MemberPress Review for 2022 (Features, Pricing & More)
- Matthew Turner
Updated by Tara Malone
As an online course creator, you might wonder if it makes sense to set up a membership site.
While creating and selling online courses is great, it often results in just a one-time sale.
In the beginning, this might not be a problem. Yet once you build some momentum, you want to provide greater value to your students and scale your operations.
This is where creating a membership site comes in.
A membership site is a gated community where only those who subscribe can access your content. Within this site, you can link to your online course, or give members access to multiple courses. You can also offer them tons of valuable resources to supplement their learning.
But the most powerful part of a membership site is the community you build. Through a forum or private group, you provide a platform where your students engage with one another.
The problem that most course creators face, however, is that they have no idea where to begin.
They worry about the time involved, the technical know-how they don’t have, and the cost.
The good news is that creating a membership site doesn’t have to be expensive, complex, or time-consuming, as long as you have the right tool.
In this article, we’ll be reviewing MemberPress, a plugin that make building a membership site simple.
What is the MemberPress Plugin?
It allows you to:
- Charge your students on a recurring basis
- Manage and track membership subscriptions
- Grant and restrict access to certain online course material and other content
- Create a private forum or group where your members can engage
- Integrate with other tools and software
- Build an affiliate program for members and joint venture partners
Best of all, it integrates fully with your existing WordPress website. Meaning no third-party logins or platforms to use, or the hassle of having to send your students away from your site.
Everything remains in your control.
As you create more content, you can easily add it to your membership site, making it accessible only to those who need to see it. This means you can have multiple subscription levels, allowing you to scale your membership site as you wish.
Where most other online course builders like Thinkific, Kajabi, and Teachable provide a monthly fee, you get access to the MemberPress plugin for one relatively low annual fee.
Starting at just $299, you can have almost all the features you will ever need for one website. For most online course creators, this is enough. It’s a very reasonable price when you consider the features you get. In addition, they occasionally have limited time offers where you can lock in a lower price.
That said, it’s important to note that other costs could arise when using a plugin like this.
Unlike with a platform like Kajabi, you are responsible for hosting, user privacy, and fixing any potential website issues. Because of this, it’s important you consider the cost of:
- Reliable and fast hosting options for your website
- WordPress privacy and security services and/or plugins
- Regular site maintenance
In the beginning, these costs won’t be high. But as you grow your membership site, you need to ensure your hosting and security grows with it.
Also, you need to take into account the other tools you will use to get the most out of the MemberPress plugin. We’ll explain the various integrations you can set up later, and although you won’t use them all, you’ll likely use some.
So while the $299 MemberPress Pricing is great, there are other ongoing costs to consider.
Summary of MemberPress Features
The MemberPress plugin truly does offer a lot of features. As with most tools like this, there are certain features you won’t need or use.
There are some fundamental features relevant to all course creators, though.
Here are some of our favorite features you’ll get the most instant value out of.
1. It Works with Any WordPress Theme
It’s important the MemberPress plugin works with your existing site. The last thing you want to do is change your website just so you can implement this plugin. The good news is that so long as your website’s hosted using WordPress, this plugin should work.
No matter what your theme, the MemberPress plugin should work without issue. This is a huge first hurdle to overcome, and it’s a question many course creators ask.
2. Payment Integration
One of the most overwhelming parts of creating a membership site like this is trying to figure out how to charge your students (and for this process to repeat automatically each month).
The MemberPress plugin has you covered, integrating with PayPal, Stripe, and Authorize.net.
Once you integrate your payment gateway of choice with MemberPress, everything happens effortlessly, removing any friction for either you or your students.
3. Subscription Management
MemberPress leverages the automated billing systems on the payment gateway’s side, so there’s nothing you need to do to ensure your students are charged each month.
You may want to update some of their details, though, as well as add some members manually.
The MemberPress plugin Subscription Management is both easy to use and gives you all you need.
- Give Access
- Restrict Access
- and Cancel their membership all from within your website.
It’s an intuitive system that makes managing and maintaining your membership site a breeze.
4. Access Rules
This is possibly the most important feature of all because granting certain access to certain members is imperative when building, running, and growing a membership site.
The MemberPress plugin gives you fine-grained control over what students can access based on what membership or digital products they’ve purchased.
You can allow and restrict access to certain pages, posts, custom post types, categories, tags, and almost anything else inside your website. No matter how many courses you have and how much content you intend to create, you keep control over what people see and how they access it.
5. Premium Community Forums
This is the other big feature that any successful membership site needs – a community.
Through the MemberPress plugin, you can build your own password-protected community. It integrates with BBPress and many other WordPress forum plugins, allowing you to build the forum you need.
From there, you can once again grant certain access and restrictions, make members moderators, and create a highly engaged community that builds trust, loyalty, and authority.
6. Drip Content
If you like, you can give your new members access to all your content at once.
Or, if you prefer, you can drip this content to them over time.
Be it your course modules, workbooks, articles, or downloadable content, you can create a simple drip sequence where they’re given certain access at certain times.
