10 Best Membership Site Platforms 2023
Are you looking for the best membership website platforms?
Even though many requested to create a tutorial and list software because they don’t know how to do it, let me tell you a secret:
It’s WAY easier than you think.
And the benefits of running a membership site are many.
You can enjoy a lot better user engagement, which will increase time-on-site and decrease bounce rate.
Plus, you have the freedom to turn members into (paid) subscribers and take your business to the next level.
We recommend creating yours with a membership website builder because it’s so simple to do.
This post goes over:
- What is a membership website
- Main differences between membership & subscription sites
- How to build a membership site
- 10 Best membership site platforms
- 5 membership site examples
What Is A Membership Website
A membership website is a website that has a special area for members, which, in the majority of cases, comes with benefits.
This could mean that members can access exclusive content, apps, online courses, easier online shopping, forums, and more.
Note: Even though memberships are usually free (because this is not a subscription), it can sometimes be a paid option.
Yes, this is where the question comes then: “What’s the difference between a membership and a subscription website?”
Difference Between Membership & Subscription Websites
Because a membership and a subscription page are similar, many users wonder which option to choose.
But it’s pretty simple:
- A membership website unlocks the door to a special members’ area of a website, group, education platform, etc. (Rarely a paid option.)
- A subscription website is based on paying a few for the content, such as online courses, music, movies, workouts, etc. The most popular are monthly subscriptions but other paid-time-periods are also possible (“Get a discount if you subscribe for our annual plan”).
In short: You have free access to a membership website but need to pay for the subscription one.
For example, you need to pay a monthly fee to gain access to Apple Music but you create an account for free to access the goodies at 40approns (0 ads, eBooks, special recipes, etc.).
Adding a lock to the content you want to restrict is effort-free whether you want to build one or the other website.
You can start from scratch with a dedicated membership website builder or a membership WordPress theme.
But you can also install a membership/subscription plugin if your website is already live.
What’s cool is that this type of software organizes and automates things for you. Which – of course – saves you A TON of time and energy.
Plus, it allows you to focus on the important: Making the best content.
Here’s how to build a membership website for your business (or even for a client).
How To Create A Membership Website
- Think of your membership model
- Create exclusive members-only content & perks
- Pick the right membership site platform/builder or WordPress plugin
- Launch your new members-only area & promote it
You start working on your membership website by first creating an actual website. I know, this is pretty obvious but still.
You can build your page with WordPress or use a website builder that allows you to operate your new business model from one location.
We recommend WordPress if you ever plan to expand your website with exclusive areas, new features and other custom work.
But a membership website builder is even better if you want to keep it simple.
1. Think of your membership model
Even though we’re sure you already know what your business model is, this is the are for those who don’t.
Yes, it’s important to brainstorm your members’ area before you even start with the building process.
- How will your members benefit from it?
- How much information do you need from them to create a members’ account?
- Will you charge monthly, yearly (or both)? Or will it be free?
- What will be the price (will there be discounts)?
These are a few basic questions you need to answer first before you proceed.
We suggest going straight to the building if you’re starting from scratch. (You’ll be optimizing your website later because you don’t know yet how it’ll perform and what your members prefer.)
But if you already run a website, it’s first necessary to learn more about your users and how will your members’ area benefit them.
This is essential because it needs to trigger their attention, otherwise, why should they even join.
The best question to answer is this: “Would I join?”
Here are a few examples I experienced from my personal encounters with membership sites:
- A gym could offer special meal preps, pre- and post-workout shakes, workout tips, and more.
- An online store can give birthday discounts or free shipping to all members.
- A member of a coffee shop can collect points and get a free cup for every 10 points.
- An online course platform can show full courses to members, downloadable PDFs, etc.
You can even go one step further and offer multi-level memberships. We still think this is better suited for the subscription model.
Once you have all this in order it’s important to think of whether you’d be charging for the membership area or not.
This is where multi-level memberships can come into play. You give free members access to just one part of your website and premium members to all the content.
You can also specify recurring payments on a monthly, yearly, etc. basis.
Note: It’s you who decides whether to set a membership fee or not (because it’s you who knows your audience best). However, we recommend starting with the free model first.
You can expand with new and better content and offers later and make them accessible only for a fee.
Thus we recommend starting (and sticking) with the single-level membership area.
2. Create exclusive members-only content & perks
You’re now ready to start with the creation of either a membership website from scratch or members-only pages (which you add to the existing site).
But don’t RUSH.
We highly recommend you first have the content or anything else you’ll have in the members’ area sorted out.
Everything will flow smoother from then on, dripping content at the necessary frequency to keep your users engaged.
If you’ll be releasing special articles, tips, recipes, how-tos – whatever – have them prepared for at least a few months in advance. (The same applies to super-exclusive emails.)
It’ll make you feel better.
