Do you want to start earning money from your WordPress website?
There are lots of ways that you can turn your site into an additional revenue stream, but many of these options revolve around one-off payments. You could build an online store, sell advertising space, or fill your website with affiliate links—or you could sell membership subscriptions that’ll guarantee you a steady income for the next few weeks, months or potentially even years.
In this article, we’ll be sharing 20 of our favourite free and premium plugins that you can use to transform your WordPress website into a thriving online community.
Top 20 WordPress Membership Plugins (From CodeCanyon for 2020)
There are many different ways that you can add membership functionality to your WordPress website. You could restrict access to selected pages and then sell subscriptions to this premium content or you could turn your entire website into an exclusive, members-only portal. Or perhaps you already have an offline community and want a way to manage it online.
Whatever your motivation, the quickest and easiest way to build an online community, is to use a professionally-developed WordPress membership plugin.
To help you get your membership site up and running, here are 10 of the best WordPress membership plugins that are currently trending on CodeCanyon.
Ultimate Membership Pro (UMP) is a plugin that lets you sell membership subscriptions to your WordPress content. Once you’ve created one or more subscription levels, you can restrict access to your website’s content based on the visitor’s specific subscription level (or lack of subscription!)
This robust membership plugin integrates with all of the most popular payment and checkout systems, including PayPal, Stripe, and 2Checkout.
If you’re a fan of the WooCommerce ecommerce platform, then you can also use UMP to restrict access to any WooCommerce product.
UMP is a robust plugin that doesn’t hold anything back—when you purchase this plugin, you’ll get 35 add-on packs included!
ARMember is a one-stop solution that has everything you need to create a membership website.
Some of the ARMember plugin’s stand-out features include:
- Automatically-generated shortcode. Add plan selection, registration, payments and coupon creation functionality to your website with a single piece of shortcode.
- Multiple memberships. A single user can hold multiple membership plans and add-on options simultaneously.
- Invite-only membership. Want to create an exclusive, invite-only website? Or perhaps you simply want more control over who uses your website? With ARMember, you can restrict sign-up so that users must receive an invite, before they can register.
- Grace period. If someone misses a payment or their membership expires, then you can allow them to continue accessing your content for a set period of time.
- Flexible payment options. ARMember lets users choose between making a manual payment every time their membership runs out, or setting up an auto-debit payment.
- Countrywise tax. You can define different percentage tax for different counties, and these settings will then be applied automatically based on the country the user selects when purchasing their membership.
- Built-in Security. ARMember helps protect your website with a range of security features, including brute force protection, IP and URL-based restriction, and the option to ban specific usernames and email addresses at sign-up.
- Lots of integrations. ARMember supports 8 different email tools, including Mailchimp, Mailster and ActiveCampaign. It also integrates with BuddyPress, bbPress, myCred, WooCommerce, Visual Composer, AfiiliateWP, and WPBakery Page Builder.
3. WooCommerce Membership: Sell Subscriptions via WooCommerce
As of January 2019, 53 million websites were using WooCommerce. If your website is one of these millions, then you can transform your existing WooCommerce installation into a membership website, using the dedicated WooCommerce Membership plugin.
Using this plugin, you can:
- Create multiple subscription plans.
- Easily restrict access to your content, using WooCommece Membership’s built-in shortcodes.
- Restrict access to hundreds of posts or pages simultaneously, with convenient bulk editing functionality.
- Convert any WooCommerce product into a membership product.
- Sell membership subscriptions via WooCommerce.
- Create an automatic content drip feed, by adding delays to your content.
If you already have WooCommerce setup, or you plan to use it in the future, then you can save yourself a tonne of time and effort by choosing WooCommerce Membership as your membership plugin.
Of all the membership plugins on this list, Youzer places a particular focus on community and user profiles. When you add Youzer to your WordPress website, you can be confident that your users will be able to customize their profile and community pages in a way that’s akin to Facebook’s user profiles.
Continuing the Facebook theme, Youzer has full support for many social networking features, including likes, mentions, comments and moods, and can provide social login and registration by integrating with Facebook, Twitter, Google, Instagram and LinkedIn.
