Tried and true, Wishlist Member has been the go-to plugin for WordPress that people use when they want to sell courses or access to learning materials through a membership program.
They’ve been one of the top dogs for a while, but now it’s time to find out why.
In our Wishlist Member review, we’re going to cover features, pricing, charging, installation, and every feature in between.
Wishlist Member is known for being one of the most intuitive plugins for WordPress that you can get your hands on, so it’s time to put those claims to the test.
What Are Membership Plugins?
Membership plugins are add-ons for your WordPress site that allow you to manage your students on a course or memberships to exclusive sites in general.
You can use membership plugins to manage payments, accept new forms of payments, and control access to your content.
Controlling content access is how you monetize a content-rich site with a high level of quality and attention to detail. Membership plugins help with that, but they also help you make different tiers or levels within your site or course.
By separating the tiers, you grant specific access depending on which subscription plan your students or viewers have signed up for. If A-tier allows for access to 30% of your content, that’s all users will get.
Many membership plugins are automated so that you can accept payments once, and then those users have access for the duration of their monthly payment or for life (depending on how you structure things).
Good plugins will allow for automation to continuously collect payments like a monthly subscription, allowing you to take your hands off the wheel.
Why Use a Membership Plugin?
Membership plugins are used for either making online courses and restricting access to students (paying customers), or to make a “paywall” on site content, similar to how a lot of journalistic publications do.
When you charge for your site or access to your content, you turn free content into a business. Membership plugins are used as tools of high-quality content publications to monetize content, courses, and resources, among other things.
Wishlist Member Ease of Use
Wishlist Member is an easy plugin to master, but that’s not necessarily a good thing when you peel back all the layers.
Wishlist Member is one of the oldest plugins on WordPress for memberships, and as such, they’ve let their reputation do a lot of the marketing for them. If they came out today, they wouldn’t be as well-regarded.
There aren’t as many features here as there should be, but that being said, the lack of features makes it easy to navigate and understand in no time.
Installing this plugin on WordPress is pretty simple and straightforward. As one of the oldest WordPress plugins out there, it’s already very keen on the platform and integrating with it properly. You have little to no work to do here.
Once you’re in, you’re in. After installation, everything is straightforward. If you just spend time going through every option in Wishlist Member, you’ll be done looking around in about fifteen to thirty minutes.
It’s a simple app with a simple interface, the only thing you really need to do is put in your product license number, which you should receive through an email.
Begin by setting up a course or a specific batch of content that can be accessed through membership. Setting up members needs to be done individually as there’s little to no support from the user side of things, but apart from that, setup is simple.
Wishlist Member Pricing
Wishlist Member has a fairly simple way that they structure things, and an absolute ton of savings to be had if you’re in this for the long haul.
The pricing structure for Wishlist Member is straightforward. You only have the option to sign up for annual plans, so it’s a jump in with both feet kind of thing. The good thing is that your prices renew at different rates. Well, most of them.
For the basic plan, the price stays the same year after year, but you get a 48% discount on your second and subsequent years for the popular plan, and over 60% annual savings on the 20 site plan that they offer for those second and subsequent years.
Your Membership Pricing and Tiers
If Wishlist Membership is something you want to stick with, those tier price differences are going to be a big help. This is one of the cheapest LMS system plugins that are available, and this is what you can expect.
- Basic Plan: At $147, you get access to everything that Wishlist Member offers, including membership levels, detailed support, and premium total content control solutions. This plan renews at its original price of $147 per year for the second and subsequent years.
- Popular Plan: At $297, you get access to everything that Wishlist Member has to give, which includes premium total content control, in-depth video tutorials for beginners, URL installation, and more. This plan renews at $147 per year, or roughly a 48% discount for the second and subsequent years. Payment failure and cancellation of your plan means you have to start from scratch again.
- 20 Site Plan: $397 per year, you get access to absolutely everything Wishlist Member has to offer, including premium content control, up to 20 URLs and sites, unlimited members and levels, and more. This plan renews at $147 per year just like the others, which saves you over 60% on your next subscription for the second and subsequent years. Failure to make a payment when it’s due means you have to start over at the $397 per year model again, so make sure your payment information is up to date.
You can use all major credit cards, Visa, Mastercard, and PayPal. Keep in mind that this means you can buy a prepaid Visa or Mastercard and set the money aside so that it’s not part of your primary card.
If you do this, just be sure that you reload money onto the card in time so that you can cash in on that renewal price at a discount.
You can use this with the WooCommerce plugin to accept more forms of payment from students and members as well. The main benefit to Wishlist Member, as we’ll learn throughout the rest of this guide, is that it integrates with other plugins almost flawlessly.
