Ultimate Guide to Creating a WordPress Membership Site

Do you want to create a WordPress membership site? Due to its flexibility and ease of use, WordPress has become the top choice for building a membership website. In this step by step guide, we will show you how to create a WordPress membership site… Read More »

The post Ultimate Guide to Creating a WordPress Membership Site appeared first on WPBeginner.

Do you want to create a WordPress membership site? Due to its flexibility and ease of use, WordPress has become the top choice for building a membership website. In this step by step guide, we will show you how to create a WordPress membership site like a pro (without the coding knowledge).

Creating a WordPress membership website

What Do You Need to Start a WordPress Membership Website?

Unlike 10 years ago, it’s quite easy to make a website these days. Out of all the platforms and website builders, WordPress makes it the easiest for anyone to build their own membership website and start selling with little to no technical skills.

You’ll need the following three things to start:

  1. A domain name. This will be your website’s address (Example, wpbeginner.com).
  2. A web hosting account. This is where your website files are stored.
  3. A membership addon (It will convert your regular website into a membership platform).

You can setup a fully functional membership website with WordPress in less than 30 minutes, and we’ll walk you through every step of the process.

In this tutorial you will learn:

  • How to get a domain name for free
  • How to choose the best web hosting
  • How to get a free SSL certificate (required to accept payments)
  • How to Install WordPress
  • How to choose a WordPress membership plugin
  • Setting up your your membership website
  • Adding payment methods
  • Adding membership levels
  • Creating members only content
  • Creating pricing and sign up pages
  • Extending your membership website

Ready? Let’s get started.

Step 1. Starting Your WordPress Membership Site

First, you need to make sure that you are using the right WordPress platform. Yes there are two types of WordPress. We recommend using the self-hosted WordPress.org version because it gives you unrestricted access to all features and tools that you need (see the full comparison of WordPress.com vs WordPress.org).

For a self hosted WordPress site, you’ll need a WordPress hosting account, domain name, and a SSL certificate.

Typically, a domain name costs around $14.99 / year, web hosting around $7.99 / month, and SSL certificate costs around $69.99 / year.

If you are just starting out, then these startup costs can add up quickly.

Thankfully, we have a way to fix that.

Bluehost, an official WordPress recommended hosting provider, has agreed to offer our users a free domain name, free SSL certificate, and a discount on web hosting.

Basically, you can get all of the above for $2.75 per month.

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Note: At WPBeginner we believe in full transparency. If you sign up with Bluehost using our referral link, then we will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you (in fact, you will save money and get a free domain + SSL certificate). We would get this commission for recommending just about any WordPress hosting service, but we only recommend products that we use personally and believe will add value to our readers.

Once you have signed up for hosting, the next step is to install WordPress. Follow the instructions in our step by step guide on how to start a WordPress blog, and you’ll be up and running in no time.

Now that you have installed WordPress, you can move on to setting up your WordPress membership site.

Step 2. Choosing a WordPress Membership Plugin

The best part about WordPress is that there are plenty of good plugins available that you can use to build your WordPress membership website. However, each one of them has its own pros and cons. We have a full comparison of the best WordPress membership plugins.

To choose the right WordPress membership plugin, first you need to decide what kind of membership website do you want to build and what features will it need?

If you just want to allow user registration on your WordPress site, then you can use WPForms. It is a WordPress form builder plugin that allows you to easily create user login and registration forms. You can even allow users to submit articles without accessing the WordPress admin area.

On the other hand, if you want to sell subscriptions, paid content, or digital downloads, then you’ll need a more robust WordPress membership plugin, like MemberPress.

MemberPress comes with advanced membership features that allow you to accept payments, create membership levels, restrict access based on levels, and more.

Selling online courses can be another possible scenario. In this case, you’ll need LearnDash, a complete WordPress LMS plugin with all the learning management features.

You can also integrate LearnDash into MemberPress to create a powerful website with online courses as well as membership subscriptions.

