprise after you’ve already spent 10 hours configuring your membership levels and restricting content.
Here are some things to consider:
How do membership levels work?
At this point, it’s pretty standard for a membership plugin to let you create unlimited membership levels. There’s really no difference there. Instead, consider things like:
- How much control do you have over what happens when a user’s membership expires?
- Can a user have multiple membership roles?
- How much flexibility do you have over trial periods?
How flexible is content restriction?
Again, all these membership plugins let you restrict content. So the question is more about how flexible each plugin’s content restriction is, as well as how easy it is to use. Consider features like:
- Can I restrict small portions of posts/pages? Or do I have to restrict the whole post/page?
- How easy is it to restrict/allow content for individual membership levels?
- Can I sell access to posts/pages on an individual basis? Or do I have to assign it to a membership plan?
Does it allow drip content?
With drip content, you can slowly release content as a membership ages. It’s like cable TV instead of Netflix. No binging! If you want a chance to drip some of your content, make sure your plugin supports it.
How do coupons work?
Coupons are another essential part of membership plugins. Most plugins offer at least some form of coupon creator, but make sure you ask questions like:
- Can I generate bulk coupons or just individual coupons?
- What kinds of things can I discount? Flat rate, percentage, X free months?
Does it have the right integrations?
Most membership plugins integrate with a variety of email marketing services, payment gateways, forums, and more. Always double check that the plugin has the necessary integrations for you. E.g. one plugin might support MailChimp but not Campaign Monitor. So if you love Campaign Monitor, that might not be the plugin for you.
Does the plugin lock you in?
Ok, I told you that you don’t want to switch membership plugins down the road. But sometimes it might just be unavoidable. So you should always double check whether or not a membership plugin lets you export your members lists in a format that other membership plugins can import. If it doesn’t, you’re in for a world of pain if you ever need to switch down the line.
Conclusion: The Best Membership Plugin for WordPress
With high-quality free and premium options available, anyone can start offering restricted access content on their site to their members and subscribers. Whether you want to build a private community or a premium online course, you should be able to set up your site in a very short amount of time using one of these plugins.
While the above plugins only represent a small sample of the many membership tools out there for WordPress, they should be enough for most users’ needs. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all best WordPress membership plugin, as while the above are all well-rounded products, they have their own strengths and weakness, not to mention price tags.
I hope this article helped you find the best WordPress Membership Plugins and tools for your small business website or blog.
Do you have any questions about the 6 WordPress Membership Plugins for your website? Let us know in the comments section below!