If you’re looking for the most effective ways to monetize your blog, installing one of the best WordPress membership plugins on your site may be the way to go.
Whether you’re planning to serve your best content behind a firewall or build a thriving community around your work that you can sell your products or services to, tools like the ones I’ll be sharing with you today help to ensure that you can successfully make money from blogging without relying on third-party platforms.
It’s this last point that really hammers home how invaluable a good membership plugin can be.
On the journey to building my own multi-million dollar content website portfolio, I found there were numerous times when an affiliate I was working with suddenly canceled their affiliate program or when my ad revenue took a tumble for reasons entirely outside of my control.
When I started to use platforms like MemberPress and Restrict Content Pro, I regained the power to take full control over my blogging revenue, generating an income that was dependent entirely on my own efforts rather than the decisions made by third-party companies that I couldn’t do anything about.
6 Best WordPress Membership Plugins in 2023
In order to find out the best, I tried and tested dozens of the most popular WordPress membership plugins out there so that I could be sure I was using only the very best on my websites. Below, I’ll share with you the ones I found that offer the best combination of ease of use, helpful features, and overall affordability.
Versatility is undoubtedly MemberPress' biggest strength. From courses and content paywalls to digital downloads and upsell opportunities, no WordPress membership plugin offers more easy opportunities to monetize your site than MemberPress.
No matter how many different tools I tested, MemberPress consistently proved itself to be the very best all-around Membership plugin on the market right now.
Recently featured in my guide to the top ten must-have WordPress plugins for your website, this all-encompassing plugin is packed full of features that offer numerous ways to monetize your blog.
If you want to restrict certain content behind a paywall, MemberPress gives you what you need to set that up with no fuss involved.
On a related note, there’s also an option to set up drip content, allowing you to space out your content delivery so that monthly subscribers keep coming back for more.
Want to offer a Members Only course or offer a free copy of your eBook as an incentive for signing up?
The Digital Downloads feature allows you to do that.
Feature-wise, the real highlight is that it not only allows you to create an unlimited number of membership tiers so that you can offer multiple price points for your subscribers, but you can even group different levels together and create an upgrade path; a perfect feature for upselling those subscription plans.
However, the best part of all is that all of these features are incredibly easy to use, even for absolute beginners, making it a hands-down winner for the title of 2023’s best WordPress membership plugin.
- Paywall and content dripping tools
- Automated billing with multiple payment gateways
- Intuitive, beginner-friendly interface
- Course and Quiz creator tools
- Customizable registration forms
- Offer multiple memberships per member
- Unlimited upgrade paths
- Full subscription management tools
- Lock content by post type, tag, category, taxonomy, and URL
- Automated email reminders for subscription renewals.
One of the only real downsides to MemberPress is that it’s one of only a few membership plugins that doesn’t offer a free version.
Instead, this popular and powerful tool comes in three different pricing plans as follows:
|PLAN NAME||PLAN DESCRIPTION||PLAN PRICE|
|Basic||For use on 1 website|
Stripe and PayPal integration
Standard customer support.
|Plus||For use on 2 sites|
Includes everything in the Basic plan plus:
Advanced marketing integrations
Option to sell podcast memberships
|Pro||For use on up to 5 sites.|
Includes everything in the Plus plan, as well as:
Option to sell corporate accounts
3 months of free OptinMonster access
All plans allow for unlimited membership levels and courses.
Pros and Cons of MemberPress
How to Get Started With MemberPress?
Head to Memberpress.com and click ‘Get MemberPress for WordPress
Choose your pricing plan and click ‘Get Started.’
Create an account by entering your name and email.
Enter your payment details and click ‘Get Started with MemberPress.’
Download and Install the Plugin.
After downloading, go to your WordPress dashboard and select Plugins – Add New – Upload Plugin.
Activate and Configure.
After activating the plugin, configure the settings to your liking, and you’re ready to start using MemberPress.
2. Restrict Content Pro
Restrict Content Pro does one thing but does it exceptionally well: Empowering you to serve up the kind of high-quality premium content that delivers value for your readers and revenue for you. The wealth of options make it the best choice for maintaining complete control over your paywall content.
If your business model focuses purely on serving up premium content behind a firewall rather than selling courses or utilizing other membership-based monetization methods, the wealth of features included in MemberPress may be too much for you, but Restrict Content Pro is definitely worth a look.
Rather than being an all-singing, all-dancing membership plugin, this widely-used tool commits itself to do just one thing -restricting content- but doing it better than almost any other option out there.