That being said, let’s start setting up your WordPress membership website.

Step 3. Setting up Your WordPress Membership Website

We are choosing MemberPress as our go-to plugin because it has all the features we mentioned above, and it works perfectly with third-party plugins necessary for the growth of your business.

First thing you need to do is install and activate the MemberPress plugin. For more details, see our step by step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

Upon activation, you need to visit the MemberPress » Options page to configure the plugin settings.

MemberPress options page

Step 3. Add a Payment Method

The options page is divided into different tabs. The first thing you need to setup is a payment gateway because it allows you to accept payments on your membership site.

You can do this by switching to the ‘Payments’ tab and then selecting your payment gateway.

MemberPress payments

MemberPress supports PayPal (Standard, Express, and Pro), Stripe, and Authorize.net out of the box. You need to select the payment method you want to set up and provide the required credentials.

You can also add multiple payment methods by clicking on the add button to add another payment method. We typically use two options: Stripe for credit cards and PayPal as a secondary option because some users prefer PayPal over giving out credit card details.

Don’t forget to click on the ‘Update Options’ button at the bottom of the page to save your settings.

Step 4. Creating Membership Levels

The next step is to create membership levels that your users can purchase. Each membership level can have different pricing plans, perks, and access. You can even have a free membership plan.

To create a membership level, you need to go to MemberPress » Memberships page and click on the ‘Add New’ button at the top.

Add membership level

On the next page, enter a title for this particular membership plan and then provide the plan details in the post editor.

You will need to set the pricing and expiration for this plan under the membership terms section.

Membership plan

In the example above, we have created a yearly membership plan.

After that, you need to scroll down to the membership options meta box below the post editor. This is where you can customize permissions and membership options for this particular plan.

Membership options

Once you are satisfied with the membership plan, you can click on the publish button to make it available.

Go ahead and repeat this process to create as many membership plans that you need.

Step 5. Restrict Access for Membership Plans

The next step is to select which content would be available to different membership plans on your website. MemberPress makes it very easy to control access using ‘Rules’.

You can setup rules by visiting the MemberPress » Rules page and clicking on the Add New button at the top.

Add new rules

The rule edit page allows you to select different conditions and associate them to a membership plan.

For example, you can select all content that matches a particular tag or category to be available only to members with the silver subscription plan.

Add a rules set to MemberPress

You can also create more specific rules. For example, a single post or page, child pages, or a specific URL.

Below the rules editor, you’ll see the content drip and expiration options.

Drip content allows you to gradually release content to users instead of giving it all away at once. The expiration option makes the content unavailable after a defined period of time.

If you are not sure, then you should leave them unchecked.

Once you are satisfied, go ahead and click on the ‘Save Rule’ button to save your rule settings.

Repeat the process to create more rules as needed for your membership site.

Step 6. Adding Members Only Content

MemberPress makes it super easy to create members only content using Rules.

In the above example, we created a rule that restricted all content tagged as paid to be restricted. Now all we need to do is to create our paid content and add the paid tag to it.

Adding members only content

MemberPress also adds ‘MemberPress Unauthorized Access’ metabox below the post editor. This allows you to select what logged out users (non-members) will see when they reach this content.

Restricted content options

You can use the global default settings, or you can show excerpts, login form, or a custom message.

Once you have added members-only content, you can go ahead and publish it. As the page reloads, you will see a success message that this content is protected.

Protected content

Step 7. Create a Pricing Page

This is the page your users will see when they want to sign up for a membership plan. On this page, users will be able to select a membership plan and then move to the payment page.

Users who try to access the restricted or paid areas of your website will also be redirected to this page.

You can configure this by going to MemberPress » Groups page and clicking on the Add New button at the top.

Creating a group

First, enter a title for the group plan page. This will also be the title for the plans page that users will see.

Next, go down to ‘Group options’ metabox and add memberships that you want to display on the page.

Pricing group options

You can also select a theme for the pricing table. MemberPress comes with few ready-made templates for that.