You also need to define pricing (if there will be any) at this stage. You might even create pricing plans for different membership levels where you list each level’s perks.
When you have the material and the pricing, you’re ready to start with the first step in the creation of your membership website.
3. Pick the right membership site platform/builder or WP plugin
Are you excited yet? I am!
Picking the best software or plugin for your membership site is tedious.
But that’s when we come into play.
We thoroughly reviewed the greatest options if you use a membership website builder (scroll down).
But you can also check our list of the best-performing WordPress membership plugins, so you don’t need to research and compare on your own.
We made sure that the plugins and platforms we picked feature (at least five of) the following:
Ease of use
This is the first thing we looked at because it’s OH SO necessary that membership site platform or plugin is easy to use for beginners and professionals.
For the most part, there’s no learning curve to master using any of the builders below.
And even if it is, you’ll learn it on the fly, which makes the whole process of building a membership website even more fun.
Plus, managing and maintaining your members, content and everything else is effortless.
Multiple payment gateways
Another key characteristic of a membership builder is that it offers multiple payment gateways.
Limited payment options mean fewer members.
But if your members-only content area is free, then this is none of your concern.
(Still, better pick a tool that has payment sorted because you never know what the future brings.)
There are multiple ways how you’d like your content to appear when members access the gated area.
But content dripping is our favorite method because it keeps your members excited and ready for what’s coming next.
Releasing everything at once may not be the best way.
Why? Depending on the content, your members may feel overwhelmed, ending up not checking it at all.
Another downside of releasing all the content straight away is that a member can take it all and then ask for a refund.
That’s a no-no.
Make it exciting and mysterious, have some fun, and everyone will be more excited.
You can also send out questionnaires during content dripping, asking users what they’re interested in and making them feel part of the process.
Custom members’ pages
Even though keeping things simple is what we always suggest, having custom, branding members’ pages is a big plus.
This also allows you to add any special sections and features that are exclusive to your business.
Make your users feel part of your brand.
Statistics & reports
We know you’re probably already signed up to Google Analytics, which you’ll use for tracking engagement.
Some of the membership tools offer you extra statistics and data that’ll help you further optimize your business for even more success.
Sticking to the single-level membership area is the perfect start, but a plugin will do the trick when you want to add multiple.
Some membership site platforms even has this feature built-in, so you don’t have to seek 3rd-party extensions.
Email reminders (automatic)
Automated email reminders are a must for every membership website.
First, you can send subscription confirmations or a reminder to those who haven’t completed it (aka “pending”).
Second, you can send a welcome email.
Third, you can send email reminders about the upcoming billing.
Fourth, you can get in touch with those who haven’t renewed their membership/subscription plan and try to win them back (with a discount).
Many overlook this but it’s so important to have great support (and documentation) from the membership site software.
Whatever the case, you always know who to contact first. (0 stress!)
Easy and quick help is crucial when your website grows and makes decent money.
4. Launch your new members-only area & promote it
The time has finally come to publish your either entire membership website built from scratch or specific posts and pages.
The process of making it happen depends on the software you’re using, but either it takes one click or a couple. Yes, it’s easy.
This is also when you put your pricing (if any) live, so people can sign up and create a members’ account.
You can now start promoting your new business model through social media, blog posts, newsletters, and even by using influencer marketing.
An initial discount (or a person-specific discount) is also a clever strategy to get the hype going.
10 Best Membership Site Platforms
1. Kajabi (Best Overall)
The best platform for building membership website ($119/month)
Kajabi is the complete membership site platform we highly recommend to all users, beginners and experts.
Because it includes everything you need. You don’t need to seek templates, hosting and anything else elsewhere.
Starting a membership site is a piece of cake with all that Kajabi provides. All you need is to create an account and off you go.
We used it on a bunch of online membership projects and LOVED it!
There’s no learning curve, just fun times when starting, building and growing your new online business.
Management tools, reports, analytics, emails, funnels, and (recurring) payments are all built-in for your convenience.
One of our favorites is the option to track user progress, which gives you a more detailed look into their behavior.
This gives you a complete overview of your business, so you better understand how well it’s performing.
More importantly, you can optimize it further and enjoy even better results. Everything is just a click away from your dashboard.
But what’s truly next level about Kajabi is its extreme flexibility and capability for expansion.
If you’d ever like to sell online courses and coaching, start a podcast or build a community, Kajabi handles it all with ease. You can also add different tools and extensions whenever you want.
Note: You can start with the free trial and see how good the software is before fully committing. But I tell you one thing: There’s no turning back once you go Kajabi.
- Easy recurring revenue setup
- Ready-to-use templates
- Built-in membership management
- In-depth reports & analytics
- Landing pages
- Email marketing & funnels
- Keeps you super organized
You get a 20% discount if you opt for yearly billing. But feel free to start with the 14-day free trial.
