You’re launching an online course — you’ve spent hours upon hours on writing the content, designing your own sales page, promoting, posting, emailing and connecting with potential customers…
Up to this point, you’ve managed to DIY everything and the only big investment you’ve made is your time.
Now it’s time to create your membership site and this is NOT the place to skimp.
If you’re going to invest money in anything for your online course when you’re working with a small budget – the membership site is the place to invest.
And I’m not even talking about the actual membership site, theme or design.
I’m talking specifically about the membership site plugin you decide to use. (And a password protected page on your website is not good enough.) It may seem like something that you can figure out later, but this is one thing you don’t want to mess around with as it directly impacts the experience your customers have.
The wrong plugin can result in technical issues, complications and unhappy customers. (Not to scare you, but nightmares can happen.)
If you want to create a seamless and awesome experience for your customers, you need to invest in a membership plugin that will deliver.
To achieve this, I always recommend choosing a membership plugin that you have to pay for (either every month or once a year, depending on which one you choose), because a paid membership plugin typically means support + upgrades, which will come in handy when you’re setting it all up by yourself.
You want to be careful with free membership plugins. It’s case of you get what you pay for and you’ll likely have no real support when you need help. Plus, they aren’t typically updated as often, which could mean broken membership sites, content not being delivered, and things that will dramatically affect the experience your customers have. (Cue the nightmare. No thank you.)
How to choose a membership site plugin
The membership plugin you choose depends on 2 things:
- Your mailing list software (i.e. Mailchimp, Aweber, Infusionsoft)
- Who you’re using for payments (I.e. PayPal, stripe, etc).
You want to make sure the plugin you choose works with both of those things and has the specific features you need for your course. You want to look for things like: restrict access (which all of them do), discounts, dripped content, free trials, manage your members, update payment information.
I always recommend to have an all-in-one system, especially when you’re DIYing, so everything is in one place and already integrated.
My favorite membership site plugins
The easiest way to break down the different membership plugin options is by the two criteria above: mailing list software and payment software.
Membership plugins that work with the majority of mailing list software and shopping carts:
Wishlist — This is my go-to for client’s membership sites. It’s easy to set up and integrates with almost any payment processor or mailing list you can think of.
S2member — If you plan to use Paypal, Stripe or Authorize.net as your payment gateway, this is a good choice. (Note: it only easily integrates with Mailchimp, Aweber or GetResponse.)
Zippy Courses — This is a newer membership plugin that I’ll be testing soon, but it looks promising so far. It’s from Derek Halpern and integrates with the majority of mailing list and shopping cart options.
If you use Infusionsoft for your mailing list and shopping cart:
Memberium — I love this WordPress + Infusionsoft plugin mainly because it puts full access into your customer’s hands so you won’t need to worry about updating credit cards, upgrading accounts, etc. Your customers can do everything themselves directly in the membership site.
AccessAlly – This is a relatively new one to the market. AccessAlly allows you to create multiple courses within one membership site that makes it really easy to upsell your other courses. It’s also known for it’s awesome support team.
iMember360 — Works great for those who use Infusionsoft for their eCommerce and mailing list software, because this plugin was created specifically for Infusionsoft.
If you’re a Mailchimp user:
And want to use stripe as your payment gateway:
Memberful — This software was built for the sole purpose of making it easy for you to run your online course. I love specificity. It includes way to: collect payment, manage your members, send email to your customers and keep everything on your existing website.
I hope this helps you choose the right membership plugin for your online course.
Remember: there is no one-size-fits-all solution so you have to choose the one that works best for you and your business.
The most important thing to do is just choose, test and tweak. :)
Got another favorite membership plugin you’ve used and loved?
Tell us in the comments below! It might be the perfect solution for someone else reading right now.