Once satisfied, click on the ‘Publish’ button to make your plan publicly visible.

To preview your pricing page, click on the ‘View Group’ link after publishing it.

Pricing page

Step 8. Redirect Users to Pricing Page

Now that we have the pricing page ready, the next step is to redirect unauthorized users to the pricing page.

To do that, first you need to visit MemberPress » Groups page and copy the URL next to the group you created in the previous step.

Pricing page URL

After that, go to MemberPress » Options page and scroll down to the ‘Unauthorized Access’ section.

You need to check the box next to ‘Redirect unauthorized visitors to a specific URL’ option and then paste the group URL you copied earlier.

Redirect unauthorized users to pricing page

Click on the ‘Update Options’ button to save your settings.

Now unauthorized users will be redirected to the pricing plans page when they try to access a members only area.

Step 9. Add Sign up and User Login Forms

Now that you have everything setup, it is time to allow your users to easily find their way around your website.

First, you need to add a user login form so that members can sign in to their accounts.

Go to Appearance » Widgets and add ‘MemberPress login’ widget to a sidebar.

MemberPress login widget

Next, we will be adding the pricing page link to the navigation menu, so that new users can select a plan and register.

You can do this by visiting the Appearance » Menus page in your WordPress admin. From the left column, you need to click on the Groups tab to expand it. It will show the pricing plan group you created earlier.

Add pricing plans to the menu

Check the box next to your pricing page and then click on the ‘Add to menu’ button.

The pricing plan page will now appear in the right column. You can drag and drop to rearrange its position in the menu. You can also edit it and change the link text.

Edit menu item

Don’t forget to click on the save menu button to store your changes.

You can now logout of the WordPress admin area and visit your website to see everything in action.

Membership website preview

Taking Your Membership Website to The Next Level

MemberPress is a powerful WordPress membership plugin. It allows you to easily grow your membership website.

It works beautifully with LearnDash, which allows you to easily create courses and leave the selling part to MemberPress. You can also use it alongside BuddyPress and bbPress.

Here are some other useful resources to help you grow your WordPress membership site.

That’s all, we hope this article helped you setup your WordPress membership website. You may also want to see our step by step WordPress SEO guide for beginners.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

The post Ultimate Guide to Creating a WordPress Membership Site appeared first on WPBeginner.

5 Best WordPress Membership Plugins (Compared) – 2017

Are you looking to build a membership site in WordPress? Want to know which is the best WordPress membership plugin? Choosing the right membership plugin is crucial for your business because a better platform means more opportunity for growth. In this article, we will compare… Read More »

The post 5 Best WordPress Membership Plugins (Compared) – 2017 appeared first on WPBeginner.

Are you looking to build a membership site in WordPress? Want to know which is the best WordPress membership plugin? Choosing the right membership plugin is crucial for your business because a better platform means more opportunity for growth. In this article, we will compare 5 best WordPress membership plugins to easily create paid membership websites.

Best WordPress membership plugins compared

What to Look in a WordPress Membership Plugin?

There are plenty of WordPress membership plugins, but not all of them have specific features that you may need for creating your membership site.

Some of them are good for selling subscriptions on a single level while others offer more diverse membership levels and subscription management features.

Some plugins offer drip content feature which allows you to slowly release new content to a user. While others are restricted to only offering hidden content.

You will also need to figure out which payment gateways you will use. Do you want to accept credit cards only, PayPal, or both? Your membership plugin should have support for your preferred payment gateways either built-in or through an addon.

Having said that, let’s see what you will need to start a WordPress membership site.

What Do You Need to Run a WordPress Membership Site?

Membership websites are resource intensive, and choosing the wrong host can be detrimental to your overall performance. That’s why the first thing you need to do is choose the best WordPress hosting that you can afford.

If you’re on a budget, then you can start with Bluehost. Their Business Pro plan comes with a SSL Certificate which you need to securely collect payments, dedicated IP, and a dedicated support line.

