*This post contains affiliate links. These are links to products I used or have used in the past and have had a great experience with.
Let me start by getting right to the point. I love MemberPress so this is going to be a pro MemberPress post. If you’ve already decided on other plugins, then this is not the post for you, but if you’re on the fence, I hope to steer you over to team MemberPress only because I know you will have a great experience with it! At the very least, I hope to help you avoid some of the headaches I’ve encountered with other membership plugins I also mention on this post.
What is a membership plugin and is it something I need to look into?
A membership plugin’s job is to gate your content. They are very useful when you want to offer paid or free with registration resources. These resources could be ongoing stuff like exclusive newsletters, videos, or even courses. Using a membership plugin, you can make sure only people who sign up or pay for an account on your website can access these exclusive content.
Besides gating, membership plugins handle the signups, payments, reminders, upgrades, expirations, and maybe even refunds for you without you having to track and manage everything manually.
What MemberPress does NOT do very well.
Rules can be your downfall if you don’t organize well. This is the one consistent complaint I read about when people gripe about MemberPress. In order to avoid this, you need to be more organized and minimalistic in how you organize your Rules. For tips on how to do this, check out my post on How to Keep MemberPress Organized and Easy to Maintain.
Not really only about MemberPress but just as with any other plugins or tools, you will want to research what it can integrate with out of the box before you make your purchase.
What MemberPress DOES do really well.
Memberpress is lightweight and does not restrict you to a set structure. It works very well with other themes and plugins. As a result, it will help you build out only what you need as you go and you can build your site and it’s back end structure organically.
The user experience for both the customer and the site owner is on point. I did not realize how spoiled I was until I experienced other plugins.
For comparison, OptimizeMember
OptimizeMember is created for OptimizePress. There is usually a lot of confusion created by their marketing. Sometimes people don’t realize that to build a membership plugin with OptimizePress, you will also need OptimizeMember. This confusion trickles down into their support documentation and makes what you need to know harder to find. Some features and integrations of OptimizeMember also need OptimizePress set up to work. For example, to integrate Active Campaign, you need to set it up with OptimizePress first before you can get it integrated with OptimizeMember.
To clarify what they do not do in their marketing, OptimizePress is the theme and page builder. OptimizeMember is an extra plugin you can add to your setup to add the membership capability.
MemberPress on the other hand is just a Membership Plugin. So they are very clear with what they do and documentation is very easy to search through.
OptimizeMember assumes that you will have a ladder-like organization for your membership levels so much so that the different levels starting from the free Level 0 are already created for you but if you don’t need this type of structure, you are left with a lot of unnecessary clutter in your dashboard.
When you set up MemberPress, there are no membership levels that are predetermined for you. You create your Membership levels however you like.
The worst part of OptimizeMember I believe is the way they handle payments. Two words. PayPal Buttons. Oh, and, Stripe Buttons. You fill out this form and it generates the code to create these, you paste them onto your page, and you better make sure you save them or you’ll have to start the recreation process. Mess up the code, and you’re likely to mess up the payment button as well. After you’ve gone through all this trouble, when you finally start building your page, you suddenly find out that you can generate buttons right on the page as well.
When you create a membership level through MemberPress, a purchase page is automatically created with its own URL and a purchase form that is automatically integrated with the payment gateways you configured on setup.
MemberPress Alternative, WishList Member
WishList Member has similar downfalls as OptimizeMember. It also assumes you’ll have free membership levels. In fact, each membership level you build will have a URL that will allow people to sign up to your membership for free. WishList Member otherwise would not be so bad if it wasn’t for their support and integration issues I ran into.
Imagine you were your customer, you’re excited to make your purchase, you click the button, you’re redirected to PayPal, you make you payment and then… nothing. No email notifications and no way to access the item you paid a lot of money for. Imagine you had to deal with this headache as the site owner and you reach out to WishList customer service only to be told that you will just have to send people the link for free signups to people. There is no way to know if someone is having trouble until, well, they start complaining. And then you compromise the security of your website by sending out a link for free registrations that people can share easily with others. Yikes!
This scenario actually happened to a site I built for a client. It was a good thing this issue happened during our initial testing. After we weren’t presented with an acceptable solution by the WishList developers, I decided to purchase my own MemberPress developer account so that we could get my clients’ site launched without any more delays and I have since added MemberPress as a complimentary part of my membership site and online course site packages.
How quickly you can get MemberPress set up.
- Configure the settings and payment gateways.
- Create your membership levels.
- Create your pages where you will store your content (If you have the Divi theme, this will be easy!)
- Set the rules to protect your pages.
- Direct people to your membership level link to pay and sign up.
If you need help planning, building or marketing your online course or membership site, check out my packages at: AmberKimDesign.com/services.