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How many online memberships and subscriptions – paid and unpaid – do you think you might have? A dozen? Thirty? More than 100?
Members-only areas are becoming increasingly popular on the web, and can prove invaluable for businesses and bloggers looking to generate more income online, gather more information about their readers, or provide a more valuable experience for their existing customers.
NB: Want to create a client area rather than members area? Check out our post, Client Area Plugins for Your WordPress Website.
Why Create a Members-Only Area?
There are a number of reasons for wanting to create a members-only area on your website or blog. If you’re creating a business website, you might want to offer a value-add to your existing customers and clients by keeping premium content on your website – such as video tutorials – for their eyes only in an extranet which only they can access.
If your website caters to members of a club, sporting group, alumni class or similar organisation, keeping content restricted to members maintains exclusivity. Incidentally Themerex has a great selection of extranet (and intranet) themes to choose from.
On the other hand, if you have an existing website or blog you’re looking to monetise, creating a paid membership option and offering premium content and private member forums to paying subscribers is a popular means of making some serious cash from your online project.
The premium content you offer may be in the form of videos, downloads, presentations, podcasts, documents or eBooks – which you may release teaser content and snippets of as a means of encouraging unpaid members to sign up.
Of course, encouraging your readers to become members might have nothing to do with money at all. If you want to boost your subscriber list and gather more information about your users for product research or development, or for future sales leads, offering free membership is also an excellent option.
Following are the best premium and free WordPress membership plugins to add a membership component to your WordPress website…
Premium Membership Plugins
1. WishList Member
WishList Member is used by more than 50,000 online communities and membership sites around the world, and has the power to transform any existing WordPress website or blog into a powerful membership site.
Key features include:
- Simple installation and member management
- Unlimited membership levels and flexible membership options
- Sequential content delivery, enabling you to automatically upgrade members from a free trial to the next membership option
- Content control, including the ability to create modular memberships and give content access to segmented membership levels
- Shopping cart integration with ecommerce systems including ClickBank, PayPal, InfusionSoft and more.
Addition features include subscription length control, partial and sneak peek content display and teasers, custom error messages, secure RSS feeds, login redirection and more.
The WishList Member WordPress membership plugin is available for a one-off payment, at a cost of $97 for a single site license, or $297 for a multi-site license.
Member Mouse WordPress membership plugin enables you to sell products, subscriptions and memberships, set up password protected members areas, manage customers and track metrics, automate customer service, and more.
Key features include:
- Payment integration with powerful ecommerce platforms including Stripe, Braintree, PayPal, Authorize.net and more
- International currency integration and overdue payment handling
- Email integration with MailChimp, AWeber, iContact and GetResponse
- Group functionality, allowing one member to pay and secure a certain number of spots, such as for consultants and agencies
- Customer account self-service, so members can update their information
Additional features include 1-click upsells to maximise revenue, trial offers and coupons, gifting functionality, time release and drip-feed content management, extensive shortcode library for dynamic site functionality without complex coding.
MemberMouse is available monthly subscription cost basis, starting from $19.95 per month for their Starter package (for up to 1000 members). There are a number of subscription plans available, right through to their Professional package for unlimited members at a cost of $599 per month.
3. Magic Members
With a focus on simplicity and intuitiveness, Magic Members WordPress membership plugin enables you to use your existing content to build a membership site.
Key features include:
- Payment gateway integrations with PayPal, eWay, Stripe, and more
- Pay per post access, which offers the flexibility to allow free subscriptions to purchase content on a per-post basis
- AutoResponder integration with MailChimp, iContact, AWeber and more
- Download manager, which protects downloads from being accessed by unauthorized users, and provides the ability to assign different permission levels to different subscribers
- Sequential course delivery system, which is particularly useful if your members are being served course content on a drip-feed basis (weekly or monthly).
- Category protection, allowing you to assign membership access to particular categories
Additional features include easy set up and installation, simple member management, custom post type support, coupon creation and management, subscription length control, forum integrations, custom widgets, flexible membership options, partial content display for teasers, and S3 Amazon support.
Magic Members plugin is available for a one-off payment, starting from $97 for a single user. Other options include a 3-user plan for $197, and unlimited users for $207.
4. Restrict Content Pro
Restrict Content Pro is a complete membership and premium content manager plugin for WordPress, allowing you to create an unlimited number of memberships levels, including free, trial and premium.