- Basic: $119/mo
- Growth: $159/mo
- Pro: $319/mo
- Website builder & templates
- Easy setup wizard
- Affiliate program
- Excellent help/support
- Limited payment gateway selection
- Could offer more creative freedom
- Hard-to-setup dynamic email sequences
Best for online courses & digital products ($39/month)
Podia is the ideal solution if you’d like to publish and sell courses or digital products (or both). But what’s even better, Podia offers so much more.
Enjoy its coaching, webinars, workshop, multimedia conversations, and more with one account.
You can even start online communities where like-minded people gather, share information, and more. (Yes, you can build your own “Facebook.”)
Podia is one of our favorites because of its many features that are exclusive to anything online learning-related – regardless of the niche.
It takes every user through a simple process of starting their own online project without knowing how to code. It also comes with a cool text editor where you can add extra features and 3rd-party apps.
Note: It only takes ten minutes to build a professional website with Podia!
Everything happens from one location, including building, selling, management and optimization. And hosting is part of the bundle, too!
Remember, you cannot purchase a custom domain through Podia, but connecting it through a 3rd-party platform is easy.
But what if you already have a website, can you transition to Podia? Yes, that’s also an option and they’ll do it for you.
Guess what? You can start for free.
However, Podia’s free plan charges 8% transaction fees. It’s still a great way to test the waters before fully committing.
Another big plus in our eyes is that Podia has an option to launch an affiliate program for your online business. Let others do the marketing for you and take things to extremes together.
We cannot recommend Podia more if you consider diving into the online courses and digital product space. It’s effortless to set it up but the reward can be enormous.
- A complete website with hosting
- Email marketing & live chat
- MailChimp, Zoom, Zapier, etc. integrations
- Standalone & drip courses
- Pre-sells & upsells
- Live preview
- Optimized checkout
- Handles EU VAT
A 17% discount applies for yearly payments.
- Mover: $33/mo
- Shaker: $75/mo
- Earthquaker: $166/mo
- Unlimited courses & downloads
- No transaction fees
- Regular upgrades & improvements
- No free trial
- Course builder’s flexibility
- Basic reporting
Best tool for any members-only section ($29/month)
MemberSpace is something a little different compared to other membership website builders.
It’s a tool that’s compatible with all the major website building platforms and CMSs, like Squarespace, WordPress, Wix, Weebly, Hubspot CMS, and more.
This is a great advantage because everyone has their favorite. (We still like WordPress the most.)
We recommend using MemberSpace if you don’t want to have your entire website built as a membership site platform.
In other words, it allows you to gate just one part of your website, a post, a page, whatever.
Moreover, you have full control over everything because the locking happens on your website, so customize it however you want.
What we really enjoy about MemberSpace are two things: 1) their amazing customer support and 2) the free migration service.
You don’t need to be tech-savvy to use the tool, integrate it into your website builder, and put a lock on any part of your site you want. (But their team of experts is always at your service if you need help.)
- 14-day free trial
- Free migration
- Unlimited members
- Easy integration with multiple platforms
- Automatic upsells
- Starting plan: $29/mo
- Growing plan: $49/mo
- Advanced plan: 199/mo
- Great support
- Multiple member plans
- Custom plans & billing
- Solid content protection
- No annual payment
- Transaction fee
- Limited customizations
4. Mighty Networks
Best for community memberships ($33/month)
There’s no other better solution to start working on your online community than Mighty Networks.
The thing we like about MN is that you can start as small as you want and grow to MIGHTY numbers with it.
Not only can an endless number of members join the community, but you can also expand it with more features and goodies that will benefit them.
A lot is possible with Mighty Networks.
Another fantastic feature is that you can personalize the community application however you want. And everyone will have a blast browsing it.
This is just the beginning.
Mighty Networks delivers a custom landing page and domain, easy access through web, Android and iOS and keeps you covered with migration.
(You can even migrate Facebook groups and take your business more seriously!)
You’ll also enjoy its easy workflow that gives everyone a chance to build their thing, regardless of the niche and industry.
As a community software, Mighty Networks also allows private messaging, beautiful membership profiles and a matching system. And live streaming works very well, too.
It’s time to build a business around a community you’re passionate about!
- Custom website & landing page
- Unlimited members, hosts & moderators
- SEO optimization
- Android & iOS application
- Free trial
- Slack integration
- Events, polls, articles
- Groups & sub-groups
You get two months for free if you pay annually.
- The community plan: $33/mo
- The business plan: $99/mo
- Mighty pro: Custom pricing
- Native course builder
- Recurring or one-time payments
- Charge in local currency
- Great analytics
- Transaction fees
- Lacks support for native video content
- Need Zapier to connect payments
Best for (live) online learning ($39/month)
Building your online learning membership site is possible and fast with Thinkific. As a platform specializing in online courses, you can expect it has everything you need.
Which it does.
Along with sharing and promoting live courses, you can also sell them through the integrated eCommerce system.
