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7 Best Membership Plugins For WordPress – Build An Engaged Community

WordPress Membership Plugins

In the following post you’re going to learn the benefits of running your own membership site along with some of the best membership plugins on the market – that includes free and premium WordPress plugins so there’s something for you, whatever your budget.

If you’re new to this membership site thing, then what you need to know is that there are a lot of people running niche membership sites that charge a monthly amount to subscribers in exchange for regular and usually exclusive content and they are making a killing.

Why are membership sites such a great business model? Subscription fees are recurring, it’s not just like selling an eBook where you get one payment from a customer and then that’s it.

We are talking seriously profitable.

So if you are an expert in your industry and can deliver some unique content, or at least a lot of great quality content that people would otherwise have to chase around for then you could be on to a real winner here!

There are plenty of these sites around, ranging from membership sites that specialise in teaching guitar or even golf right through to marketing or news websites.

A few examples of sites that have incredibly successful membership programs include – Marketing Profs, EConsultancy and Smart Insights.

You don’t have to want to start up a content driven membership site with a pay wall protecting your content – you could just use it as an area for customers to download a single product or for a private community.

What you will notice is that membership plugins generally come with a crazy amount of features and the potential amount you can earn when you put a membership site into action means it’s worth spending some money on to get the right one.

That being said I have included some of the free plugins as a comparison to the premium plugins to help you come to a decision and find something that’s perfect for what you need.

Ok, let’s dive in ..

Premium WordPress membership plugins

I have put together some of the biggest premium membership plugins available on the market for you below.

What’s important to remember here that these types of plugins are generally packed with an insane amount of features in comparison to other plugins and so usually come with a higher price tag.

The saying “you get what you pay for” is so true, especially in this case and remember that the benefits of buying premium plugins means more features, better support and regular updates.

Optimize Press 2.0 Membership Plugin

Optimize Press 2.0 Membership Plugin
Out of all of the WordPress membership plugins that are featured in this article, Optimize Press 2.0 will give you more in the way of features than anything else.

Primarily, Optimize Press is both a theme and a plugin that allows you to create incredible sales pages, landing pages and squeeze pages – along with membership pages.

Previously you had to go for another membership plugin like the ones I’ve mentioned below in order to secure and restrict access to content within your membership area.

That is now a thing of the past and Optimize Press thankfully now comes with its own membership plugin while also giving you the ability to use any other membership plugin (that’s if you really want to).

The amazing thing is the price point of this plugin is similar to some of the others I’ve included below.

Here are a few features you’ll get your hands on:

  • Powerful IP address restrictions
  • Download restrictions
  • Your own coupon codes
  • Completely customise your membership levels
  • Supports 6 different payment gateways (including PayPal, Clickbank and Authorize.Net
  • Integration with ShareASale, iDevAffiliate and other affiliate tracking solutions
  • Drip feed content to your members

Don’t miss this one!

Download Plugin

Digital Access Pass (DAP)

Digital Access Pass (DAP)
DAP has been around since 2008 and has shown that it can stand the test of time – the creators continue to push out updates to keep the plugin current and includes the following features (amongst a lot more):

  • Unlimited members
  • Unlimited products
  • Sneak peek teaser content
  • Built in affiliate system with 2 tiers
  • Forum integration
  • Easy to use shortcodes
  • Trial products
  • Advanced content dripping system

You can also use DAP on HTML/PHP sites as a stand alone script and the developers behind the plugin also offer free installation – which is awesome!

Download Plugin Read Review

Magic Members

Magic Members for WordPress
Magic Members has been a popular favourite for a while now and comes with some great features.

Some of which include:

  • Unlimited membership levels
  • A huge number of payment integration modules including PayPal, 2CheckOut, Authorize.net and many more
  • Amazon S3 support
  • Easy coupon creation (you can create unlimited coupons too)
  • Drip fed content system
  • Powerful import and export features
  • Pay per post access
  • And lots more …

Magic Members also offers updates for the next year and while this sometimes puts people off, it’s important to remember that it would be difficult for any company to continue to provide continuous updates and ensure the long term viability of the plugin.

Magic Members also comes with 3 bonuses, some social icons (these aren’t that amazing) but you do get the Magic Kicker plugin and a 20% discount on the Magic affiliate plugin.

Magic Kicker stops multiple people from logging into a single account which is an essential security feature and Magic Affiliate will turn your membership area into an affiliate power house that will allow your site to be promoted by other people.

It’s worth noting that these plugins both come as standard with InstaMember plugin as standard.

All in all, a very powerful plugin, but a few of the important things seems to be missing from the core plugin.

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WishList Member

Wishlist Member Plugin
WishList has been a long time favourite within the internet marketing community because it’s a solid plugin with a great feature set.

What does WishList Member integrate with? – All of the popular mailing list providers such as Aweber, iContact, GetResponse, Mail Chimp and Infusionsoft.

