Earn Recurring Income: Best WordPress Plugins for Membership Sites


If you’re primarily a content producer, it can be difficult to determine the best way to monetize your content.

Releasing an information product is an easy option, but this will only result in a one-off payment. There’s nothing wrong with this, of course, but many webmasters prefer the security of a recurring revenue stream. For example, knowing 100 customers will be paying you $20 each month gives you a guaranteed monthly income of $2,000 to work with – not a bad base income level at all.

So how do you earn a recurring income from your content? One of the best solutions is to launch a membership site.

Membership sites simply restrict access to their premium content; if a visitor wants to view it, they have to pay for a monthly subscription. Put enough fantastic content in your member’s section and your subscribers might continue paying for months – this makes membership sites one of the best ways to extract maximum value from each customer.

If you’re considering launching a membership site, here are five of the best membership site plugins for WordPress users.

MemberPress (from $99)


If you want a powerful membership plugin that’s really easy to set up, check out the MemberPress plugin – a one site license costs $99, or pay $199 to use the plugin on an unlimited number of sites. Simply activate the plugin and you can instantly start charging visitors to access your premium content.

MemberPress lets you create different tiers of membership, and configure which membership level is required to view each article. The plugin supports a private forum function, too, and even allows you to drip feed your content to members, so that subscribers can’t view all your content at once – great for retaining subscribers for longer.

MemberPress really is a complete membership site solution, and it even lets you build stylish pricing pages. You can accept payments from PayPal, Authorize.net, and Stripe.

WPMU DEV Membership (FREE)

WPMU Membership

If you want a more cost effective membership site solution, WPMU DEV’s Membership plugin is a great option – the Lite version of the plugin is available for free.

With Membership installed, you can restrict access to posts, pages, images, comments, downloads, and even entire categories of posts. The Lite version of the plugin allows you to add three membership levels and three subscription levels. Membership Lite is more limited, but smaller membership sites should find the functionality perfectly adequate.

If you want the full functionality, you can upgrade to the premium version of Membership from just $24.50. The Pro version lets you create an unlimited number of membership levels and subscription types, including the ability to add promotion rates to entice visitors – for example, get a Gold membership for 30 days for just $1.

iThemes Membership (from $97)

iThemes Membership

Membership is a premium extension to the iThemes Exchange plugin, and lets you build your very own multi-tiered membership site. The core Exchange plugin can be downloaded for free, but the Membership extension will set you back $97 for a two-site license.

Membership lets you protect posts, pages, categories, and tags depending on a visitor’s membership level – you can also create a free membership type.

You can drip your content, too, which allows you to create a content sequence with new content released at specified intervals. This is great for creating an eCourse, or for offering an incentive for subscribers to remain members for longer. The speed at which new content is released can be varied, depending on membership level.

WP-Members (FREE)


With over 650,000 downloads to date, the WP-Members plugin is one of the most popular WordPress membership plugins around. Best of all, the core plugin is completely free.

WP-Members restricts all your content by default, making them visible only to members of your website. There’s only one membership level supported, but the plugin makes it as easy as possible to attract members by letting you add a registration/login page in-line with your content using a simple shortcode. You can also place a registration form in the sidebar using a dedicated widget.

If you like the core functionality, WP-Members is fully extendable using any of the 11 add-on modules – add-on functionality includes the ability to integrate WP-Members with MailChimp and PayPal Subscriptions. All 11 add-ons are available for $59, which includes one year of priority support.

Restrict Content Pro (from $42)

Restrict Content Pro

Finally we have the Restrict Content Pro plugin, brought to you by the developers at Pippins Plugins. A single site license costs just $42, with more expensive licenses available if you want to use the plugin on additional websites.

Restrict Content Pro is one of the most user friendly membership site plugins around, and you can be up and running in just minutes. The plugin makes it incredibly easy to restrict entire posts and pages, or, if you want to lure visitors in with your free content, you can choose to just restrict sections.

You can create an unlimited number of membership tiers, including premium, trial, and free memberships. You have complete control over what each membership level can access, as well as the membership duration and price. If you want to further incentivize members to sign up, you can integrate discount codes for certain membership types, too. As an added bonus, Restrict Content Pro includes simple, visual performance charts, which allows you to track how many members you have attracted, and how your site is performing from month to month.

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for a way to monetize your content and generate a recurring income, a membership site could be a great option. If you’re consistently producing high quality content that genuinely generates results, most readers will have no problem paying a small fee for your best material.

In fact, a membership site can actually be relatively easy to promote alongside your existing setup. Generally speaking, the content you are already publishing for free is one of the most effective sales pitches imaginable: visitors to your website can see the quality of the information you release for free, and this naturally makes them curious about your premium content.

And, with one of these five membership plugins, accepting new members and taking payments is incredibly easy. They’re all intuitive to set up and use, which means you could have your own income-generating membership site in just a few minutes. Not bad, right?

Have you used any of these membership site plugins? Share your experiences in the comments space below!



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Shaun Quarton is a freelance blogger from the UK, with a passion for online entrepreneurship, content marketing, and all things WordPress.


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Leave a Comment

    • Adrian
    • May 9, 2016

    Excellent round up of membership plugins. I would also add our free membership plugin, Paid Member Subscriptions, to the list.
    It offers a complete membership solution, allowing you to accept member payments, manage members, create subscription plans and restrict access to premium content.

    • James
    • July 19, 2015

    Hello Shaun Quarton,

    This article is very helpful.However, I want to add something, and recently I just released the membership plugin in the wordpress repository who is called “rs-members”. Before developing I just studied existence all membership wordpress plugin.I got many problems from the those.As a result; I just tried to include many useful features.Without programming skill any guys can easily maintain this plugin. I hoped this plugin will be helpful fill up your all demand. .Guys you can visit my “rs-members” from wordpress repository.


  1. Reply

    realy useful for me,, thanks,,
    I like this article so much, must follow your steps by practice..

    • Reply

      Feel free to drop us a line after you give one of these plugins a try and let us know how it’s going. We’re always interested in hearing people’s WordPress stories.