Best WordPress Membership Plugins


Article Quick Links:

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

WishList Member

wordpress-membership-siteWishList 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.

WishList Member is available for a one-off payment, at a cost of $97 for a single site license, or $297 for a multi-site license.


premium-wordpress-membership-pluginMember Mouse 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, 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.

Magic Members

members-only-pluginsWith a focus on simplicity and intuitiveness, Magic Members WordPress 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.

Restrict Content Pro

restrict content proRestrict 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 plugins currently available. Show me the premium plugins.


s2Member is a 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.

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.

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.

Member Access

Member Access allows you to make individual posts and pages on your WordPress website accessible only to logged-in members. This 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 plugin or tool do you use?

Nikki is a professional freelance writer and story teller with a passion for the web and technology. She writes for WP Dev Shed and amongst a roster of other clients.

232 thoughts on “Best WordPress Membership Plugins

  1. Avatar Angela D. Kosa says:

    Great post, very helpful!


  2. Avatar Ravi Jayagopal says:

    Hi Nikki,

    Was wondering if you would consider adding (DAP) to your list here.

    Thanks for the consideration.

    – Ravi Jayagopal

  3. Avatar Connie Stubbs says:

    We are a group of 175 to 200 family members sharing family genealogy on an Ancestry My Family site which is being retired. We are looking for a site as similar as possible. Please give us an idea if one of your private sites would fill our need.

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Connie, thanks for your comment. We don’t actually provide any sites like this ourselves, we only wrote here about some of the membership plugins available for WordPress powered sites. Without knowing what kind of features and functions your Ancestry My Family site had I can’t really comment on the suitability of this kind of solution.

      I can say that I’ve often thought that a wiki style site would be ideal to enable a collaborative genealogy effort, allowing member to add and edit pages as well as providing a good revision tracking system so you can see who made what changes over time etc. A hosted wiki style site such as provided by could be a good option.

  4. Avatar Wayne Quallie says:

    why cant I get into my account ,as it say web site not aviliable

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Wayne, if you website isn’t available I think you need to put this question to your web host.

  5. Avatar Stacey says:

    I have been considering a members only area on my site. Being able to post minutes from the meetings, event planning and notes, etc would be a huge help. I am going to be looking at each, but is there one that you would say is the best option? Contact me through the site if you need more information. BTW, just found this site through Google and it is pretty neat.

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Stacey, it really depends on what you want to achieve. By the sounds of it you are more interested in community features rather than product and sales features? If that is the case then you might just need BuddyPress. If you are looking for more then I like S2, but would also consider Exchange from iThemes. We didn’t look at Exchange when we wrote this post a year ago, but I’ve since played with it and really like they way it works.

      1. Avatar Rebecca says:

        I’m trying to achieve the same type of thing as Stacey, I think, and I’m using the Simple WordPress Membership plugin, which allows for one free and several paid membership types. I’m obviously just using the one free type.

        Since has a good amount of public-facing content as well, would I need to install a second instance of WP to also have where members can navigate/bookmark directly, or is there another way of architecting with a subdomain like this?

        1. Charles Charles says:

          Hi Rebecca, if you wanted to put your membership area on another sub-domain, like, and keep it all separate from the main public website then that is indeed a separate install of WordPress. This would then operate as two distinct websites and the content on each would be managed separately. You can of course link them together for navigation purposes, but you can’t easily managed content across both the main site and the subdomain from a single installation of WordPress. There is a way to do this (using a multisite install of WordPress) but I really don’t think that’s a good idea in this case and I’m not sure the membership plugins would work well with WP multisite.

          1. Avatar Richard says:

            I would do it as a one site install you could do a subdomain redirect as your members landing page, once logged in they’re going to be redirected back to the normal site.

            All your subdomain would be doing here is acting as a shortcut but it would give you a simple neat URL to handout to get customers logged in

      2. Avatar David says:

        Hi Charles. I’m using iThemes Exchange now and I’m trying to get customer data to be exposed through the a REST API. Any ideas how that could be done?

        1. Charles Charles says:

          Hi David, I think this will require some custom development. If you need developer support you could try posting your requirements as a project on Codeable and getting a quote for such work.

  6. Avatar JJ says:

    Hiya, great post but I have a question and I wonder if you could lead me in the right direction?

    I need to add a really basic members area to a WP site where admin can upload docs and members can download the pdf’s.

    They only have 1 master login that everyone uses for some strange reason, but is there something that could achieve this?

    Thanks JJ

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi JJ, with WordPress you can password protect posts. Could you simply use that feature to protect those posts and provide the password to those that need it?

      More here:

      If not that then perhaps something like:

      Hope that helps.

    2. Avatar Véro says:

      Check this plugin. I think it will do the work you are looking for and it is free.

  7. Avatar Jim Danna says:

    Puristat Digestive Wellness is a resource providing tons of content (articles ) on all issues related to overall health and the role proper digestive wellness plays. The site gets a ton of organic traffic because of all this valuable content.

    We are now considering placing some of this content in a membership section of the site.

    My Question Is: When content is placed “behind” a membership section of a site, how will this influence natural search results and organic traffic? Will the search engines still be able to “see” this content and return it in the SERPs just like is currently happening? What would happen when someone then clicks on a search engine result that is “behind” the membership section?

    Thanks a million!

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Jim, in general if your content is behind a login then Google can’t access it and won’t index it so it will not be in the search engines. If you introduce the login requirement after it has been indexed then the next time Google goes to reindex the content they won’t be able to reach it and it will be dropped from the index. So it will absolutely impact organic search traffic. Google does have a “First click free” program for partner publishers. Might be worth investigating:

  8. Avatar Tracey says:

    Great information post. Thank you. I was wondering if you could direct me to a WordPress plugin that would make my entire blog private and have a universal password to unlock. I am not interested in having users and registration, just a single password. Thank you kindly.

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Tracey, if you have a web host with CPanel or Plesk (?) then the simplest way to do that would be to set a password for the directory that your blog is in. This can also be done for the root directory if you blog lives at

      Keep in mind however that password protecting your entire site (however you do it) will render it invisible to Google which means you’ll get no search traffic.

  9. Avatar Kristin Reinbach says:

    Very helpful – thanks!

  10. Avatar Leo says:

    Hi, thank you for the list! I am just new and confused:
    Do I need one or two plugins to handle login/membership AND to manage nice looking download file pages?

    Can any of these membership-plugins also help me to do a download page and manage all files, categories etc? And in a nice style so the download page looks good? Or do I need a secondary plugin to handle the file management and the download part of the process?

    Or is it better the other way around: Is there a file management plugin that also include the simple login/member and hide/show options I need?!

    What plugin(s) should I go for?

    I need a plugin to show/hide different download files in my download section. My already excisting client list will be allowed to login and see more files than the public. And possibly also see more information about each file, like price or version etc. I also would like to hide some of my posts or post categories from the public and just show to logged in clients. But no need for an actual shop or any other money transaction. Just free downloads. And no public/free registration of new members, I have a closed list.)

    Hope you can help!

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Leo, I think the answer is that any of these plugins will do the job and probably one of the free ones will work as you don’t need any payment gateway etc. You might even get away with out any plugins. WordPress does have a native feature to password protect any given post, so if you have a closed list you could just set a password for those particular posts and send it out to those people you want to give access too. Now this solution is not 100% secure as if you are providing downloads someone could still find and share the direct file download link once they had logged in, but if you have a small group of known and trusted users who have no incentive to share the private content that might be just fine, it will atleast prevent any random public visitor from seeing the downloadable content.

      Design wise either approach would just rely on the design of the theme you are using. You create pages and embed links and content as you usually would, only the access permissions are managed with more or less sophistication depending on what solution you go with.

      Hope that helps.

  11. Avatar Ben says:

    Hi Charles,

    Thank you for this helpful overview..

    Could you give me advise on the following:

    I would like to put my Buddypress site behind a login, so that the whole of the site is only visible after logging in.

    And even more perfect, to have a redirect to a specific page after logging in.

    Which solution fits my need best do you think?

    Thanx again!


    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Ben, so I gather you don’t want any part of your site publicly viewable and you don’t want Google to be able to index it, correct? Like a company intranet of some kind?