What makes Restrict Content Pro so good is the sheer flexibility it affords you to really create a unique membership structure that works best for you and your audience.
It allows you to offer both free and trial plans so that you can give readers a taste of what’s behind the firewall and incentivize sign-ups. After which, you’ll be able to upsell those free members with an unlimited number of subscription levels.
Each of these levels comes with a highly-customizable pricing structure so that you can offer both monthly recurring payments, one-off sign-up fees, or even a combination of both.
Using this feature you could, for example, offer your users a discounted sign-up fee to get them on board and then charge a higher price for ongoing subscriptions.
I also love how Restrict Content Pro gives you the opportunity to lock specific content within an otherwise free post using shortcodes.
This means that you could come up with a great blog post idea that delivers value for your readers, serve up the majority of that post for free, but charge for access to the most valuable insights, information, or tools featured in that post.
Combine all of this with an easy-to-navigate interface and a simple set-up process that takes less than a few minutes to get your paid content site up and running, and what you’ve got here is one of the best options around for premium content creators.
- Restrict content by posts, pages, and custom post types
- Restrict content by categories and tags
- Restrict content to logged-in users only
- Unlimited membership plans with each plan set to allow access to different content on your site
- Attractive and effective content paywalls
- Detailed sales reports
- Customizable emails to members
- Discount codes
- Effortless WooCommerce integration.
Restrict Content Pro Pricing:
A free version of Restrict Content Pro is available, which offers basic content restriction features, unlimited membership levels, basic member dashboards, emails, and the ability to take payments via Stripe.
However, this free plan does come with a 2% processing fee per transaction.
To remove that, and to really make the most of Restrict Content Pro, you’ll need to upgrade to one of the following three premium plans:
|PLAN NAME||PLAN DESCRIPTION||PLAN PRICE|
|Personal||For use on 1 website.|
Includes everything in the Free plan plus:
No Stripe transaction fees
Ability to restrict access to content published before a member joins
Customizable member dashboards and emails
Integrations with top email marketing tools like ConvertKit and MailChimp
Drip Content add-on
Access to private ticketed support.
|Plus||Includes everything in the Personal Plan for use on 5 websites.||$149 p/y|
|Professional||Includes everything in the Personal Plan for use on unlimited websites.||$249 p/y|
Pros and Cons of Restrict Content Pro
How to Get Started With Restrict Content Pro?
- Head to RestrictContentPro.com and select ‘download now’
- Choose your plan and select ‘Download Now’ for the free plan or ‘Buy Now’ for a premium plan
- Enter your email address for the free version or create an account and enter your payment details for the pro version
- Select the ‘Download the Restrict Content Plugin now (.zip)’ button to download the files.
- Go to Plugins – Add New – Upload Plugin from your WordPress dashboard and upload the plugin
- Follow the setup instructions to make ‘Restrict Content Pro’ active on your site.
3. Paid Memberships Pro
Paid Memberships Pro disproves the old-adage that you need money to make money. While the paid version may well appeal to the most serious of content creators, this comprehensive free plugin ensures you can start making money with a membership site in no time, all without opening your wallet.
If you’re trying to figure out how to start a blog with a limited (or possibly even non-existent) budget, then Paid Memberships Pro may be the best option for you.
The plugin comes with a completely unrestricted free plan which allows for unlimited content restrictions and unlimited memberships, including the option to create free plans.
One thing I really like about Paid Memberships Pro is that it includes a feature that allows you to create custom content restrictions using PHP functions.
One of the best uses of this is to hide ads for your paid members while serving ads to non-members.
Elsewhere, the 31 free add-ons offer a wealth of additional functionality, such as the ability to create courses and members-only events, to integrate with key marketing tools like AWeber and ConvertKit, and even create your own affiliate program for members.
Payment gateway options include industry leaders Stripe and Paypal, as well as BrainTree, Authorize.Net, Cybersource, and PayFast, meaning more freedom and flexibility in terms of how you’ll accept payments than other plugins allow.
Though there’s a lot of extra value to be enjoyed by purchasing a premium upgrade of Paid Memberships Pro, the extensive features and all-around ease of use make this the best free WordPress membership plugin around right now.
- Unlimited content restriction and membership levels
- Restrict content by post, page, post type, category, or in-post content
- Drip content and content expiration dates
- Require Strong Passwords feature
- Create recurring subscriptions
- Subscription delays
- Integration with bbPress and BuddyPress for creating membership communities
- Free integration with marketing and analytics tools like ConvertKit and KissMetrics.
