Memberpress Review 2021: The Best Membership Plugin for WordPress?

memberpress plugin review
memberpress plugin review

You’ve built a blog, a course, something online that attracts visitors and brings value to people. First of all, good on you.

Now it’s time to find out how to monetize it. Memberships are one of the best ways to get consistent and reliable revenue without having to “paywall” separate areas of your site.

If you’re a one-man army managing everything on your own, this is basically a dream come true. Memberpress is designed to help manage everything.

This Memberpress review will take a deep dive and delve into the depths of the entire plugin, regarding pricing, features, support, and everything in between. You want to make sure that members actually find value in your site, and to do that, signing up (and accessing the content they’re paying for) should be easy.

Let’s find out if Memberpress helps with that.

What Are Membership Plugins?

Membership plugins are scraps of PHP coding thrown together to turn your WordPress website into a money-making machine.

A membership plugin allows you to privatize your content, whether that’s blog posts, videos, pictures, or anything else, and charge a membership or subscription fee to allow users to access it.

Membership plugins are commonly used with online education platforms to maintain the integrity and security of sensitive learning materials, but to also ensure that only paying students/customers have access to those materials.

When you get down to it, membership plugins are how you turn content that performs well and gets organic SEO traffic into content that drips.

You can assign students to specific tiers of content, exclude lower tiers from different bundles and viewing certain materials, and basically structure your WordPress site into a functional membership site with logins, member data, and analytics on their activity.

Why Use a Membership Plugin?

If you’re making an online education platform or a tight-knit community space that offers valuable insight (stock trading assistance, DIY sites, sports sites, etc.), then you can safeguard it with a membership through an appropriate plugin.

These allow you to charge people for accessing your website. You can choose to have specific pages of a site protected so that you can market the free version of your site to prospects before showing them the paid side of things, or to allow people to pay once and view a library of exclusive content for life. You choose the business model, and the plugin allows you to carry it out.

Memberpress Ease of Use

Memberpress is known to be one of the most effective WordPress plugins for managing memberships, but what is it about Memberpress that makes it a truly one-and-done kind of experience?

Let’s find out.

Installation

There’s a simple, five-step installation process that takes maybe under a minute (depending on how fast your internet connection is).

Download the Memberpress zip file when you complete your purchase. When you log into your WordPress site, just go to “Add New” under your plugins. You’ll see an upload section.

Initiate an upload. WordPress will now open up a directory on your computer. Navigate to wherever you stored the Memberpress zip file and upload it to WordPress.

After that, you click on “Install Now” and then the “Activate Plugin” field. Boom—you’re done. Now it’s time to get it set up and ready to go.

Setup

Now it’s time to get things rolling. This is a quick mini guide to get your Memberpress site off the ground.

1. Go to your Memberpress plugin, and start a new membership. Here, you can select what membership tier you would like to offer, and how to charge for it. Add a price, billing frequency (monthly, lifetime, etc.), and even get handsy with the free trials option.

2. Now you need to actually collect the necessary information from your site visitors. There’s a registration setup page where you can ask users to input login information as they create their account, or if they’ve already had an account, you can leave this part out.

3. Setting permissions is the next step. You set up a pricing plan/membership package, so what does it allow access to? You have to define that (it’s recommended to prepare for this ahead of time by jotting down some notes).

4. Set a custom URL, if you choose. This is a custom URL slug where members are redirected to as opposed to standard visitors. This allows you to post snippets of information on your public page with a prompt to sign up, but actually host that content on a different URL that looks similar so visitors aren’t somehow bypassing your defenses to read for free.

5. Set protections using specific tags. This is a slightly complicated topic, but basically, you go through different tags on your WordPress content and set them to pages you want to protect. Then set that specific tag to a protection list to prevent people from getting in for free.

6. Now you need some coupons. If you want your membership deal to success, then think about offering as many deals as possible to get people enticed. Setting up coupons is easy by going to the coupon tab and just clicking on the “New” button to initiate everything.

7. Last but not least, content dripping is a good idea. This allows members access to certain content X amount of days after signing up. If you’re posting video and photo content that someone could download, and then delete their membership, you’re going to get a lot of signups but not a lot of recurring members. This protects you from that while still giving members tons of content for their signups. You could even have an elite package that bypasses all of this for an increased cost. Whatever you decide to do, just disclose the terms in bold lettering so people don’t get confused or angry and demand refunds.

Memberpress Pricing

pricing

We wanted to take a quick minute to break down all that Memberpress has to offer you.

When it comes to pricing, we need to break down their packages and how you can pay.