      If that is the case then I don’t think you need any of these plugins which are really for managing users and access permissions. Rather you can set a password at the server level. If you have a hosting account with cpanel you can easily set permissions per directory from the root on down, eg. if you set up a new site at you could easily password protect that entire site. Here’s a tutorial on this:

      Hope that helps.

  12. Avatar Sol says:

    Why not buddypress + paid membership pro = works a treat !!

  13. Avatar Malc says:

    Do any of these plugins handle an IP address whitelist?
    I have a site that should be accessible to logged in users AND to certain fixed IPs – and there don’t seem to be many solutions for that set-up..

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Malc, good question. I’ve not seen this feature in any of these plugins. I’d reach out to some of the premium plugin developers and see if there is a solution they can help you with.

  14. Avatar Vincent says:


    We’ve got a freemium plugin which has a different approach, centered more on publishing private content rather than managing membership.

    For some use cases this could be more indicated. Not to mention that it plays nicely with subscription plugins such as WP eMember.

    You can check it out on

    Do not hesitate to contact us if you want to know more or even get your hands on the add-ons for testing purposes.


    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Vincent, thanks for stopping by. Your plugin looks interesting. I’ll take a look.

  15. Avatar Chie says:

    Hi, thanks for the this helpful list.

    I’m so new in WordPress and I have this project which the idea is once you log in – depending on which segment (or type of user/member) you fall into it will have specific content – like male images, if you’re a male, different background colour…etc.

    Is there any plugin from the list that could help me achieve this? or could you give any suggestions or advice.

    Appreciate your help. : )

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Chie, I think any of the premium membership plugins would work, with the ability to manage access to certain content by membership type/level. Magic Members for example allows you to limit certain content categories to different membership options. That said, please make sure you have a good look through all the documentation to make sure that it will serve your needs. I would also reach out to the developers of these plugins if you have any specific questions about their products. They will be able to advise you more authoritatively than I can. Best of luck with your project!

  16. Avatar Becky says:

    Thank you for this helpful list. Would any of these plugins help me? (I’ve already tried a few of them, with no luck.)

    Currently, I need a way to password protect certain files. In order to gain access to the files, the user must enter their customer id number and the password (which is a universal password that changes every few months).

    I’ve found many plugins that will password protect files, and many plugins that allow users to be registered, however, my issue is that it is a universal password, so not specific to the individual. However, I still need the user’s customer id, to keep track of who is downloading the files. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Becky, your best bet is one of the premium plugins listed above. Each of these provides complete user management so that all users have their own unique login, and you can easily create different user groups with access to different content.

  17. Avatar Becky says:

    Thanks for your suggestion!

  18. Avatar troy says:

    I was looking for a log in area for one of my wordpress sites that allow certain people (I add myself) to log in to a certain page to create a full page ad of their own creation but nothing else, no other pages nothing. but I still want the ad to be public once updated or created… how would I go about doing that?

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Troy, hmm, that is easier said that done. The hard part isn’t the log in part, it is the handling of the page creation and publishing. Do I understand correctly that this is for accommodation providers on your site to create their own listings? If so then I suggest using one of the really good directory style themes which have all those features built in, eg. or – and there are others if you google around.

      1. Avatar JP Lopez says:

        Charles, I need help here. i’m working on an online Banking website using wordpress and i need a plugin to fix up the client page.

        1. Charles Charles says:

          JP, I’m not sure what you mean by “fix up the client page”. Can you elaborate? I’m also curious what you mean by “an online Banking website”? WordPress is a great CMS, but I wouldn’t recommend using it to build a website that needs to handle sensitive financial information and where security is of the upmost importance.

  19. Avatar gee says:

    Have a site that I would like to convert to a background check, wondering any of the plugin that can search and display names etc

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Gee, not sure what you mean. Can you be more specific?

  20. Avatar Aaron says:

    A lot of good plugins on this list, great job compiling it!

    I would suggest one more to add, it’s a plugin I use called “WP-Client”

    It lets you register users (or let them self-register), assign files to them, send private messages, and a bunch of other stuff.

    They make free and paid versions (paid version just does more stuff)

    Hope this is useful for someone!

  21. Avatar Shannon says:


    We launched a website and are looking to add more functionality to our website.

    The current website currently provides:
    *Information for potential members to know about our group
    *New Membership Registration
    *Current Membership Renewal – All members renew at one time, regardless of the month they joined
    *Current Partner and the discount offered for each partner
    *Information to become a partner

    What we are looking for:
    *A new plug in that would add another tab at the top of the website

    oWhere current members could “log in” and it would show a GREEN screen with “Member current through 3/31/2016” (the green is just an idea)
    oWhere nonrenewed members could “log in” and it would show a RED screen with “Membership expired on 3/31/2015” (the red is just an idea)
    oThe nonrenewed screen would have a link to our renewal page to RENEW NOW!
    oThis information would be updated year to year

    This plug in would allow us to eliminate our members from having to carry a current membership card.
    This plug in would allow us to eliminate printing and mailing new membership cards every year.

    Do you have a recommendation for a plug in for our word press website?

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Shannon, it sounds like you are simply needing a plugin which can manage memberships and prompt members to renew when their current membership is up. To this end I think any of the premium membership plugins we list above would be a good choice. They all allow you to create recurring membership subscriptions so any associated billing can be handled automatically.

      What I’m not sure about is the membership cards. I’m not sure what the cards are used for so I don’t know if these plugins can replace the need for that. The plugins are simply used for controlling membership access to the site and it’s content, but if you need the cards for other offline reasons (in-store discounts etc) then you may still need to produce these(?).

  22. Avatar Roz says:

    Hi, thanks for this post! I have a questions I was wondering if you knew the answer to.

    I am wondering if there is a plug in out there that will only allow registration to either fully listed email addresses, or listed domain names. We would like to sell access to our online magazine to Universities. So we would like to specify on our site that anyone from can register and access their account. We also have individual subscribers, so we’d still like to be able to allow any other paid individuals access too.

    Thanks so much!

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Roz, had to think about this one for a bit and let me say upfront I’ve not had to do this before…that said, how about this domain whitelist plugin in conjunction with one of the membership plugins we mention above? You might also reach out the premium plugin developers and ask if this is possible. I don’t think it would be a particularly hard thing to code so they might be able to help with a little custom coding/config.

  23. Avatar Tom Lynch says:

    Hi Charles,

    Not normally one to comment on articles, but gotta give you kudos for still answering questions and comments months after posting the article!

    Great article and great to see people interacting with their audience!


  24. Avatar Erick says:

    I am building my first website and am looking for a way to set up a private page for each individual client of mine on my website. I was hoping to be able to assign an easy to remember URL ( which would open to a login page where a password is required. Most of my clients will be set up for autobilling and will be primarily accessing their private page for their personalized content updates and to post comments for me to reply to.
    Is this something all of these plugins are capable of? At first I assumed so, but they all seem to focus on multi-level memberships and content feeds where as I am intending to set up a more interactive page for the client and I to keep up with everything they need in one easy place. Not sure if that is part of what these plugins do. Any comments would be a great help.

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Erick,

      I think you could achieve what you are after with these plugins, though they are more intended for membership sites where you restrict content to different levels of membership in a one to many type model. What you want is a one to one model where you have a dedicated area for each individual client. For this reason I’d suggest you take a look at one of the following plugins which are more intended for this purpose:

      It’s a great question, and I hope this helps. I think I’ll write up a blog post on this 🙂

    2. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Erick, quick followup…we published that post:

      Thanks again for the idea!

  25. Avatar Joseph says:

    Hie, im working on a jobboard website and i need a plugin that can restrict the resume page from jobseeker members and restrict the job offers page from companies

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Joseph, I think that any of these memebership management plugins would achieve this as you can create different membership types with access to different sections of your site. The question is whether they play nice with whatever plugin or custom coding you use for your job board. Perhaps try integrating one of the free options and see if you can make it work.

  26. Avatar Cynthia says:

    I am working with a group that has a mailing list maintained by google works. Financial members are maintained in this contact group. I am looking for a way to leverage this contact group to enable access to the web site members only section. In other words if name is in contact list, allow member access. Can you help with this?