Paid Memberships Pro Pricing:
I’m not exaggerating when I say that Paid Memberships Pro is the best free membership plugin for WordPress that you can get in 2023.
The free core plugin offers everything you need to create a dynamic, customizable membership site, including several features that other plugins charge top-rate for.
However, there are some advantages to paying for one of the following three premium plans:
|PLAN NAME||PLAN DESCRIPTION||PLAN PRICE|
|Standard||For use on 1 website.|
Includes everything in the Free plan, plus:
Advanced customization recipes
Add PayPal Express option at checkout
Custom level cost text
Custom navigation menus
Accept payments via check
|Plus||For use on up to 2 sites.|
Includes everything in the Standard Plan plus:
Allow members to purchase individual posts, pages, or files
Set up approval processes for membership
Allow users to gift memberships
Enable invite-only memberships
Import existing users from a CSV file
Add an auto-renewal checkbox at checkout
Create member directories and profile pages
Allow for multiple memberships per user.
|Builder||Includes everything in the Plus plan for use on up to 5 websites.||$679 p/y|
Pros and Cons of Paid Memberships Pro
How to Get Started With Paid Memberships Pro?
- Go to Plugins – Add New from your WordPress dashboard
- Search for ‘Paid Memberships Pro’
- Install and activate the plugin
- Click ‘View Plans and Pricing’ to upgrade to a premium version
- Return to your Paid Memberships Pro dashboard to configure settings.
The fact that WP-Members is neither as sophisticated nor as flexible as others is all part of its appeal. The free plugin's stripped-back approach makes it easy to get your feet wet with membership sites and learn the ropes without a big investment.
If you’re looking for a good free tool but didn’t like Paid Memberships Pro, WP-Members may be a good alternative.
Though limited in features compared to the other tools on this list, the plugin is completely free to use and does offer enough to help you build a simple-yet-effective membership component into your site.
At its core, WP-Members lets you restrict an unlimited amount of content by post, page, or custom post types. However, you’ll have to do this manually for each post as a bulk-restriction option is sadly lacking.
The good news is that, much like Restrict Content Pro, you can use shortcodes to lock access to certain parts of individual posts and pages.
The plugin also allows you to create a single membership level and take advantage of seamless integrations with tools like Easy Digital Downloads, MailChimp, and WooCommerce, enabling you to try out different monetization efforts.
This may not be the most advanced plugin you’ll find on this list, but if you’re looking for something that’s simple and lightweight in order to experiment with memberships, it’s certainly a solid option to consider.
- Restrict content to logged in members
- Custom registration and profile pages
- New user notifications
- Create teaser content to encourage sign-ups
- Free support documentation.
Although WP-Members is free to download, a number of premium add-ons are available that extend the plugin’s functionality so that you can accept payments via PayPal, integrate with WooCommerce, and more.
These add-ons are priced between $49 and $149, though a Pro Bundle of all the plugins is available for between $125 – $149, depending on how many sites you want to use it on.
Pros and Cons of WP-Members
How to Get Started with WP-Members?
- Head to the WP-Members entry in the WordPress Plugins Directory
- Download the plugin
- Go to your WordPress dashboard and select Plugins – Add New – Upload Plugin
- Install and activate the plugin
- Go to Settings – WP-Members to set up your membership site.
5. WooCommerce Memberships
Customer loyalty is an essential part of eCommerce success, which is partly what makes WooCommerce Memberships so appealing. This top-tier plugin enables you to reward your most dedicated customers with exclusive perks and discounts that will keep them coming back to your store time and time again.
Compared to WP-Members, the WooCommerce Memberships may seem pretty pricey, but it’s actually one of the better-priced options out there, especially when you consider the core WooCommerce plugin is free to use.
Once installed, the tool proves itself to be a great option for building membership programs around an existing eCommerce store, though it can be equally as useful for creating a standard membership site with content restriction rules in place.
Like the majority of these plugins, WooCommerce Memberships allows you to restrict posts, categories, tags, and custom taxonomies, as well as restrict specific in-post content elements.
The extension will also allow you to restrict access to individual products, which may be ideal if you’re a content creator looking to sell exclusive merchandise to your members or offer deep discounts and product bundles to your loyal members.
Unlimited membership levels are par for the course here, but where WooCommerce Memberships really stands out is its extensive array of payment integrations.
