Which WordPress membership plugin does what?

WordPress landing pagesI’ve spent the last three years exploring WordPress membership plugins. After a lot of trial an error I accepted that premium plugins were the way to go – support and upgrades are often included. As in life, with plugins, you get what you pay for.

For a non-technical person membership sites can be a bit of a nightmare. Using a WordPress Plugin makes it easier for you to install and manage. I’ve got clients who after perfecting the membership aspect suddenly find they’ve focused so much on the setting up of the site, that they’ve completely bypassed creating great content to populate it with :). So remember, membership sites are not actually a “business-in-a-box” but something that have to be nurtured and grown over time.

At the end of this post is a free download, so read through or scroll down to find out how to grab a really useful free report that will help you start and market your membership sites.

For each membership plugin I share thoughts surrounding

  • Pricing, License use, Installation, Recurring Payments, Affiliate program, Integration, Customer Support, Training materials, CMS integration, Shopping carts, Coupons / discounting options, Drip feed ability, Forum integration, Any additional information

Premise WordPress Plugin

Over at the Social Media Toolkits we will be using Premise to deliver our membership aspect. As I mentioned on my post about WordPress landing page plugins, Premise has many superb bonuses that make it a great purchase.

  • Pricing – currently $165
  • License – multisite license. It’s actually a very generous licensing option. The preferred option is that if you are building client sites that you/they purchase their own API key in order to access customer support and educational features.
  • Installation – upload in minutes via WP dashboard and easy to add in your license key via the settings
  • Recurring Payments – yes
  • Affiliate program – yes via third party shopping carts, not built in
  • Customer Support – An extensive knowledge base showing you how to use Premise, along with the option to message customer support if your query isn’t answered in one of the videos or PDFs.
  • Training materials – Extensive training materials on the Premise website, also user made videos on You Tube.
  • CMS integration – WordPress
  • Shopping carts – Paypal standard, Braintree, ClickBank (beta), Stripe (beta) and 2checkout
  • Coupons / discounting options – Discount via a percentage is available
  • Drip feed ability – yes!
  • Forum integration – paid Vbulletin forums or bbPress integration
  • Any additional information – extensive educational material comes with the Premise membership plugin, from copywriting to graphics to interviews with successful membership owners. The Premise library is extensive and updated frequently. And of course you can create beautiful WordPress landing pages with it as well :)

Wishlist Member WordPress Plugin

Over on my Zerotoblogger membership site, I use Wishlist Member to deliver our membership options.

  • Pricing – $97 for a single site / $297 for  multiple sites (you can try the single site option and upgrade for the price difference in the first 30 days, after that upgrades to multi site will be $297. Multi sites covers multiple sites that you own and not client sites.
  • License single site and multi site, as outlined above. If you wish to purchase a developer option and install on client site you need to get in touch for a quote.
  • Installation – fast upload via the WordPress dashboard
  • Recurring payments – yes
  • Affiliate program – yes via third party integration
  • Customer Support – yes via support desk, again an extensive knowledge base, tutorials and video training section. There is also the option to upgrade to Wishlist insider (an additional payment) and get bonus plugins and other materials to boost your membership site.
  • Training materials – videos and tutorials. Again there are also lots of useful videos on You Tube showing you tips and tricks
  • CMS integration – WordPress
  • Shopping carts  – Paypal. 1shopping cart pro, Clickbank and many others
  • Coupons / discounting options – You can set up free trials and lover priced trial memberships
  • Drip feed ability – yes
  • Forum integration – Yes, Simple Press, Vanilla Forums and others are compatible, but they must be WordPress based. I hear that other options are not readily compatible.
  • Any additional information – A thriving community behind the scenes

WP eMember WordPress Plugin

eMember is a really popular plugin used by bloggers and other WordPress developers to create their membership sites. It’s strength comes from the fact that you can purchase additional plugins like the affiliate program option rather than have it all bundled together. You may also need the WP eStore plugin to fulfill the ecommerce aspects of your membership site.

  • Pricing $49.95
  • License  – multiple site license but must be purchased seperately for use on client sites
  • Installation – easy upload via the WordPress dashboard
  • Recurring Payments – not stated
  • Affiliate program integration – yes, with additional affiliate program plugin
  • Customer Support – via a forum
  • Training materials – extensive training videos and documentation
  • CMS integration – WordPress
  • Shopping carts – Paypal
  • Coupons / discounting options – not known (I couldn’t find any details relating to this)
  • Drip feed ability – auto upgrade option which can be used to drip feed content to members
  • Forum integration – BBPress 2.0+ forum plugin
  • Any additional information. I have friends who love this plugin and use it combined with the WP eStore plugin and the affiliate program. It does all of the basics you need for a membership site but there are no extras.


