There’s no shortage of membership site platforms available, but choosing the right one can seem like a daunting task.
In this guide, we’ll list 8 platforms to consider when starting a membership-based online business.
Best Membership Site Platforms
What Are Membership Site Platforms
A membership site platform is an all-in-one software solution that allows you to create and run a membership website.
These platforms include the website templates you need to create your content, along with payment and billing tools for signing up new members and charging recurring fees.
They can also provide automated email marketing workflows, blog management capabilities, and much more — all in one place. Membership sites are typically used by bloggers and other creators who have a large body of content that they want to make available for a fee.
This approach is popular among those who don’t want to rely on advertising revenue or other forms of third-party sponsorship that can compromise their independence.
A membership site is most commonly launched as a subscription business model where members pay a set monthly fee to access the site’s resources.
Many membership sites charge per piece of content, while others offer tiered pricing plans based on the number of content users can access each month (e.g., $7/month for 5 articles or $10/month for 10 articles).
Best Membership Site Platforms – Introduction
If you run a membership site, you know how important it is to choose the right platform. The best membership site platforms offer features and plug-ins that enhance your site’s functionality and design.
But not all platforms are created equal. Some are better suited to certain types of websites, while others lack key features that your website needs to be successful.
To help you out, we’ll explore some of the best membership site platforms available. By the end of this article, you’ll have a good idea of which one is best for your website.
You’ll also have a great starting point for choosing other tools and resources for your membership site.
You may have even seen examples of people making a killing with membership sites. If you’re like most, you already have a website or blog and are looking to add a membership component to it.
WPQuickStart by Nexcess is a great way to set up a WordPress site.
WPQuickStart uses pre-configured servers so there is no need to set up any extra configuration files or databases.
Not so long ago, creating an online course was a huge undertaking.
You would need to set up your website; get a shopping cart and payment processor; build your course pages and enrollment system; then create the content itself before finally launching your site.
With Thinkific, you can have your online course built and ready to sell in less time than it takes to watch a movie.
You can even get started with free tools such as Google Sites or Evernote if you want to keep things simple at first, but be aware that these services are limited in terms of functionality… Thinkific is an online course platform that allows you to create, market, sell and deliver your own online courses.
Thinkific makes it easy for anyone to teach what they know and earn money by sharing their knowledge with others.
You can create and sell beautiful online courses with Thinkific’s easy-to-use platform.
Host your courses on fully customizable, mobile-responsive websites and get paid with a variety of payment options including PayPal, Stripe, Square, and Zapier integrations.
Thinkific offers built-in marketing tools including coupons, affiliate tracking and drip email sequences. The platform also provides unlimited bandwidth and storage.
- Create and sell beautiful online courses and coaching services with our easy-to-use platform.
- Host your courses on our fully customizable, mobile-responsive websites.
- Get paid with our variety of payment options including PayPal, Stripe, Square, and Zapier integrations.
- Use built-in marketing tools including coupons, affiliate tracking, drip email sequences, and more!
- Get help from our team of experts via email or chat (Monday – Friday).
- Receive unlimited bandwidth and storage.
3. Wild Apricot
Wild Apricot is designed to help small associations and nonprofit organizations with limited technical skills create a professional online presence.
The web-based software helps you:
- Manage online membership and applications,
- Create an association website with an integrated content management system (CMS),
- Publish events and manage event registrations,
- Process payments,
- Manage your contacts, and
- Send email newsletters.
Wild Apricot provides cloud-based membership management software designed to help you manage your members, dues, events, and websites.
Wild Apricot is built for small associations and non-profits.
Wild Apricot also lets you create custom reports based on any data fields you’ve entered into the system.
Wild Apricot provides a wide range of membership management features for a broad spectrum of organizations, including:
- Nonprofit, charitable, and community organizations,
- Professional associations,
- Clubs and special interest groups,
- Sports teams and leagues,
- Trade and business associations,
- Religious organizations,
- Political action committees,
- Schools and alumni groups.
- Customizable registration forms and event pages, with easy registration management.