Key features include:
- Member and subscription management
- Payment tracking
- The ability to offer discounts with a complete discount code system
- Members-only content options
- Unlimited subscription packages
Restrict Content Pro includes support for Stripe, PayPal, and Braintree, for simple integrated payment options, as well as earnings and sign up analytics.
Restrict Content Pro is available with single-site, multi-site and unlimited site access, starting from $42. Specific Restrict Content Plugins are subject to a yearly license for support and updates.
Free WordPress Membership Plugins
There are many tools available via the WordPress plugin directory to help you create restricted member access, and registration and login pages. These are five of the top free member-access / WordPress membership plugins currently available.
s2Member is a WordPress membership plugin integrating with PayPal, to offer access to designated member-only content, posts and pages to paid members.
s2Member supports up to four primary membership levels, as well as custom capabilities to create membership packages. This plugin has an average user rating of 4.4/5 stars and has been downloaded more than 469,000 times.
2. Maven Member
Maven Member allows you to protect and restrict access to pages, posts and categories on your WordPress website, as well as create your own custom registration form, and customise templates for login and registration.
This plugin has an average user rating of 4/5 stars and has been downloaded more than 12,000 times.
WP-Members is a powerful membership management plugin, working to restrict content access to registered users. You can also create some special pages with simple shortcodes, including a user profile page, registration page, and login page.
This plugin has an average user rating of 4.2/5 stars, and has been downloaded more than 322,000 times.
4. WordPress Access Control
WordPress Access Control allows you to restrict pages, posts, custom post types and more to members, as well as customise search pages to hide restricted posts or pages from search results to non-logged in members.
This plugin has an average user rating of 4.5/5 stars and has been downloaded more than 49,000 times.
5. Member Access
Member Access allows you to make individual posts and pages on your WordPress website accessible only to logged-in members. This WP members-only plugin has an average user rating of 4.3/5 stars, and has been downloaded more than 100,000 times.
Do you currently offer members-only pages and content on your WordPress website or blog? What WordPress membership plugin or tool do you use?
235 thoughts on “9 Best WordPress Membership Plugins (Free & Paid)”
I’ve started a blog last March this year and since then I’ve been following your blog. It is harder than I thought. Providing good quality all the time–and building an audience is the most difficult of all. Can you provide more tips on how to build your audience and sustain it?
Great article! I just recently started thinking seriously about backpacking solo for a few months, and your blog has really helped me. My original thought has just been saving up a decent amount of money and set a budget for the trip, but reading travel blogs really makes me want to think further and not settle for a few months. I do want to start a blog, much for my own and family’s sake, but also for sharing my adventures. I’m also a hobby photographer, so I really want to share my photos. I just keep dwelling on one thing: which language should I write in? I’m from Norway where the travel blogs are many but no one really stands out, but I’m still thinking about writing in english to reach a wider audience and so that people I meet can read about my journey without language barriers. What do you recommend? I guess it’s a really stupid worry, but I just can’t make up my mind. I guess it’s easier to get lost in all the international travel blogs, but also a possibility to really make it too. If I didn’t already state so: love your blog, and I definitely will be coming back for more .
I absolutely enjoy reading your post. Great insights on the industry. I have been traveling for 20 years and I am a teacher. I recently left the classroom to travel with my family and “mobile schooling” my children. My upcoming website will focus on traveling while teaching on the road. What do you suggest my first blog post should consist of? Should I discuss how I got to this point in my life or should I just begin to write about life on the road?
hello,please I need a help am a bigginer with wordpress I want to add members menu on my navigation bar so that if you click the members you will see all the members of association how could I go for it please
Hi Lopedes, the answer to this question really depends on how the information about association members is stored? Are you using one of the membership plugins listed above to manage your Association members? Or do those members exist in another database somewhere? The point being that to display the member information it needs to be stored somewhere so the page can display it. I’m assuming here that the Association would have many members and that the member list might change frequently. If the Association is only small and the member list doesn’t change that much perhaps you could just manually maintain a regular static page with a list of the members and link to this from your navigation.
Hi, I use Wishlist Member for my wordpress site but cancellations aren’t working, so access isn’t restricted when a paying member cancels.
And if someone rejoins they are able to take up a Trial Price, how can I restrict the same email account taking a trial again and again.
Hi Ian, that’s a good question and one best answered by the team at WishLit Member. You can submit a support request here: https://member.wishlistproducts.com/support-options/
This is a great resource for WordPress membership plugins!
One thing I noticed that wasn’t mentioned is the concept of a member directory within a members area.