“If you want to create a community focused website with WordPress, then a plugin like Youzer is essential,” says Kyla Gloer.
Youzer has a responsive design and full support for ads, so you can potentially generate some additional income by advertising on your users’ profiles. It also integrates with MyCRED, BBpress, WooCommerce, Giphy, Mailchimp, and Mailster Newsletter.
UserPro provides everything you need to create a flourishing online community, including user profiles, login, registration and content restriction.
User Imtovi says:
“The most useful and powerful user profile WordPress solution I have seen!”
UserPro integrates with all the major social networks, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn, so visitors can register with your website using their existing social media credentials.
When a new user logs into their account, UserPro can sync their existing social media profiles with their new UserPro profile, helping them create an interesting and engaging profile with minimum effort.
“I’ve been using this plugin for years. Works great and looks professional on the front end,” says ACleverCat.
UserPro also supports a range of social features, so users can connect with other members of the community, and view one another’s recent activities, including new posts, comments and follows.
The User Profiles Made Easy (UPME) plugin does exactly what it says on the tin: it makes user profiles easy!
UPME has all the features you’d expect from a profile, login and restriction plugin, plus a few interesting extras:
- A seamless front-experience with profile, registration and login pages that can be customized to match the rest of your website.
- The ability to generate invitation codes and send them to specific users via email, allowing you to create an exclusive, invitation-only registration process.
- Advanced content restriction, including preventing non-registered visitors from accessing selected posts, pages, URLs, categories, content blocks, or even your entire website.
- 1-Click social login and registration thanks to seamless Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn integration. You can also use UPME to sync content from these popular social networks to your website.
- Integration with WooCommerce and bbPress.
- 7 free add-ons.
- All support queries are handled by User Profiles Made Easy’s lead developer.
Do you already have a WooCommerce store? SUMO Memberships is a comprehensive WooCommerce membership system that lets you sell memberships through your existing WooCommerce store.
Using the SUMO Membership plugin, you can restrict access to pages, posts, content blocks, URLs and custom post types, and grant access to specific WooCommerce products based on a user’s membership level. You can also provide alternate content for webpages that a user doesn’t have permission to view, such as an alternate page or post.
By providing alternate content for people who aren’t subscribed, you can provide a better user experience for everyone who visits your website.
“Excellent support and willingness to adopt feature requests. The plugin lacked an upgrade/downgrade function when I first bought it. I asked for it and bingo! It was there on the next major update. You can’t ask for more than that,” says SUMO Membership user now4dw.
Other interesting SUMO Membership features include giving members the option to pause their own plans, or transfer their membership to another user. Multiple membership plans can also be linked to the same account, so a single user can hold several membership plans simultaneously.
SUMO Membership user AssetDrop says:
“Changing systems over to SUMO completely was the best decision we could have made. They have more features, more flexibility and fantastic levels of support. I’m incredibly happy we found them and recommend them to anyone who wants to offer subscriptions, reward points, or discounts.”
You can use PrivateContent to quickly and easily transform your WordPress website into a multilevel membership platform, by restricting access to every aspect of your site.
Some of this plugin’s standout features include:
- Advanced user tracking. Stop wondering what users are doing on your website! With PrivateContent’s native Google Analytics integration, you can track every page view, login, logout and registration in real time.
- Restrict any element. PrivateContent can restrict menus, comments, widgets, posts, pages, categories, URLs, custom post types, custom taxonomies and more. To make content restriction as easy as possible, restrictions are inherited, for example if you restrict a parent category then PrivateContent will automatically restrict all of its child categories. By taking advantage of inherited restrictions, you can define all of your website’s premium content in seconds.
- Forms blend seamlessly into your website. PrivateContent has three preset skins, but if none of these default skins quite meet your requirements then PrivateContent also has a built-in skin builder.
- Integration with Elementor, Visual Composer and Cornerstone. Stop struggling to decipher complex shortcodes, and start using real-time previews.
- Extreme mode. Lock down your entire website including all menus, with a single click—even search engines won’t be able to find your site!
- Log in from any WP-based system. PrivateContent users are synced with WordPress users, so visitors can log into your site using any WP-based system, including the popular WooCommerce platform.