Thinkific is more than COOL.
While you do need to have the content and knowledge ready, all the rest happens on Thinkific.
You build the course from scratch with the convenient course builder and enjoy the additional customization functions.
Thinkific also has an app store where you can choose between 80+ tools (we recommend analytics) and extensions to add to your learning platform. (But these are usually paid apps.)
However, they allow you to build a top-notch, professional solution even as a complete beginner. (Yes, they’re worth the extra investment.)
Your students will also enjoy the excellent engagement capabilities that you’ll have available through Thinkific. Discussions, mentions, reactions, and questions, it’s all available for you to include.
And everyone will be delighted when getting a completion certificate. This also makes you, as the owner, more pro.
Before this, students will enjoy increased engagement through gamification and progress bars.
You’re always ready to create and promote online courses with Thinkific.
- Unlimited courses, students & content
- Live chat support
- Custom domain
- Downloadable material
- Quizzes & student surveys
- 3rd-party tools
- Live lessons (Zoom)
- Student discussions
Don’t miss 20% off by paying annually.
- Basic: $39/mo
- Pro: $79/mo
- Premier: $399/mo
- Plus: Custom pricing
- No transaction fees
- Customization options
- Voice over PowerPoint presentation tool
- Multiple sales & marketing solutions
- Limited groups
- Lacks course-specific branding
- Bulk checkout only for Plus members
Best for online coaching ($29/month)
The name reveals it all. If you’d like to teach people at a mass scale, then you better consider Teachable.
As simple as that.
Starting a membership site, building courses and selling them is pure joy when you’re part of Teachable.
Why? Because it’s simple, quick and fun.
Everything starts with a few clicks and you’re already prepared to do your thing. Your personalized courses will shine bright, thanks to Teachable.
And when it comes to payments, don’t worry, that’s Teachable’s job.
It takes care of everything, from checkouts and taxes to affiliates and authors – Teachable was made to save you a ton of time and effort.
Teachable supports 130+ currencies and payment methods, like Apple Pay, PayPal, etc. You can also scale your business with bumps, memberships, coupons and upsells.
Plus, when you grow larger, consider affiliate marketing and grow even LARGER. (We just don’t recommend starting it right away.)
Last but not least, Teachable’s insights will give you a better understanding of how your business operates and performs.
This gives you the chance to optimize and get even more bang for your buck.
Why keep skills and knowledge to yourself if you can share it online and make money with Teachable?
- Create & sell within minutes
- Custom student engagement
- Multiple currencies & payment gateways
- Easy tax management
- Personal support
- Unlimited students
- Custom domain
- Email marketing
Benefit from a 25% discount by choosing annual plans.
- Basic: $29/mo
- Pro: $99/mo
- Business: $249/mo
- Teachable payments
- EU VAT handling
- Recurring subscriptions
- Structured lessons
- Transaction fee for the Basic plan
- Lacks advanced customizations
Best for online courses & training ($24/month)
LearnWorlds is excellent because it easily connects two worlds: students and teachers.
What’s even more exciting is that you can do it all yourself.
This excellent membership and online course membership builder has many perks that we like.
The first thing is the 30-day free trial, which applies to all plans except custom. And we found thirty days more than enough to thoroughly test it and even enjoy some conversions.
The second is definitely the great customization and personalization capabilities. Not only for the course player but your entire website.
Pick from the available themes to save time and add your creative twist to make it more unique.
LearnWorlds’ marketing funnels to increase your conversions are also excellent and effortless to set up.
Upsells, cross-sells, coupons and optimized checkout experiences make you WIN big times.
Another great thing about LearnWorlds is its endless integration compatibilities, like Zapier, Zoom, MailChimp, Google Analytics and Vimeo, to name a few.
And as a delicious cherry on top, you can build a branded mobile app for Android and iOS.
Lastly, LearnWorlds’ team is always at your service, through their academy, blog, live master classes, or personal agent interactions (see cons).
- Custom domain
- Unlimited courses
- Multiple payment gateways
- Live classes & webinars
- White label
- Course insights & reports
- Affiliate program
- Bulk actions
- User segmentation
20% discount applies to yearly billings.
- Starter: $24/mo
- Pro Trainer: $79/mo
- Learning Center: $249/mo
- High Volume & Corporate: Custom pricing
- Easy site-building
- Custom school website
- Mobile application
- Custom user roles
- Transaction fee for Starter Plan
- Personal support can be slow
- Pricey Learning Center plan
Best membership WordPress plugin ($179/year)
I’ll mention one more time that this is not a membership website builder but a WordPress plugin. And actually a really good one.
MemberPress is ready to turn your existing WordPress website into an online learning management system with ease.
But you can also start from scratch, customizing MemberPress’s ready-to-use templates or do custom work.
Note: MemberPress works with any WordPress theme.