Plugin Pricing

The plugin cost itself changes. It’s only available through an annual plan, so you can’t hope to purchase a lifetime license at a higher cost. Memberpress is an SaaS company, which means software as a service.

The idea with a service is that once you stop paying for it, it goes away. On average, the plugin price for Memberpress can be over $500 for their ultimate package, but Memberpress is constantly running “exclusive deals” on their pricing. You can go to their site pretty often and get a timer along the top of the page that tells you a limited time price.

This is almost always there, and if not, it won’t be long before you can expect to see it again. We went with a pricing structure at their discounted cost, because as it turns out, it’s discounted more than half the time.

Your Membership Pricing and Tiers

It’s important to know 

  • Basic: For $129 per year, you get customer support, the ability to create and sell courses online, the ability to accept payments with PayPal and Stripe, and access to a few three-month trials of add-on tools. The basic package is just as you would expect: basic. There’s nothing special about this package. It would be better if this was offered as a monthly payment plan so you could get used to the system before committing to an annual upgrade, because you’re not going to be prorated if you upgrade before a year is up, which is where they tend to catch you.
  • Plus: For $214 per year, you now have access to two sites, and apart from everything mentioned before, you’ll also get access to thousands of Zapier integrations, more payment methods through Authorize.com, and the ability to sell corporate accounts
  • Pro: For $299 per year, except with the addition of an affiliate program, usability for up to five sites, and the ability to use even more add-ons that are exclusive to pro accounts. The pro account isn’t too high of a jump from the plus accounts, and if you truly need more than what the plus offers, you don’t have to pay 3x more to get 3x more capacity.

Payment Methods

You can pay through major credit and debit cards like Visa, Mastercard, and more, but you can also pay with PayPal.

The only thing to be careful of is knowing that this is a recurring membership cost, so you will have to make sure that payment method is up to date for future use when it comes time to renew your own membership.

How to Use Memberpress

memberpress features

While Memberpress isn’t the most difficult thing to navigate, it’s still important to know what you should be doing to access every single part of it.

While Memberpress can feel limited at some points, you’re not going to run into a huge bottleneck and feel overwhelmed.

Setting Up Memberships

Setting up memberships is the trickiest part, and even then, it’s not going to take you very long. Click on the new registration button, and you’ll be met with some prompts that your customers will get when they sign up with your site.

From there, you’ll be able to click on checkboxes to pick what you want. If you want welcome emails, you can have them. If you want to enable customized payment methods, that’s an option as well.

From there, you have to actually flesh out the membership levels so that your customers know what they’re getting, and you know what to charge for. Open the premium membership method so that they can actually pay and you can start bringing in revenue. This is where you set specific rules for memberships, such as what content the member will have access to.

That’s where you get into content restrictions based on tiers. If you have one paid-for tier, you can just grant access to all content unless you’re going to host private webinars on the site or something like that via invite-only.

Now you have to go in and make a registration button on one of your pages. This can be done from within the Memberpress plugin. Here, you’ll be prompted with options to make a login screen and a logout function so that customers can be done with your site and properly sign out. If you have restricted or adult content on your sites, this can be a great way to grant customer anonymity so they just aren’t logged in all the time.

Membership Management

Membership management is simple enough. Just go through your plugin menu until you see the “Members” tab.

From there, you’ll be able to either edit entire membership levels (and then send an email to your customers so they know what accesses they’ve been granted), or you can decide to change individual memberships.

This is good if your customers request custom changes to their memberships and you don’t have a page lined up for that.

Features

It’s good to know what you’re going to get out of this, right? While the list isn’t long, these features make Memberpress what it is.\

  • Logins: Have customers make an online ID, log in, and log out to access content. This is important if your customers use public computers.
  • Course Builder: It’s not just for memberships, but you can actually build courses through Memberpress. This comes in handy even if you just want to make a mini course on how to use your membership site for new customers to check out.
  • Restrictive Content Rules: For multiple tiers of memberships, you can make content restrictions so lower plans can’t get into the higher-tire content and community features.
  • Coupon System: Trying to market your course or membership site? Coupons are a great way to get it done, and Memberpress actually has powerful coupon tools that aren’t basic.
  • High-End Pricing Pages: They allow you to make pages that look like their own Membership pricing page that you view before purchasing their plugin. Classy and effective.
  • Premium Community Forums: Make your own forum system if you want, just for premium members to access. Free members could be able to view but not post, if you set the right permissions.

Third Party Integration

That’s the beauty of Memberpress; the whole point is integrating third-party apps.