Some people might want to have a public facing member directory, where paying or free members can update their own info… and others might want to keep the searchable member directory private so only other members can see it.
There are tools like BuddyPress and Ultimate Member that allow you to do that right in WordPress.
Thanks a lot Charles! I was searching a members area for my site: https://www.jeffogranetto.com.br/
I’m from Brazil, and I’m creating a course about graphic design
Hi Charles, I’m trying to set up a members-only area for our website (one where they can request access to the area…not one where they have to purchase access) and within that members-only area, we’d like to have purchase options available for some of our services. Are any of these add-ons good for that? Would I also need an add-on that allows e-commerce within that members only area or could I do that with one of these?
Hi Stacie, if access is by request and you don’t require all the advanced membership functions then you could probably use one of the free membership access control plugins listed above to limit access to the services ordering part of your website. To sell services though you will need to use something like WooCommerce which adds the cart functionality. BobWP wrote a good post on selling services with WooCommerce. If you don’t require online payment (maybe you post invoice clients), then you could just use a forms plugin to create order forms to capture all the information you need. Hope that helps.
I am looking for a plugin / social login that will allow me to restrict content to members of a certain Facebook *Group* – any ideas?
Hi Ryan, that’s an interesting idea. I’m not aware of anything that will do that so you may need to do something custom. If you do find something that does the trick I’d be very interested to hear about it. All the best.
Thanks Charles, I’ll check it out.
Hi Charles, we have a small club (only 30 or so members)with a monthly newsletter and yearly subscriptions. Our website is our public face, but a few members are asking for a members only area where they can exchange information (ie; trip plans and dates, phone numbers etc) privately – like a forum. As administrators, we don’t want to be responsible for approving posts like we have to on the blog page and entry must be restricted to those whose subscription is up to date. Can you suggest a simple way to do this? Terrific thread by the way.
Hi Gavan, I’d have a look at a combination of Restrict Content Pro and bbPress. RCP will let you control members access to specific sections of the site, and they have an add-on which integrates with bbPress which can power your members only forum. I don’t know how you usually collect your members subs, but RCP could also be used to handle this all online.
Hi Charles, this thread is the most useful thing I came across recently being a word press beginner.
I am planning to start a blog where readers can create profile and submit their own articles as well as can update their company pages. Can contribute updates about company. I have searched for many themes but nothing seems to fit.
Hi Chukiya, it sounds like you want to set up a business directory with the ability for businesses to also post articles/updates, yes? Have your browsed the many WordPress directory listing themes and plugins available (free and paid options)
Charles, do you know of any plugins that will allow my clients to create a username and password and access their account information (customizable would be optimal)? I see a ton of plugins for a “members area” but I need my clients to be able to access their own information on a confidential, secure page (in other words: for their eyes only).
Hi Nick, check out my post here on plugins for create a client area on your website. I’d be inclined to use WP Customer Area. Hope that helps.
Hi Charles. Really impressed by your knowledge and sharing of it!
I wonder if you can help me as I’m confused as to the best membership plugin. I’m designing a website a members only section and once logged in they’ll have access to videos, downloads, and articles.
Is there a recommended plugin? Woocommerce Membership and Memberpress keep coming up as good,
Hi Paul, WooCommerce Membership and Memberpress are both good solutions and I need to add them both to the list above. Which plugin is best for your particular case really depends on exactly what features and functions you want to implement. They all do the basics but do vary a bit in the more advanced features, for example, if you needed to integrate your memberships with eCommerce then the Woo solution would be best. I can tell you that for standalone membership sites I am more and more leaning toward Restrict Content Pro as it is an extremely well built and thoughtfully designed plugin.
hi there, not sure how old this thread is but i thought ill ask anyway. im looking at setting up a separate website for membership purposes (but link them together for easier navigation), however im trying keep a uniform theme across bot sites, should i use a membership plug in instead of a separate site to make this easier?
Hi Elizabeth, you can certainly use the same theme on both installations of WordPress so that the look and feel is consistent. The good membership plugins are all designed to work with pretty much any theme so you can still maintain the look for consistency across multiple installs. That said, you should ask yourself why you need a separate install. Can you implement one of the membership plugins to control access to your members only content on your existing site? That would be preferable from a maintenance point of view as well as ensuring that the look and feel and navigation is all consistent.
