One of the best ways to monetize your WordPress website and build a loyal user-base is by creating a membership website.

Membership websites aren’t new. The business model of creating a close-knit online community dates back to the days before social media.

Internet marketers and website owners have successfully built and managed forums, niche websites, and communities as a way to offer value to their members. At the same time, membership websites create a steady income source for the website owner.

If you’re planning on adding a membership section to your website or creating a brand new WordPress membership website — then this article is for you.

In this article, I’ll discuss the benefits of creating a membership website and also review the most popular and widely used WordPress membership plugins.

Let’s review 14 of the best plugins to help build your WordPress membership website.

The Benefits of Creating a Membership Site

Increase Your Revenue

Let’s start with the most obvious benefit — income.

Membership sites are not new for internet marketers. Before the rise of social media there used to be forums and communities.

Despite the rise of social media communities — Facebook groups, subreddits, Slack groups, etc., many website owners and marketers are still benefiting from the success of exclusive membership websites. A handful of online communities are even exceeding the $100k per year mark.

A paywall or paid subscription model has always existed in the digital publication world. Most newspapers and publications (TechCrunch, Bloomberg, New York Times, Wall Street Journal) offer exclusive content to premium members.

A membership website gives you a similar opportunity to offer premium content (courses, premium articles, forums) to your members, and generate a decent income.

Demonstrate Authority

People often value something more if they are paying for it rather than what’s available freely.

Creating a membership site helps establish your expertise and authority in your domain. It helps send the signal that you know what you are talking about and the information that you share can be trusted.

Add More Value to Your Users

There’s an abundance of free content available today, and in most cases, readers don’t know where to look first. However, once they trust a specific website, they are more likely to re-visit and subscribe to that website.

According to Skyword, the benchmark for returning visitors is around 20-30% of total website visits. If you are not hitting that benchmark, then one of the proven ways to do that is to consistently publish high-quality and unique content to drive those visitors back to your site.

Think about the blogs and publications that you visit daily. Chances are that when you first visited them, they wowed you with awesome content, and built that trust with you. Now, you trust that source and keep going there for more content.

You can do the same on your website.

Once you establish trust using your free content, then you can showcase valuable content behind a paywall. Readers and subscribers know that the paid content will often be more insightful and valuable to them than what they can be consumed for free.

Build an Email List

If you own a website, then you know the importance of building your email list. Email marketing continues to provide one of the highest rates of return for all marketing channels.

Once members are subscribed to your email lists, you can communicate with them directly and also promote your offers and programs. It helps you reduce your CAC (customer acquisition cost) and increase your customer LTV (life-time value) without having to spend a lot of money on digital ads.

However, the rise of popup forms and lead magnets has made it more difficult than ever before to convert visitors to subscribers. Almost every website offers a popup form and it becomes hard to differentiate.

Here’s where a membership site can help you.

Instead of enticing them with a weekly newsletter you can offer your subscribers premium content, forum discussions, one-on-one interactions, etc. This will increase your chances of converting them into subscribers or members.

Content Automation

Many of the WordPress membership plugins discussed in this article come pre-packaged with rules and automation that allows you to restrict which content is protected and which content isn’t. This becomes otherwise difficult to manually set restrictions for each piece of content.

If you are selling courses then you also probably want to provide your members with drip or sequential content i.e. they can view certain articles or pages only on a certain date of their membership or activity. You can easily achieve this with rule-based automation and content restrictions feature available in many of the plugins discussed below.

What to Look for in a WordPress Membership Plugin?

Ease of use

Any plugin (not just membership plugins) you install on your website should be easy to install, activate, set up and use.

You should easily be able to configure membership packages, payment options, membership privileges, content restrictions, email notifications without having to write a lot of code or hire a developer.

It should also make it easier for your members to register, purchase memberships, access content and update their settings.

WordPress Themes and Plugins Compatibility

Any plugin you install must be compatible with the latest version of WordPress, and should also work seamlessly with any of the latest WordPress core updates.

It should also work seamlessly with your WordPress theme and plugins. If there are any potential compatibility issues with other plugins, then you should be aware of the potential conflicts or the additional development that would be required.

Most of the membership plugins discussed offer a free trial or a money-back guarantee for you to test the plugin in your environment. You can also access their knowledge base or support forums to investigate further and get extra help if you need it from their support team.

