14 Options for Managing Membership Websites
Membership websites have increased in popularity in recent years. They present an excellent income opportunity for the site owner and a great value (depending on the content) for users. If you have thought about setting up a membership site but weren’t sure where to get started, here is a look at 14 options that will allow you to get started with your own membership site.
AMember is probably the most popular choice for managing a membership site. It is ideally suited for sites that sell digital downloads. A built in two-tier affiliate program is included, as well as many other features including free installation, easy web-based administration, automated signups and expirations and more. The price of AMember is $179.95.
WishList Member WordPress Plugin
WishList Member is a premium plugin that can help you build a membership site powered by WordPress. It allows you to establish multiple levels of membership and features easy member management, secure RSS feeds, and much more. Because it is a WordPress plugin, installation is quick and easy. A single-site licnese costs $97 and a multi-site (unlimited) license is $297.
Instant Member allows you to set up multiple levels of membership and includes an affiliate program, plus loads of other features. You can set up coupon codes and trial memberships. The price is a one-time fee of $147.
Easy Member Pro
Easy Member Pro includes a wide range of features for managing your membership site, the rights to use it on unlimited domains, and a built-in affiliate program to promote your membership site. It includes a content management system, templates for page layouts, plus all the features needed for member management. The cost is a one-time payment of $97.
ProfileManagerPremium includes many features for membership sites including, newsletters for your members, member profiles, multiple membership types, and much more. One unique feature is that members can upload pictures, video or other content. The cost is $199 and includes free installation.
SubHub is managed software that will allow you to set up a membership site that includes articles, forums, audio and video, and downloads. It includes a content management system and a single administration panel to manage the site. The cost is $97 per month or $997 per year (14-day free trial is available).
MemberSmart Pro is fully-featured membership software that includes unlimited levels of membership, email administration, payment and income reports, and more. WordPress and Joomla pulgins are available. The cost of MemberSmart Pro is $179, or $249 for MemberSmart Pro plus a WordPress or Joomla plugin.
MemberWing is a premium plugin for using WordPress to power your membership site. It includes a number of features including gradual content delivery (release content accoring to how long people have been members), four levels of membership, lightweight and easy to install. There is a limited free version of the plugin available and prices range from $99.95 to $295.
YourMembers WordPress Plugin
YourMembers is a WordPress plugin that allows you to create a membership site using WordPress and PayPal or ClickBank. It includes the ability to make part of any post private to members, private RSS feeds, and free trial access. A single-site license costs $50 and a developer’s license is $200.
WP Member is another premium plugin for WordPress. WP Member allows you to restrict access to pages and posts based on membership level (you can set up unlimited membership levels) and it will automatically manage users, subscriptions and payments. A one-site license costs $44.99 with additional options for multi-site licenses.
Wild Apricot provides all of the features needed to run your membership site, plus email newsletter tools, blogs and forums, event registration and more. There is a free ad-supported version available limited features. Other plans $25 monthly to $200 monthly.
Extreme Member uses WordPress to manage membership websites. It includes a lot of features including use of coupon codes, multiple membership levels, built-in autoresponders, an affiliate module (depending on the plan you purchase), and more. Pricing ranges from $19-$99 per month.
YourMembership.com is a complete membership management system that is marketed towards alumni programs, association, chambers of commerce, government agencies, non-profit organizations, and other such groups. It’s a full-feature system that is more than needed for many entrepreneurs or small businesses that are interested in setting up a membership site. Pricing includes a one-time setup fee of $1,495 (which includes site design) and $5,995 annually.
MemberGate is another advanced option that provides tons of features, more than most small websites will need. The price starts at $3,995 and goes up from there. Included in the price is site design, a built in affiliate program, credit card processing, unlimited member plans, content management, and much more.
Things to Consider When Deciding on Membership Software:
With a wide selection to choose from, there is no solution that is right for everyone. As you are evaluating your options, here are some things to keep in mind that will help you to make the right decision for your situation.
Monthly Pricing vs. One-Time Payments
If you’re trying to compare the prices of various membership site solutions be sure that you understand the difference between those that charge one-time fees and those that charge monthly/recurring fees. Generally, if you purchase a license for a one-time fee you will be hosting it yourself with whatever web host you choose, and if you purchase one that involves monthly payments it will probably include hosting.
There is a very wide variety of features available for the various options that are covered in this post. Of course, the price is also reflective of the features that are included. It’s a good idea to visit the various sites and read through the features that are included, then make a list of those that are necessary for your own needs. Once you know the features that you need or want you can narrow down your choices and compare prices accordingly. Try not to be distracted by features that are impressive, but might not be of any use to you.
If you are building a membership section on an already-existing website, are you currently using a content management system for that site? If you’re using WordPress you will have several plugins to choose from, and Joomla also presents some options to keep the membership section of the site on the CMS.
Many of the options that were listed above include some type of content management system of their own, and several make use of WordPress. Part of your decision should be based on the CMS that you want to use for your membership site.
Most of the options listed above include some type of support. In some cases there may be a forum available, and for others you may have email support, but only for a limited amount of time. Generally, the plans that involve monthly payments also include some type of ongoing support. If you think it’s likely that you will need support, make sure this factors in to your decision and that you are comfortable with the support that will be available from the option that you choose.
You may want to build a membership site on one domain, or you may have several websites that are possibilities for memberships. Additionally, designers and developers may be interested in selling membership sites to clients. Most of the options listed here will provide some choices that allow you to choose bewteen a single-site license or a multi-site license.
What’s Your Experience?
If you would like to share your experience with any membership site software please leave a comment.
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Published October 14th, 2009 by Steven Snell