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You may have heard of a membership plugins for WordPress, which let you place content behind a paywall. This restricts access to paying customers only, which is critical for artists, writers, teachers, and anyone else who sells their work online.
The membership plugins that I really like can do more than just restrict content and ensure payment. I’m talking about course and lecture builders, discount codes, community forums, and much more.
Deliver a complete and worthwhile experience to your members. They’re the ones paying, after all. Make it easy to signup and stay connected.
Here are my top five recommendations for WordPress membership plugins you can start using today. I’ve reviewed each option and included a brief buyer’s guide to help you find the best one for your site.
#1 – MemberPress Review — The Best All-In-One Membership Plugin for WordPress
MemberPress is the best all-in-one membership plugin because of its powerful and easy-to-use features. Not only does the plugin do what it says it will by creating membership portals for content, but it also offers helpful tools for all experience levels.
Firstly, MemberPress works seamlessly with any WordPress theme, including custom themes you’ve built. Easy-to-use is not an understatement, as the plugin only takes three easy steps to install and get everything set up, which is incredibly inclusive for beginners.
Regarding membership tools, MemberPress has you covered. With this plugin, you receive 100% control over all of your content and who can view it based on what membership level they’ve purchased. You can restrict access to pages, posts, tags, files, and everything else you can think of that’s on your WordPress website.
With MemberPress, the growth of your company is endless when you utilize tools, such as:
- An add-on that allows you to build and sell courses
- Generate as many coupons as you want
- Premium community forums
- Timed release of content (i.e., content dripping)
- Subscription and membership management
- Payment integration
As the most powerful plugin on the internet, MemberPress has three pricing plans that cater to different preferences, including:
- Basic: $249 per year for use on one site
- Plus: $399 per year for use on up to two sites—this is the most popular plan
- Pro: $549 per year for use on up to five sites
Unfortunately, MemberPress doesn’t offer free trials, but there is a 14-day money-back guarantee on all plans for a full refund. Try it today.
#2 – LearnDash Review — The Best Course Builder Membership Plugin for WordPress
If your primary business focus is selling courses, LearnDash is an excellent option to build and sell them with no hassle. With its extensive features like ‘focus mode,’ the plugin allows you to create comprehensive online courses with no restrictions.
Focus Mode is a customizable learning portal that LearnDash allows you to implement into your courses to create a distraction-free environment for learners after purchasing.
Course creation has never been so easy with its drag-and-drop feature that saves you time while creating an organized layout for your customers. Your content and layout won’t just be organized, it will also be impressively dynamic with drip-feed lessons, adjustable video options, and linear or open progression activities.
Not only can you create high-quality courses for your customer base, but you can also freely manage them alongside your learners. LearnDash offers a group management function that lets you place users into online groups, then allow said users to manage their own group.
With LearnDash, you can benefit from key features, including:
- Automated notifications to keep you up-to-date
- Badges and certificates for customers completing a course
- Place one-time purchases for courses
- More than 20+ integrations for functionality
With a focus on course building, LearnDash is quite affordable for an annual price—and I think the benefits outweigh the overall cost. LearnDash offers three pricing plans, which include:
- Basic: $199 per year for one site license with unlimited courses and users
- Plus package: $229 per year for 10 site licenses
- Pro package: $369 per year for 25 site licenses
All the above pricing plans include a bonus demo site template and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
#3 – Restrict Content Pro Review — The Best For Membership Management
If you own a larger company that creates more content for a bigger audience, it may be difficult to manage and monitor these memberships. This is where Restrict Content Pro comes into play and is a great option for managing all of your memberships in one place.
Restrict Content Pro lets you keep track of your memberships with an intuitive interface, including active, expired, canceled, pending, and recurring membership levels. Each membership can be added manually and modified in bulk, and you can even request team members to join the board to increase moderation.
Does a customer decide to cancel their membership? No problem! Restrict Content Pro allows you to manually change each membership status to keep things professional and confusion-free.
Along with membership management, this plugin has a great range of additional features, like:
- Member emails where you can welcome new members
- Unlimited subscription packages
- Performance reports
- Data exports
- Payment integrations with Stripe, PayPal, Braintree, and Authorize.net
- Extensive support
Restricted Content Pro has four pricing plans that are of great value for the money. These include:
- Personal: $99 per year for one site and 13 free add-ons
- Plus: $149 per year for five sites and 13 free add-ons
- Professional: $249 per year for unlimited sites and 18 pro add-ons—this is the most popular plan
- Ultimate: $499 one-time payment for unlimited sites and 18 pro add-ons
All pricing plans include core features and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
#4 – S2Member Review — The Best Free Membership Plugin for WordPress
Looking for a membership plugin but don’t know where to start or how much you want to invest? S2Member is an excellent option. With its extensive free version, this plugin is great for protecting and managing your content for paying members.
WordPress shortcodes almost entirely power S2Member, so once complicated integrations are now easy to install and use. Even if the installation process gets confusing, the plugin offers you an open community forum, comprehensive documentation, and video tutorials for you to read and follow during setup.