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Cynthia, do all members share a common email domain? If so you could try this domain whitelist plugin in conjunction with one of membership plugins. If not then I think it would require come custom coding to sync the site with the contact list. I’m not familiar enough with the APIs available for Google Apps to know if this is easy or not. I suggest reaching out to the premium plugin developers to see if they have some suggestions/insight.

  27. Avatar Cynthia says:

    Thanks for the response! No, emails come from a myriad of domains, the commonality is they are financial members of the organization, so we wanted to use the list as a validation mechanism. If we update the list to remove a person, they then are not allowed to access the site. I am a novice at this so any suggestions as to who to reach out to?

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Cynthia, In the post we link to the best membership plugins on the market. These options would be the best to manage and control access to members only content on a WordPress powered site. The issue is whether you can sync the website access permissions with your existing contact list. I suspect that this would require some custom development so I suggest reaching out the the plugin vendors first. The other thought might be that if your membership is too big and doesn’t change too much then you might considered manually managing the user list in WordPress in addition to the contact list (or instead of?)…this way you have no custom development.

  28. Avatar James says:

    Hello Charles and everyone,

    I have already your article and comment.This article and every comment is very helpful for everyone .However, I want to add something, and recently I just released the membership plugin in the wordpress repository who is called “rs-members”. Before developing I just studied existence all membership wordpress plugin.I got many problems from the those.As a result; I just tried to include many useful features.Without programming skill any guys can easily maintain this plugin. I hoped this plugin will be helpful fill up your all demand. .Guys you can visit my “rs-members” from wordpress repository.

    Thank you gentleman for patiently reading.

  29. Avatar Hi Charles says:

    I am looking to upgrade my WordPress site to offer E-Books and even short Essays at a price, I do not want to force people into membership can you advise me of a good approach?

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Derek, suggest you look at something like Easy Digital Downloads as a way to sell eBooks etc from your site.

  30. Avatar Daniel Knights says:

    Hi, thanks for the review. I was wondering if I could have a members area on my site where I could limit the amounts of downloads (say of videos), that members make a day?

    Please let me know if there is a free way to do this, if not, what is the paid option?

    Thanks – Daniel

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Daniel, it sounds like what you want to do is release your videos (content) on a schedule to members, so more like a course in which they get access to modules over time. Wishlist Member, Member Mouse and Magic Members all offer this functionality.

  31. Avatar Dan Thomas says:

    Hi Charles, Thank you for so much valuable information. I moderate a website that requires a Member’s Only section to provide information to paid members who are in good standing of the parent organization. All remaining content outside of the MO section on our website is fine for public viewing and interaction. I need to be able to use the pre-existing (individual) member numbers, which have been generated by the parent organization, to provide individual access to paid members. I have a list of those individual member numbers to upload into a repository or (?), so that each member can use their personal member number to access the MO section of our website. This is important because many of our members transfer in or out of our region. Furthermore, using personal member numbers dramatically reduces the chance that a member might share their personal number with anyone else. This serves to keep our MO content out of the public domain. Thanks for your help. Dan

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Dan, I’m not sure that any of the plugins we looked at would support this model with IDs generated by a third party system. I suggest you contact the plugin authors directly to see if they can help, but be aware it might require some custom coding. If you are already resigned to having custom work done then you could try Codeable as a cost effective way to hire a developer for a project like this.

  32. Avatar Mickey says:

    Hi Charles,

    Im selling a product as a yearly subscription, Can you suggest a plugin wherein, users can log-in and view how many months they still have left on their subscription and maybe add a few interactive contents on that user account page.

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Mickey, I think your best bet is one of the premium plugins above. I’m not sure if that they have this feature out of the box, but it doesn’t sound like it would be that difficult to implement even if it required a little custom development. I recommend you reach out to the developers first and see if their plugin can do this out of the box.

  33. Hi Charles

    I’m building a website for a client that wants a members only section behind which only her customers can access photo galleries and downloadable files.

    Each customer needs their own log in to access the section, which would contain a number of pages. I want to avoid them having to log in each time they move to a new members only page, so WordPress’s native option is a no-go.

    There is no requirement for payment options either.

    Which of the above plug-ins would work best for this do you think?

    Many thanks for the post and your anticipated answer!

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Ben, hard to say for sure without knowing more about the use case of course, but my gut feeling is that one of the plugins we covered in our post on client area plugins would be best, perhaps WP Customer Area. It’s free so a good place to start!

  34. I’ll take a look, thanks Charles. 🙂

  35. Avatar Cammy says:

    Hi, Charles, firstly, many thanks for the post, been a great read.

    What I’m hoping to achieve is to offer products/services for purchase on my friends website and when customers buy said product they will be granted rights to a membership area/page/downloads section. This section will offer video content, podcast downloads etc etc..

    From looking at the Wishlist demo it seems this will enable me to do this but as I’m building this for a friend for almost no cash, my budget is limited.

    Will any of the free plugins offer the same level of options for me to achieve what I’m trying to do?

    Many thanks

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Cammy, some of the free plugins offer the basic features you are looking for, but honestly if you are building something for a commercial enterprise I would advise you go with one of the commercial options. In the big scheme of things they are not expensive and all offer a great deal more functionality and flexibility than any of the free options.

  36. Avatar frankie says:

    Do any of your plugins restrict public access to PDFs that are linked to on members-only pages i.e. if a non-member was to paste the PDF URL into their browser could your plugin re-direct them back to the login page? We have sensitive information within the PDFs so they must not be seen by non-members.

    1. Charles Charles says:

      HI Frankie, just to be clear, these are not our plugins, we’ve just written about some plugins developed by others. I think you’ll find that all the premium plugins do offer this level of content protection as this is a common requirement.

  37. Avatar Tess says:

    Hi Charles,
    Awesome post and kudos for your answers to all questions and comments!

    I have a question:

    I’m creating a membership site that will send out posts to members via RSS (probably) that will cover a particular event. Once the event is over, I’d like that post to be made public (so non members can see previous content).

    Do you know if any of these plugins would work for this?

    Thanks for some awesome posts. I’ve definitely bookmarked. Like the Client Area post too 🙂


    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Tess, off the top of my head I know for sure Magic Members provides good RSS access controls but I’m sure the other premium plugins do too. In terms of public access of content after a particular date I think the easiest solution (that all plugins will handle) is to simply change the access level of the content after the event. In other words I don’t think this needs to be a special function as you can easily change the accessibility of any content at any time. Does that make sense?

  38. Avatar Ola says:

    Hi Charles,

    Great job and well done answering all these Qs many months after the post.

    I would like to restrict content of one page on my website to a mature (read married) audience.

    I would also like to redirect people to my mailchimp sign up form via the rejection message.
    Is there anyway I can verify that the people are married upon subscription?

    Also is it possible to generate unique log in details per registered subscriber.

    What do you recommend. Preferably free.

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Ola, I’m not sure how to answer this one. There is no automated way you can verify for sure that a subscriber is married or not. You can only ask and trust that they will give you an honest answer, so I’m not sure it is even worth asking the question because anyone who wants access will just say they are married even if they are not. Or am I missing something?

  39. Avatar Mark says:

    Hi Charles,
    I have created a video course for learning business English. I would like to sell access to view it on my website, but to take payment by a low-cost payment method (off the website or on the website but not paypal due to fees).
    Is s2 member the best solution, and does it capture the key customer info? Could I easily have a 3rd party salesperson use the site to complete a sale in an easy way with a plugin such as s2?

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Mark, I think any of the premium plugins above would do the trick. You’ll want to go premium to get the broader range of payment system integrations to avoid PayPal. I don’t see why a 3rd party sales person couldn’t use the plat form to sign people up, and all the premium options let you configure what custom information is required.

  40. Avatar Cammy says:

    Hi again Charles, having done a fair bit of research thanks to your blog, I’m thinking wishlist is the best option for me.

    Many thanks for your informative post. It been a huge help.

    Can I ask you another question about wishlist as I cannot find it out anywhere. Will it allow me to set up “products” to sell or will I have to install a plug in similar to WP ecommerce and does it have the capability to allow me to accept credit card payments on my site with the plug in alone, provided my site has an SSL certificate? Or will I also need some other plug in on top also?