- Ability to send emails to your members and have them reply directly to the sender.
- Automated membership renewals.
- Easy maintenance of member rosters and communication.
- Accessible member portal with a customizable member directory.
- Ability to collect membership dues through PayPal or Stripe.
- Ability to create custom reports based on any data fields you’ve entered into the system.
Kajabi is an all-in-one platform designed to help you create a highly converting online course. You can easily create and customize your website, manage your memberships, set up payments, and more.
Kajabi is ideal for entrepreneurs who want to create online courses, membership sites, or webinars.
It comes with a drag-and-drop editor that makes it easy to modify the layout of your pages without any coding knowledge. Kajabi includes preset layout options for an About page, a sales page, etc.,
The platform also includes a blog where you can share content related to your products and services.
You can schedule blog posts in advance so they’re automatically released on their publication date. Plus, you can integrate third-party tools to enable lead-capture forms on your blog posts.
With Kajabi, you can sell digital content (such as online courses) or physical products (like merchandise).
The platform comes with built-in shopping cart functionality that lets customers purchase multiple products at once without leaving the checkout page.
There’s also a community for Kajabi users to connect, network, and support each other.
- Sell your products from your own domain name.
- Build out sales funnels using our drag-and-drop technology.
- Track your success with analytics.
- Connect with your customers seamlessly using email marketing automation.
- Create beautiful email broadcasts to communicate with your followers.
- Engage with your audience through video, audio, text, images, documents, and more.
Teachable is one of the most popular platforms for creating and selling online courses. In recent years, it’s become the go-to option for many successful course creators.
Teachable has a lot of benefits. With Teachable, you’ll be able to create a beautiful website, handle payments, and track student progress all in one place.
You can add your own domain name, include your brand colors and logo, customize the payment pages, and much more. All of this makes it super easy to provide a good experience for your students.
Teachable will also help you make money with your course thanks to built-in affiliate tools and coupon codes that let you offer discounts to students who sign up early or through an affiliate link.
Teachable’s core functionality revolves around creating, uploading, and promoting your courses.
MemberPress will help you confidently create, manage and track membership subscriptions and sell digital download products. It is an easy-to-use WordPress Membership Plugin.
MemberPress will help you to instantly start charging your users for access to your content.
It’s easy to use, yet powerful enough to create many of the most popular kinds of paid membership sites.
MemberPress will allow you to easily share your knowledge, and opinions, teach what you know, or sell your products with confidence.
Podia is a simple drag-and-drop editor that allows you to create your course and coaching pages without touching a single line of code.
You can choose from a variety of themes, colors, and fonts to match your brand.
Podia lets you give your affiliates a link to share and earn commissions on every sale you make through them.
You can also give your customers special deals as an incentive to buy.
There are no limits to how much you can sell on Podia – no matter how big you get.
Get started with Podia in less than 10 minutes! Simple, drag-and-drop editor.
- Create your course and coaching pages without touching a single line of code.
- Customization options.
- Choose from a variety of themes, colors, and fonts to match your brand.
- Built-in affiliate marketing.
- Give your affiliates a link to share and earn commissions on every sale you make through them.
- Customer support.
- Coupons and discounts.
- Offer your customers special deals as an incentive to buy.
- Drip content release schedule.
- Release content at set intervals after purchase, so your students keep coming back for more.
- Unlimited memberships, courses, and downloads – forever! There are no limits to how much you can sell on Podia – no matter how big you get.
Wix.com has been around for a while.
It is the world’s most popular website builder, trusted by over 110 million people worldwide.
With Wix, you can start with a stunning template and customize it, or get a personalized website made just for you.
When you choose Wix, you don’t just get a drag-and-drop website builder, you get the whole package.
This includes free reliable web hosting, top security, the best SEO, and a dedicated support team to help you along the way.
Wix is a great choice for beginners and small businesses who want to build their own websites in the shortest amount of time.
Wix has over 500 beautiful templates to choose from.
What Are the Best Membership Site Platforms?