There’s a wall of hundreds of different third-party integrations that Memberpress actually recommends or endorses, so you can hop on the bandwagon and try those out for yourself. On top of that, Memberpress also grants you access to custom pro-level ad-ons with certain membership levels.

Membership Analytics

So this is one area where Memberpress dropped the ball. They’re still all-in-one, but it’s only because they make it easy to access third-party integrated apps. Otherwise, they would lose that title for this alone.

Their analytics program is simply adding in Google Analytics, and that’s it. You get site information, but no membership information.

That’s why they give you a three-month trial of MonsterInsights, which helps you have more site-specific analytics instead of just traffic-based data that Google provides you with.

MonsterInsights is a great third-party integration, but it actually costs $399.50 per year at a discounted price, so you end up paying more for this than you do for Memberpress as a whole. That’s only if you pay annually, by the way, otherwise you end up at $799.99 per year, which is absolutely absurd. This is a plugin that assists Google Analytics, so without GA installed, you can’t even use MonsterInsights.

Memberpress Security

customer support

Memberpress hit this issue right on the head. They talk about what files they protect on their blog, and basically, they give you this list of file extensions that they will protect.

  • .zip
  • .gz
  • .tar
  • .rar
  • .doc
  • .docx
  • .xls
  • .xlsx
  • .pdf
  • .mp4
  • .m4v
  • .mp3
  • .ts
  • .key
  • .m3u8

If you have any files that aren’t protected, then you have to put them into a zip folder and then apply them to the directory where your files are protected. If your file is on this list, it’s safe.

Pros and Cons of Memberpress

memberpress review

Pros

  • Tons of Payment Processors: Nobody wants to be bottlenecked and told that they can only pay through an alternative method. That might be what turns them away if they’re barely on your side of the fence when it comes to deciding on using your site or not. Memberpress gives your customers more options to pay so they aren’t stuck in the middle with no options of their own. People like having choices.
  • Works Great for All Membership Type Sites: Providing memberships for courses, communities, or access to art like a Patreon page? Well, whatever it is that you want to do, Memberpress has a way to customize your options. Apart from the easy installation and responsive design, as well as inclusive landing pages, you’ll be able to do whatever you want with your site.
  • Impressive Catalog of Add-ons: Memberpress is an all-in-one package because it’s easy to use for the most part (more on that later), and because it boasts one of the largest archives of integratable add-ons. Seriously, you could end up with dozens of add-ons that turn your site into the bare Memberpress basics into something that seems like you hired half a dozen Javascript engineers to bring to life.
  • Multiple Membership Tier Options: Not sure how you want to structure your membership site? One-time access payments for community forums and the like are easy enough to do, but with Memberpress, you can set up different tiers for course sites or other sites with continuous content support. 
  • Affordable: With their most popular plan, you only pay $17.84 per month for an annual membership. Even if you go with the highest package they offer, it’s only $29.99 per month for all that extra power. Plugins aren’t meant to be as expensive as full LMS systems, and we’d say that Memberpress even undervalues their service a little bit. You’ll see us talk about limited features in the next section, but just keep in mind that through all of that, Memberpress does what it does well, and we can only expect so much more on top of that.

Cons

  • Lack of Depth: Memberpress is good, but not the only plugin you’re going to need. We tout their impressive and in-depth system, but it actually doesn’t go as deep as it should. If it offered minimal integrations and displayed itself as a lite app or something along those lines, we wouldn’t be disappointed, but with one of the best reputations in the WordPress membership plugin space, we were shocked to see how little it has to offer. What it offers, it does very well in, we just need more.
  • UI Needs Updating: The entire user interface is solid, but that doesn’t mean it’s good or, dare we say, intuitive. Memberpress is a plugin, so they’re limited to the WordPress dashboard and all, but they could have gone the extra mile to make the plugin easier to access. Some design elements just don’t make it comfortable to use compared to other plugins.
  • Integrations Have Hurdles: We told you that there’s a wall of integrations that you can use, and there are, but they each require some setup time. We don’t anticipate that you’ll use fifty on one site, but even so, they should be much easier to install than they currently are. Each integration has its own list of instructions, and it can get quite tiresome going through all of them.

The All-in-One Membership Plugin

Is Memberpress really the all-in-one membership plugin that they claim to be? Yeah, they pretty much are.

There are some caveats to be had, but you’re going to find that with any membership plugin or membership service.

With Memberpress, you’re able to do a little bit of it all: coupons, content dripping, detailed reporting, payment management—the works. This is one of, if not the best membership plugin for WordPress that exists today. The learning curve may be steeper than other membership plugins, but it’s worth every second you invest.