Interested in implementing a wordpress membership site and want to know the best wordpress membership plugin?
Over the past couple of years I’ve been implementing membership sites.
Recently I’m in the process of setting another one up for theNYMA.org, and this gives me the opportunity to potentially try something new.
I have access to all of the iThemes plugins, so I thought I’d try them. And I’ll stay with them for awhile.
I also have access to WPMU dev, but I decided not to try them at this time.
I have implemented with Digital Access Pass. Very powerful and good, although it is a little pricey, and probably more than what I needed for this project. Plus, as a developer, I cannot modify their code in any way as they encrypt it. So while their support is great, if I have an issue that isn’t a priority for them, I’m out of luck. Ugh.
And I implemented in the past with Paid Memberships Pro after reading some articles by Chris Lema. One of his most recent ones is here: http://chrislema.com/best-wordpress-membership-plugin-for-developers/. The plugin in free but you pay for support. Very nice.
So what to choose?
I have used Exchange by iThemes in the past for ecommerce, and it is extremely powerful. Unfortunately, in the implementation process for a membership, I discovered the customer MUST register on the site before they are allowed to buy anything. What I wanted was a ONE page checkout, not two. That’s a showstopper for me. And the workaround is to use Gravity Forms to alter the checkout page and another plugin that allows you to override the registration page.
Ugh. Not good. Especially when I did Paid Memberships Pro before and it was easy.
So for theNYMA.org all they need is to have a membership level where they allow access to one course right now, and other ones in the future.
Perfect for Paid Memberships Pro.
So here we go.
Implementing a WordPress Membership Site with Paid Memberships Pro
There are very easy instructions to follow on their site here: http://www.paidmembershipspro.com/documentation/initial-plugin-setup/. I did that and a couple of other things.
Step 1 – get the plugin and a couple of other plugins
Download and install the paid memberships pro plugin.
I needed to get the add-on for WP Courseware and the add-on for Mailchimp.
Although I don’t cover it in this post, it’s helpful to get the User Switching plugin so you can go back and forth between users without having to constantly log in and log out.
It’s also helpful to get “Theme My Login” for setting up the Log In and Log Out capabilities in widgets.
Step 2 – Configuring Paid Memberships Pro
Go to the Settings of the Paid Memberships Pro plugin and create a couple of membership levels. I like to do a Free level and then whichever one that will be paid.
Here are my two levels; you can see I added an “Internships” level and charge $300 for it (this is the course we’ll be offering, the amount is just a placeholder):
Once the membership levels are initially setup, go to the Pages tab and let it autogenerate the required pages. You can choose not to use some of them later or to modify them later as you feel necessary.
Next, go to the Email tab and make the two recommended adjustments (you can make others that are further down on the page to adjust how often emails occur):
You may also want to consider hiding the admin bar to make the experience a little more user-friendly. However, you can use the dashboard inside wordpress for adding training modules, but it might be easier to just put them outside of the membership restricted content.
Step 2 – Configuring Payment Gateways
Paid Memberships Pro, and others, support quite-a-few payment gateways. A nice one is Stripe, because it’s important to keep people on your site and you control all aspects of the registration process.
But since they stay on your site, you WILL need to implement SSL on your site (another post on setting that up is coming later). I chose not to do it at this time since we’re still in development.
In Paid Memberships Pro, you’ll need to go to the Payment Gateway & SSL tab.
Then you will need to go to your Stripe account settings and get the required keys and webhooks.
You find the webhook you need to put into your Stripe account at the Payment Gateway & SSL Settings of Paid Memberships Pro
Grab the webhook and paste into your Stripe Account at the Webhooks tab:
When actually deploying this to a real site I’d update the SSL settings in Paid Memberships Pro since I’d have installed a SSL certificate:
Step 3 – WP Courseware
Now since I’m using WP Courseware, I need to do a couple of extra items.
Since I already installed the WP Courseware add-on to Paid Memberships Pro, I need to use it to add the course to the appropriate level. So go to Training Courses-Paid Memberships Pro, then click on “Edit Course Access Settings:
Pretty self-explanatory, just click on the checkbox. And although I didn’t assign retroactive access, you certainly can:
Now you should see a green checkmark after going back to the Setting page:
Step 4 – Final Steps
Next, you’ll need to add the Membership pages to your menu structure. Add the ones that you want to, and arrange them accordingly:
And here is where Theme My Login comes in. Add their widget to your widget bar or Content widget and it will show the appropriate items when someone is logged in versus when they aren’t logged in. I always deselect the Gravatar:
Step 5 – Seeing what you’ve done!
If you then go to this page you’ll see the membership levels you’ve created, ready to buy: http://yourdomain.com/membership-account/membership-levels/. Note that you are logged in still, and you’ll probably need to style some of the buttons to how you desire
If you aren’t logged in when you go to check out, you will have a nice Registration area, and billing information all in one spot, which is what we wanted.
So good luck and happy implementing!!