- Developer-friendly. Extend PrivateContent by taking advantage of the powerful PHP API, which features dozens of actions and filters.
- Completely translatable. PrivateContent has already been translated into 23 languages.
- Anti-spam systems. This plugin supports honey-pot and invisible reCAPTCHA.
- Fast and reliable support. If you encounter any issues with PrivateContent, then you’ll have easy access to the help you need – the PrivateContent team typically answer support queries in less than 12 hours, 7 days a week.
The PrivateContent: Multilevel Content Plugin is a serious contender for anyone who wants to create a WordPress membership website.
Do you have a portfolio of e-learning materials that you want to monetize? Or perhaps you have some specialist knowledge that you want to share with the world, by creating your own online training course?
Ultimate Learning Pro is a membership plugin that’s targeted squarely at students and instructors. This plugin has everything you need to create, publish, distribute, and manage your own online courses.
Once students enroll with your website, they can use Ultimate Learning Pro’s extensive feature set to purchase, complete and review all of your e-learning materials.
After completing each course, you can use this plugin to issues students with certificates, badges and rewards points, and gather feedback about their experiences with your e-learning materials.
For instructors, Ultimate Learning Pro provides all the tools required to manage a class of online students, including posting announcements and pushing notifications to students’ smartphones to ensure they never miss an important event or deadline. Ultimate Learning Pro also has a drip content feature that makes it easy to release lessons at predefined intervals.
Ultimate Learning Pro supports all the major payment services, including PayPal, Stripe and 2CheckOut. When you purchase Ultimate Learning Pro, you’ll also get access to 20 add-ons including WooCommerce, Ultimate Membership Pro, Easy Digital Downloads, and EDD payment integration.
Don’t already have a portfolio of e-learning materials? Ultimate Learning Pro also features an intuitive course builder that makes it easy to start building your own online courses.
Unlike all the plugins we’ve covered so far, WordPress Gym Management System (WPGYM) is designed to help you manage an offline community, online—specifically, it’s a complete gym management solution.
For gym owners and instructors, WPGYM provides all the tools you need to share nutrition plans, workout schedules, and class timetables, while gym members can use WPGYM to perform useful tasks such as tracking their physical stats over time, or reserving their spot at an upcoming exercise class.
“What a great team to work with, they always strive to make sure I’m happy and go the extra mile,” says WPGYM user brokenbox.
WPGYM includes the following modules:
- Gym member module. Here, you can track the progress of all your gym members, including their vital statistics.
- Workout module. Instructors can create a workout schedule for individual members, including unique sets, reps and weight for each activity, and define a date range for each workout. The gym subscriber can then view their assigned workout and log their daily progress for their instructor to review.
- Nutrition module. Instructors can prepare and assign nutrition plans to individual gym members.
- Attendance module. Here, you can manage the attendance of your staff and gym members, and monitor the attendance for each class.
- Facility management module. Record all the facilities available at your gym, reserve these facilities for various events and classes, and manage reservations for each facility.
- Message module. Send messages to all staff and gym subscribers – handy, if you ever need to notify subscibers about a cancelled or rescheduled class.
- Newsletter module. WPGYM integrates with MailChimp, so you can quickly and easily push a newsletter to all of your gym members using MailChimp’s newsletter system.
- Accountant module. This is where you can manage your income and expenses, and membership fees. You can also use WPGYM to accept payments via PayPal.
10 free WordPress membership plugins for download in 2020
Maybe you only require access to a limited feature set, or you simply want to experiment with membership functionality before deciding whether this is the right direction for your website.
If you’re not ready to invest in a premium WordPress membership plugin just yet, then there’s plenty of free plugins available.
Here, we’ve collected 10 of our favourite free plugins from across the web:
This lightweight plugin lets you quickly and easily build registration and login forms using drag and drop.
If you need additional functionality, then there’s several premium addons available, including add-ons that enable social login, so users can register and log into your website with their existing Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn credentials. You can also purchase add-ons that integrate the User Registration plugin with popular services such as WooCommerce, PayPal and MailChimp.
The Ultimate Member plugin lets you create online communities and membership sites in seconds, by automatically generating all the pages required to offer complete membership functionality, including user profiles, login, registration, and a password reset page.