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Cammy, Wishlist (and the other membership plugins) effectively allow you to sell access to content on your site. They let you set up different levels of membership so differing levels of access. Wishlist (like the others) does have credit card processing functionality as well for selling paid memberships. So if your product is information based (a video course for example), then it is all you need. If you product is a digital download of some kind then I would probably go with something like Easy Digital Downloads. If you are selling physical products and you want a regular shopping cart experience then you ought to look at WooCommerce.

  41. Thanks for the great article. I have a question – if you are creating a members only area of your wordpress website, are all your visitors to that restricted content going to need wordpress accounts? Can you create log in credentials with a different database?

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Jennifer, the membership plugins handle all the user management for you and provide registration forms and login pages for members. They do typically build on the core WordPress user management functions, but members don’t get access to the WP Admin of course. Does that answer your question?

  42. Avatar Emma says:

    Hi Charles, we have just created a sub domian website off of our main website for purely wholesale would any of these plugins work to limit access to only the people i wish to see the prices? ie my stockists. I am trying to streamline the process for both partys.

    My Idea is to have a clickable link from main site to wholesale site but access only for certain members (stockists) hope this makes sense. can you help?

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Emma, yes, any of these plugins should work just fine in this use case. I would probably start with WP Members which is free and see if that does what you need. If you need more features then you can try one of the premium plugins.

  43. Avatar JT says:


    I am looking for a theme, plug-in or directory to allow me to do the following: 1) rate a restaurant. 2) rate the individual waiter, 3) Share my favorite with friends, 4) Allow my friend to contact the restaurant 5) Allow the restaurant and waiter to follow up with the new customer.

    Any thoughts?

    Thank You

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi JT, so I gather you want to build a site that does this yes? That’s quite a list of requirements, I’m not aware of anything off the shelf that does all that. My initial thought is to look at the various local directory themes which typically allow you to rate and review businesses (restaurants in your case). I’m not sure they also allow you to rate waiters also, but they might be a starting point on which to add functionality.

  44. Avatar Grant says:

    Hey, I’m looking at making a site with a public front (home/about us/contact) and then 2 levels of private content, based on user1 (customer portal (no need for selling, just need information available to them)) and then user 2 (staff portal per say).
    There would be no sign up needed as memberships would be handed out.

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Grant, you could probably make do with one of the free membership plugins. Worth trying to see if they meet your needs.

  45. Avatar Jodie says:

    Wow! Thank you so much for writing this post and continuing to dole out your knowledge + expertise and answer questions. I’m impressed super impressed and grateful!

    So here is my question…

    I’m doing a wordpress site for a client who has developed a train-the-trainer type learning program and she would like to sell a 1 year subscription to access the ecourse/membership area of her site that would access to the program and course materials. The ideal scenario would be that the user would purchase a license key that would grant them access to the ecourse/membership area of the site.

    Do you know if any of the premium options you list provide this? We are trying to avoid users being able to share their login info.

    I’ve looked into using a combination of LicenseEngine and Wishlist Member but am curious if you know of other options where this capability is already baked in?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Jodie, I gather that your client is selling a software application rather than just the course material (hence the need for the license keys). If this is the case then I’d take a look at Easy Digital Downloads which provides the licensing functionality, and also has a content restriction extension so you can create pages with special (course) content that only license key holders can access…so it combines the membership and license key functions in the way I understand you need. Does that help?

      1. Avatar Jodie says:

        Yes, that does help, Charles. I hadn’t even considered Easy Digital Downloads for this as I wasn’t aware of the content restriction extension. Looking into it as an option right now. Thanks for your help.

  46. Avatar Rasa says:

    Hi Charles, Thank you for your informative article. I´m looking for a membership login option that allows connection to payments through paypal. Also, I offer different online courses, so I´m looking for an option that allows restricted Access to each member based on the course boughtand not everything that is on the membership site. Any suggestions? Thank you in advance!

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Rasa, I think any of the paid options covered above would work. They all have PayPal integration and allow you to set different membership levels which can provide access to different content on your site. In your case this means different courses which can each have their own pages on the site. These plugins broadly work in a similar way, but you should check out the site for each to see the details and make a choice based on the closest fit. The plugin developers will be able to answer any specific questions you have.

  47. Avatar Dawn says:

    Thanks for the great article, Charles! What a wealth of information you have to share. I am an admitted WordPress novice, and have what I think seems like a steep request from a client. They want to have just one section of their WordPress website be a “Toolbox” section that is for members only. Membership is simply signing up (no donation/payment required).

    Here are some of their requests:
    1) Login with email+password or social credentials (Google, Facebook).
    2) “Toolbox” is a separate section of the site that can only be accessed with login
    3) Fine having a login page but ideally want a pop-up that asks people to sign-up / login
    4) Ability to flag content as “Favorite” and see list of “My Favorite” content
    5) Ability to “Like” content items
    6) Nice to have – Ability to display a content box with headlines/images from private section as a teaser to get people to click and get the “Sign-up to get this”
    7) Members Only section will include content types of text pages and images mostly, and also documents, video and audio.

    They do NOT need discussion boards, comments, or other user generated content submissions.

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Dawn, that is a steep request. I can’t think of any one plugin that will deliver all that.

      If you want the ability to have users reg/login with social accounts then you could look at these plugins. That should be relatively simple.

      There is only one plugin I’m familiar with that enables the favoriting of posts and a way to display a users list of favorites, WP Favorite Posts. I’ve not actually used it myself in a project so you’ll need to have a look and see if it will do what you need.

  48. Avatar Sandy says:

    I am going to develop a new WordPress site for this basic website shown above. I will need a plugin as you described here but I am not sure which plugin you think would work best.

    What is needed is an online newspaper in pdfs available for only paid members to access by purchasing a 6mth or 1 year subscription.

    So the site would need the restricted content and a login area once someone did purchase this.

    To throw a curve in this, the business would also like an area for someone who just wants to purchase a delivered “real” paper to their mailbox by purchasing a 6mth or 1 year delivered plan. I figured this could just be a separate store section on the site where people could buy this.

    I really appreciate your directions/thoughts. Even a suggestion of the simple theme to get would be appreciated.

    Those are the only areas this business wants on the site.

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Sandy, I think any of the premium plugin above would do the trick. You simply want to restrict access to the PDFs to paid subscribers and all these plugins will handle this. That said, based on your requirements, I think Member Mouse might be a good choice. They make it easy to add custom fields to signup so you can capture a delivery address for the physical delivery subscription, as well as some nice features to prevent login sharing and gifting subscriptions.

      Theme wise, the plugins should work with just about any theme so you can just design your own or choose one that suits the aesthetic you’re after.

  49. Avatar Jay says:


    Great post, thanks for taking the time to put it together.

    Wonder if you could assist. I’m looking to be able to put a membership plugin to our website but wanted the ability rather than having the members to go to a hidden part of our site, for our consultants to be able to put projects into their account instead. ie: They login to their account and in the messages (labeled projects) we would put new projects for them uniquely with photos, site plans etc..

    Any feedback would be appreciated.


    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Jay, take a look at our post on client area plugins, I think they might address the use case you describe: – I’m not sure though what kind of functionality you need to for the upload of project information. You might need to combine one of these plugins with something like Gravity Forms.

  50. Avatar Dawn says:

    I need to set up a member’s site…. multi-faceted. Functionality needed: sign up for member level or just purchase one-off access to pages, drip capable…protected.

    I want a fully-hosted solution (like CustomerHub would be – but without the requirement of Infusionsoft) that is customizable. Any recommendations?

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Dawn, I’m not aware of any fully hosted options. Do you want a fully hosted option because you don’t want to deal with installation and configuration etc? Perhaps you could find a friendly local WordPress developer who was prepared to set up and host your site, and maintain it for a monthly fee.

  51. Avatar Drew says:

    First of all, kudos to you Charles! One of the beautiful things about the internet is the sharing of knowledge and you’ve done a fabulous job. And the thread has lasted over a year!

    No questions here…just praise!

