Membership Plugins don’t do that

The kid worked for days on the paper. Studied. Researched. And worked all weekend crafting the perfect argument. He was thrilled to turn it in. And couldn't wait to get his paper returned with a grade on it.

He hoped he'd get an A.

It came back with red marker writing on the top right corner.

“Excellent argument. Well written. Wrong Topic.”

Ever been there? You're working so hard that you forget to make sure you're solving the right problem.

All the effort in the world won't help you if you're going in the wrong direction.

WordPress Membership Plugins

I write a lot about membership plugins. Mostly because it's one of the things I know well.

I've run corporate and enterprise membership sites for over a decade. And while it's true that dating sites and other membership sites sound more exciting, enterprise membership sites can get just as complicated – when it comes to features.

So because I write about them, I get a lot of questions about them. And most of the time, I realize that I wish I could point people to this post. But until now it's hasn't existed.

I wish it had, because I've needed it hundreds of times.

All to tell people one thing – in a clear way.

Membership plugins don't do that.

What do Membership plugins do?

Membership plugins have a few key features:

  • Allow people to join a membership (for or without a fee)
  • Allow people in that membership group to see (or not see) content
  • Allow that membership to last for a period of time
  • Ensure that members can stay current (for or without a fee)

That's it. That's the heart of what a membership plugin is supposed to do.

All the other things you want them to do – they may or may not do.

Here are all the things they may not do

  • It's not a given that they'll create a directory of members
  • It's not a given that they'll create a special page for each user
  • It's not a given that they'll have an import feature for your 2MM members
  • It's not a given that they'll integrate with your payment gateway
  • It's not a given that they'll support pro-rating or pausing of a membership
  • It's not a given that they'll also provide event management
  • It's not a given that they'll also support a downloads area

Some people approach me and say, “I need a membership plugin, which one is right?”

That's like saying, “I need a car with wheels and a steering wheel – which one is right?”

Others, on the other hand, get frustrated when they buy a plugin without doing any research.

That's like complaining to me, “This car doesn't have seat heaters!”

I love helping people figure out which is the right tool for the job, but that doesn't remove your own responsibility for doing some research.

And the first thing you ought to know is that your membership plugin should protect content.

The other stuff you want it to do?

Well maybe you just need to hear it directly from me.

Membership Plugins don't may not do that.

Default image
Chris Lema
Chris Lema has been working with WordPress since 2005. Over the years he's been a blogger, a speaker at WordCamps, a coach for WordPress product companies, and the founder of the conference for WordPress business owners, called CaboPress. Today he's the VP of Products at Liquid Web, where he manages the world's first managed platform for WooCommerce stores.