I don’t use Amember on any of my sites as Wishlist Member and Premise cover all my options. But if you want a membership site with a built in affiliate system then Amember will be a good option for you. Although it’s not a WordPress plugin, I’ve included it so you can make a comparison if you are looking at a membership / affiliate scheme option.

  • Pricing – $179.95
  • License – single domain only
  • Installation – assistance is required. So not actually a plugin…
  • Recurring Payments – yes
  • Affiliate program – Yes, integrated.
  • Customer Support –  email and forums
  • Training materials – A comprehensive manual
  • CMS integration – WordPress but also Drupal and other HTML based sites.
  • Shopping carts – PayPal and 2CheckOut with a possibility of  Custom Integration
  • Coupons / discounting options – coupons available date limited and lifetime coupons
  • Drip feed ability – yes via an additional plugin (an additional cost)
  • Forum integration – yes
  • Any additional information. As I mentioned above, I’ve not used Amember on my own sites, so my experience comes from client sites and as a user of Amember powered sites.

Feel free to share your experience of these plugins :)

Sarah Arrow

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Sarah Arrow

Blogging an issue for you? Social media not quite working how it should be?That's okay I understand. I started blogging back in 2006 and grew into a kick-ass blog coach as well as creator of Birds on the Blog (listed 3 times by Forbes as a top 100 website for women), I'm frequently listed as both a top content marketing expert and as an influential marketer.
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  1. Useful overview about WordPress membership plugins. One of the issues I’ve discovered is, if you’re wanting to sell access to content such as video tutorials for example, which is the best option to choose for restricting access from multiple isp adresses on one ‘paid’ subscription. Would like some feedback from others on that one please.

    • Hi Susan, that’s a good point. I don’t know of any membership plugin that offers that option. I did a quick search and I’ve found nothing.

    • Wishlist Member lets you set a login limit on IPs per day, on a per user basis – not the same as limiting ISP addresses but it does go some way to helping prevent multiple people using the same membership/login.

      • Thanks Lea for sharing a possible solution, it’s appreciated :)

  2. Hi Sarah!

    As a non technical person, I have just created a membership site and working out the kinks. Well, I didn’t do it myself, rather I hired someone to do it.

    It is a bit of a challenge for me, hey even a plug in is! But membership sites are an important part of the business and ours will be up and running soon.

    Your tutorial of this seems easy to do,even for me. Wish I seen this before I hired someone lol


    • Hi Donna, thanks for stopping by and good luck with your membership site. Some of the setting up aspects can be quite technical (one of the reasons why I use a combination of plugins rather than just one, outright)

  3. Hi Sarah
    I have been thinking about creating a membership site and this post will be very helpful to me.
    I am not sure if I will be able to do it all myself but hey any type of help is great, you have a good list of plugins to guide me in the right direction.
    Thanks for sharing, hope you have a great weekend.

    • Hi Pauline, good luck with your site and I’m glad you found the post useful :)
      My weekend is snowy. Hope yours is a great one too, thanks for stopping by.

  4. Excellent post, Sarah! I’ve been combing various plug-ins and review sites for more information and this really is helpful. Cheers.

    • Hi Ian, thanks for stopping and commenting. Glad you found it useful :)

  5. Sarah,
    Thanks for sharing such an in-depth review of membership plugins for WordPress. I can only imagine the amount of effort it took to compile this not to mention the research that went into it.

    Starting a membership site is not in my immediate future but it’s definitely something that I’ve considered. I’m bookmarking this right now and sharing it where I can. I’m sure you’ve saved a lot of people hours of work by sharing this information.

    • Thanks Sherry, when you get round to creating your site please stop by and let us know your experiences ;) thanks for stopping by.

  6. Hello Sarah,

    I’ve used Wishlist Membership plugin on WP site initially I found the learning curve a bit steep but after a couple of installs I became more fluid with it! I have recently bought another membership plugin and I can’t for the life of me remember what it’s called and I am working remotely! But I’m going to do your questionnaire when I’m back on land and I will add it to that! :)

    • Oooh, thank you :) I am going to be writing a few more articles about plugins etc and would love to be able to include you in one.

  7. Thanks for writing this, Sarah.

    I’ve just been investigating plugins for a new site I’m starting. You’ve covered the main plugins here that I’ve been looking at. You’ve reminded me of the drip-feed option, which is something I’ll implement for some content.

    The next challenge I’ve discovered is how to add a member-only forum to my site :)


    • Hi Allan thanks for stopping by. bbPress, would that help with the forum aspect? I’ve just reviewed a similar plugin and the drip feed option isn’t there, and although it’s not a big disappointment, I still missed it.