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Thanks Drew 🙂

  52. Avatar Grace says:

    Hi Charles, just discovered your website and already addicted. I’m more than impressed by your level of knowledge AND generosity, answering everyone’s question.

    I feel sorry to add one more…. But here it is : I’m building a new website (on a budget) for a friend/client. Being a former athlete, he sells Sport Camps & after school physical education for kids (+ clothes). I’ve added Woocommerce to his WP website so there is already a “My Account” area (for the payer/parents).

    But he also wants the kids to be able to log in within the website (or a subdomain) to access their own special content : their statistics, results, photos, but also “good points” for things like attendance, listening, showing team spirit, taking part in a tournament and so on.
    They could then redeem their points within the products and services range of the website, by getting discount on more products/services. (It could simply be : having 100 points give them a coupon code, so not the hardest part)

    I’m just not sure if BuddyPress would allow him to give individual feeback to each kid, or which free plugin within this list or your client area list would do this? And if I do need to set up a subdomain?

    Thanks in advance for your time

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Grace, sorry for the slow response. I’ve been offline for a few days over the Christmas/New Year period…it’s summer holidays down here in NZ.

      Your project sounds like an interesting one. I think you are on the right track with BuddyPress, but based on your description of requirements I think you are going to need some custom development to achieve all those things. Stats for each kid, along with photos, results and earned points need to be stored in a database and while you might find some BuddyPress extensions to do some of these things (or something close) I don’t think you will find anything off-the-shelf which will do it all. Even if you find extensions to cover the main functionality you’ll need to customize templates to bring it all together.

      My recommendation would be to find a local WP developer and together work out exactly what will be required and the best way to achieve this. I’m sorry I can’t help with any specific plugin recommendations, I just can’t think of any that will achieve just what you are looking for.

  53. Avatar Susan says:

    Hi Charles,
    Have read through some but not all of the comments and questions. This one may be there and I didn’t see it so I apologize in advance if it is. I have a WP website for a non profit. We would like to have one page that trainers (we work with horses) can log into for training info etc. What would be the best plugin for that? I am new to the website stuff so am just learning as well. Thank you so much.

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Susan, you can actually password protect individual pages using built in WordPress password feature. Here’s a how-to: – the only reason you might use one of these plugins is if you need more advanced member-level access controls. If you just want a simple password that all trainers can use to access common content then the built in feature should suffice.

  54. Avatar Susan says:

    Thank you so much. I am new at this and had no idea. I will check it out. You have great info!

  55. Avatar denis says:

    I’m building a website for authorized client employee access to be used for activity logging. The trick is access is restricted to pre-authorization with unique passwords – no self registration. Upon first access, forced pswd change. New entrants added via csv upload – incremental.
    Other capabilites, like client access and edit for employee support would be helpful, but the core needs are the thing.

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Denis, I think you could achieve your core requirements using one of the membership plugins mentioned above combined with the Force Password Change plugin. You don’t have to have a registration form, instead creating all user accounts via the admin and providing details to new employees. The Force Password Change plugin will handle that aspect. I know Magic Members offers a CSV import feature for new accounts so that might be a good one to look at. Hope that helps.

      1. Avatar denis says:

        Charles, thank you

        1. Charles Charles says:

          You’re welcome. I’d be very interested to hear how you get on with this.

  56. Avatar imelda lee says:

    hi charles,

    i already use wp-members on my sites and it work greats.. but now i got some post that really hidden from guest and also search engine .. In category page, home page etc the post should not be available even the post title should be hidden .. i can’t achieve this with wp-members because wp-members only protect the content but guest still can read the post title ( in homepage for example ) .. do you have any idea which plugins will work for me ?

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Imelda, I would try any of the premium membership plugins listed above. They will definitely enable you to do this.

  57. Avatar Lisa says:

    Hi Charles

    I am setting up a site for scholarship Alumni and I want to have a protected page with all of the Alumna’s contact details on it. But I also want the Alumni to be able to update their contact details themselves. Any ideas?

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Lisa, that’s a tough one. You might be able to use WP Contacts to manage Alumni details, along with any of the membership plugins to handle access. But I suspect that you will need some custom coding to enable front end management of contact details by the members/alumni themselves…and controlling who can edit what might be tricky.

  58. Avatar lance1572 says:

    I was wondering if any of these plugins allow for catered content per member? Say for instance, I signup and maybe choose a few options for particular content I would like to see. When I log in I see the content that pertains to the options I chose. Also, do any of the plugins allow for customization of the users see when they login. They won’t see the actual WordPress backend correct?

    Thanks for the great post!!


    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Lance, these plugins control what content the user has access too on the site, so members don’t get to see your backend. The way these plugins work is to create membership levels or types, which then govern what content the member sees, but these are not unique to each user, they are only unique to the user type or level. To deliver truly unique content for each member based on options they choose might require some custom coding.

  59. Avatar CSinclaire says:

    Hello, Charles. I just stumbled across your page re “members only” sections in WordPress and appreciate all the info. But hope you don’t mind my asking directly, as there are so many posts here to wade through. I am looking for a plug-in for a “members-only” option for our site. We are about to switch templates, may start using a framework (e.g., Genesis or Headway), or possibly a visual editor (e.g., Divi Builder). I don’t know yet how these plug-ins will integrate, but assuming they would, what I hope to accomplish is to create a members-only area where members can download a PDF of our paid-members-only magazine and also access to a small storefront of branded items. Again, not sure if the storefront will integrate; still working on that. But I’m wondering if any of these members-only plugins can also facilitate managing a membership database. I would assume they’d have to be able to do SOMETHING along these lines, to store names/passwords, etc. Are there any further features involved that would also be of assistance to our membership chairman? I am open to looking at free or paid plugins, but we are a nonprofit, so free or cheap is best, LOL! Any help is appreciated!

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi @CSinclaire, I think any of the plugins above will achieve what you need and should work with a shopping cart, though you’d be best checking this with the developers to be 100% sure (i’ve not actually tried it myself). Even the premium plugins are not very expensive so I’ve be inclined to go with one of those. The plugins handle membership subscriptions and page access levels for members only content so they should work just fine with pretty much any theme and/or a page builder which will handle the content.

  60. Avatar Darrell says:

    Great set of posts and comments here thank you. I am also running a not for profit community site with about 50 members. I want them to be able to log in and access some members-only material as well as create / change their own member profile pages (which they can make public if they wish). Any ideas which plugin would be the best.

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Darrell, I think any of the plugins covered above would cover the basic requirements of membership management and access to members only content. You could then try something like the Profile CCT plugin to let users manage their profile information.

  61. Avatar Matthew says:

    Hey Charles, in your experience with these member plugins: is there one you would recommend for redirecting upon login, different users to unique member landing pages.

    The use case is for a very limited number of members without public registration to have access to a support portal

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Matthew, I’d look at WishList Members. They have a redirect feature which I think is close to what you are look for.

  62. Avatar Prashant Naik says:

    Hello Everyone,
    I am developing project which is having following procedure and it’s giving me a trouble while implementing it.
    Combination of Course + Membership, basically onsite course registration.
    User Register -> buy membership(silver, golden, platinum etc.) -> Membership amount converted into training credits(lets say 1$ = 1 Training Credit) -> Buy courses ->Courses amount deduct from training credits and remaining amount payable.

    Please help me to suggest the better wordpress plugin for implementing this procedure.

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Prashant, I’m not aware of any plugins that work that way. It sounds like a custom development job to me.

  63. Avatar Jay says:

    Hi Charles

    Thank you so much for the article. Is there anyway I can create different membership levels based on the number of downloads of pdfs created with webmerge. I thank you in advance for any advice you are able to provide.

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Jay, sorry for the slow reply…I’m not 100% clear on the use case here. When you say you want different memebership levels based on the number of PDF downloads do you mean you want a user to signup and as they download more PDFs their membership level is upgraded? I think that would require some custom development.

  64. Avatar Shannon says:

    Wow Charles, you rock.

    Hopefully you can help me too.

    I want to create a website where people register and create pages like a directory website but when logged on there is information only that individual can see and update with the rest being public.