If budget is not an issue, and you want the best performance, then we recommend using a managed WordPress hosting provider like WPEngine.

If you don’t already have one, then you will need to choose a domain name for your website. Here is our guide on how to pick the right domain name for your membership site.

Lastly, you will need to choose essential business plugins such as OptinMonster which helps you capture leads and boost subscriptions.

Now that we have covered what you need to start a membership site in WordPress, let’s take a look at our top WordPress membership plugins.

1. MemberPress

MemberPress

MemberPress is one of the most popular WordPress membership plugins. It is also the easiest to use and the most robust when it comes to features.

Pros of MemberPress WordPress Membership Plugin

Easy to Setup – MemberPress makes it simple to setup a membership website with WordPress. It can automatically setup pricing, login, account, and thank you pages for your users. Adding membership plans is also very straight forward.

Content Access Control – MemberPress comes with powerful access control, which allows you to restrict access to any content including posts, pages, categories, tags, files, etc.

Content Dripping – Content dripping allows you to show restricted content to members after a certain time. This is a very useful feature for selling online courses or learning materials.

Integrations – MemberPress integrates with AWeber, MailChimp, GetResponse, and MadMimi email services. It also integrates with Amazon Web Services and BluBrry for podcast hosting.

Payment Gateways – MemberPress comes with built-in support for PayPal and Stripe payment gateways. Developer plan also adds Authorize.net support.

Cons of Using MemberPress Pro

Limited Payment OptionsMemberPress only supports the three most popular payment gateways. This would be a deal breaker for site owners who live in countries not supported by these payment gateways.

Limited Integrations – While the plugin has enough support for popular services to run a membership site efficiently, it still lacks integrations with some other popular services. The plugin is easily extensible, and you can pay someone to integrate a third-party service you would like to use.

Pricing: Business Edition $99/Year, Developer Edition $199/Year

We think MemberPress is the most easy to use WordPress membership plugin for beginners. It is quick to setup with tons of powerful options.

2. Paid Memberships Pro

PaidMemberships Pro

Next contender in our list of best WordPress membership plugins is Paid Memberships Pro. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of choosing it as your membership plugin.

Pros of Using Paid Memberships Pro

Basic Free Version – Paid Memberships Pro has a basic free version available for download. It has very limited features, but it gives you an idea of the software and can help you make your choice.

More Payment Gateways – It supports many popular gateways like PayPal, Stripe, Authorize.net, Braintree, 2Checkout, and Cyber Source.

More Integrations – There are free and paid integration addons available for Paid Memberships Pro, which help you connect to third-party tools like email marketing services, CRM, other WordPress plugins, etc.

Extension Addons – A good range of extensions are available as addons for Paid Memberships Pro. These addons bring support for many advanced features that you may want to add to your membership website such as drip content, link tracking, affiliate program, variable pricing, etc.

Cons of Using Paid Memberships Pro

Ease of Use – Paid Memberships Pro is a powerful plugin, but it is not very beginner friendly. Setting it up will take some time for most users.

Pro Plan with no Plus Addons – If you need to use any of the Plus addons, then you need to buy their PMPro Plus plan. The PMPro plan only gives you support and some extra features, but the PMPro Plus plan gives you access to 42+ other addons.

Pricing: PMPro $97. PMPro Plus $197.

We think Paid Memberships Pro is a great choice for a WordPress membership plugin. It has a comprehensive set of integrations, addons, and features which make it a complete solution for a premium membership website.

3. Restrict Content Pro

Restrict Content Pro

Restrict Content Pro is a powerful contender for the title of the best membership plugin for WordPress. It is created by same team that’s behind the popular Easy Digital Downloads and AffiliateWP plugins.

Pros of Using Restrict Content Pro

Easy to Use – Restrict Content Pro beautifully integrates with the WordPress user interface. This allows you to easily figure out how to use it.

Built-in Integrations – Unlike other membership plugins, Restrict Content Pro comes with built-in integrations that other plugins ship as paid addons. It has Stripe, PayPal, MailChimp, MailPoet, email manager, CSV export, and many more features.