  8. Hi Sarah, You did a really good job describing these Plug-ins for us, I am always looking for good plug-ins and your post was one of the better ones I found . I did sign up for your tips and I am looking forward to learning more form you..Thanks for sharing Chery :)

    • Thanks Chery, I like to test and share my experiences with all the plugins that I use.
      I look forward to getting to know you better :)

  9. Very nice. I got Wishlist about 2 years ago and just now (last week!) got a site up and going. (It’s on ‘How to Network at Live Events.’) It is very simple as it has only one level, more like a training site. Along the way, I hired two consultants – one to help me get minor kinks out of the way on settings. Most recently, someone to help me with Wishlist — JVZoo integration: Wheww!

    I find support to be a hassle with most online products. There is nothing more irritating than companies telling you the a user forum is the place to get support. Obviously these folks know nothing about knowledge management but have a good grip on reducing support expenses… people like me give up and end up having to find an expert and pay them.

    I got Premise to try it out, mostly comparing their landing page capability. I found it constricting, and not easy to use.

  10. Sarah,
    What a comprehensive and valuable post. Membership sites have always been a mystery to me and here you’ve condensed important information into a short entry. I sometimes wonder if we don’t bite off more than we can chew. There are so many opportunities to learn a new piece of software or a new modality. I think when I’m ready for a membership site I’ll seek out some serious assistance and I know where to start.
    All the best,

  11. Hello Sarah….I’ve been investigating pluggins here lately….Thank you for this post and I will keep it all under advisement! I’m pretty new to the blogging world…..and don’t really feel informed enough to make a decision yet ….but this post brings me a lot closer….Thanks again!

    • Glad you found it useful Gregory, and I look forward to seeing how your blogging adventures go :)

  12. Great article and usable. I have been with WordPress from the beginning and found by owning your own domain and with the free WordPress has been amazing. Yes, upgrade is something those who have sales or pitches should take advantage of. If you do not get the upgrade they will limit what you can pitch to your visitors and you could lose all that design.

    Hey, it all depends on the person and what they want the site for. This is good information that can be confusing to allot of people out here. I will be referring lots of my visitors who have items to sale of this location full of supportive information.

  13. I think you missed a great plugin that I am currently using called MemberMouse. It looks like you mostly just picked plugins you could use an affiliate link with and make some money off. I switched from wishlist and find it to be a lot better solution.

    • Hi Jake, if this post was only a money making exercise I wouldn’t have included Sensei. Please read the disclosure in the sidebar about how and why I review products.
      I’ve never heard of Member Mouse and it never appeared in my searches. I’m happy to try a copy out and review it at a later date, as nothing stays the same forever.

      • It is a newer membership plugin gaining traction. It comes at a higher cost than the rest but most of the problems people are talking about with Membership plugins seemed to be addressed. They have a 14 day free trial and I believe they are advertising a lot more now.

  14. Hi Sarah,
    Thanks for the great article and info. I am using DAP(Digital Access Pass) as my membership plugin. It is a bit of a learning curve to use but it does stuff no other membership plugin does. I have my main blog that I use to post information on then I use sub domains to sell my products using DAP and making it a membership type site for example http://www.graphics.sparkblogger.com . This allows me to to create many sub niches related to my IM blog. The new Optimize Press coming out shortly is going to change the way blogs operate on the internet.

  15. This is a great and informative post. I am now starting to build some e-learning sites. They are going to be pretty simple so I will use e-member as it is affordable, does the job well and allows me to drip feed by bumping people up the levels.

    I think the first question people should ask themselves is ‘What do I want to do with this site?’ Depending on their answer, they may need a different plugin. For example, I hope to launch an actual membership site (as opposed to a training course) by the end of the year. For that I will use wishlist as I feel it allows me a little more flexibility.

  16. Hi Sarah,

    You wrote you are still using Wishlist Member so I wanted to inform you that my team has developed a plugin that automates the registration process so when members return from the shopping cart they are automatically registered and logged-in to the site.

    We are selling this plugin for over a year now and we would love to hear your thoughts about it.

    We’re adding new features to it all the time according to customers’ feedbacks.

    You can find more information about it in our online store:


    Best regards,

    Bob Tolbert

    Developers Department Manager


    • Thanks Bob, I’ll check out your site :)

  17. Hi Sarah,
    Thank you for your quick response.
    I would love to hear your inputs :)

  18. Hi Sarah,

    Would love to add DigitalAccessPass.com (DAP) to the mix here.

    DAP has been around for almost 6 years now, and is one of the most feature-rich membership plugins available, plus we offer arguably the best support in the plugin industry. Hope you will consider including DAP in your list.

    And thanks for the opportunity to comment here.

    – Ravi Jayagopal


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