How Do I Choose The Best WordPress Membership Plugin For My Business?

One of the decisions you have to make as you grow in your online business, not too far after you have made your initial sales online I might add (that first online sale is always a magic moment) and when you have created your own info-product (typically an eBook, video series, audio programme etc – digital downloads) is ‘How do I create a secure membership site to deliver my premium offerings and which is the best WordPress membership plugin for what I want to deliver?’

There are multiple products out there that you could you could use and they tend to largely be split into 3 different categories, which we will look at in more detail:

1. Light Plugin – I call them these because they are plugins that you add to your WordPress self-hosted website; you install via the ‘upload plugin’ function, like you would any other premium plugin. You buy the plugin for around $47 (WP File Lock for example). These are very simple to use and deliver the following benefits:

– Create a secure page/area or download file to prevent people from sharing or your ‘thank you’ page with their friends or hacking into it and accessing your premium content for free.

– It will ‘talk’ to your payment processor – like ClickBank or PayPal and integrate the sale made through them via the customer’s e-mail address with giving your new buyer a personalised user name and password to access their download.

– It’s cheap and simple to set up.

These light membership plugins are generally useful only if you have a single download page for something like an e-book or one MP3 audio file. If you are looking to set up a full-blown membership area, where new content is drip fed over time and there are many different files and levels of membership – e.g. bronze, silver and gold at differing prices, then you’re likely to want to consider either a self-hosted piece of membership software or a hosted one.

2. Self Hosted Membership Software – These are larger pieces of software that are still installed as premium plugins on your WordPress website but require a bit more technical work on the backend and have a lot more options with their functionality.

Self-hosted membership plugins, such as Digital Access Pass or Wishlist Member typically cost $200-$400 (depending on single or multiple site license and a few other options) and offer an array of great features, such as being able to drip-feed content to members at intervals. For example, on the first day of membership, a customer receives Video 1 of your content, 30 days later they receive Video 2, 30 days later Video 3 etc. You can e-mail members via the software, or it will integrate with your e-mail autoresponder service.

It can encrypt files, pages and is totally secure.

The downside is that as you grow your sales and have many hundreds or thousands of members, it can slow your site down, since it’s hosted on your own web server. If you know you’re going to make a lot of sales or if you already have a lot of customers and clients, probably the third option is going to be best for your business – hosted membership software.

3. Hosted Membership Software – Typically have similar level of functionality as he self-hosted plugins but they are hosted on the cloud and your will pay a monthly fee to use it, rather than a one off licence. This software is usually included with an overall business centralisation system – such as Nanacast, Premium Web Cart Office Autopilot or 1Shopping Cart, which gives it many other advantages, as well as being fast to load, even with thousands of members.

Some of those advantages are being able to chain products together. The membership software is usually part of your payment processor, so it’s easy to upsell members to your other products. You can add coupons, have dime sales, duplicate and ‘mirror’ memberships – so can set up the same membership model for new product lines.

Hosted systems are the ultimate way to create membership sites but you have to be able to fork out $97-$300 per month typically but bear in mind that the higher price should easily be offset and then some by the additional sales you’ll be making with the sophisticated marketing and sales functionality.