This not only minimizes overwhelm but can help build greater engagement as you onboard your new members or launch your next online course.
7. Sales/Price Page Creation
One of the great parts of building a membership site is that it organically grows over time. Your members tell you what they need, be it coaching, accountability groups, or a mastermind program.
Through the MemberPress plugin, you can create simple, clear, and “pretty” Pricing Pages that showcase your different membership options. If you’re good with code, you can customize your pages as you wish.
But even if you aren’t experienced with CSS or HTML, you can use existing templates to create a clear and attractive page in minutes.
As a course creator, you already appreciate the type of marketing effort needed to grow your courses.
Promotions and giveaways play a vital role, and through MemberPress you can set up unique coupons to power this.
You can generate as many coupons as you want and control when they expire. This not only saves you time but can save you money as you don’t have to use other third-party promotional apps.
9. Automatic Email Reminders
Many membership sites include an annual membership or first-year subscription offered at a lower price. Communicating with your members around these expiration periods is important, but difficult for you to manage manually.
The MemberPress plugin takes care of this for you, allowing you to automatically send email reminders as their subscription is about to end. You can send one email or ten, choose the times you send them and even edit the email copy.
As your membership site grows, this feature is a real lifesaver.
10. Affiliate Programs
Speaking of growing your membership site, one of the best ways to do this is to partner with existing members, fellow course creators, bloggers, vloggers, and anyone with an email list.
MemberPress effortlessly integrates with another WordPress plugin, Affiliate Royale, to generate sophisticated affiliate programs that are easy to manage. As you build momentum and wish to scale your membership site, this is another feature that may prove a lifesaver.
11. Comprehensive Reporting
It’s impossible to build a successful anything unless you track and analyze its progress.
A membership site is no different, and through the MemberPress plugin, you can generate and run comprehensive reports to track revenue, subscriber numbers, engagement, issues, and anything else you need to know to ensure your members get the best service possible.
12. Mass Integrations
The MemberPress plugin integrates with a lot of other tools, software, and platforms.
Although you can do most of what you need to inside the plugin itself, you’ll likely wish to integrate your membership site with an email marketing provider and other tools you couldn’t live without.
MemberPress integrates with many of them, including:
- f Menu
- Blubrry PowerPress
- Avalara Tax Rates
- Quaderno VAT Tax
- Constant Contact
- Math Captcha
- MemberPress Importer
- MemberPress User Roles
- Active Campaign
- Amazon Web Services
- Corporate Accounts
- Developer Tools
There are many more features we could mention but these are the essential ones most course creators need. They allow you to build an engaged and loyal membership site that can grow over time.
So, how does this all work? This is where we turn our attention next, looking behind the scenes as you set up your MemberPress community.
MemberPress Tutorial: How to Navigate the Plugin
Once you’ve installed the MemberPress plugin to your website, you’ll notice a new MemberPress section appears in your WordPress dashboard.
The first part you need to work on is the “Options” tab, as this allows you to set up the basic details your membership site needs.
You’ll notice on the top of the screen a new set of tabs:
- PAGES: this is where you configure and customize your reserved pages, group, and create your membership page slugs. Certain reserved pages are automatically created by the plugin as they are essential for a membership site.
- ACCOUNT: this includes options for configuring your member information.
- FIELDS: This tab includes options to enable or disable fields, as well as configuring new fields on membership registration forms and the user account pages.
It has two user information fields by default: Name and Address. You can change these, remove them, or add further ones that your new students have to fill in.
- PAYMENTS: this is where you configure your payment settings, so is an important part of the process. There are a few options you can choose from: PayPal, Authorize.net, and Stripe.
It’s possible to configure multiple payment methods if you wish, and choose whether to show payment labels, icons, and their descriptions.
- EMAILS: This is another important section to complete as it allows you to customize and configure your reminder emails.
You can change the copy of these emails, customize it so it comes from your personal email account, and even change when each email is sent.
- MARKETING: This is where you integrate the MemberPress plugin to your email marketing software, including the likes of: Mailchimp, ConvertKit, and Aweber.
- INFO: This tab provides you with options to enter, manage, and edit your business address and other important personal details.
- GENERAL: The general tab has options for internationalization (language code, currency), theme compatibility, SEO, PayWall, rewrite rules, and background jobs. You’ll more than likely leave these settings in their default mode.
- TAXES: This final tab allows you to enable or disable tax calculations and manage settings for these.
Once you’ve completed this section you’re ready to build your membership site. Remember, you don’t have to have everything in working order from day one. Your membership site will evolve over time, so take your time to lay the foundations and get the basics right.
To ensure you remain on the right path, here are some useful videos produced by The MemberPress plugin team that shows you how to get started on some of the core features.
How to Create Memberships
How to Create a Manual Transaction
How to Set Certain “Rules” for Your Content
How to Create Groups Inside Your Membership Site
How to Set Up and View Reports
MemberPress has an amazing Support Page with further articles, step-by-step instructions, and videos to help you set up, configure, and implement every aspect of the plugin. We highly recommend you spend some time on this Support Page as you begin to build your own membership site.