Charles – Your comments and suggestions are fantastic. Especially for someone trying to find a plug-in for a somewhat specific use. My need is for a membership that we allow access to certain pages if they are paid. Every year we do a reset and then enable those that pay their annual dues. In between, I need to be able to send emails to both unpaid and paid users. Having a few extra fields for each use would be helpful, like a membership number, address, etc. Thank you.
Hi Bud, sorry for the slow reply. I’ve been travelling the last week or so and havn’t had the usual access to the web. I think that any of the membership plugins mentioned above would handle your requirements, and infact would save you from having to do any kind of ‘reset’. You simply create an annual membership, with both free and paid levels. You can then control what content each level can access. If the paid subscribers cancel or don’t renew their subscription which is paid online through the system then it will automatically rescind their access. All the premium plugins offer integration with the major email marketing platforms so that way you can email everyone whenever you need to, and you will be able to segment based on plan (free or paid). I’d be tempted to go with Member Mouse myself. Hope that helps.
Is there a membership plugin that will manage what a logged in user has see and not seen? I plan on creating a video website with 5-10 new videos each week. I would want to show which videos have been watched when reviewing a list of posts or posts by category, etc. Is this possible in most plugins or is this something else?
Hi Cindi, I think what you might bee looking for is one of the WordPress courseware/learning management system plugins that are intended for delivering course material, and typically do have the functionality you describe. I made a short list of commonly used solutions in this comment.
Love the site and information.. keep it coming
I want to add an individual members pages so I can display their own bespoke data. Are any of the above secure enough (some info might be billing info)? If so which one?
Hi Mark, I’d look at WP Customer Area based on your description. Regarding security I suggest you contact the plugin developer directly, but keep in mind that security is a multi-faceted issue, so even if the plugin in question is well coded and secure you can still be compromised if another plugin on the site isn’t secure or if you don’t implement proper security protocols at the server level…which is to say that it isn’t just a question of finding a secure plugin. If by “billing information” you mean credit card details then quite honestly I wouldn’t recommend you use WordPress + a plugin to do this. WordPress is a great CMS that I love and work with all the time, but it is important to be realistic about it’s limitations and when it comes to storing sensitive financial information I can’t say I would rely on WordPress to do this. I would look around for some kind of bullet proof solution specifically designed for such an application.
Good afternoon Charles!
My site involves the customer shipping me something. I would like to for the membership site to give them a customer ID and to have it sent to their email so that when they send me the package, they include their customer ID. Do you know of any free membership sites that might do this? Thanks for your help!
Hi Thomas, I would take a look at WP-Members. It is a free plugin which is pretty flexible and I am sure you could achieve what you need with it. They offer extensive documentation which is a real plus.
Hello I’m looking for a plugin that allows users to use Registration form, use User Login Forms, User Profile Forms and put a search engine that allows to select municipality or department, province.
The UltimateMember plugin is what I need but it does not allow searching by municipality or department. Everything I need on the Front End side and if it is much better free.
I clarify that I am from Argentina. From already thank you very much.
Please send me an email.
Hi Pablo, you could use Cimy User Extra Fields to add drop down fields to the user registration form for Province, Municipality, and Department. Then on the front end you can use the Dynamic User Directory plugin to create the searchable and sortable directory of users.
First of all, thanks for the article – it really provides a lot of useful information and the same goes for all your comments!
I am currently working on a project with our WP site, which we would like to upgrade. And I would really appreciate your input.
We are looking for a solution that can help us store our teaching material online, where clients pay to get access to our portal, where they can gain access to material for different grades.
In full our requirements for the project are:
– A client login (where we can differentiate between what the clients have access to)
– A preview functionality (where clients can access the material for a limited time or at least get some kind of teaser)
– A welcome page for all members allowing them the full overview of the portal (though still with specific access)
– Limited access depending on how long they have paid for the access (and automated expiration date)
– Automated notification when subscription should be renewed
– Integration with Podio, Economics and Mailchimp
Nice to have:
– Payment on site
– When clients have bought 1st grade material – they are presented with the option to buy fx 2nd grade material
Thanks very much in advance!
Hi Camilla, thanks, glad you found this useful 🙂
The first thing I wonder when I read your requirements is whether you have investigated any of the popular course ware or learning management system (LMS) plugins for WordPress. I have listed some of the popular options in this earlier comment. I have a feeling Learndash in particular might come pretty close to fulfilling your requirements. I’m about to start a new project to offer a paid course online and this is what I will be using for this project.
If you have dismissed those options I’m curious what is missing?