    An example is Joe creates a page A and populates the public information and then populates the private information 1, 2, 3.

    Jane sees page A and becomes a member and populates the private information 1 & 3.

    When Joe logs on he can only see his private information and update it, ditto for Jane.

    I will want to create different types of pages that members can create and to set custom fields for the public and private information available for each page type.

    I looked at the directory plugins you recommended GeoCraft and GeoDirectory and GeoDirectory looks good but I am not sure if it is a good fit for what I am trying to achieve.

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Shannon, I’m not sure that any of the directory plugins will do exactly what you describe, which might be a good think if you are looking to launch something new and unique 🙂 I sounds to me like you’ll need some custom development. I’d probably start with one of the premium membership plugins above and then get a developer involved (through Codeable) to work on adding the extra functionality you need for your specific use case.

  65. Avatar Deniyi says:

    I am developing a college website that need student to log in with unique username and password to gain access to restricted pages.

    my question is how to generate the unique username and password. which of the plugin will best for this.

    Thank you

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Deniyi, any of these plugins will handle the user registration and management functions, that’s the easy part. My advice is to look carefully at all the features each of these plugins offers and decide which one best meets your needs for other functions and features.

  66. Avatar Caroline Stroud says:

    Hey! I am looking for a plug in where I can organize members into groups based on location (specifically academic campuses). Do you know which one would work best for me?

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Caroline, in terms of organizing members into groups I don’t think that the basis of the grouping needs to be a determining factor in selecting which plugin to use…unless you need this grouping to be automatically assigned based on IP or email domain or something like that. If you do need such functionality then you’ll need to do some custom development. I don’t think any of the plugins have this capability natively.

      If you expect members to self select their group (campus) then I think you could use any of these plugins as they all have the ability to manage groups. They might call them membership “levels” but it is basically the same thing, and will allow you to deliver specific content to specific groups.

      You don’t mention any other specific requirements so I’d start by looking at the free plugins and see if they will be able to handle your requirements and only look at the premium options if you find you have some specific capability not cater for by the free options.

      Does that help at all?

  67. Avatar Danny Major says:

    Hi Charles,
    I’m relatively new to this whole membership site plugin thing, but I do understand the benefits of owning a membership site. Therefore, I would like to ask your advice about the best plugin to use to create a membership site that will unlock access to sequential training levels every time a monthly payment is made. I am thinking about offering a three to six month training program on my weight loss and body toning site. I am also thinking about offering access to the whole site/program for a one-off payment, so if a plugin is available than can offer both of these functions I’d be very happy if you could point me in it’s general direction! Much obliged, and my apologies if you have already previously provided an answer to a similar question to mine, I have gone through quite a lot of the previous comments but couldn’t find anything that helped me with this.

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Danny, based on your description of requirements I’d suggest Member Mouse. You can set up content to be delivered every X days (to correspond with recurring payments), and you can also offer a one of upfront payment option. Hope that helps.

  68. Avatar chris says:

    I am in the process of having a website done and mainly need it for members to upload there videos and photos I need them to register then they can upload pictures to our web page through you tube and I need an admin page just for keeping all there details ect I am having such a problem with the web designers that are doing it s they are saying they cant do it but I had a previous website a while ago and that had it all on anyone give me any idea why and if I should use someone else to do my website is it that they just don’t have a program that will allow them to make it this way am so confused


    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Chris, what you describe sounds possible to me, though I’m not clear about your requirement that “they can upload pictures to our web page through you tube”…pictures through YouTube?

      I suggest you look at something like WP Members which can manage user registrations and the ability for users to maintain their own profile, plus control access to upload pages etc. If the idea is that users upload media which becomes posts on the site I would look at Gravity Forms which has some nice functionality to create forms which will save content uploaded as a post.

  69. Avatar Lori says:

    We already have a wordpress blog website we sell products on. I am looking to add a membership only option customers can purchase a recurring subscription to view videos in a playlist we have created. Any suggestions to a plug in for this?

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Lori, any of the premium options listed above would cover the simple use case you describe. Which option is best would be a function in part of what plugin(s) you are using to power your site. I would take a look at the premium options listed above and see if they will integrate nicely with your existing site.

  70. Avatar Barton says:

    Great article that try’s to help others understand the complexity of access control and memberships.

    My problem is that I want to create private photographic galleries for individual users. They must login and only see their specifically created gallery. Any ideas of the best plugins please?

    Thank you and excellent article.

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Barton, checkout these client area plugins. They are designed specifically for creating dedicated user areas that only they can access. Do any of those look like they’ll do the trick?

  71. Avatar Anita says:

    Hi I hope that I might get some help here. We are a home owners association with a large membership and would like to make some of the pages on our website private and some public. We would like to upload our current members and use their 4 digit pin numbers as their password is this possible? If so what is the best plugin to use.

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Anita, I’d take a look at Magic Members. It has an member import function so you can import all your existing members.

  72. Avatar Susan says:

    Greetings and thank you for your valuable content.

    Once a restricted access member downloads a pdf, is there any way to prevent them from give this link to another non-paying person? How can I make it so that a member can fill in the contents of a pdf file online (education curse) and only access the information online or print pages but not download the pdf?

    Thanks and regards


    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Susan, what you’ve described is much easier said than done, but I think you know that 🙂

      I think the main issue with PDFs is that the download link isn’t the big problem. This can be solved by making it time sensitive and.or limiting the number of times the download link will work. But of course, once the PDF is downloaded it can be easily forwarded on via email which is the much more likely scenario and afaik there isn’t much you can do about that. Even if you password protect the PDF, if the user has the password they can pass that along too.

      I’m not really sure what you mean by “fill in the contents of a PDF file online”. By this I *think* you are capturing information from the user and then incorporating that information into whatever information you are providing them. In this case the user won’t be filling in a PDF, rather they’ll be filling in an online form (use Gravity Forms for this) and then you’ll have some kind of script to generate a webpage which incorporates the submitted information. If you don’t want it to be easily downloaded and distributed then don’t provide as a pdf, instead just present as a regular webpage.

      I have a feeling that doesn’t exactly answer your question. Happy to have another go if you can explain more clearly the use case you are designing.

  73. Avatar Dawn Tukuniu says:

    Hi Charles,
    Thank you for all your information.
    I can’t find what I am looking for however.

    I’d like to create 4-6 members only areas. These are to create small communities of people, up to 12 who have signed up for wellness coaching. Within each group I raise topics/questions for them to explore and everyone provides feedback, learning together and creating support.

    They also can post questions and everyone in the group can respond.

    I’d also like to be able to post reference documents (pdf’s) video, images etc.

    And a sort feature would be great for example grouping information within week 1 week 2 etc as well as having a search all content option if they want to go back and review something.

    As a moderator of all groups, I also need to ensure i don’t miss anything that someone posts.

    Any ideas what might fit this for me please?

    Thank you so much, feeling quite lost and confused with it all.

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Dawn, there are a few ways I can think you might go about this…

      • Use BuddyPress and set up groups for each of your mini communities. This probably isn’t what you need if you want o charge people for your coaching.
      • Use any of the pro membership plugins to manage subscriptions to your coaching service and handle the sequential delivery of your weekly coaching content. If you enable comments on this content then members will be able to ask questions which you, or any member with access, can answer. This isn’t really like a forum however…
      • Use Magic Members to manage subscriptions and user access to different sections of the site and Simple:Press to run the forums for each section (community). Magic Members explicitly supports Simple:Press, but you could ask the other membership plugin developers if they also support it. I expect they probably do. Each section/community could have a community forum as well as pages to deliver the sequential coaching content.

      Hope that helps.

  74. Avatar Leanne says:

    Im creating a site for a client who wants them to have access to members only pages once they have purchased.

    Is there an option on any of the free plug ins that when they are creating their account that they have to enter in thier order number to be able to sign up and it will get automatically checked to make sure it’s genuine?

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Leanne, how and when does the purchase happen, and what kind of functionality is required in the way of members pages? If the purchase is offline with customers subsequently signing up for access to the online members area, then I don’t think you’ll be able to achieve this with any plugin out of the box as the plugin won’t know what is a genuine order number. This is true also if the purchase is online but made through some other platform. If the purchase is made on their website through say WooCommerce then I think you could combine WooCommerce with WP Members so any customer who buys will automatically have access to pages controlled by WP Member. To be clear I’ve not done this myself, but that seems very doable. If the purchase is made using some other system not connected to your clients WordPress website then there will necessarily be some custom development to have all this work.