All we can say is that using MemberPress is the best decision you’ll make after testing and using it for multiple projects.
It has everything to start in three quick steps.
Install the plugin, set payment, add content/products and you’re ready to roll.
Creating and selling courses is easy and only takes a few steps. All the necessary features and functions you need are built-in.
But MemberPress is also compatible with 1,000s of 3rd-party extensions for quick integration.
The plugin offers all sorts of restrictions, even based on different membership levels.
We love it!
Another great addition to MemberPress is the bbPress compatibility, which lets you create forums where users can hang out, gain tips, ask questions and share knowledge.
Coupons, pricing pages, drip content, subscription, affiliate solution, yes, it’s all possible.
Just pick MemberPress if you’re using WordPress.
- Works with any WP theme
- Payment gateways
- Flexible subscription
- Tax calculation & PDF invoices
- No transaction fee
- Automated emails
- Podcast memberships
- 14-day money-back guarantee
- Basic: $179/year
- Plus: $299/year
- Pro: $399/year
- 3-step setup
- Editable content dripping & expiration
- Membership gifting
- Endless addons
- Not as customizable as other builders
- No lifetime purchase
9. Wild Apricot
Best for organizations ($48/month)
Wild Apricot is a fantastic solution for creating a membership website for organizations.
It is fully compatible with nonprofits, associations, business directories, sports, education and charities, to name a few.
It is a cloud-based software with all the data easily accessible at any time and from any device. We found this a big plus because all team members can instantly access the database.
Everything starts with the practical and user-friendly website builder. It’s the drag and drop tool that simplifies building your membership website by ten folds.
No experience? No problem!
You can also start with the predefined themes, which are great but could be a tad more modern. Luckily, the built-in tools allow you to modernize your chosen theme and make it your way.
Remember, you can also use Wild Apricot with your existing website.
Add membership software, calendars, donations (we bet you didn’t expect these), and widgets that’ll benefit your organization.
Payment integration, automatic invoicing, financial reports, yup, you have it all in one place.
Wild Apricot also comes with an iOS and Android application for site administrators, so you’re always able to check what’s up.
But members can also edit their profiles and register for events through the app.
- Drag-n-drop page builder
- Easy online payments
- iOS & Android app
- Membership database
- Advanced search
- Email marketing
- Online store (digital & physical products)
- Personal: $48/mo
- Group: $60/mo
- Community: $110/mo
- Professional: $190/mo
- Network: $350/mo
- Enterprise: $420/mo
- 30-day free trial
- Flexibility for different organizations
- Pretty expensive
- Clunky interface
10. CMS Hub
Best all-around marketing solution ($25/month)
CMS Hub is a complete marketing system for everyone with multiple sub-systems. And one of them is creating membership pages.
We won’t go into detail about what CMS Hub offers but will focus on the latter.
CMS Hub offers an out-of-the-box solution to offer memberships on your website. You don’t need any additional plugins, it’s all built-in.
Instead of continuing running (just) lead generation, expand the possibilities with CMS Hub’s Memberships.
Specify who sees what content, lock particular segments, and more. Every membership page can feature your personal branding, even profile pages.
You can select only your top customers and show them super-exclusive content that no one else can access.
Choose the technique and strategy that works for you and your members best. Even if it requires some testing, CMS Hub will be excited to help you.
Let CMS Hub do the hard work, so you concentrate on content creation and the best customer experience.
- Website builder
- Content segmentation
- Custom membership related pages
- A/B testing
- Dynamic personalization
- App marketplace
- Predefined themes
Can start for free. (Annual discount applies.)
- Starter: $25/mo
- Professional: $400/mo
- Enterprise: $1,200/mo
- Complete solution for marketing
- Endless features
- For advanced users
5 Best Membership Site Examples
1. John D. Saunders
John D. Saunders is an excellent example of how to build a solid, modern and successful online business selling online courses.
He specializes in helping startups build profitable websites and does a good job doing it through his awesome online presence.
John made it all happen with the support from Podia and the end result shows how to do things the right way.
There are three online courses at the time of writing, from simple to more extensive ones.
2. Christy Harrison
Christy Harrison is an eating coach and dietitian who gathered her knowledge and build it into two online courses.
What we like about her approach is that she offers a subscription form to join the waiting list when her coaching is closed.
Christy is also selling a book, promotes a podcast, and has a special section for private coaching.
While her website is built with Squarespace, her courses run on MemberSpace.
3. School Of Calisthenics
Tim Stevenson started the School Of Calisthenics some time ago and enjoyed rapid growth when going online.
He decided to pick LearnWorlds as his online courses and membership platform, which paid off nicely. He is handling 40k+ students successfully and his online school keeps on growing.
School Of Calisthenics offers multiple programs, coaching, shop and blog. It’s a perfect combination of everything to ensure the best customer experience.
The more you offer, the less likely they’ll need to get in touch, asking questions. But when they do, a contact form is always available through the SOC website.