If you’re fed up with other plugins that limit payment gateway options to only the big players like PayPal and Stripe, you’ll find a lot to like here as you can integrate with any gateway provider that is compatible with the core WooCommerce platform.
- Sell memberships as a stand-alone product
- Offer memberships as part of a product (e.g., buy Product X and get Free Membership Y plan)
- Offer discounts and free shipping to members
- Drip content features
- Offer members-only products
- Integrates with Sensei LMS for selling online courses
- Offer free trials.
WooCommerce Membership Pricing:
The WooCommerce Membership plugin costs $199 per year, a price that includes unlimited access to all of its features plus one year of premium support and extension updates as well as a 30-day money-back guarantee.
While this does seem like a good deal compared to some of the higher-priced plans offered by other plugins, it’s worth noting that you may have to pay for even more extensions for things like creating recurring subscriptions, which can significantly increase the cost
Pros and Cons of WooCommerce Memberships
How to Get Started With WooCommerce Memberships
- From your WordPress dashboard, go to WooCommerce – Extensions
- Type’ Woocommerce memberships’ in the ‘Search for extensions’ box
- Click the ‘view details’ box on the plugin info page, then select ‘Add to Cart and proceed to checkout
- Activate the WooCommerce extension and configure it to suit your site.
Don't underestimate what a game-changer Membermouse's in-depth analytics tools can make to your growing membership site. Making it as easy as possible to understand what's working and what isn't, the insights on offer here can make a major difference when it comes to optimizing your content and membership plans for maximum success.
Last but not least, no guide to the very best WordPress membership plugins would be complete without a tip of the hat to the feature-rich tool that is MemberMouse.
If you’re really serious about using memberships to monetize your blog in as many ways as possible, the extensive list of features here will prove to be very attractive.
For me, the biggest selling point is that you can combine unlimited membership levels with one-off purchases, allowing you any number of potential upsell opportunities.
You could, for example, sell a monthly membership and upsell a discount version of a course or eBook that users can add to their cart at the click of a button.
Elsewhere, I’m really happy to see that Membermouse offers a “use as member” feature so that you can experience what it’s like to use your site as a member and test out any kinks or bugs in your setup.
Beyond that, another impressive feature comes in the form of the detailed analytics and reporting features, which are arguably more in-depth than you’ll find with any other plugin yet are still easy to navigate and understand.
Along with standard reports on member and revenue growth, you can also look at engagement statistics for your content, compare membership levels to see which of your plans is proving the most profitable to you, look at the lifetime customer value, browse transaction reports, and much more.
MemberMouse may not enjoy the same kind of brand recognition and popularity that the likes of MemberPress and Restrict Content Pro do. But as one of the most comprehensive membership plugins around, it’s a worthwhile investment for any serious content creator.
- Dynamic checkout pages
- Member homepages and account pages
- Import members using CSV
- Offer multiple payment options on a single page
- Offer free and paid trials
- Offer members-only pricing for eCommerce products
- Recurring subscriptions
- Gift memberships
- Bulk and individual content restriction options
- Overdue payment handling tools.
MemberMouse is another WordPress membership plugin that doesn’t offer a free plan.
What it does offer instead is a more affordable pricing structure that allows you to pay on a month-to-month basis.
If the high yearly subscription models offered by other plugins are a barrier to entry for you, the following three plans may be a better option for getting your membership site up and running with a smaller investment:
|PLAN NAME||PLAN DESCRIPTION||PLAN PRICE|
5,000 member limit
Access to all available payment integrations
All email marketing integrations
Basic reporting tools
1-click purchases and upsells
11 customizable membership pages (registrations, checkouts, post-checkouts, etc.)
|Advanced||Includes everything in the Builder Plan plus:|
50,000 member limit
Fully analytics and detailed reporting tools
Allow users to signup and log in using social media accounts
Billing date management tools
Tools for creating an affiliate site
Priority email support.
|Premium Plan||Includes everything in the Advanced plan plus:|
100,000 member limit
|$199 per month|
Pros and Cons of MemberMouse
How to Get Started With MemberPress?
- Head to Membermouse.com
- Select ’14 day free trial’ (no payment details are needed for this).
- Create an account by entering your name, email address, and password.
- Click the green ‘start free trial button
- On the next page, click ‘let’s go.’
- Take a quick survey about how you’re going to use Membermouse so that the platform can be tailored to suit your needs
- Select ‘download and install a plugin.’
- Download the plugin, then install and activate it on your WordPress website.
- Finally, go to Membermouse.com/dashboard and log in to set up your plugin.