User Access Restriction (or Content Restriction)

One of the primary benefits of a membership plugin is that you can restrict access to certain content (posts, pages, categories, files) on your website only to paid members.
This is one of the many reasons why a potential member wants to join your membership program, so they can access high-quality content.

The plugin should allow you the flexibility to set up and customize content restrictions easily without having to write additional code.

Payment Options

It’s important that the membership plugin integrates seamlessly with various payment gateways so you can accept both one-time and recurring payments. This helps to ensure that you are not missing out on any opportunities to generate additional revenue.

Ideally, the plugin should work with your existing payment gateway or solution. Otherwise, it’ll need to have APIs to help integrate with your payment solution.

Software Integrations

Running a membership website involves many aspects — registration, accepting payments, email marketing, community management, content creation, etc. A single plugin may not be able to do all of this.

So, it’s important for the plugin to have pre-built integrations or developer-friendly APIs that allow you to connect with other tools and software.

If you are already using an email marketing platform, then look for a plug plugin that seamlessly integrates with your software.


Any plugin you install should have the necessary information to help you set up, install and use the software — knowledge base, user guides, tutorials, FAQs, support forums. This ensures that you are able to use the plugin seamlessly to manage your membership website.

Also, having a dedicated support team ensures that you can reach out to the plugin developers directly for any assistance required, allowing you to spend more of your time running your membership website rather than fixing technical problems.

14 Membership Plugins for WordPress Websites

1. MemberPress

MemberPress is a full-featured and highly-configurable membership solution for WordPress websites that allows you to easily create and manage membership subscriptions and digital products.

The plugin is created and maintained by Caseproof.

Ease of Use:

Configuration — Once activated, there’s the flexibility to configure the user permissions, registration process, log in and also how the membership site will look for your users.

Configuring payment settings and marketing integrations to ensure a seamless workflow for your members is also straightforward. Setting up pricing, products, taxes, and any coupons are also possible. The ease makes everything automatic once properly configured.

Member-friendliness — One of the advantages is the self-serve option for your members. It also provides your members the ability to create, update, upgrade or cancel their subscriptions directly from their membership portals.

Content Restriction:

MemberPress allows you to control what your users can see based on their membership or the digital products they have purchased.

The plugin allows you to restrict access to pages, child pages, posts, categories, tags and any other type of files in your WordPress installation.

Creating a password-protected community or forum is also possible.

WordPress Theme/Plugin Compatibility:

  • Themes — Compatible with any WordPress theme (even custom themes).
  • Plugins — Compatible with most WordPress plugins. However, there are a few plugins that may not work well with MemberPress.


MemberPress currently integrates with 70+ third-party software and tools.

  • Email Marketing — ActiveCampaign, MailChimp, AWeber, Constant Contact, ConvertKit, Drip, GetResponse, MailPoet, HubSpot.
  • LMS (Learning Management Systems)  LearnDash, WP Fusion, Gravity Press, WP HelpDesk and many more.
  • Forums bbPress.

For plugins and software that aren’t listed above, you’re also able to extend the functionality and connection using the Developer tools.

Payment Options:

  • PayPal — Integration available on all plans (Basic, Plus and Pro).
  • Stripe — Integration available on all plans (Basic, Plus and Pro).
  • — Integration is only available in the Plus and Pro plans.

You have the ability to sell individual downloads and also recurring subscription payments.

MemberPress Support:

  • Extensive User manual and Knowledgebase.
  • Web support is available with their ticketing system.
  • Support Hours 09:00 to 17:00 MST, Monday to Friday.

MemberPress Pricing:

  • Basic  $149/year (Single Site).
  • Plus   $249/year (2 Sites).
  • Pro  $249/year (5 sites).
  • No free trial.
  • All Plans allow you to add unlimited members and can be used for unlimited membership options.
  • All plans come with a 14-day money-back guarantee if you are not satisfied with your purchase and installation.

2. Paid Member Subscriptions

Paid Member Subscriptions is a WordPress and WooCommerce membership plugin that allows you to create subscriptions, manage members and restrict access to premium content.

The plugin is created and maintained by Cozmoslabs and has over 10,000+ active installations.

Ease of Use:

Configuration — There are many pre-built shortcodes that you can use to build pages — registration pages, login form, member account pages, subscription management pages.