      1. Avatar Leanne says:

        Hi CharIes, thanky you : ) was looking into WooCommerce to use for purchases. The purchases will be made on his site but on Amazon as well. So it will work for the site purchases using WP Members but not for Amazon?

        1. Charles Charles says:

          Hi Leanne, yes I think you’ll be able to use WooCommerce and WP Members together to achieve the desired result for purchases made on site. But if a purchase is made on Amazon then the site will have no way to validate the purchase which I gather is a requirement before providing access to the members area (I’m not aware of any membership plugins which integrate with Amazon). Either way there may still be some customization required to achieve exactly what you want but I think WooCommerce and WP Members would be a good starting point.

  75. Avatar Jen says:

    Hi Charles
    we have recently generated a new website using WordPress. I have to say for a novice such as myself I have found it to be very easy to update etc.

    I am currently building up the site and adding pages. I would like to have a page on the website that is password protected making it only available to members. The rest of the pages will be for public access.

    I also would like to add a paypal button for purchase of CD’s.

    If you could help it would be a big help

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Jen,

      Glad to hear you are finding WordPress easy to deal with. In terms of a password protected page for members only, any of the plugins above can achieve this but I would add that WordPress has a very simple password protect feature built in too where you can add a single common password to any page or post. If the content is not especially sensitive and you can trust that members won’t share the common password you could use this to very easily password protect any particular pages you wanted to, though this only works at the page level. If you want to password protect a section or need more robust user access management you’ll need one of the plugins above.

      There are also many plugins for adding a PayPal buy now button for your CDs too. Take a look at these options. It’s been awhile since I used anything like this so I don’t have a special preference. I can only recommend checking out the ratings and reviews and trying the ones that seem to be popular and well reviewed.

      Hope that helps.

  76. Avatar Pavlos says:

    This is a great article! Is there any plugin to restrict access by role to an entire subfolder or to individual php file?


    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Pavlos, any of these plugins can be used to limit access to a specific set of pages or a category for instance which would be defined by a specific directory. But I’m not sure that is what you are asking. These plugins can only work to limit access to pages controlled by WordPress, they won’t work to control access over other non-WordPress directories or files.

  77. Avatar Clay D. says:

    Hello Charles,

    Our client needs different types of member access control, such as pay for a day, pay for a week or month or pay to see one video or one images gallery.

    Any of the plugins that you mentioned above, can work fine in this project?


    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Clay, I don’t think any of these plugins will do quite what you need, specifically the granular level of subscription options. I suspect that there are better industry specific solutions developed to serve this need. I’m not familiar with them, but I would search around and I’m sure you’ll find options.

  78. Hello Charles,
    I’m really impressed by your ongoing attention to the comment stream from the original post!
    Could I get you recommendation because I find it hard to tell the difference between the above options.
    My requirement is for a membership area for a coaching website using WordPress with Thrive Content Builder over the top. I use SendPepper by Ontraport as my email marketing tool/CRM.
    The main content is just manuals for members to work through at their own pace. However, I also want to record videos of members giving speeches and load them onto the site so that members can view their own videos and/or share them with others. I’m looking up hundreds then later thousands of members with multiple videos to store.
    I’m assuming I will need to have the videos in a separate platform but will need to integrate with the member management system. Not sure if that is in Sendpepper or the membership area pluggin.
    Any recommendations?

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Tim, you are totally right that the video hosting is best handled by a third party video hosting service, particularly when you are talking about 1000’s of videos. The ‘integration’ part should be pretty simple in terms of displaying the videos on the membership pages, it is really just like any other embedded content. The challenge is securing the video so that it can’t be shared outside of the membership area. To this end Vimeo Pro seems to be a very popular option as you can lock down access to your own domain which makes it pretty simple. Using a tool like Vimeo Pro then you are free to choose the membership platform that you think will suit your needs the best. The other option is Amazon S3 for storing your video files. Generally this will be cheaper (for large numbers of files), but again securing the files might be harder. I do know that MagicMembers supports S3 pretty well and allows you to secure media files served from S3 so that might be a reason to look closely at MagicMembers specifically. I’m not sure off the top of my head if MemberMouse or Wishlist support it to that extent, but there is another plugin that I’ve only recently become aware of that does also support file storage and protection on Amazon, MemberPress, which is also worth a look. I’m planning to add MemberPress to the article soon.

  79. Avatar acil kredi says:

    ? am using WP-Members plugin but when i check cpanel using cpu %50 – %70 if i stop to use WP-Members cpu down %10 around where i made misstake? Any one has idea?

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Acil, I don’t know what would be causing that. I suggest you reach out the developer of WP Members and ask their advice. You can reach them here:

  80. Avatar Karen Selman says:

    Charles, thank you so much for your commitment to helping all of us. Your dedication is impressive.

    I am building a site for a small Homeowners Association (18 members) and need to set up members only access so only owners have access to make payments, get account information, bylaws, etc.

    Which plugin would you suggest for this task?

    Thanks so much,

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Karen, thanks and you’re welcome 🙂

      I think there are two approaches here which might work better depending on the use case:

      1. The payments you mention, are they subscriptions or recurring Association subs of some sort, or more ad-hoc payments for other services? If they are just Assoc. subs then I think any one of the premium membership plugins would work well. They call handle recurring payments/subs and control access to members only content.
      2. If you are selling other types of products and/or services on more of any ad-hoc basis and don’t charge a subscription for access then I think I might be more inclined to use one of the free membership plugins (I like WP Members) and then use one of the popular payment gateway plugins (like this) to handle any billing/payment needs inside the members only area.

      Hope that helps.

  81. Avatar Paul Webster says:

    Hi there. I currently run a subscription print magazine for collectors of Royal Doulton. With postal problems to South Africa it has been requested that we make the magazine available as a PDF download (for a fee of course) However we are aware that certain currently print copy subscribed members would have no problem in redistributing that content free of charge to any and all… We’re not tied to PDF format, but we are looking for a controllable content and access platform to allow this to happen without risking that. A platform that will only allow paid subscribers to access the content and also make it difficult if not impossible to share that outside of a traceable ‘account’ or other means. I was wondering if anyone would recommend one of these options over another for this purpose.
    Cost isn’t an issue for us as ultimately it would be an investment in order to protect and increase revenue.
    Any suggestions most gratefully received.

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Paul, Sorry for the slow response. I’ve not actually dealt with this one before. Have you investigated options like Flipping Book and 3D Issue Flipbooks? These options offer access control as well as providing readre analytics which I imagine would be quite appealing too. Is this the kind of thing you are looking for?

  82. Avatar Lammy Maengkom says:


    I’m Lammy Lambertus Maengkom in Indonesia. I would like to ask you if there’s any wp membership plugin that give member opportunity to send post articles ?

    I follow this topic by e-mail .. Thank you!

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Lammy, you could use any of these membership plugins and combine with Gravity Forms which allows you to create a front end form that will save submitted data as a draft post.

  83. Avatar Patrick says:

    i currently in the process of creating my new site and i have got a small problem i´m a photographer and i want to give my clients access to there proof photos i looked into a pw protected page but i want to set up something nicer. i want to create a login page where each user login redirects to a different page with only there photos i don´t need any payments made through the site is there any plugin that can do that for me?

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Patrick, I think what you need is a client management plugin. Specifically I would suggest WP Customer Area. It will make it easy to create client specific pages on the site where you can share their proofs (using your favorite gallery plugin). They also have some great extensions for the plugin which might add some nice additional features like notifications and private messaging.

  84. Avatar Dee says:

    I have a subdomain question…

    The Woocommerce plugins are really heavy and they slow my site down. So, I would like to keep my main site and then redirect members once they pay on the main site to, which is where my full membership platform will be with woocommerce.

    How do I get the purchase buttons to lead them to the subdomain after the purchase is made?

    Thanks in advance.