MemberPress Pros and Cons
As with any new tool you use, you’ll find features you love and features you don’t. The MemberPress plugin isn’t perfect, so before we move on let’s highlight some of the core MemberPress pros and cons.
Let’s start with the good stuff:
PROS of the MemberPress Plugin
- User-friendly and easy to set up: despite this plugin having a lot of features, everything remains simple to use and set up. This is always a worry when using a new tool, but MemberPress keeps the whole process simple and clear.
- Drip feed content: giving new members access to everything from day one can prove overwhelming. Creating high engagement is important, and it’s proven that drip-fed content helps increase this.
- Multiple payment options: not only does this give you more options, but multiple payment options mean more freedom for your students, and fewer barriers to sale.
- LOTS of integrations: this plugin integrates with a lot of other useful tools, especially email providers like ConvertKit and Mailchimp. As you grow your membership site and wish to communicate with your members, this proves a valuable feature.
- Powerful access rules: as your membership site grows, you’ll want to get more sophisticated with who can and cannot access certain content. The MemberPress plugin allows you to go deep in this regard, so you can build the community you need to.
CONS of the MemberPress Plugin
- Few updates: the MemberPress plugin doesn’t seem to get many updates, including new integrations or support. This is always a red flag when planning to use a tool for the long term. As WordPress is updated, it’s important to know the tools and plugins you use will grow with them.
- Questionable marketing tactics: whenever you visit the MemberPress website, you’re met with a “special discount” offer and a ticking timer. Yet this timer always resets the next day. Such scarcity tactics are a turn-off, and bring into question the company values.
- Front end design is somewhat outdated: the pages that your students see, although fine, are somewhat outdated.
Overall, the MemberPress plugin is a great one and offers you all you need to build a winning membership site and community.
But it isn’t perfect, and these imperfections are worth considering before you make your final decision.
MemberPress: Key Takeaways
Before we conclude and bring this MemberPress review to a close, here are a few high-level takeaways we’d like to leave you with.
What We Like the Most:
Overall, the MemberPress plugin does everything you need it to. It works with any WordPress theme, integrates with other important WordPress plugins and also integrates with many of the key tools you use every day.
If you wish to build a membership site that breeds a loyal community, this plugin is what you need.
It’s clean, easy to use, and simple by design.
You can go deep into the various access features, or keep things simple for you and your students. The choice is yours, and you feel like you have complete freedom at all times.
In short, this can grow with you, whatever your plans for the future are.
What We Like the Least:
As well as the lack of recent updates, the price is the main issue we came across.
Although the plugin itself is very affordable (starting at $299), the hidden fees can soon add up. When you take into account the other tools you may need (email marketing, for instance) and the fact that YOU are responsible for hosting, security, and website reliability, the costs can and will increase over time.
You have to take this into consideration when using the MemberPress plugin.
Who Needs the MemberPress Plugin the Most
If you’re new to the online course world, this may not be what you need right now.
A membership site like this is best suited for those with multiple online courses that have already built some momentum. To get the most out of this plugin and its various features, you need an active community.
When you first launch your online course, you may not have this.
Will you need a membership site in the future? Yes, probably.
Do you need one right now? Possibly not.
Finally, before we share our final notes in this MemberPress review, here are some alternative membership site builders you can use. We believe MemberPress is a great option, as we talk about next.
But it isn’t the only option on the market.
If you’re still unsure whether the MemberPress plugin is for you, research the following:
1: WooCommerce Memberships
A fellow WordPress plugin that integrates with other WooCommerce products. If you already use WooCommerce on your site, this may be the plugin you need.
Similar to MemberPress, but with a higher price bracket and more features and integrations on offer.
A simple WordPress plugin with a low price to match. Offers many of the features you need, but not nearly as in-depth as MemberPress plugin or Restrict Content Pro
4: Wild Apricot
The first non-WordPress plugin on this list. It’s a sophisticated membership site builder that gives you a great deal of freedom and flexibility to build a community that scales.
Another standalone membership site builder that allows you to create a more sophisticated community.
The Ultimate MemberPress Review: Is it Right for You?
Once you build momentum with your online course, your biggest focus goes toward turning that momentum into a recurring revenue stream. This not only gives you more money but greater freedom to pursue new projects.
Building a membership site is one of the most effective ways to do this.
For most course creators, it presents a natural evolution of what they’re already doing. In addition, it opens them up to new opportunities: coaching, mentorship, accountability groups, and consultancy. The MemberPress plugin is one of the easiest and most affordable ways to achieve this.
Having read this MemberPress review, you now know whether it’s the tool for you.
If you already own a WordPress hosted website, it’s often the most sensible option you can take.
But MemberPress isn’t the only WordPress Plugin that can help a course creator leverage their momentum. We’ve compiled a list of other WordPress plugins you can use to turn your website into an online course platform. To access this list for FREE, sign up here.