The plugin also gives you the ability to accept payments, set up membership levels, restrict contact (posts, pages). Along with the ability to create email templates and send automated emails based on membership actions.

Member-friendliness — The plugin also allows your users to log in and manage their settings. Once registered, members can easily add another subscription or product to their plans. If they are on a free trial, they also have the option to upgrade to the paid membership plans, and they also have the option to downgrade their membership from their user profiles.

Content Restriction:

Paid Member Subscriptions allow you to restrict content (pages, posts) based on membership levels. You have the option to restrict content based on parameters such as duration, status, pricing, etc.

If you run a WooCommerce site, then you also restrict certain product viewing and purchasing, and also offer special product prices to members.

WordPress Theme/Plugin Compatibility:

  • Themes  Compatible with most WordPress themes. Additional functionality is available for the Elementor page builder.
  • Plugins — Compatible with most WordPress plugins.
  • WooCommerce — Yes. Restrict content, product viewing, and purchasing.


  • Email Marketing — MailChimp.

Payment Options:

  • PayPal — All the plans (Hobbyist, PRO, Unlimited) are compatible with PayPal.  For accepting subscriptions or recurring payments via PayPal the PRO version is required.
  • Stripe — Integration is only available on the PRO version.

Paid Member Subscriptions Support:

  • Extensive documentation, Knowledgebase.
  • Web support is available via their ticketing system.
  • Support Hours  09:00 to 17:00 (GMT), Monday to Friday.

Paid Member Subscriptions Pricing

  • Hobbyist  $69/year (Single Site).
  • PRO   $149/year (Unlimited Sites).
  • Unlimited  $429/one-time (Unlimited sites).
  • No free trial for this plugin. However, there’s a free demo available for both the front-end (member-facing) and the back-end (site administrator facing), which allows you to test the various features.
  • Refund requests must be made by opening a support ticket, and can only be made within 15 days of the purchase. Once the subscription is canceled you will still get access to updates and support until the annual license expires.

3. Restrict Content Pro

Restrict Content Pro allows you to create a membership site based on your business needs — digital magazine subscriptions, or job boards, private communities.

The plugin is created by Pippin Williamson(Founder of Easy Digital Downloads) and maintained by Sandhills Development and has over 10,000+ active installations.

Ease of Use:

Configuration — Site administrators can create any number of membership levels and packages. Communicate with your members with the help of automated emails which can be customized based on membership level or status.

The intuitive admin interface also allows you to easily keep track of all your memberships. Easily add, modify, search or even export membership data at any time. The reporting function allows you to see how well your membership site is doing — earnings, subscriptions, account registrations, etc.

Member-friendliness — The Customer Dashboard allows members to easily view their account status, subscription information, renewal dates, and options to upgrade/downgrade/cancel their accounts.

Content Restriction:

Restrict Content Pro also you to control which members get access to premium content. The plugin integrates directly with WP Approve User, thus allowing you to moderate member registration.

The plugin also allows you to restrict content within a post or page based on membership levels (free or paid). Additionally, you are able to restrict topics and content within the forum based on membership levels.

WordPress Theme/Plugin Compatibility:

  • Themes  Designed to integrate with every WordPress theme (no custom CSS required). Ability to customize the plugin based on theme display settings.
  • Plugins  Easily integrate with other WordPress plugins.
  • WooCommerce — Yes. It allows you to control who can view or purchase products from your WooCommerce store.


  • Email Marketing — MailChimp, Campaign Monitor, MailPoet, AWeber, ConvertKit, Drip.

Also, it integrates with Easy Digital Downloads (created by the same company) allowing you to sell digital products.

Payment Options:

Restrict Content Pro integrates with the following payment gateways:

  • Stripe.
  • PayPal.
  • 2Checkout.
  • Braintree.

Also, the plugin can integrate with other payment gateways with the help of their custom payment gateway API.

Restrict Content Pro Support:

  • Extensive documentation and Knowledgebase.
  • Web support is available via their online ticketing system.
  • Email support and plugin updates are included during the term of your license.
  • All licenses must be renewed annually (except the Ultimate plan) to receive updates and support.