Don’t miss checking School Of Calisthenics if you want to dive into the sports industry.
AAGE shows the simplicity of Wild Apricot, which displays how organizations can run a membership website.
There are multiple options to choose from with a basic application form that guides the user through a quick wizard.
We wouldn’t necessarily recommend Wild Apricot for some advanced membership websites, but it’s an ideal solution for anything minimal.
Why complicate if you don’t have to?
5. Entrepreneurs On Fire
Entrepreneurs On Fire was started by a successful podcaster, John Lee Dumas. EO Fire runs free and paid courses, taking care of 1,000s of students.
John and his partner Kate saw a nice spike in lead generation when moving to Thinkific. This also boosted their revenue, making $50k in just two months after the transition.
Even though we find their website a bit cluttered, it still performs well for John and Kate.
And they have everything, from subscriptions, resources and podcasts to blogs, free courses on fire, and more.
Membership Site FAQ
A membership platform is an all-in-one software that helps build and manage a membership website.
The best membership site software is Podia which allows for building a subscription-based website for coaching, communities, online courses, teams, and affiliates.
The best way to build a free membership website is by using Podia membership site builder. It has a free option for a basic website that you can always upgrade as you grow.
– User-exclusive content like blogs or videos.
– Online courses or other educational content.
– Live webinars.
– Exclusive members download like templates, worksheets, apps, games and more.
– A community section for member discussions.
– Physical and digital perks for members like discounts and merchandise.
Build Your Membership Site
You now have everything you need to start a membership website like a pro (without experience).
Any of the above membership site platforms, tools or plugins will do you well.
You can build niche membership areas, sell courses, drip content, segment users or anything else that comes to mind.
Do great things with little work and take your website’s user experience to the next level.
This Post Has 50 Comments
Another option is creating a membership community on top of Slack with SlackPass.
It doesn’t require WordPress, or any existing website, and it’s free.
Seth, you need to declare your interest as a founder. I’ve had a look at slackpass and its a waste of time. It is misleading people by using the good name of Slack all over their promotion. I’ve alerted Slack to this company and they say it is not an approved plugin provider. Nuf said.
Of course you would shlep for SlackPass, you’re the founder of the product.
I stopped on Magento platform because it has lots of splendid solutions for customization my membership site. One of these is Private Sales & Flash Sales extension from Plumrocket. It makes managing my website really easy.
This is an excellent review. Would you consider adding Social HubSite to this list?
Certainly not at this point as design for this tool looks dated and there are no users for it and I doubt that any will show up anyway because of its dated design.
Having just started researching membership websites, I found your list to extremely helpful… Thank you!
I’ve heard a lot about a site called Kajobi that does this and curious why they haven’t made your list?
We haven’t used it ourselves therefore we cannot recommend it. It probably is a good platform but without hands-on experience we can say it for sure.
After a year of MemberPress, I switched to Wishlist Member. After a year of that, I’m switching to Teachable or Kajabi. Both of the first two resulted in frequent problems with registration, logging in, renewal, etc. I am hearing from others who’ve switched that Kajabi, Teachable, Thinkific, Udemy type sites are better. Less customer service, etc. MemberPress and WishList Member required too much of my attention.
You could also choose a website builder with a Membership tool built right in. I know that others offer pretty simple Membership Features. Something to consider if you were looking for a less technical implementation.
Great article, thanks! A lot of these seem to be wordpress specific, what do you recommend for a squarespace site?
For Squarespace there is only one tool available called MemberSpace. It is a average tool and doesn’t do much because of limitations that Squarespace has as a platform. I personally wouldn’t recommend it if you are looking to build a serious membership site.
For someone not tech savvy looking for building a serious membership site what do you recommend? I use wixbuilder for the website today but not started the membership site yet. Is there a tool to integrate to the wix site or do I need separate tools?
For my paid membership website, I use Squarespace combined with some easy custom Sentry Login password protection CSS that integrates nicely with PayPal and Stripe for payment processing. I’ve processed many tens of thousands of dollars in payments, and growing. Squarespace is incredibly good. Amazing truly. My only qualm is I wish I could set up different subscriptions levels to allow access to different content based on different subscription levels (i.e. if you pay $200 you get A, if you pay $300 you get A + B, and etc. Thanks!
Thanks for putting this together and glad to see Wild Apricot on the list!
Just wanted to mention that you can use Wild Apricot for free (limited version).
We currently use Wild Apricot and, while it is fine for smaller organizations it leaves a lot to be desired for mid-size to larger organizations.
I’ve found the platform fairly easy to use, but there are problems, as with any “out of the box” platform.
The biggest problem is the limited support hours and the unresponsiveness of the company when an issue is identified. And the support staff is sometimes less than proficient. For instance, I was told that you didn’t have a printed user’s manual that could be downloaded, only the videos. Then, two weeks later, someone sent me a link to a user’s guide.