What to Look for When Choosing the Best WordPress Membership Plugin for Your Website
Simply type the word “Membership” into the WordPress plugins directory, and you’ll be shown page after page of potential options for your membership site.
So what is it about these six plugins that make them better than anything else out there?
More importantly, what might you need to consider when choosing which one of these six -or any other options that exist- is the best fit for your website.
Content Restriction Options
At the heart of any good membership, the plugin is the ability to restrict content access to members only.
A really good membership plugin will allow you to do this individually on a post-by-post basis, in bulk by restricting access to posts or pages or restricting access based on categories, tags, and custom post types.
A really, really good membership plugin, however, will offer all of this along with the option to restrict access to parts of individual posts or pages.
This can be a great tool for allowing users to read a certain amount of your posts before selling them membership in order to read the rest or restrict access to key insights, data, or tools to paying members only.
When you’re choosing a plugin of your own, it’s important to consider how exactly you want to restrict content and find an option that will allow you to do that.
With a few notable exceptions (I’m looking at you, WP-Members), the best membership plugins offer no limits to the number of membership levels you can create.
This means that you can not only separate content access depending on whether a user is a guest or a signed-up member, but also create multiple tiered plans in order to give customers more options and create upsell opportunities.
While you may never need “unlimited” membership levels, the more you can realistically offer to your members, the more flexibility you have when it comes to monetizing your site.
Unlimited content restrictions and membership levels may be the main selling point of most membership plugins, but there are likely to be other key features included that you may or may not need.
Things like Content Dripping (scheduling out your content rather than giving it all to customers all at once), the ability to offer recurring subscriptions (and change the frequency of payment renewals), and the ability to allow users to purchase individual pieces of content can all make a big difference to the success of your member site.
However, that’s not to say that more features are always better.
If you know that you’re only going to be putting your content behind a paywall and don’t need to worry about course creations or upsells, you may not need an all-in-one membership tool like MemberPress or MemberMouse and may be better sticking with a lighter tool such as Restrict Content Pro, meaning neither you nor your website is going to be overwhelmed with too much going on.
Payment gateways like Stripe and PayPal allow you to process and accept payments when customers buy a membership from you.
As the two biggest gateways around, it’s rare to find a membership plugin that doesn’t offer at least one of them as an option, while the best ones will naturally offer both of them, along with many others.
If you prefer to use a smaller company, or if Stripe and PayPal simply aren’t available where you live, it would be wise to check if the gateway you’re using is actually compatible with the plugin you want to install.
Ease of Use
Finally, whether you’re installing a membership plugin, a good-quality WordPress security plugin, or anything else, ease of use should always be a high priority.
This is especially true for beginners or for anyone who can navigate their way around a WordPress installation easily enough but isn’t exactly comfortable with using code.
That said, even more, experienced WordPress users can find themselves frustrated and confused by a badly laid-out user interface or a poorly-developed plugin.
As such, ease of use was one of the primary factors influencing my top six choices and should be an important consideration when you’re deciding which one of those six to use on your site.
Frequently Asked Questions About WordPress Membership Plugins
What is the Best Free Membership Plugin For WordPress?
WP-Members and the free version of Paid Member Subscriptions are the two best free membership plugins available, thanks to their combination of beginner-friendly usability and quality features.
How do I Create a Membership Site with Elementor?
The Elementor site builder tool is compatible with a number of WordPress membership plugins but typically works best with MemberPress.
Does MemberPress Work with LearnDash?
Yes. These two popular plugins integrate well with each other, allowing you to associate different membership levels to your LearnDash courses.
What is the Best WordPress Membership Plugin to Use in 2023? My Verdict
While I did list my six picks for the best WordPress membership plugins in a specific order, the truth is that each one of them is unique enough that you could easily reorder that list yourself in terms of what matters the most to you.
If your budget is limited and you’re looking for the best free WordPress membership plugin available in 2023, you’d undoubtedly have Paid Memberships Pro at the top of your list, perhaps closely followed by WP-Members.
If you’re focusing solely on offering premium content such as articles, blogs, and videos behind a paywall and need an affordable, lightweight plugin that will allow you to do that without getting overwhelmed by an endless array of features that you’re never going to use, you’d likely pick Restrict Content Pro as your top choice.
However, if you want access to every possible WordPress membership feature you could think of, and if you want to use those features in a simple, beginner-friendly way, I can almost guarantee that you’d pick MemberPress as its the most comprehensive membership plugin for newcomers that you’ll find right now.