If you need to modify any of Ultimate Member’s forms, then it also includes a drag and drop form editor that supports custom fields. By experimenting with custom fields, you can create an endless variety of unique login, registration and profile editing forms.
You can use this plugin to restrict access to your website’s content based on various membership levels, including one-time payments, recurring subscriptions and custom trial periods.
Whenever an unregistered user attempts to access restricted content, they’ll be automatically re-routed into a funnel that’s designed to drive them towards making a purchase.
Paid Memberships Pro supports PayPal, Stripe, Authorize.net, Braintree and 2Checkout, and is used by over 80,000 organizations worldwide.
This WordPress plugin lets you protect your posts and pages so only registered members can view your content. Simple Membership also gives you the option to add Google reCAPTCHA to your registration, login and password reset forms, and to require new users to accept your terms and conditions before they can register with your website.
If you need to customize the Simple Membership plugin, then it also provides lots of action and filter hooks, plus an API that you can use to query, create and update member accounts.
When you restrict content using the WP-Members Membership plugin, it automatically generates post excerpt teaser content, to encourage non-registered users to purchase a subscription.
If you’re a developer, then the WP-Members Membership is also highly customizable, and provides over 120 action and filter hooks, plus a library of API functions.
This plugin has everything you need to create a revenue-generating membership website.
The Supsystic plugin has a strong focus on social content, allowing members to connect via Follow and Add as friend features.
You can also use the Supsystic plugin to create groups where like-minded members can engage with one another.
This plugin can generate all the forms users need to register, login and manage their membership. If the default forms don’t fulfill all of your requirements, then you can add your own fields using the plugin’s Fields Customizer tool.
Users Ultra Membership offers lots of functionality that free plugins often reserve for their premium add-ons. Out-of-the-box, Users Ultra Membership supports social login, integrates with MailChimp, PayPal and bbPress, and auto-syncs with WooCommerce.
While ProfileGrid is fundamentally a membership plugin and profile builder, it also supports groups, so the people who visit your website can connect with other people who share their interests. These groups can be free or paid, public or private, and you can display different content depending on whether a user is signed up to a particular group.
ProfileGrid is also notable, in that it offers a built-in private messaging system that works in real time, and allows users to submit and share blogs via your membership website.
This plugin features an easy-to-use drag-and-drop form builder. Once you’ve created your perfect form, you can place it anywhere on your website using the shortcode that WP User Frontend generates automatically.
WP User Frontend also allows registered users to post content on your website, so you could potentially create your own network of guest bloggers. Once a guest writer’s content is live on your site, they can go back and edit their work, and reply to comments, making this a great plugin for sparking discussion.
10. WP User Manager
WP User Manager has everything you need to create a membership website, but some standout features include:
- A handy shortcode editor that’s embedded within WordPress’ pages editor, so you no longer have to try and remember complicated shortcodes.
- A templating system that lets you customize all of this plugin’s templates.
- The ability to ban visitors from using certain usernames—perfect for ensuring no-one ever registers with your website using an offensive username!
WP User Manager also offers a free extension where users can request an export and erasure of their personal data, which can help ensure your website remains GDPR compliant.
Create a Complete Membership Website in 2 Easy Steps
If you want to create an online community, then WordPress plugins are the easiest way to add membership functionality to your website. Don’t believe us? In this section we’ll show you how to generate all the pages required to create and support a flourishing online community, in just two steps.
For this quick and easy tutorial, I’ll be demonstrating the UserPro plugin—if you opt for a different membership plugin then the steps may differ, but as long as you choose a professional, high-quality membership plugin, then the process should be just as easy.
Install the UserPro plugin
Assuming you’ve already purchased and downloaded UserPro, the first step is uploading this plugin to your WordPress website:
- In WordPress’ left-hand menu, select Plugins > Add New > Upload plugin.
- Scroll to the If you have a plugin in a .zip format section and select Choose file.
- Select the userpro.zip file you downloaded as part of the purchasing process, and then click Install now.
- When prompted, select Activate plugin.
