Recently there have been numerous membership site software options available. I have tested a few of them, most recently FreshMember, SmartMember, and Easy Member Pro.
In the past, I have primarily used MemberSonic, and I really like it, but I have been getting away from WordPress options for memberships. There is nothing wrong with using WordPress for membership sites. It works quite well, in fact, but I felt like exploring other options, mostly just to see what was out there.
In today's post, we will look at two different options for creating membership sites: FreshMember, which is a paid hosted solution, and s2Member, which is a free WordPress plugin.
I like SmartMember a lot, too, but it is currently not available, as they are running beta testing in preparation for a public release. When it goes live again, I'll be happy to do a walkthrough of it if you'd like to see it (just let me know).
I'll also gladly do a walkthrough of SonicMember if anyone wants to see that one as well, as it is a great paid option for WordPress. Again, just request it and I'll put one together.
As to the two I am covering today, let's start with FreshMember. This is a paid option, but they host everything, including any video or download files. Their servers are fast and the membership sites load quickly. I have a full video walkthrough below, but first, here are some of the feature highlights that I like:
- Theme templates to customize the look and feel of the site (10 designs at the moment)
- Checkout templates for the purchase page (4 designs at the moment)
- JVZoo Integration
- They host all video and download files
- Member commenting with moderation and visibility options
- Member forum (I did not show this on the video walkthrough)
- Unlimited sites, unlimited members, unlimited lessons and pages
- Easy member management
- Very intuitive and easy to use
- Email integration
The primary downside for some people is that it is not self-hosted. You are putting your assets (your membership sites) on someone else's platform. That is definitely something to consider, especially if your site is a recurring payment site that will continue to grow and be used. It comes down to whether you trust the owners of the software to be around for a long time with solid support.
Watch this video walkthrough of FreshMember:
Next, let's take a look at s2Member. This is a free plugin for WordPress. You can access it directly from the WordPress plugin area or download it from their website and then upload it manually.
This is a great option for a membership site, especially if you are on a tight budget. It is extremely customizable and is fully featured.
Here are some of the things I like most about it:
- It's free!
- It has many customizations available
- Works well with cloud storage such as Amazon S3 or CloudFront
- Can have payment integrations
- Can lock down and protect anything or the WordPress install - Pages, Posts, Categories, etc.
- Has full flexibility for levels, access, member accounts, etc.
- Can completely customize the look and feel of the login and welcome page (and everything else, too!)
As to downsides for s2Member, there are two. One is that it is on WordPress. For me, that's not an issue, but for some, they would rather have a platform that might load quicker or have a different look and feel. If you prefer to host your own digital assets, this will most likely not be a downside for you. It might even be an advantage!
The other downside is that it can have a bit of a learning curve, as there is some customization required and some codes that need to be added. Fortunately, I have put out a very affordable training (only $17 as of this writing) that walks step by step through setting s2Member up from start to finish and teaches how to use all the great options and features. It even has cut and paste codes for where they are needed.
Watch this video walkthrough of s2Member and my video training:
If you are looking for, or considering, Membership options, I hope one of the two above will help you.
Let me know if you want to see a walkthrough of MemberSonic, SmartMember or Easy Member Pro. I did not do one yet for Easy Member Pro, because it is self-hosted like s2Member and SonicMember, but it is for HTML pages and folders, not for WordPress sites. There is a WordPress integration for it, but I've never used it as the other options seemed better for WordPress.
I'd love to hear your thoughts and comments below.
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