Payment Gateways – Stripe, PayPal, and Braintree come as free addons. Other supported payment gateways include 2Checkout, PayPal Website Payments Pro, PayPal Express, and Stripe Checkout.

Works with Easy Digital Downloads – If you are running Easy Digital Downloads to sell digital products, then Restrict Content Pro is the perfect companion for that.

Excellent Support – There is extensive free documentation available for all users. You also get professional support by email with very fast response times.

Cons of Using Restrict Content Pro

Fewer Integrations – It has fewer integrations with third party services such as email service providers than some other plugins on this list.

Pricing: $49 with 9 addons and single site license, $99 for 5 sites, and $199 for all addons and unlimited sites. There is also a $449 lifetime plan.

We found Restrict Content Pro to be one of the most easy to use membership plugin. It is also developer friendly, and comes with a great set of features that are perfect for all kind of membership websites.

4. LearnDash

LearnDash

LearnDash is a super flexible and extremely easy to use WordPress LMS plugin. It comes with advanced membership modules and tons of integrations.

Pros of Using LearnDash

Easy to Setup LearnDash is quite easy to setup and adding content to it much more simpler. It also comes with advanced tools to easily organize your membership content into levels, groups, etc.

Easy Content Restrictions LearnDash allows you to easily hide any content and restrict it to different membership groups.

Sell Courses – LearnDash allows you to easily create and sell online courses. It has advanced modules that allow you to better manage learning material than other WordPress membership plugins.

Drip Content – It comes with powerful drip content feature allowing you to roll out content to users on regular intervals or upon completion of levels.

Built-in Community Features It comes with tools to create highly engaging membership sites with quizzes, user badges, course specific forums, certificates, user profiles, etc.

Integrations & Payments LearnDash offers an amazing set of integrations and payment gateways. You can even connect it to MemberPress, WooCommerce, bbPress, Slack, etc.

Cons of Using LearnDash

Lacks some membership features – If you are trying to build a membership website without selling courses, then some of LearnDash features may not be useful to you.

Pricing: Starting from $159 for a single site license with 1 year of support and updates.

LearnDash is the perfect solution if you want to sell online courses on a paid membership website. It’s extensive set of addons and integrations allow you to build a highly-engaging platform.

5. S2Member

S2Member

S2Member is a popular free WordPress membership plugin with pro version available as well. It has been around for quite a while and has a devoted userbase.

Pros of Using S2Member WordPress Membership Plugin

Free Base Plugin – The s2Member base plugin is free. Anyone can download and give it a try. It is limited in terms of features and support but gives you a good starting point.

Content Dripping – S2Member Pro comes with content drip feature.

Payment Gateways – The free version supports PayPal. Pro version of the plugin supports Stripe and Authorize.net as well.

Integrations – Works with MailChimp, bbPress and BuddyPress.

Documentation & Support – S2Member has an extensive knowledgebase available to all. Pro users also get email based support.

Cons of Using S2Member WordPress Membership Plugin

Not very user-friendly – We found s2Member to be a little more difficult to use than other membership plugins.

Free Version Limitations – Free version only supports PayPal, limits to only 4 membership levels, and does not have drip content feature.

Pricing: The base plugin is free, then Pro version for a single site license costs $89 USD. For unlimited sites pro version costs $189 USD.

Conclusion:

We believe that MemberPress is the best option for WordPress membership plugin. It has all the features that you would need with great documentation and support.

If you want something simple and flexible, then Restrict Content Pro is a great option. The team behind has a proven track record for producing excellent products.

If you want to sell courses on your membership website, then we recommend using LearnDash, it comes with powerful features to create and sell courses online.

We hope this article helped you find the best WordPress membership plugin for your site. You may also want to see our step by step WordPress SEO guide for beginners.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

The post 5 Best WordPress Membership Plugins (Compared) – 2017 appeared first on WPBeginner.