Trying to find the best membership site platform is not easy.. However, once you know what features are important to you, it will be easy to find software that suits your needs.
The most important features are:
The best membership site platforms will have easy integration with other tools.. Your members should be able to log in without interruption.
A variety of payment options is also crucial to running a membership site. Subscription-based systems are popular for membership sites, but some charge extra for recurring payments.
In addition to accepting all major credit cards, look for a platform that accepts PayPal and Amazon Payments.
A membership site should have good analytics and reporting capabilities.
You should be able to easily track new memberships, cancellations and upgrades at any time. Make sure you can also see which emails are being opened or links are being clicked so you can tailor future content accordingly.
Affordable Pricing Options
Look for a platform that has a free trial or plan so you can get started without making a big investment in software upfront.
Pay attention to the fine print when it comes to additional fees for setup or support services before committing to one company.
What Features Do You Need in Membership Site Platforms?
A membership site is a great way to monetize your content, build a community, and foster deeper connections with your audience.
You can use the built-in features of your website platform, go with a 3rd-party membership plugin, or you may decide that a standalone platform is best for your business.
Regardless of which option you choose, it’s important to have a clear idea of what features you need before committing to a specific platform.
There are so many different features, payment options and integrations out there — it’s hard to know where to start.
So let’s go over some of the most important things you should look for in your membership platforms:
1. Membership Site Platforms Features Gated and Exclusive Content
This is the most basic of membership site tools.
It’s a way to conceal content from users until they have a paid membership, or have completed some other action that qualifies them for access.
Gated content could be as simple as a single PDF document, or it could be a collection of videos or blog posts.
Exclusive content only appears on your site and nowhere else, making it valuable to members who want to read or view something new each time they visit your site.
The simplest way to create exclusive content is by writing new material — whether it’s in the form of articles, videos, or podcasts.
Private forums and social media groups
Private forums and social media groups are one of the most popular forms of membership sites for businesses looking to connect with their customers.
The benefit for customers is that they get access to people behind the business and receive answers to their questions directly from them.
For business owners, private groups offer a way to build relationships with customers and gather useful feedback about their products and services.
2. Membership Site Platforms Features Contact Segmentation
With the recent launch of our new Email Marketing tool, you may be wondering about the differences between email marketing and email segmentation.
To help you decide which tools are right for you, we’ve outlined some of the key differences between marketing and segmentation email tools.
The biggest difference between email segmentation and marketing is how they work with your contact list.
While both types of email tools allow you to send targeted content to specific groups of your contacts, they do so in different ways.
With segmentation, you can “slice” your contact list into smaller groups based on things like their interests or their location.
You can then target these smaller groups with specific emails and track their performance separately.
Marketing allows you to create segments based on a single criterion, such as an interest, but only allows you to send one campaign to that group at a time.
If you want to send multiple campaigns to a group of contacts with different interests, you’ll need to create separate segments for each interest first.
3. Membership Site Platforms Features User and Member pages
Several of the membership site platforms mentioned in this post have a feature called contact segmentation or tagging. This is helpful when it comes to your email list, and one of the main reasons I recommend ConvertKit over MailChimp.
With ConvertKit, you can tag people automatically depending on their actions (they subscribed to your blog, purchased a certain product, signed up for freebies such as an email course, etc). You can also tag people manually.
This will help you send them targeted emails, which are much more effective than general ones.
For example, let’s say you’re launching a new product and you want to offer a discount to your past customers. With tags/segmentation, it’s super easy because you can just send an email to those who purchased from you in the past.
There’s no guesswork involved. It’s all automated for you so you can focus on what really matters – selling!
4. Membership Site Platforms Features Automation Features
The best membership site platforms also come with the ability to automate your marketing efforts by integrating directly with email marketing systems like MailChimp, Aweber, and Constant Contact.
This makes it easier to send out emails to different members of your community while they’re in different stages of their membership journey.
For example, you can choose to send out a series of introductory emails once someone signs up for your membership site, followed by a series of emails over time that teaches them how to get the most value out of their membership.
