5 Ways To Add A Membership Area To A WordPress Website

Moving beyond its blogging platform roots, WordPress is gaining in popularity as a content management system (CMS). With this shift in utilization, the system is being asked to host more complex websites. One such example is that of a membership site.

In real estate, there are numerous uses for a membership site:

Real Estate Brokerage Intranet – Share news, make documents and forms available for download, and post company meetings and events on the calendar (using one of our recommended WordPress calendar solutions).

Preferred Client Area – Add an area to your real estate website to share special information and services to clients who register. Can you say, “lead generation” or “client retention”?

Paid Content Site – Are you the next Brian Buffini? Have a sales strategy that is worth selling? Create a membership site with paid subscriptions.

There are several plugins and scripts that can be added to a WordPress website to provide membership capabilities. Each solution is very different in its execution, so it is important to identify your website needs before making a selection.

  • Paid subscriptions? If you will be charging for site access, it is imperative to have shopping cart integration to automate the payment process.
  • Is the entire site for members only? Some solutions lockdown the entire site, others allow for pages or posts to be protected individually, while others allow everything before the “Read more” to be public.
  • Need membership levels? Create “Silver”, “Gold” and “Platinum” membership levels and provide different access to each type of member.
  • Gradual content delivery? Concerned that someone will join for a month, download all of your content and cancel? Trickle content to them to keep them subscribed.
  • Content Theft Tracing? Don’t want your content stolen and posted on another website? Use a system that added a digital watermark to all of your files.

Once you have identified your needs, it’s time to select your membership solution:

Wishlist Member ($97)

This highly customizable WordPress plugin is loaded with functionality. Create membership levels, process payment through the most popular shopping cart systems and trickle content to members. A great solution for paid content sites.

MemberWing (Free)

A surprisingly powerful plugin for being free. MemberWing provides multiple membership levels, content theft tracking, and gradual content delivery. While payment integration is possible, set-up isn’t as clean as Wishlist Member or aMember Pro.

Member Access (Free)

Very limited on features, but the simplicity makes it a good fit for basic projects. Plus, you can’t beat the price.

WP-Membership ($29.97)

A very clean WordPress plugin that allows for multiple membership levels and limited payment options. Pages and posts can be given different access levels to make some areas public, while protecting others. For preferred client areas and company intranets, this would be my first choice.

aMember Pro ($199.95 plus $40 for WordPress plugin)

Definitely the most powerful solution of the list with the most refined member management systems. aMember Pro is actually a PHP script with an optional WordPress plugin. This system is for those looking to build a large paid content site.

You have grown to love the flexibility and ease of use of WordPress for your blogging. Extend that wonderful functionality to your real estate brokerage intranet or take your real estate website to the next level with preferred client content.

As for a paid website, the debate continues as to whether people will pay for content. Look at your business model to determine if there are other ways to generate revenue by building a strong registered membership. Your content will have to be amazing to get people to pull out their credit card for it.

About Chad A. Johnson

Chad A. Johnson is the President/COO of Agent Evolution, a social media education and WordPress web design firm. Through his multiple roles at Agent Evolution, Chad stays on top of the latest in WordPress development and business operations technology. Allow him to share WordPress tweaks, cloud computing services, and much more through his MTO posts.