2. Enter Your purchase code
When you purchased UserPro, you should have received an email with the subject line [CodeCanyon] Purchase Confirmation. This email contains a purchase code that you’ll need to share with WordPress:
- Open your purchase confirmation email and copy your unique Purchase code.
- In WordPress’ left-hand menu, select UserPro.
- Select the Licensing tab.
- Scroll to the Activate UserPro section and paste your purchase code into the accompanying text field.
- Select Save Changes.
3. Your Community Website Is Ready to Go
And that’s it! UserPro has automatically created all the pages your new community website needs, including registration and login pages, fully-editable user profiles, and a searchable directory of everyone who’s registered with your website. To check out this content for yourself, select Pages > All Pages and spend some time exploring all the membership pages that UserPro has kindly created for you.
After just a few minutes’ work, you have everything you need to start your own online community, but UserPro has much more to offer, including giving visitors the option to register using their existing Twitter or Facebook credentials, and displaying the user’s location via Google Maps integration.
If you want to learn more about this plugin, then check out our two-part UserPro series where I show you how to implement social login, add Google Maps integration, and much more.
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4 tips for creating a successful membership website
Choosing a professional, feature-packed membership plugin is the first step to creating a successful membership website, but there’s still lots you can do to help grow your audience.
In this final section, we’ll be sharing 4 ways that you can encourage people to sign up, engage with your community features, and ultimately renew their membership, so you generate the maximum revenue from your WordPress community website.
1. Offer a Free Trial
Free trials are one of the most effective ways to market anything—and membership websites are no exception.
Customers like to know exactly what they’re getting before they make a purchase. Giving potential new subscribers a way to experience all of your website’s great membership features, first-hand and for free, can encourage them to make a purchase.
2. Create Multiple Subscription Levels
To get the maximum number of registrations, your membership plans need to appeal to a wide audience.
Unless you have a specific reason not to, it’s always a good idea to create multiple membership levels, for example you might offer Bronze, Silver and Gold subscriptions, or Monthly and Annual plans. For the best results, each membership should offer unique perks, and there should be a considerable difference in pricing.
If you’re trying to monetize your website, then multiple membership levels can also be a way to increase the average spend per member. If a new customer expresses an interest in a Silver subscription, then you have the opportunity to upsell them a Gold subscription.
Even after a user has purchased their subscription, there may still be upsell opportunities in the future. In these scenarios, it can often help to present the upsell as an exclusive bonus, for example if a subscriber’s Silver membership is about to expire, then you could offer them a Gold membership at a discounted rate, as a special thank you for being such a loyal customer.
3. Keep in Constant Communication With Your Community
Today’s typical Internet user has a short attention span, so even after someone purchases a subscription you’ll need to work hard to keep them engaged with your website.
Most premium WordPress plugins have features that are designed to help you hold your audience’s attention, for example both ARMember and Youzer integrate with popular email marketing solutions Mailchimp and Mailster. You can encourage members to visit your website by sending them regular newsletters and email updates about all the new and exciting content they’re missing out on.
Other plugins, such as WooCommerce Membership and Ultimate Learning Pro allow you to “drip” content to your users. By carefully scheduling content in advance, you can ensure that something is always happening on your website, which will encourage members to get into the habit of regularly checking your site, in the hopes of discovering new content.
4. Create a Sense of Community
A successful online community needs to feel like a community, so you should try to give subscribers multiple ways to connect with one another.
As a minimum, visitors should be able to comment on your content and reply to comments left by other members, but you could also allow users to post their own content; view other people’s profiles; create and join groups, and exchange instant messages with other members of the community.
Many premium WordPress plugins also include features that are inspired by social media, for example UserPro allows members to “follow” each other and view logs of every member’s recent activity, including any new content or comments that this person has posted.
By fostering a sense of community, you can encourage members to build an emotional connection to this community, and by extension your website.
Start Building Your WordPress Membership Website Today!
Are you ready to transform your website into a thriving and revenue-generating online community? Using one of our premium WordPress membership plugins, you can add advanced membership features to your website within minutes.
Whether you want to generate additional income from your existing WordPress website, launch your own social platform, manage your existing offline community online, or sell elearning materials, a WordPress membership plugin can help you achieve your goals.