My finances page doesn’t show the latest donations.
Sometimes when I email members it emails the wrong people.
If someone is paid up for several membership terms and they switch to another level they lose the time they’ve paid in and I must manually adjust their renewal date.
We have frequently put in service requests that have gone unanswered for days or weeks.
We are forced to use your credit card processing or pay extra fees
Maximum of 50,000 members
I know with COVID-19 there have been additional challenges for everyone, but I’m concerned about these issues and more. Unfortunately, we are looking for a platform that better suits our needs.
Again, Wild Apricot can be a great platform for smaller organizations. But users should be aware of the limitations.
To Aigars, I appreciate you putting together this list. It has given me a starting point of where to look for a new provider. However, I think it would be more useful if you list both the good points and limitations of each company. That would help people find a provider they can live with much faster.
What would be best for a Trading Membership Website that is subscription based, has a blog, needs to archive videos daily of educational trading videos from the day’s market activity, is well laid out, has a strong community / communication/ idea sharing aspect, and prevents members from sharing access?
I just bought Optimize Press to get started…
Wishlist Member has been great for a very long time but there are definitely some challengers these days. I’ve also found Memberium to be a great platform in recent times as it has deep integration with ActiveCampaign (or InfusionSoft if you prefer that flavour). Another option that I’ve been experimenting with is Ultimate Member as they offer more in-built community focused options.
Any suggestions for a simple tool for strikingly? A simple function to sign-up / sign-in to view basic user content? No payments involved. Thanks for a a great article
A simple solution would be to use WordPress and Restrict Content or its premium version – Restrict Content Pro.
Any suggestion for which of these will work with Bootstrap? Look forward to your replies. Thanks!
Most of them will work as long as they are downloadable platforms instead of ones that are hosted with the service provider.
I’m looking into starting a membership site.is a platform the same thing as web hosting if not what should I consider in web hosting.i have read you’re review and i think I have figured out that part of it but I’m not sure about the web hosting service. Any suggestions for this would be very appreciated
Thanks for the recommendations. Are any of these free? I want to create a membership website, but want to start with the right one from the beginning without the need to pay to begin with.
Most of them have a free tier but for membership sites you quickly realize that upgrading is a must because of many great features that comes with premium version.
This is a great list of information and great questions and comments, thank you all. Has any heard of MemberMouse and pro’s, con’s?
Unfortunately, we are not familiar with the plugin. It looks like it has very little installs so it might not be that well tested.
It’s great to know how many options are out there for this kind of thing. I was toying with the idea of making a Teachable course, but I feel like members would get far more value from something like a WildApricot site, and creating it in a different format. It’s a lot more cost effective too
I have tried almost all these tools to run mu business. Switching to new platforms because of some kinds of glitches in these tools now and then downgraded my business a lot. I was suffering a lot. But then I came across a web page which made me realize that I might do better after seeking professional help. And boy was I right. I asked them to help me with my membership site and I was able to fully concentrate on the content of my business.
Don’t leave us in suspense! What did you use for the professional help?
We are in the process of deciding on a platform to use for our membership site. I require some answers with regards to the most important features we require below. Can you please comment on this and if possible supply me with some website examples that incorporates this?
1. Members must create profiles in such a way that its easy for other members to find information about them
2. We must be able to have discussion threads / groups that members can either join and participate in or leave, so they can pick only the content relevant to them
3. We must be able to publish speaker profiles, upcoming dates and have some form of comms with clients
4. Ideally an app for mobile devices
5. Potentially a paid membership option
Something simple that is fast and super user friendly. Entrepreneurs have low attention spans and little time so something that just works 🙂
This list was worth going through, but as Aigars said that upgrading is a must because of many great features that come with the premium version.
Great work ! MemberPress would be our top pick.
I highly recommend Sitelok. It’s a php script and hosted by YOU. I would be very cautious building a membership site using a service that charges monthly or a % of sales made. I feel people are being ripped off big time. Anyway most who have no idea about web design don’t know any better.
Thank you for this helpful and informative post, I did not realize there were so many amazing membership platforms out there. (My favorite is Ultimate Member, by the way.)
I have spent a few years creating membership websites of my own and helping others create blogs or even fully custom social networks. I want to share a few things that may be worth considering if you are getting ready to start your own membership website…
1. You can’t choose your words carefully enough! The name of your website, and also every single word during the registration and initial profile creation process can make or break your membership site and the emotions people experience when they first join.
2. Try to set a specific tone for your members, and be as consistent as possible throughout the website. If it’s supposed to be a friendly community, most of the design elements and phrases you use should be friendly. If it’s supposed to be professional, choose business-oriented designs, colors and phrases instead.
3. PROFILE FIELDS. If you can’t think of at least a few original profile fields that your members should fill out – consider writing some down on a piece of paper! It takes a little creativity to design your own profile fields, but it’s one of the most important aspects of making your membership site feel unique.
