If you’re running a blog, content site, or even business page on WordPress, there’s a good chance you’re thinking about a digital business model. You might be looking to sell courses, or digital downloads, or even access to a community.
And you’re probably wondering what’s the best way to do it.
One option you might have come across MemberPress, a WordPress plugin that turns your business or content site into a membership page. While it has a few good functions, there are definitely better options to monetize your WordPress site.
So whether you’re thinking about installing MemberPress, or whether you’ve been using it for a while and are ready for a change, in this article, we’ll talk about a few of the shortcomings of MemberPress, what to look for in a MemberPress alternative, and give you options to consider.
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In this article…
What is MemberPress
MemberPress is a plugin for WordPress that gives you the capability to create a members-only area of your website. This members-only area can include gated content, digital downloads, and – thanks to their recent addition of an LMS platform – courses.
Creators who use WordPress can add the plugin to the backend of their website, and use it to create a business. MemberPress allows you to sell courses and bundles while integrating with payment platforms like Stripe for monetization. It also can be integrated with other common WordPress plugins.
Why look for an alternative to MemberPress?
While it has some good features, there are a lot of limitations to using MemberPress. Some of them come from the nature of the plugin itself, meaning that if you want to add, say, an online community for your members, you would have to stack another platform on top. And some of the challenges come from trying to build on WordPress.
While WordPress is a great CMS, if you have ever tried to build a membership site with it, or basically done anything that’s NOT content, you know that the development can get tricky.
PLUS, even once you get functionality, it's a struggle to make the site look good and reflect your brand. This, again, usually requires hiring a developer.
And since there are so many beautiful, responsive, all-in-one platforms out there, you can get the same quality for your business at a fraction of the cost and stress.
What to look for in a MemberPress alternative
WordPress vs. third-party
One of the first questions will be whether you want to stick with WordPress, or move to another solution. We talked about this above. WordPress plugins can be complicated, and can require a lot of extra development.
More and more creators are simply using third-party solutions to create their membership areas, communities, and courses.
And since these solutions integrate well with WordPress, there’s also no reason you can't keep publishing your content there, while easily hosting your business elsewhere. Thanks to the beauty of the menu bar, you can always have “Course” or “Community” as a menu bar item that leads seamlessly onto the third-party platform.
The choice is yours, but with all its limitations, building off WordPress can make a lot of sense. We will include a mixture of WordPress and non-WordPress options below.
It goes without saying that if you are moving your business off of WordPress to make your life easier, there's no reason to get into a position where you have to stitch together 5 third-party solutions to get what you want.
That would be dumb, and would add MORE stress.
So for these MemberPress alternatives, we’re looking at options that make your life easier.
The answer to your business needs is probably an all-in-one platform. All-in-one platforms will let you create content, courses, sell downloads, and do so much more. Plus, they'll easily integrate into your payment gateway to make your business a cinch.
If you've already built a brand on WordPress, your membership option should let you be consistent with your brand. This might include logos, branding colors, and other components that make your work unique.
Any alternative to MemberPress should give you the power to keep your brand consistent, whether it lives on WordPress or not.
Finally, the thing that's almost impossible to get with WordPress plugins is a functional app. But with the alternatives below, there are options that have a great app built in. And, since more and more members are hoping to engage on their phones, an app is important. Let's be honest, not everyone even has a laptop or desktop computer.
A good community app should let you sell your membership, take payments, and build your community.
7 MemberPress alternatives
1. Mighty Networks
Mighty Networks is a powerful cultural software platform that lets you bring together community, courses, content, and commerce. It's an all-in-one platform that gives you everything you could ever need to add a thriving membership business to your site. It's a community-based platform, meaning that you have the ability to build an exciting, engaged community.
With flexible Spaces that bring features like pre-recorded or live teaching, easy event integration, custom course communities, messaging all members, and Q&As with each course module, Mighty packs a punch.
You can also opt to keep some of your content on WordPress, creating your Mighty Network as a subdomain of your existing one, and just link to it from your site. Your members won't even know they are switching platforms! (E.g. You could call your network community.yoursite.com, and link to it from your menu bar.)
Finally, Mighty Networks gives you a full payment gateway, and you can charge in 135 different currencies or with token-gating. It has pretty much everything you could need to monetize your community, making it a great MemberPress alternative.
