Best Membership Site Platforms

Updated: Sep 10, 2021 / Article by: Timothy Shim

Thanks to increasingly borderless trade, we see a considerable number of businesses starting to sell online. Yet even as various developers hawk their eCommerce solutions, there seems to be less focus on membership site platforms.

If you’ve been struggling with jury-rigged website builders or ad-hoc solutions to provide memberships, know that there’s a better way. Aside from complete solutions, there are also dedicated membership plugins that work well.

Here are 5 of the best membership site solutions around.

1. Nexcess WPQuickStart

Membership Site Platforms - Nexcess

Price: from $40.83/mo

Key Features

  • Comprehensive insight reports
  • Email automation
  • Solid VPN hosting performance

Nexcess WPQuickStart is my top pick for a membership site solution for so many reasons. It’s a service provided by LiquidWeb, one of the best-performing web hosting companies in the business today. It is also a WordPress-centric solution. 

The first thing to note is that LiquidWeb runs this solution on Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting. That means excellent performance, which is what you need since you’ll likely be charging membership fees.

With WPQuickStart, you can create subscription plans that are as simple or complex as you want. It’s also easy to keep an eye on your overall business thanks to reporting tools providing information on everything from subscriptions to performance. 

All plans on WPQuickStart also come with payment system support that covers most top providers, including Stripe, Braintree, 2Checkout, PayPay, and more. It’s truly a complete solution, so you won’t need to pay for additional components or services ever again.

Who Should Use WPQuickStart

Anyone looking for an all-in solution that covers everything from hosting to marketing their membership site business needs to consider WPQuickStart. Honestly, it isn’t the most expensive solution around and offers fantastic value for what you’re paying.

2. Kajabi

Membership Site Platforms - Kajabi

Price: from $119/mo

Key Features

  • Handles memberships, courses, podcasts, and more
  • Hosting and email included
  • Quick-builds a mobile app

Kajabi is perhaps the most extensive product in the market. If that statement sounds a little confident yet vague, there’s a good reason for it. Unlike WPQuickStart that remains focused on membership, Kajabi extends the rope by a long distance.

This platform provides the hosting, solution, and associated tools that you need to run a membership site and more. You can run online courses, blast newsletters, operate a website, build sales funnels, and even launch a mobile app.

As you can see, instead of focusing on membership, it leans more towards being a sales-centric platform. While that is excellent, there’s somewhat a feeling that you may be paying for more than necessary with Kajabi. 

Nonetheless, they’ve managed to take much of the complexity out of such a multi-disciplinary platform. You’ll find lots of blueprints and templates that will practically drive your membership site-building experience on its own.

Who Should Use Kajabi

If you’re looking beyond a simple membership site or someone highly focused on details, then Kajabi is a good choice. For simple membership sites that don’t need more bells and whistles, you’ll wind up paying more for just a slight advantage.

3. Thinkific

Thinkific

Price: From $79/mo for membership site

Key Features

  • Specially designed to sell online courses
  • Business tools to handle marketing
  • Feature extension via the Thinkific app store

If you’re thinking of running a membership site for online courses, you’ll not need to look further than Thinkific.

Interestingly, there is a free plan available that can get you started. Although it’s pretty limited, it does allow experimentation as a start.

Thinkific supports everything from basic text and image to video, even allowing file downloads. Interesting features help you support the course system on your site, such as a curriculum builder, table of contents, certification, and more.

There is one small problem for membership: the restriction of most membership activities to the Pro tier. If you’re willing to pay for it, you can set private or hidden courses and create memberships that bind with course bundles.

Of course, you can also integrate marketing tools like AWeber and Mailchimp to keep your students (or potential students) updated with whatever new materials and information that’s available on your site.

Who Should Use Thinkific

Since Thinkific leans towards the educational, it’s suitable for a broad audience. From educators to organizations that need a streamlined way of handling internal training, anything is possible. It’s an ideal fit for those trying to break free of platforms like Udemy.

4. Podia

Podia

Price: From$79 for membership sites

Key Features

  • No transaction fees
  • Free site migrations
  • Live streaming sessions supported

Although it’s a complete package that encompasses hosting and more, Podia’s key advantage is that it provides the entire framework needed for you to run a membership site. Like Thinkific, it’s geared strongly towards the educational side of things.