WishList Member also integrates with a number of affiliate networks and payment gateways including; PayPal, 1ShoppingCat, Clickbank, QuickPayPro, Ultracart and more.

Here are a few more of the features that you get here:

  • Unlimited membership levels
  • Paid, trial or free membership levels
  • Drip fed content
  • Subscription length control
  • Teaser content
  • Secure RSS feeds
  • And much more..

Similar to Magic Members, you get 1 year of unlimited updates and some great support guides and tutorials to help you build out your membership site.

WishList Member also has a customer centre packed with resources and tips to help you in addition to the regular support guides for the plugin.

For those who purchase the multi-site license, you will get access to two custom build WordPress themes designed specifically for use with WishList Member along with some additional resources.

Download Plugin

Member Press

MemberPress Plugin
Member Press is a powerful plugin from a company called Caseproof – if you haven’t heard of them then chances are you may have heard of their other plugins – Pretty Link Pro and Affiliate Royale.

Member Press offers a great range of features including:

  • Drip fed content
  • Straight forward yet detailed reporting
  • Coupon codes
  • Easy integration with WordPress forum plugins such as BBPress
  • Complete control over who sees what

Another great thing about Member Press is the ability to integrate custom code which makes the possibilities almost limitless.

Member Press is a powerful plugin with plenty of integration options and if you’re not sure that this plugin will be straight forward enough to setup then I recommend you check out the tour on their website – this walks you through every single screen you’ll see within the plugin so you can get a feel for it.

Download Plugin

Free WordPress Membership Plugins

Chances are that for what you’re wanting to do with your website, a full on premium membership plugin may just be overkill.

I’ve included a number of the top free plugins that are straight forward to use and could be just what you need.

S2 Members

s2 Member WordPress Plugin
If you have searched for membership plugins in the past then I’m sure that you’ve probably seen S2 Members mentioned a number of times.

They do have a premium version but since S2 Members is primarily known for its free version I wanted to included it in this section.

For a free plugin S2 Members has a great feature set and a bunch of different customisable options – you can change things like email templates, login welcome page, high level security and the ability to choose exactly what content you’re protecting along with protecting your file downloads.

S2 Member makes it easy for you to incorporate external affiliate systems such as iDevAffiliate and ShareAsale but doesn’t come with its own system.

There are some limitations because membership levels are limited to 4, you can’t use free registrations and the payment methods do come with limitations too – but considering it’s free, damn you do get a lot!

To lift these limitations there is a pro version available.

Download Plugin

WP Members

WP Members - Free Membership Plugin
WP Members is another free plugin that makes it really easy to restrict access to particular pieces of content or just create a straight forward membership site.

One of the things that I like about this plugin is that the login and registration options can easily be added to the sidebar with a widget and they also appear in line with the content, as opposed to on the usual WP login page which opens up some extra possibilities.

You can expand the registration fields as much as you like and choose to only approve accounts manually along with the ability to add a captcha to stop spammy registrations.

Overall this is a straight forward plugin to use that makes it really easy to just restrict your content.

Download Plugin

Summary

Where do you go from here?

Take a look at some of the membership plugins above and see which ones fit with what you’re trying to accomplish.

What experience have you had with membership sites?

I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

About Adam Connell

Adam is the founder of Blogging Wizard. Previously managed a marketing agency. Adam now helps others to become more successful online. Get more from Adam on Google+.

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  • https://selz.com/ Geoff

    Adam, thanks for this posting this list, only the other day someone was asking for suggestions on membership plugins. Wish I had seen this first. Have you come across MemberMouse? Sorry a left field question do any of them work on platforms other than wordpress?

    • http://www.bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

      No problem Geoff.

      MembershipMouse is on my list to look at more in depth although what puts me off is the monthly cost and limitations that other platforms don’t have.

      Digital Access Pass will work on PHP/HTML sites so that could be an option.

  • Scott

    Thanks Adam, cleared some things up and given me some ideas.

    • http://www.bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

      No problem, Scott.

  • Iris

    Hi! Adam,

    I have a question,

    How to integrate Magicmembers with Optimizememer ?

    • http://www.bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

      Hi Iris,

      Optimize Member is the membership plugin offered with Optimize Press.

      You cannot use Optimize Member with another membership plugin, but the Optimize Press plugin and theme both support certain external membership plugins.

      I checked the list of systems on their home page but it doesn’t say Magic Members.

      It’s possible that they may have added this option but to be sure you would need to ask the Optimize Press support team.

      If the plugin isn’t supported then it’s worth putting in a request – Magic Member is a very popular plugin so it’s in their best interest to add it (if it’s technically possible).