Restrict Content Pro Pricing:

  • Personal  $99/year (Single site).
  • Plus  $149/year (for 5 sites).
  • Professional  $429/year (Unlimited sites).
  • Ultimate  $499 one-time payment (Unlimited sites). Lifetime updates and support.
  • No free trial for the plugin.
  • 30-day money-back guarantee.

4. WooCommerce Memberships

WooCommerce Memberships is a plugin that allows you to create a membership system that is deeply integrated with your WooCommerce store.

The plugin is created and maintained by SkyVerge.

Ease of Use:

Configuration — The plugin can be purchased and installed directly from the WooCommerce website. It’s easy to install and activate.

The main distinction of this plugin is that allows you to convert your eCommerce store into a membership-based purchasing club. i.e. create member-only products and offer exclusive products. Easily restrict which products are visible to the public and which are visible to members.

Communicate easily with members via email. Create email templates for membership expiration and renewal reminders.

Easily view and edit membership details for your members.

Member-friendliness — The members can upgrade or downgrade or pause their memberships.

Content Restriction:

Enable any or all sections of the member area to show them a list of accessible content (pages, posts), products, discounts, etc.

The plugin also allows you to drip content, which means that you can schedule when members should have access to your content.

WordPress Theme/Plugin Compatibility:

  • Themes  Compatible with most WordPress themes.
  • Plugins  Compatible with most WordPress plugins.
  • WooCommerce — The plugin integrates extensively with WooCommerce and all other WooCommerce-related supported extensions, add-ons, and plugins.


It also integrates with WooCommerce Subscriptions to help you sell and manage recurring membership options.

Payment Options:

Since this is built into your WooCommerce store, it connects directly to the payment system you use for your products. So, if you accept PayPal, Stripe, you can do the same here.

WooCommerce Memberships Support:

  • Extensive documentation.
  • All subscriptions (Single Site, 5-Sites, or 25-Sites) comes with 1 year of updates and support.
  • Web support is available through the ticketing system.
  • Support Hours  10:30 to 19:00 (GMT), Monday to Friday.

WooCommerce Memberships Pricing:

  • Single Site  $149/year.
  • 5 Sites  $199/year.
  • 25 Sites   $249/year.
  • No free trial for this plugin. However, you have the option to contact WooCommerce directly before purchase and ask them any technical questions.
  • 30-day money-back guarantee.

5. s2Member

s2Member allows you to protect and restrict content  posts, pages, tags, categories, files, audio, video.

The plugin is created and maintained by WPSharks and has in excess of 1.2 million downloads and over 1000 customers.

Ease of Use:

Configuration — s2Member is easy to configure and extend based on your business needs. The plugin is powered entirely by WordPress shortcodes, making it easy to install.

Create and sell recurring and one-time subscription easily for the entire website.

Easily build custom email messages that can be sent once a customer completes the checkout.

Site administrators can also easily update or edit member profiles.

Member-friendliness — Members can easily edit or update their profiles.

Content Restriction:

Ability to sell specific posts or pages, or sell access to specific file downloads.

Content dripping is available only in the Pro versions, allows you to pre-schedule the release of premium website content to paying members.

WordPress Theme/Plugin Compatibility:

  • Themes  Integrates with other themes, however, might need some developer configurations.
  • Plugins  Integrates with other plugins, however, it might require some developer configurations.
  • WooCommerce  Not compatible with WooCommerce and is not recommended to be used at the same time.


  • Email Marketing  MailChimp, AWeber, GetResponse.
  • Forums  bbPress.
  • Social Networking   BuddyPress.

Payment Options:

  • PayPal — Available for both the free and Pro versions.
  • Stripe — Only available for the Pro version.
  • — Only available for the Pro version.
  • ClickBank — Only available for the Pro version.

s2Member Support:

  • Extensive documentation, Knowledgebase, articles, video tutorials, and forum discussions.
  • No additional support available.

s2Member Pricing:

  • Framework  Free.
  • Pro Version S2Member  $89 one-time (Single-site license).
  • Pro Version Unlimited  $199 one-time (Unlimited-site license).
  • The free version (Framework) only allows you to create 4 membership programs. The Pro versions (s2Member and Unlimited) allow you to create unlimited membership programs.
  • Both the Pro versions provide lifetime access to product updates.
  • 14-day refund policy. However, refunds are not guaranteed (all refunds are at the sole discretion of the s2Member staff).