Hey Charles, thanks for all the info. I organise an event for 100 people, they have all paid a deposit but now need to pay their remainders, the amounts of which vary. Is there a way of setting up so that I can attribute the amount owing to each individual with a Paypal link or is this not possible? Thank you so much in advance. X
Hi Carla, you don’t mention what application (if any) you are using to manage your attendees and the outstanding amounts so I can’t guess at how this might be possible. That said, assuming you are using one of the membership plugins mentioned here I don’t know if any of them support the use case you describe. Short of developing a script to pull the necessary information from what ever application you are using and then use the PayPal API I think you may just have to send the invoices 1 by 1 🙁 Have you checked out the PayPal invoicing page? https://www.paypal.com/us/webapps/mpp/email-invoice
Right now I use/tried
1/ Good LMS plugin (available on Theme Forest) for my training. The design is great, it includes quizz and overview of the student profil.
2/ I had to change the paiement process provided by good LMS because it is not legally compliant for my company (e.g. no distinction between private customers and companies clients). I’m currently looking into digistore24.com which will charge around 8% on any sold item, which includes upsells,… Right now I’m not so sure about the check box for terms and condition which should be available but is not. Some terms and contions are provided by the company but only apply to the paiement part. I’m not sure how to include both (digistore24 and my company one) and make it available as .pdf per email later on.
3/ I had to change the registration form from Good LMS because it is also not legally compliant. It asks mandatory fields like date of birth, etc whereas we should in Europe only collect data which are of real use + there is no field quality control (you can enter any text in mandatory fields). So I considered the plugins Membership Manager from Kleor company which can balance this out but
– I have a multisite installation (mysite.com, mysite.com/fr and mysite.com/de) and I want that people who register in the German version can also get access to the english version without to create a second account. Membership Manager from Kleor cannot manager this.
Generally speaking I have some difficulties to integrate the 3 solutions. I would have to create manually the account or at least assign people to a course after they pay…
Would you have any recommendation.
Hi Vero, it is very hard for me to understand all your requirements, but my first thought is whether you have looked the most popular WordPress LMS plugins:
I feel sure one of them will get very close to all your requirements.
HI Charles! This post and comment thread is an awesome resource! I have a project I’m working on that I’m hoping you can point me in the right direction.
We are creating a cooking blog, and one section of that blog will include member submitted recipes. So we need a plug in that will allow users to sign up and create a profile and submit recipes which will then be approved and posted by us. That part seems simple enough but ideally I would like the recipes connected to a public version of their profile – so readers see this recipe was submitted by Jane and then can click on a link that will show them other things Jane has submitted. I hope that makes sense!
Hi Mommyoutside, I think this could be done quite simply. I’d use the Pro version of User Submitted Posts plugin. You can have front end registration forms so people can signup, then provide a front end submission form to capture recipe content including images etc. Yo ucan configure these submissions to be saved as pending so you can review before publishing. Most WordPress themes will link the author name on the post (recipe) to an author archive functionality automatically so that part should be easily taken care of too. Hope that helps.
Very helpful thank you so much!
This is a nice article, I wrote a post on how to protect content on WordPress… It explains how to restrict a certain category to logged in users for instance. I would love to share it here, since sometimes a few line of codes is all it takes when a full featured plugin is too much! Check it out here: https://www.bynicolas.com/code/wordpress-content-access-restriction/
Thanks for the article!
I have a growing content website and looking now to monetize it beyond Google Adsense and affiliate marketing.
I’m looking for a subscription/membership plugin that will allow visitors of the site to have access to the content for a limited period of time, for example 45 seconds. After that they will see a screen/popup that says that they can become a member if they want to continue to read.
To my surprise I couldn’t find any membership plugin that accommodates this functionality. It seems to me that such functionality could be interesting to thousands of content website owners, and therefore a USP for plugin-vendors.
Or am I missing something?
Thanks in advance!
Hi Erwin, that’s an interesting idea. A time based paywall. The usual method these plugins offer is to present some of the content publicly but require a membership to view it in its entirety. I can’t say I’ve come across a plugin which does what you describe, maybe an opportunity for someone!
Thanks for your quick reply. I could imagine that an advantage of the time-limited approach vs. the content-limited approach would be that search engine bots would be able to crawl the entire content, resulting in a higher ranking.
What about slow readers, or people who open the page in a new tab, and go to read another, or even people using screen readers? I read 1200 WPM, but many people are under 300, and screen readers are even slower.
What I’ve seen is pages that display a certain amount of content, then post a CTA= sign in to read more…