If we’re going to talk a bit about membership plugins for WordPress, we need to start with the most obvious – there are a lot of options out there. Want me to cut to the chase? Let me “bottom-line” it for you. The good news is that unlike a few years ago, many of them have improved to the point where they all offer a lot of the same features. That’s great news because it hasn’t always been the case. That said, which one is the best? Which one wins?
Your Values Drive the Winner
There is no point (at least in my mind) to score the plugins and tell you which one got the best score (though I did it and have the spreadsheet to prove it). And you know why already. Because what you care about and what I care about may be different. More than that, you may care about different things based on the site you’re creating. So it comes down to what you care about most. So what I’m not going to do is give you a sorted order of the best ones. Instead, what I want to do is give you the top two plugins you should check out based on the factor you care most about.
I’m going to cover six different drivers of your decision:
- Ease of Use
- Content Dripping
- Pausing Memberships
- Using Stripe
- Custom Coding
1. If you care most about Price…
If your pocket book drives your choices – and seriously, who isn’t in that category sometimes – then there is some great news for you today because honestly, two plugins are worth noting.
- I wrote about Paid Memberships Pro the other day when describing an online course. It is free. 100% free. That means you can download it for free. You can also review the code for free. You can change it for free. You can install it on 1 site for free – and you can do it on 100 sites for free. That’s amazing, isn’t it. And it’s easy, quick to install, intuitive and all that! But I’ll tell you this – if you want to drip your content, this isn’t for you.
- Luckily, I said I would tell you about the top two in any category. And there’s another low-priced one you need to know about. If you don’t care about drip, but you do want inexpensive and awesome, check out Restrict Content Pro.
2. If you care about Ease of Use…
If what you want is a simple plugin that will protect your content without needing you to become a guru on membership sites, then you’re going to want to check out these two.
- The first is free, which most people don’t mind. It’s by the folks at iThemes – you know, the folks that brought you Backup Buddy. It’s called Exchange and you can read more about it here.
- When it comes to a second, easy to use plugin for content protection, I’d once again suggest you check out Paid Memberships Pro.
3. If you care most about Content Dripping…
Content dripping may be a really big deal for you. Why? Because you don’t want to offer all that great content in one shot and have someone pay, log in, and download it all in one day – right before they quit your monthly fee. Right? So if that’s what you care about, here are the two you may want to look at:
- My favorite plugin that does dripping is MemberPress. Their plugin rocks at content dripping – and it’s a fully-featured product. So if you have needs that go beyond the simple stuff, get started with them.
- I wrote about it above, but you have to check out Exchange if your needs are simple. Because it does content dripping and it does it cleanly. It’s a focused plugin, so if you need more, use MemberPress.
4. If you care about Membership Pausing….
- MemberPress – It’s not easy. And I wrote about pausing a bit ago. But Blair Williams said he was up to the challenge and he’s working on it.
- WP eMember – not a plugin that a lot of people talk about (in my circles), but they do it and it’s not too hard. They also have a pretty feature-packed plugin. And at $49 (for 1 or unlimited sites) it’s not too bad.
5. If you care about using Stripe…
Wait a minute, is that really a factor? That’s what you’re thinking, right? Well let’s be honest with each other. I made the list, so I get to pick. Also, it turns out I hate PayPal. If you don’t know about Stripe, check them out. So for me, it’s always a factor.
- Cart66 – it’s powerful, does e-commerce too, and supports Stripe, along with tons of other gateways. It’s worth checking out if you’re selling more than just memberships.
- Restrict Content Pro – This is one seriously beautiful plugin. The developer behind it (Pippin Williamson) knows how to write code. And the plugin is only $30 and the Stripe add-on will cost you another $20. At $50, that’s a great deal!
- Paid Memberships Pro – yes, I’m cheating. Here’s a third option. It’s free and supports Stripe right out of the box.
6. Writing Custom Code?
There are times when the plugin you pick does most of what you want. Until you want more. And then you’re in trouble. That’s when you start looking under the hood to see what you can tweak. And that’s when you find out you liked it better when you didn’t know what was under there. Right?
Except there are a few cases where you’ll be delighted. There are four plugins that I want to highlight here, for different reasons.
- Some people start with one membership plugin and then have needs that require them to move to another. This won’t happen with MemberMouse. It’s rock solid and incredibly powerful. It’s a bit pricey, but not bad if you’re running a real business off their infrastructure. And it’s designed in a way that lets developers tweak it.
- Sometimes you want just a little feature and need a developer to code it for you, but you don’t know one. Paid Memberships Pro offers that kind of help and has a lot of custom code available for re-use.
- If you want something more complicated, and are looking for extensions, only one plugin vendor has engaged the community like that to build extensions for their plugins – Restrict Content Pro.
- If you simply want clean code to do what you want to do, then check out MemberPress.
What are you using for Memberships?
I’m sure I missed something. So what’s your take? What are you using, and why?