As another course-based MemberPress alternative, Teachable is a third-party course creator. Its LMS has features for multimedia teaching, including the ability to create text and video lessons, quizzes, and sell other digital products like coaching. It also has a “power editor” which gives you a suite of tools to edit and customize course material.
One of the neat things about Teachable is its affiliate program, which lets you enlist the help of past students or anyone else with a platform to help sell your course – they can keep a percentage of the revenue. This can be a way to increase sales of your course, although you’d have to decide if the lost revenue is worth it. Some of this probably depends on how good you are at doing the marketing yourself.
There are a couple of drawbacks to Teachable. Teachable doesn’t really offer much beyond courses or coaching packages. It doesn’t have a broader membership option for those who want to build membership communities. So, choosing Teachable to host your course might end up still requiring you to mix some platforms together to make it work.
Teachable also doesn’t have an app, which can be a major issue, especially when competitors like Mighty Networks and Kajabi do.
Kajabi is a well-known course platform that gives you the ability to create an engaging digital course. With a course creator that is simple and intuitive, Kajabi gives you the power to create your digital course, adding in videos (hosted on the third-party site, Wistia). It has some options to bring your own brand to your course, and has a good app.
Kajabi’s strength, though, is marketing. It gives you complex, comprehensive marketing funnel options to help sell your course. From email funnels to landing pages, Kajabi is a platform with marketing power.
The downside to Kajabi is that it is primarily focused on course sales, although it can include downloads too. Depending on your business model, it's not really for selling memberships.
It also lacks a robust community feature, and many creators who build on Kajabi are forced to choose different solutions like Facebook Groups to try to get engagement and answer questions from those taking their courses.
The other challenge with Kajabi is that it is really expensive, costing 2-3x what Mighty Networks does for a similar feature set.
4. Wild Apricot
If your WordPress site is for a nonprofit, one option for a MemberPress alternative is Wild Apricot. Wild Apricot is a solution developed specifically for nonprofits to run their membership activities. It has community-building options and lets organizations create and manage member databases. It also gives functionality for email campaigns, and has a drag and drop website builder that will build custom-branded pages.
One of the other benefits to Wild Apricot is that they give you functionality to build subsites and groups for your regional chapters. So, say you’re a national association with regional divisions, you can create independent websites and member areas that serve as a subset of your overall community.
Memberful is an alternative WordPress plugin that, like MemberPress, lets you add a membership area to your site. It lets you gate content and monetize your traffic, while letting individual users who have paid for access see what they need to.
As an alternative to MemberPress, it’s missing a CMS, but if you’re looking for the content-gating function, it works. With Memberful, you can monetize your memberships with Stripe, create sales emails, accept different currencies, and more. It’s a good WordPress alternative to MemberPress.
BuddyBoss is another WordPress plugin that can be an alternative to MemberPress. Unlike Memberful, it isn’t strictly a content gate plugin. BuddyBoss lets you create an online community on your WordPress site, with features like a forum, a news feed, and member profiles. You can also assign roles, like moderators, and can create subgroups for community members with different interests or needs.
While it doesn’t have a LMS, some users opt to pair it with something like Learndash to get the course function. This approach is more complicated than choosing an all-in-one, as we talked about above, but if you’re determined to keep everything on WordPress it’s possible.
Finally, Podia is a platform that lets users sell courses, products, coaching, and digital downloads. It also has some live features like the ability to add webinars, and some community functions. Its email options likewise give you the power to create campaigns around products you’re selling.
While Podia has a lot of good features, and is one of the more comprehensive MemberPress alternatives, the biggest shortcoming is the lack of an app. This is a serious stroke against it, since most of your customers would probably prefer having mobile access. Some of the alternatives we mentioned above do all the same things PLUS come with an app by default.
If you’re ready to start building your business around your WordPress site, or to shift off of an existing MemberPress-based business, we hope these options are helpful to you. While it can be intimidating to decide which platform deserves your attention, there are a lot of options both on and off WordPress that will give you the power to create a great business.
And if you want to try Mighty Networks, the all-in-one platform that lets you do everything MemberPress does and more, you can try it here for free!