Not only does S2Member allow you to offer users premium content, but it also includes a secure checkout solution that flows seamlessly with WordPress capabilities. Even though the free version doesn’t provide one-step registration and checkout for ease, it’s still a great tool that just has extra steps for verification purposes.
Although the plugin is free, S2Member still offers an abundance of basic features that can help improve your business, including:
- Standard Paypal button integration
- Content restriction options
- Security encryption key
- Manual account creation
- Member profile modifications
- Affiliate program integrations
- Customizable email templates
There are more than 20 unique features that come with the free version of S2Member. This makes it easier for you to learn the ropes of plugins while improving your business at no cost to you.
Speaking of cost, S2Member offers two pro pricing plans at an incredibly affordable price. These include:
- Pro version 2: $89 one-time payment for a single-site license
- Pro version 3: $189 one-time payment for an unlimited site license
Both pricing plans include lifetime access to newer versions of the S2Member plugin and a 14-day money-back guarantee.
#5 – Paid Memberships Pro Review — The Best For Customization
Paid Memberships Pro is an excellent option for anyone looking at finding a plugin that offers more flexibility and customization. This plugin prides itself on being able to give its users an extensive range of tools and features that can help you grow your membership WordPress site while maintaining it, too.
Customization options begin with restricted default content pages. Paid Memberships Pro allows you to create a custom message for non-members for when they attempt to access restricted content on your website.
Another great customizable feature is the personalized content add-on. This tool lets you offer each paying member a unique page for direct communication with you, which is a great way to create more intimate content for your users. Personalized content also includes a custom homepage for different member levels and adjustable menus to highlight important links.
On top of all this, Paid Memberships Pro gives you the option to customize your email account with a wide range of email templates to alter the appearance and content of your system-generated emails to members.
If that wasn’t enough, Paid Memberships Pro has quite a comprehensive list of features that will benefit your every need, including:
- Content dripping
- Multi-tiered membership levels
- Offline communities
- Customize renewal dates
- Membership manager role
- Integrate with several top plugins like MailChimp, WooCommerce, and Zapier
Paid Memberships Pro is the most expensive plugin on this list—however, they offer a free version if you want to try it out and aren’t ready to commit to the full price.
There are three pricing plans for businesses of all types:
- Free: This plan offers five features and includes the plugin download, 19 free add-ons, and six payment gateways
- Plus: $297 per year with support and updates for up to five sites
- Unlimited: $597 per year with support and updates for unlimited sites
Both the plus and unlimited pricing plan include a 30-day money-back guarantee.
What I Looked At To Find The Best Membership Plugin for WordPress
Now that I’ve narrowed down the top five picks, several key elements contribute to finding the right membership plugin for your WordPress website.
These elements are crucial to finding the right membership plugin, and you need to weigh up the below criteria against your personal needs to make the right decision for your business.
Your overall business goals matter when trying to find the right membership plugin for you. Simply put, each membership plugin caters to different goals, so it’s important to know what yours are.
If you want to transform your business by creating and selling courses to your customer base, then a plugin like LearnDash would be an excellent option. This is because it’s the best online course builder, and it offers a range of comprehensive tools to utilize.
Whereas if your ultimate focus is to create restricted content for members, it would be best to install Restrict Content Pro—where you will have access to suitable tools and features to make this goal a reality.
Figuring out what your business goals are will help determine what membership plugin would be best for you.
Flexible Payment Integration
A key feature to look for in a membership plugin is a flexible payment integration option, which allows your customers to have a range of options for payment. Not everyone enjoys putting their credit card information into a website without added security.
For example, the S2Member plugin has a standard Paypal button that’s integrated into your download. This means that your customers can pay for your content through PayPal. Proper payment security is paramount to make sure you maintain a recurring customer base.
Some other common payment integrations include Stripe and Authorize.net. Having multiple payment options will give customers another reason to continue their membership.
This is an especially important feature for larger businesses that have a lot of memberships to maintain. Having a specific membership management system integrated into your plugin will save you a vast amount of time on manual managing.
MemberPress and Restrict Content Pro are great plugin options if you need a little extra help to manage your memberships. Without a dedicated management system, it will become increasingly challenging to manage your memberships while maintaining a certain level of professionalism in your business.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help every so often. Running a membership site can be difficult, but the right plugin will make it easier and more straightforward.
Finding the best membership plugin for your WordPress website depends on several key elements like business goals, payment integration, and membership management.
What makes the top five options great is that they either hit all the criteria or have a mix that can fully support your business. Here’s the entire list:
- MemberPress – Best all-in-one membership plugin
- LearnDash – Best course builder
- Restrict Content Pro – Best for membership management
- S2Member – Best free membership plugin
- Paid Memberships Pro – Best for customization
I recommend MemberPress and LearnDash for almost anyone if you want to transform your business with a membership site.
MemberPress is an all-in-one plugin, which may seem broad. However, it offers every tool a business owner would need all under one platform.
LearnDash is also great for anyone building and selling courses—which seems to be a common goal among membership sites. Both are affordable options for a business that knows its goals and needs a plugin to make those goals a reality.
With that being said, the other three plugins are also excellent options for everyday tasks.
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