      Thanks,
      Adam

  • Oscar

    Hi Adam and all,

    Firstly its such a great work that you re trying to help out people here. Secondly I have this question: I m gonna build a casting agency site with WP, so film producers can search actors online. So obviously actors should be basic member first to my site, then if they want to create their profiles (upload photos and info about them) they need to be paid member using paypal payment gateway. 3 user levels:

    1.NonMembers public: Can view few random actors’ 1 thumb photo and just the name of his/her on homepage, can not do actor search.

    2.Paid Members (actors): Filled a short form then paid on paypal or paid on paypal first then Filled a long form to be member of the site and uploaded photos to create profile,

    3.Producer members: They dont need to pay but admin needs to manually authorise them, so they can browse and fully search all actors, and can see everything on their profiles.

    I only need paypal payment. No credit cards or check or etc.

    And would be useful if a plugin have this function too: On the same page partial protection like this plugin does:

    http://www.tipsandtricks-hq.com/wordpress-membership/how-to-protect-a-section-of-a-post-or-page-88

    So please tell me which membership plugin would suit me best?

    Thanx.

    • http://www.bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

      Oscar,

      Most platforms support PayPal payment gateway, fortunately it’s one of the most popular integrations.

      Most platforms would also support your different user levels.

      As for the partial page protection, off the top of my head this can be done by Magic Members, Wishlist Member and the membership plugin bundled with Optimize Press (e.g. https://optimizepress.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/200820067-OptimizeMember-Shortcodes-Library)

      I like Optimize Press purely because it comes with a plugin & theme that can be used for creating marketing pages (landing pages, sales, squeeze pages etc) – whether that would be useful for your niche is another thing entirely though.

      The best thing for you to do would be to list all of the other features that you want to be in the plugin and start there. Then find the plugin to fit the features you want.

      Fortunately those that you’ve mentioned above are pretty common features.

  • http://profitblitz.com/ Marc Andre

    A few others that I would add to the list: Member Mouse, Restrict Content Pro, and Cart66. Member Mouse is the most feature-rich of the membership plugins that I’ve tried. Restrict Content Pro is efficient and easy to use. Cart66 includes traditional ecommerce functionality as well as membership, so it’s kind of a unique option.

    • http://www.bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

      Hey Marc, thanks for a great comment – some really solid suggestions there.

      I’m going to update this list with more in the future when I get some time, some good suggestions from you to include there and Cart66 sounds very interesting.

  • http://clearhealthcosts.com/ Jeanne (clearhealthcosts)

    This is completely amazing!
    Wonder if you can make a suggestion for us over at clearhealthcosts.com. Here’s what we’re looking for:
    1. Not a full paywall, but a “support us — become a member” request on the nag screen that pops up as you visit our custom-themed WordPress site. We don’t want to be members-only paywall restricted, but we do want to be able to invite people to support us.
    2. You can dismiss the nag screen if you want, and go ahead and look around anyway
    3. The nag screen can pop up, say 2-3 times during your visit, and then not pop up again during this visit — but if you leave and come back, it will pop up again
    4. several payment levels (9.99 monthly, $100 annually, more if you love us)
    5. lets anybody come in from a social link
    6. lets google crawl us a lot b/c we get a lot of SEO traffic–i have heard terrible things about some of these membership plays destroying your SEO, and We Cannot Have That Happen Ever
    7. ideally stripe rather than paypal.
    8. collect emails and ideally play well with Mailchimp.
    9. it would be great if it’s easy enough for me to set up myself with minimal work from our webmistress. i’m pretty handy with WordPress.

    i had been looking at TinyPass, another NYC startup. But I am intrigued by your thorough research and the suggestions you make–what would you recco for us? Prefer free (of course) but realize that paid often has tremendous value.

    • http://www.bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

      Hi Jeanne,

      Thanks for your kind words about the post.

      Based on your requirements, it sounds like a specific ‘membership’ plugin may not be the best thing and a specific ‘Pay-wall’ type service like the one you mentioned (TinyPass) may work better for you.

      Although I haven’t done much research into pay-wall plugins so probably won’t be able to offer you too much advice at this stage.

      Usually membership plugins will work best when you have clearly segmented free content and members only content.

      A lot of the plugins allow for ‘teasers’ for some content, but if you rely on a lot of traffic from Google then membership plugins definitely won’t be the option for you.

      Sorry I couldn’t be more help for you!

  • Ray

    Adam,

    Do you know of any Member plugins that can assign download credits to member levels and issue new credits each payment period? I thought Member Mouse would do it but their support says no.

    Thanks, Ray

    • http://www.bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

      Hi Ray,

      I’m sure there’s one that does it but it’s a while since I wrote the post so can’t remember off the top of my head.

      There is a separate plugin that DAP launched called ‘Credit Store’ but it’s not something that I’ve looked at so I’m not sure how it ties in with the main membership plugin (that’s if it does at all).

      You can find more about it here: http://www.digitalaccesspass.com/blog/2013/12/credit-store-launch/

  • pinheiroadvogados

    Good post!