While you can get started relatively cheaply compared to most all-in-one solutions, membership control only kicks in on their “Shaker” plan and above. Aside from static courses, you can also sell digital downloads of all kinds and even webinars.

One highlight of Podia is their capability to let you live stream. If you want to set up a mentorship program, have an interactive session with members, or follow a similar concept, this is one of the few places that support it.

Unlike membership solutions that provide external app integration, Podia comes with its online payment support and email marketing system. That’s both good and bad, but it’s fantastic for lazy folks like me or those who enjoy getting total value from a product.

Who Should Use Podia

Thanks to the proviso that allows you to do live streams, the possibilities for Podia are endless. I highly recommend it for professional coaches or those interested in running educational programs of a more personalized nature.

5. MemberPress

MemberPress

Price: From $14.92/mo

Key Features

  • Not tied to a specific hosting provider
  • Designed for WordPress
  • Starts at ultra-low prices

If you already have a preferred web hosting provider, then MemberPress should be an ideal fit. It’s a WordPress plugin that lets you support membership. Since nearly half the world today runs on WordPress, then chances are you’ll be able to use it.

Like everything WordPress, MemberPress is extremely easy to install and run. It’s your basic plugin that snaps into place. Once done, all you need to do is configure it, and it’ll work in sync with the rest of your regular operations.

Although it isn’t available for standalone operations, MemberPress offers all the features needed to handle memberships. That includes marketing tools like coupons, analytics, comprehensive reporting, and content management such as content dripping and access rules.

Again following the modular concept, even payment systems are up to you to decide. It connects easily with PayPal (even supporting express checkouts) and card payment gateways like Stripe.

Who Should Use MemberPress

MemeberPress is ideal for those who dislike being forced to use a specified hosting provider. While those platforms generally offer solid performance, nothing allows you to fine-tune things better than choosing your own.

Choosing the Right Membership Site Platform

Despite it being somewhat niche, membership site platforms aren’t exactly rare. You’ll find many examples of popular membership websites that get their fair share of rave reviews. If you’re interested in creating a membership system for websites, remember that you need to consider a few areas carefully;

Web Hosting

Membership site platforms generally offer good hosting performance, but this isn’t always the case. After all, in most scenarios, hosting isn’t their core business. If you aren’t using something like MemberPress, where you get to choose a web host, at least consider a platform like Nexcess that comes from a reputable hosting provider.

Content Dripping

One of the most important features of running a membership site is automation. Using a platform that supports content dripping allows you to release pre-designed content periodically, so you don’t have to keep coming back to administrative duties.

Community Support

While building content for members is essential, one way of solidifying membership is by allowing community interaction. Members invested in the community are often more loyal and can help you expand your reach organically.

Types of Subscription

Setting up membership isn’t always straightforward, especially as membership sites grow in volume and complexity. Consider future needs and see if there’s a possibility you need to support advanced membership configurations like tiered plans.

Marketing Add-ons

If you’re going to sign up for an all-in-one membership platform, remember to consider marketing needs. Some membership site platforms will integrate essential tools, but in most cases, you’ll have to see what third-party services will work well with your chosen platform.

Analytics

Like any other business, having the right intelligence is needed to expand successfully. Consider if your membership site platform of choice includes comprehensive data-based reports. These should cover business as well as operational areas.

Payments Support

There are so many digital payments types available today that providing the proper channels to members can be challenging. Too many may mean poor margins for your payment gateway of choice, so pick a few that cover typical options such as credit or debit cards.

Final Thoughts

Choosing an all-in-one membership platform like Nexcess WPQuickStart is often a better idea. It allows you to focus on building and operating your membership site instead of worrying about technical detail that’s best left to the experts.

In many cases, you’ll find competitive pricing among most platforms. The difference mainly lies in the features provided, so pick one that fits the kind of membership site you intend to run.

Remember: Focus on content or product and your members.

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About Timothy Shim

Timothy Shim is a writer, editor, and tech geek. Starting his career in the field of Information Technology, he rapidly found his way into print and has since worked with International, regional and domestic media titles including ComputerWorld, PC.com, Business Today, and The Asian Banker. His expertise lies in the field of technology from both consumer as well as enterprise points of view.