5. Membership Site Platforms Features Payment Gateway Integrations
Membership sites are great for monetizing your expertise and creating recurring revenue. They can be used to create a passive income stream, or fuel an online community of like-minded people interested in the same topic.
Why Build A Membership Site?
Selling products and services online is a great way to earn money, but there’s only so much you can charge for something before it becomes prohibitively expensive for the consumer.
And if you’re selling products or services you have to constantly produce new goods in order to keep customers engaged.
With a membership site, you receive regular income from users who want to interact with other members, learn from your content and get access to resources they wouldn’t be able to get anywhere else.
You can also build communities around particular interests or causes.
6. Membership Site Platforms Features Membership Tiers
This might seem obvious, but the most important aspect of your membership site is the content. If your content isn’t great, people won’t stay members for very long.
If people have trouble joining, are inconvenienced by technical troubles or there aren’t many other members, they won’t stick around. Membership sites depend on having good content and lots of engaged members.
Consider these features when choosing a membership site platform:
Membership Tiers – Does the platform allow you to set up different levels of membership?
Payment Options – Can you accept credit cards directly through the site?
Technical Support – Is it available 24/7?
Member Management – Can you easily add new members, delete members or update their information?
Content Management – Is it easy to add new content or upload existing documents? Can you charge for access to specific documents?
How Do You Use Membership Site Platforms?
Membership sites are a great way to provide access to content for your customers. You can use membership site platforms to sell online courses, to give access to digital downloads like ebooks and audio files, or any other content you want to provide.
But how do you set up your membership site? What’s the process for creating accounts, uploading content, and getting your site ready to go live?
The first step is to decide what kind of platform you’re going to use. There are several different kinds:
WordPress Membership Plugins
Many eCommerce platforms have plugins that allow you to run a membership site directly on that platform.
So if you have a WordPress website — or if you’re using another platform that has WordPress plugins — then this could be an option for you.
Some platforms specialize in providing account access only (no eCommerce features).
Some of the most popular options are Memberful and MemberPress. If they don’t meet your needs, there are plenty more options out there.
eCommerce Platforms with Membership Sites
Some platforms, such as Shopify and BigCommerce, include membership site functionality as a core part of their service.
Membership Site Platform – Frequently Asked Questions
The Membership Site Platform is a complete solution to set up and run your own membership site.
It’s used by thousands of people to run their membership website and has all the features you need to successfully run a membership business.
The Membership Site Platform gives you everything you need to build your own membership website using WordPress:
1. Complete integration with WordPress – the platform is built on top of WordPress, so you can use all the WordPress tools you know and love like plugins and themes.
2. Flexible membership levels – create as many different membership levels as you want with different pricing and access.
3. Multiple payment gateways – accept payments with Stripe, PayPal Website Payments Pro, Authorize.net, or Braintree Payments.
4. Secure content area – protect your content from unauthorized access using our secure member area.
5. Content dripping – release new content on a schedule so that members get access according to the timeline that you select.
6. Member management – import and manage your existing members easily through our interface.
7. Sign-up form builder – create sign-up forms for each of your subscriptions with custom fields that integrate with MailChimp, iContact, and Campaign Monitor.
Best Membership Site Platforms – Wrapping Up
In this article, we’ve taken an in-depth look at the best membership site platforms available. We’ve explored their features, and pricing and given some useful tips on how to choose the right software to suit your needs.
To summarize, here are our top picks:
Wishlist Member is a powerful plugin that gives you complete control over your membership site. It’s not the most user-friendly solution, but it’s incredibly flexible, allowing you to customize almost every aspect of your site.
MemberPress is another feature-rich WordPress plugin that allows you to create a variety of membership sites.
It’s very easy to use and comes with some great third-party integrations such as MailChimp and Zapier. MemberMouse is aimed at those who want a complete turnkey solution.
It does come with monthly fees though. WP Courseware comes with everything you need to create and sell online courses from your WordPress site.
It has a very intuitive interface and all the usual integrations like PayPal and Vimeo Pro that are included in the price.