How to Use Wishlist Member
One of the best parts of Wishlist Member is how easy it is to use. It has its pros and cons, but at the very least, it makes setting things up fairly quick.
We’ll go over payments, membership, and third-party plugins right now.
Setting Up Payments
There are a few ways you can do this. You can choose to have people pay per individual post, which isn’t recommended for viewer retention, but it’s an option. This is also rather tedious to do per post.
If you’re going to monetize a blog behind a paywall, one subscription for entire sitewide access is the best option. To properly set up custom payments, you have to bypass the setup wizard and go through to do it manually, otherwise it’s a blanket solution that usually isn’t what people want.
Membership management was horrible in 2.0, which was prior to April of 2019. 3.0 membership management is simple. Go into your plugin dashboard and click on the members tab, and you’ll be given a directory of users.
There are limited filtering options, so you may have to get creative with CTRL+F and find specific users based on name or level if you have a ton of subscriptions/members.
- Protect Content: Instead of just trying to keep a certain URL a secret and not letting it be indexed, you can actually protect content that only members can view.
- Auto Trigger: This allows you to set automatic actions that follow manual actions. If you make a new post and publish it, you can set it so that Wishlist Member automatically puts it into a course or protected section of the site, and optimizes it for payments.
- Modular Memberships: Do you want two tiers for your members to choose from? How about ten? You could have different sections of a website that have their own separate memberships if you wanted, and this is how you protect them all.
- Sneak Peaks: Non-members can view X percentage of your post before being prompted to pay and look at more. You’ll find that this is the standard practice on a lot of journalistic publications online, and it works quite well.
- Free Trials: You can give free trials to your potential customers, just like how LMS programs give free trials to you. If it’s a content site, give someone three days to fall in love with it. If it’s a course site for students, give them a week and see how that fares. Toy around with it all you please.
Third Party Integration
This is where the money is: Wishlist Member is known for being integrated with more WordPress plugins than any other membership plugin out there. Simply put, they’ve been around long enough to not only know how important this is, but to do their best to ensure that nearly every plugin that you could want to pair with it will work.
Apart from that, it connects to Zapier, full service LMS systems, and email service providers to keep you 100% connected to your content and memberships at all times.
Wishlist Member Analytics
You can install a separate plugin, which is Wishlist Analytics. This helps you track what pages people are visiting, what videos are being watched, when they’re being paused, and more.
It’s nothing groundbreaking, but it is nice to use for some small-scale analytics.
Addressing Online Reviews
We originally made this review at the end of 2020 (will be updated over time of course), and that’s important to know because Wishlist Member has been around for a while.
You’re going to find reviews talking about their limitations with features, but pay attention to the post date. Wishlist Member upgraded to their 3.0 version in April of 2019, and prior to that, they had tons more issues.
Wishlist Member Security
The plugin itself is safe to use, but the main security issues we want to focus on are around individuals getting access to your protected content without paying for it.
There’s no current workarounds to allow people to slip in past the paywall and view your content for free. Wishlist Member does a good job of keeping things accessible only through memberships.
Pros and Cons of Wishlist Member
- Per Post Access: Block off premium content piece by piece if need be. You can monetize the highest-performing and best-searched pieces of content on your site and watch the revenue pour in.
- Central Content Control: While some areas of this can be difficult to navigate, central content control allows you to pinpoint specific pieces of content without having to search through everything in your archive, and then adjust it accordingly.
- Marketing Benefits: There are so many great marketing tools here, from sneak peeks to membership tiers and more, that you’ll be able to design attractive websites and services around these for the best effectiveness.
- No Modules: This isn’t designed specifically for hosting online courses, although you can do that. The thing is, it doesn’t help you build any modules within the content bins, so you’ll have to find a workaround for that
- Too Much: The 3.0 version of Wishlist Member changed it for the better, but it also brought some extra baggage with it. You simply don’t need every feature they offer. Even if you’re someone who uses niche features, there are more than you’d need for a single site to be effective, and it can make it hard to navigate all the options.
Will Wishlist Member Be the Last WordPress Membership Plugin You’ll Ever Need?
You’re ready to start teaching, and with Wishlist Member, you can bring everything to your students and audience in a fast, intuitive manner.
Out of all the WordPress plugins devoted to selling courses and having memberships, Withlist Member is one of the best.
Apart from the payments, features, and all the other excellent benefits you get with Wishlist Member, you do have some restrictions compared to full LMS systems, so keep that in mind.
For a one-person army who wants to make the most out of their WordPress site, Wishlist Member is definitely the way to go as long as you have the time to deal with manual membership options.