    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Dee, the problem with this approach is getting the two domains to talk to each other, that will be difficult and probably require custom coding which you should try to avoid. I know it isn’t what you asked but I would really suggest instead focusing on how to make your site run fast on the main domain. WooCommerce itself shouldn’t have that much of an effect unless you have very slow hosting. Plenty of WooCommerce sites run nice and fast. Have you checked out our performance reviews of all the main shared hosting companies?

  85. Avatar Onuoha says:

    Hi Charles, i am happy to have read this post. i want to design an alumni website. How can i do do that myself with out paying a developer to do that for me?

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Onouha, I’d browse around the many theme sites, starting with free themes on and then the premium themes at Themeforest.

  86. Avatar Damola says:

    Hi Charles,

    You have a wealth of knowledge. I commend you. I have a question regarding a members only site for my users.

    I have a website that is basically a repository of a bunch of videos that I have filmed and edited over some time. I want these videos to be available to my members who sign up.

    After paying for a subscription, users will be able to manage their account and create a page (only 1 page) that will link to a sub domain. This page will allow them to create minimal content in the form of a page header (The name of their company), a text paragraph (A brief description of what they do) and upload/grab videos I have available on my website to sub sections based on categories.

    The idea is after logging-in to their account, they can browse my website and tag videos they want to add to their own personal page (if not possible they can just select from their page).

    The end result will be a member can go to their sub domain ( and they will see their business name, a brief description of what they do, 3 sections (Comedy, Action, Drama) with them being able to add my videos to any one of those sub sections.

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Damola, it sounds like your videos are all training videos, yes? I’m not aware of any plugins that do exactly what you describe in terms of creating a sub-domain site for each user and allowing them to tag videos which will appear on their page. I wonder if your site is indeed about users self selecting particular training videos then do you nedcessarily need to have separate sites created or would it be enough that they can favorite particular video posts and then access these from a favorites list? You can do this with the WP Favorite Posts plugin. If that doesn’t meet your needs then I would take a look at the popular WordPress courseware/learning management system plugins like Sensei, Learndash or WP Courseware.

  87. Avatar Linda says:

    Do you have a suggestion for which membership platform I need? I provide personalized information for each member, so they’ll need to access their own membership page when they log in, so they get only their own content.

    Most membership plugins I’m seeing provide access to a member level, but not an individual member page/content. Any ideas?

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Linda, have you looked at these client area plugins? They allow you to have “client” pages (or in your case member pages), where you can provide whatever content you like.

  88. Avatar Marilyn says:

    Hi Charles,
    I’m so impressed that you continue to support this article and that you are so very helpful. I am going to take advantage of your kindness to ask a question.

    We are a search and rescue organization in Washington that wants to have pages specific to our members. In addition, we need to keep track of our members/volunteers qualifications and training in some sort of database that we prefer they maintain.

    We would prefer to have only one login. I can find membership plugins (ie: Membership2) and I can find database plugins (ie: Participants Database). Is there a database that can also act as a membership portal?

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Marilyn, thanks. I’m just pleased this post proves useful for people. I think there are a few ways you could approach this. If the extra information you need to capture for each member/volunteer is reasonably straight forward you might actually be able to use one of the membership plugins out of the box. For instance WP Members allows you to incoporate custom fields into the registration and profile admin screens. Perhaps you could use this feature to capture information about qualifications.

      If that doesn’t go far enough you might be able to use one of these membership plugins and enhance the profile information store by adding one of the many profile extension plugins designed to capture more profile information, e.g. Profile Builder or Profile Grid.

      Lastly, there is a volunteer management plugin, Wired Impact Volunteer Management. That might be worth a look to see if it meets your needs.

  89. Easily the best post on the subject. Nice work.

    Quick question, though – instead of setting up a private members area to restrict content, I just want to set one up just to give some of my clients a place to log in and update their business info.

    The fields in WP-Members are pretty close, but ideally I’d want to add some section headings or split it up over multiple pages, since I’m going to need 50+ fields to cover everything. Also, if there was any way to view those fields in bulk for all users, like exporting a CSV, that would be awesome. Do you know if any of the paid plugins are better suited for that?

    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Joe, have you seen our post on client area plugins? I’m a fan of the WP Customer Area plugin myself. Perhaps you could combine that with Gravity Forms to capture much more detailed information about each client. And maybe use Gravity View to display the submitted company info back to the client in a kind of profile page too?

  90. Avatar Chris Putnam says:

    Great article and was wondering if I could ask any advice?

    I am looking at setting up a WordPress site (have previous experience) but adding memberships and perhaps individual page downloads. Just wondering if there are any options that can make it easy to build an app and link with that. I could use Dreamweaver to link to WordPress and then build an app from this. A little like does.


    1. Charles Charles says:

      Hi Chris, I’m not really sure what you mean. There are also plugins like WordPress Mobile App Builder which purport to “turn your website into a native mobile app” much like Apppressor. Is that what you had in mind? I get the feeling you are looking for something else?

      1. Avatar Chris Putnam says:


        Sorry for late reply. Yes you got it right. At first we want a membership based website (likely WordPress with a pluigin you have suggested above). We would then like to create an app from our WordPress site. Im ok getting messy with design from scratch but it is linking the membership database of the website to the app I have no idea how to do. Was wondering if any WordPress plugins for membership solve that issue?

        1. Charles Charles says:

          Hi Chris, I know that MemberMouse and Restrict Content Pro have APIs to make it easy for developers to integrate with the plugins and while I haven’t looked at this for the other plugins I suspect they too offer hooks to make integration relatively easy.

  91. Avatar Erwin Douwes says:

    Hello Charles,

    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!

    1. Charles Charles says:

      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!

      1. Avatar Erwin Douwes says:

        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.

        1. Charles Charles says:

          It is an interesting idea, but I do wonder how Google would treat this as the content isn’t truly public. I guess the question is whether Google could understand what was going on with the JavaScript you’d use to enable this type of functionality.

    2. Avatar VWFeature says:

      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…

  92. Avatar Nicolas says:

    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:

  93. Avatar Mommyoutside says:

    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!

    1. Charles Charles says:

      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.

      1. Avatar Mommyoutside says:

        Very helpful thank you so much!

  94. Avatar Véro says:

    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 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 (, and 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.

    1. Charles Charles says:

      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.

  95. Avatar Carla says:

    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

    1. Charles Charles says:

      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?

  96. Avatar Camilla says:

    Hi Charles

    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!

    1. Charles Charles says:

      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?

  97. Avatar PABLO says:

    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.

    1. Charles Charles says:

      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.

  98. Avatar Thomas says:

    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!

    1. Charles Charles says:

      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.

  99. Avatar Mark Osbourn says:

    Hi Charles

    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?



    1. Charles Charles says:

      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.

  100. Avatar Cindi Gay says:

    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?

    1. Charles Charles says:

      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.

  101. Avatar Bud says:

    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.

    1. Charles Charles says:

      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.

  102. Avatar elisabeth roks says:

    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?

    1. Charles Charles says:

      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.

  103. Avatar Paul says:

    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,

    Thank you!!!

    1. Charles Charles says:

      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.

  104. Avatar Nick says:

    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).

    1. Charles Charles says:

      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.

  105. Avatar chukiya pant says:

    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.

    1. Charles Charles says:

      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)

  106. Avatar Gavan Black says:

    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.

    1. Charles Charles says:

      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.

  107. Avatar Gavan Black says:

    Thanks Charles, I’ll check it out.

  108. Avatar Ryan says:

    Hi Charles,

    I am looking for a plugin / social login that will allow me to restrict content to members of a certain Facebook *Group* – any ideas?

    1. Charles Charles says:

      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.

  109. Avatar Stacie says:

    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?

    1. Charles Charles says:

      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.

  110. Avatar Jeffo Granetto says:

    Thanks a lot Charles! I was searching a members area for my site:

    I’m from Brazil, and I’m creating a course about graphic design


  111. 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.

  112. Avatar Ian Shevki says:

    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.


    1. Hi Ian, that’s a good question and one best answered by the team at WishLit Member. You can submit a support request here:

  113. Avatar lopedes says:

    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

    1. 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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.