Membership sites are interesting because of their unique way of delivering content to the readers. It is an effective model of delivering content to your members. In laymen’s terms, a membership site provides you complete control over your content by selectively enabling/disabling access of site content to members.
This is a great way to deliver paid content to your visitors, without being afraid of piracy. Because unlike paid eBooks, the content does not consist of a PDF file. Sure, the content can still be pirated, however, it’s less than likely to happen.
Why Should You Create a Membership Site
There are many reasons why building a membership site is good for you. For the sake of simplicity, here are a few:
- More revenue: In exchange for continual access to paid content, you can charge monthly for the subscription. It is one of best models of website monetization because unlike ads, sponsored posts, etc., the chances of upsetting of your visitors are low.
- Content control: You can restrict non-members from accessing paid or exclusive content. This way, if you’re offering a PDF-based checklist, instead of packing it in a newsletter, you can offer it in a cost-free membership.
- Less piracy: To pirate paid content from a member-only site is not easy as sharing an eBook’s PDF file. Sure, someone can spend a few bucks and distribute the content to others. However, that’s very rare.
How to Create a WP Membership Site?
The concept and implementation of a membership site can feel overwhelming, but it is not as hard as it looks. In past few years, the number of WordPress membership plugins have increased drastically.
Elements of a Membership site
There are several elements that make membership site what it is.
Restricted content: A membership site’s premium content must be distinctly separate from free content. Be it posts, pages or entire post types, it should be completely hidden from freely available content. The paid content should be prevented from getting indexed in search engines.
Members login system: The site should let visitors subscribe to paid content via a login-based system. If there are various subscription packages, each with their own features, properly showing those packages and their pros should be doable too.
Payment gateways: A big component of a membership site is its ability to handle payments. Major payment gateways like PayPal and Stripe should be integrated with your site.
WP Membership Plugins
Restrict Content Pro
Restrict Content Pro comes from one of the most distinguished members of WordPress community, Pippin Williamson. Pippin is the developer behind AffiliateWP and Easy Digital Downloads, both of which have millions of downloads and a lot of customers.
- Payment gateways: Restrict Content Pro allows you to accept payments via gateways like PayPal, Stripe, and Braintree. There are paid addons for 2Checkout, PayPal Express, and Stripe Checkout.
- Integrations: Several third-party plugins work well with the built-in integrations of Restrict Content Pro. AWeber, MailChimp, and BuddyPress, etc. can work smoothly with RCP via their third-party add-ons.
- User experience: Restrict Content Pro offers an easy-to-use interface to admins. It lets members see their membership details on the frontend and offers robust user control to admins.
- Excellent Reporting: Elegant and easy-to-use reports to show you exactly how well your membership site is performing. Easily see the current month’s performance, or any other time period.
- Discount Codes: Create an unlimited number of discount codes and offer percentage or flat rate based discounts.
- Member Emails: Send welcome emails to new members, email payment receipts, and remind members before their account expires automatically.
- Paid addons: And if you are looking to scale, there are several premium addons which enable features like Content Dripping, Custom Redirects, Site Creation, etc.
Paid Member Subscriptions
Paid Member Subscriptions is a really easy to use, yet comprehensive membership plugin. It packs all the features you’ll need to build a powerful membership site on WordPress, making it really easy to create subscription plans, restrict content and start accepting payments.
The main plugin is free and has a really good rating. It also integrates with WooCommerce allowing the admin to restrict product viewing, purchasing as well as setup special product prices for members.
- Subscription Plans – you can add an unlimited number of hierarchical membership plans and allow your members to upgrade from an existing subscription. It includes Fixed Period Membership and the ability to setup Pay What You Want pricing.
- Content Restriction based on subscription plan or logged in status. You can restrict anything from posts, pages, custom post types to WooCommerce products or bbPress forums.
- Payment Gateways: It supports the most popular payment gateways including Stripe, PayPal Pro and PayPal Express. Their payment management interface is really useful for tracking payments, their statuses and can be a great debugging tool for failed payments.
- Paid Add-ons: You can choose from a wide variety of premium add-ons, such as: Email Reminders, Discount Codes, Content Dripping, Invoices & more.
Paid Memberships Pro
Paid Memberships Pro is among the most useful WordPress membership solutions. It is quite simply a great membership solution. It has more than 40 addons which help you scale your operations if you like. It has an awesome free version.
- Payment gateways: It supports several gateways including Stripe, Authorize.net, PayPal (Standard, Express, Website Payments Pro, and PayPal Payments Pro/Payflow), Braintree, 2Checkout, and Cybersource.
- Unlimited levels: A big portion of membership plugin depends on its ability to manage members, their levels, and permissions. Which is why Paid Memberships Pro lets you add unlimited user levels and provides a great member management panel. Set up the membership levels that best fit your business, whether they are Free, Paid, or Recurring Subscriptions (Annual, Monthly, Weekly, Daily). Offer Custom Trial Periods (Free Trial, Custom-length Trial, ‘Introductory’ Pricing).
- Subscription supported: If you are looking to charge users on a monthly or yearly basis, Paid Memberships Pro has the means to do that.
- Easy-to-Use Admin Pages and Settings: You can easily configure the plugin by pages like Membership access by Page/Post/Category, Members list with CSV export, Easy payment gateway setup, Ever expanding list of membership reports, and Membership discounts with customizable price rules.
- Paid addons: There’s a wide range of paid addons, which add certain features to the plugin. However, to grab them, you need to purchase PMPro Plus plan. PMPro Core and PMPro Plus plans cost $97 and $197 respectively. The former of which only provides support and documentation.
MemberMouse is another premium membership solution known for its ease of use and features. It offers three subscription packages, each with their own set of advantages and limitations. It has a wide range of features, which make it an interesting contender to this list.
- Sell anything: Whether you sell digital products, ship physical goods or offer subscription-based services, MemberMouse can help you do that.
- Customers area: MemberMouse gives members a distinct dashboard where they can manage their subscription, change the password, profile details, and billing address, etc.
- Customer management: You can add, edit and delete members from the dashboard. Comprehensive order history, engagement stats, pausing and cancellation of subscription can be directly done through the backend.
- Analytics and insights: You can see members engagement, order history, total revenue, lifetime customer value and many other insights. These valuable bits of information can be very useful
MemberPress is another effective membership plugin for WordPress. With content dripping, integrations with email services and payment gateways, MemberPress makes this list. Last plugin on this list, but it is just as good as other plugins.
- Payment gateways: MemberPress supports PayPal, Stripe, and Authorize.net. Which should be sufficient for most businesses.
- Integrations: It integrates with major email marketing solutions like MailChimp, AWeber, Mad Mini, and GetResponse. It also works well with Amazon Web Services and Avalara.
- Discount codes: You can create unlimited coupon codes to offer a discount to certain member levels.
- General options: You can create unlimited user levels and sell digital products with MemberPress. Its interface is user-friendly, making it easier to set up and running. It creates core pages i.e. login, registration and thank you pages itself.
A membership site is a complicated matter and it takes some time to fully understand the concept and implement it. While it may seem intimidating at first, but in the end, the effort is worth it.
Do you like the concept of membership sites? Do you think they can be a source of passive income? Let’s discuss in comments.
As usual, don’t hesitate to leave any questions or comments below, and I’ll aim to respond to each of them.