4. Nothing good will happen overnight. It’s about 100 times harder to recruit new members for YOUR own membership website than it is to simply attract followers on an existing social media website.
5. Don’t be a perfectionist. Your users will encounter a nearly infinite combination of pages, user-submitted content and multi-user activity scenarios while browsing your membership site. It’s almost impossible to get every single scenario right, so first focus on the ones that matter most (initial registration, profile creation, finding friends, etc.)
6. Finally – give it everything you’ve got! If these are YOUR members, and this is YOUR community and not just someone else’s, you will be putting some of yourself into every single page. The rush when someone joins your site is incredible because it’s REAL. This is you, sharing yourself with the world. Enjoy it and do it right.
Thanks again for this wonderful post and highlighting all of these technologies, it always inspires me to see so many tools that help people bring their own membership website ideas to life.
Hi – this is an amazing article. We have a prayer ministry. We need some kind of a member user area where our prayers – globally – can you keep an online journal that they have access to and that we have access to so that we can compile what they are getting in prayer. This article is amazing can you tell me which site you think would be best for that? Again – each prayer would have their own online journal that they would upload their notes to And then we would go in and harvest, compile, those notes into a master journal. Thank you so much for this article
Unfortunately, I’m not aware of any platform that does it by default.
What a great thread, some great info here – Mr Aigars in particular, you seem to be a font of knowledge.
I am really bad with tech stuff and tech speak so please forgive me if this sounds like the sort of thing a kid would ask – because I feel like a kid here, a little out of my depth:
So I have this business idea where a client can say “I require X product and Z is my budget”. If a member is interested in providing the product they go into a private room to discuss the fine print. Client pays for the product, with most monies going direct to the person actually delivering the product, and my commission being sent to me. The client can afterwards leave a review of the experience.
Is this achievable with one of these programmes mentioned above?
If you are not a developer it is going to be very difficult to create a custom platform you described. Most of above mentioned platforms does help to build membership sites but unless you know how to code or have someone that can help it will be nearly impossible to pull it off.
Thanks for including SubHub in this list. Much appreciated by the Team!
Which site would you recommend that allows members to create/manage their own pages and for others to search through the members. Kind of like Model Mayhem, or Linked IN but for a different industry.
I’ve done a lot of research on membership sites and this is a great list!
I ended up choosing Ontraport for my membership site after a horrible experience with another one and I’m very pleased with it. But all of these are great options.
I see, here are a lot of specialists! I am looking for a site where I can upload my youtube videos. The interested people can pay a fee and see the videos for one year, but no download. What do you recomand?
I think that MemberPress is the easiest solution that you can use for that.
However, never self-host videos unless you have really good hosting and by that, I don’t mean some cheap shared hosting that costs $10/month but at least your own VPS or a managed hosting with a reputable company. Because videos are resource heavy and use a ton of bandwidth.
A much better solution would be to use some unlisted Youtube videos or videos embedded from Jetpack or otherwise and not directly hosted on your website.
But regardless if you self host your videos or choose to embed private videos MemberPress will work perfectly fine.
Aigars, this article has been GOLD for me as we are just starting to look into membership programs. I know we don’t want a Word Press Plugin but that’s as far as we’ve gotten.
We need different tiers/price points, the ability to send email reminders set to the frequency the user wants, have course upsells within it, lots of video content and docs to download, and an upgrade button for those wanting to go up to the next tier. The forum needs to be separate for each tier. We are also hoping to have companies submit their benefits info for members to access from our site (or members profile) to avoid having to talk with their HR or supervisor.
We will be signing up members through Insurance companies (as an add on for them to pass on to their clients) and to businesses and unions so the security has to be TIGHT and members be anonymous as their co-workers will be on there too. We have received a lot of great feedback from Ins companies, we just need to figure out how to lay it out & implement it.
Aigars, I’m just wondering if you can make a recommendation or even things to look out for or consider?
Thank you so much.
I would recommend exploring LearnDash since it is the most advanced LMS platform out there and think would work perfectly for what you need.
LearnDash is a system for online courses in its core but I believe you can easily make it work in your case since you need forum, profiles, payments, mifferent user levels etc. All that can be done with LearnDash.
Thank you for your reply. I appreciate the help.
Do you have any recommendations other than something using WordPress?
It’s the one thing our web person steers clear of.
Happy New Year!
Hey Aigars, i love this article thanks. I am thinking of going with Memberpress.
Great job and wonderful insights into what is available. I was impressed on your follow up. A lot of people of posts let the questions die in cyber space, thanks Pete
Hey, it’s great article.
I am looking for something like linkedin cms, where members can have their individual profile and can post/showoff their skills and professional development on their profiles. Please suggest me something for this.
Also what is your opinion about buddypres+somegood theme for this idea ?