Membership site software comes in two basic forms: membership platforms and membership website builders. In this guide, we’ll reveal some of the best ones so you can make the best choice according to your needs.
If you’re in a hurry, here’s a quick round-up of the 12 best membership site software platforms and website builders of 2021!
Best Membership Platforms:
Best Membership Website Builders:
You’re maybe wondering: “Should I go for a membership platform or a membership website builder?”
Here’s a simple answer:
if you’re a non-techie, you’d prefer a platform that takes all the tech stuff (hosting, maintenance, site speed, and security) away from you. Thus, you’ll be better off with a membership platform.
But if you’re a tech-savvy user, you can get more out of a membership website builder because it is more flexible and offers much more customization options.
With that overview out of the way, let’s get into the meat of the guide!
Best Membership Platforms
Kajabi is an all-in-one platform that has been serving content creators since 2009. It empowers entrepreneurs who want to host online courses, coaching services, e-commerce businesses, membership sites, etc.
As far as membership site platforms go, Kajabi has grown into a powerhouse in this space.
It comes with a powerful ‘product generator’ that automatically generates an easy-to-follow blueprint for your membership area. This allows you to simply upload your content and launch a professional membership site.
Kajabi also comes with a management software tool that helps you set up easy automation and ultimately keep things organized within your community.
You also get access to analytics tools that help you see how well you’ve been performing and where to improve. Some of the metrics you get access to include churn rate, Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR), and Average Revenue Per User (ARPU).
Some of the content you can host on Kajabi includes videos, quizzes, surveys, etc. You also get access to over ten elegant themes that work impressively whether you want to launch a full-fledged online course or a separate training.
You can also create levels for your membership website and allocate content to each level without hassle.
Kajabi has a mobile app for Android and iOS devices, making it possible for your members to consume your content more conveniently.
One of the best membership features on Kajabi is its community functionality which allows you to create an interactive community for your members. Sort of like a modern forum.
Another important aspect of your membership is the pricing. Kajabi allows you to make your membership pricing as flexible as possible by offering weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual pricing options for your members. On top of that, you can charge an upfront fee and even give free trials for your members.
Kajabi also includes a powerful marketing system that helps you build high-converting sales funnels easily.
Furthermore, Kajabi has a blogging feature which is extremely helpful if blogging is part of your content marketing strategy.
As far as pricing, Kajabi is a little pricey relative to some of its competitors. Its Basic plan costs $149/month, while its most popular plan, Growth, costs $199. They offer a 14-day free trial before purchasing any of their packages.
That said, Kajabi, despite its high pricing, is a solid choice for you if you can afford it. Its features are among the best in the market.
If you’d like to know more about Kajabi, here’s our full review.
Podia is an all-in-one platform like Kajabi. In fact, some people refer to Kajabi as Podia on steroids and is one of the best membership site Kajabi alternatives on the market. This is because Podia is newer, smaller, and slightly less advanced.
But this doesn’t take away the fact that it tops the charts as a membership site platform. Many people will opt for Podia because it provides most of the membership features on Kajabi at a lower price.
Podia comes with a multi-tiered membership system that allows you to create membership levels ranging from free content to all forms of premium content. You also get to set up your membership pricing in two categories: monthly and annual, along with a free trial.
You can make your membership website more navigable using Podia’s pinned post feature. This helps with welcoming new members, referencing community rules, offering resources, and more.
Its content scheduling system allows you to create posts and publish them at a later time.
You also get to bundle your membership program with any other product you’re selling (online courses, physical products, coaching, etc.,) allowing your members to access the full package with one sign-in.
Podia doesn’t have a community feature like Kajabi. However, it does allow you to connect your existing group on Facebook, Slack, or Palapa with ease.
Podia’s marketing tools are very effective, and their sales and checkout pages are optimized to convert.
That said, Podia’s website builder is limited in terms of customizability, and you can’t offer PayPal as a payment option.
As far as pricing, Podia is not as expensive as Kajabi. It offers two pricing options: Mover and Shaker. However, to access the membership feature, you’ll have to be on the Shaker Plan for $79/month.
In conclusion, Podia is not a super-robust membership site platform. But judging by its cost, it is an excellent choice.
Here’s an in-depth Podia review for more information.
Thinkific is another popular membership site platform on our list. Its content delivery system is pretty impressive as it supports unlimited videos, PDFs, Excel files, pictures, GIFs, etc. You can even set interactive quizzes, surveys, and assignments on the platform.
Unlike Kajabi, Thinkific focuses on the core functionalities of a membership site platform, which includes helping you host content, gating it, collecting subscription fees for your content, and providing a community to manage your subscribers.
Thinkific provides only one course player theme for your content delivery. But this is well-designed to enable seamless consumption regardless of the type of content you’re sharing.
You can also create custom pages for your members and gate them based on membership levels.
There is no mobile app for Thinkific users. However, its course player is highly responsive for mobile devices.
Thinkific’s community feature is impressive as it allows you to interact better with your members.
Furthermore, Thinkific makes it easy to set up monthly and annual plans for your memberships and even incorporate multi-level memberships into your program.
It offers some essential marketing features such as one-click upsells, affiliate marketing, coupons, etc.
That said, Thinkific’s checkout process is unimpressive as it requires users to create an account before making payments. This slows down conversions. Secondly, Thinkific does not support PayPal for membership sites. Users are required to pay only using Stripe.
Finally, Thinkific’s analytics tools do not provide important information like Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) and churn rate.
As far as pricing, Thinkific offers a four-tiered pricing plan which includes a free plan. But to access the membership feature, you’d need to be on the Pro plan, which costs $99/month.
Overall, Thinkific, as a membership site platform, offers pretty basic features. But it gets the job done.
Here’s a full review on Thinkific for more information.
Teachable is a well-known online course platform and has been on the front lines of e-learning since 2014. One of its lesser-known features is the membership functionality.
Indeed, Teachable’s capabilities as a membership site platform are not as top-notch as the ones above, but it gets the job done in its own way. To create a membership with Teachable, you’d need to create a course bundle and tag a subscription fee to it.
Its course building and delivery system makes it easy to create, host, and deliver content to your subscribers. It offers features that let you create graded quizzes, drip your content, generate certificates, offer 1:1 coaching, and more.
However, when running a membership website on Teachable, you won’t be able to create individual posts or pages. Also, you won’t be able to create communities for your members.
You can create multi-leveled memberships on Teachable. But this is not a straightforward process. You’ll need to create multiple course bundles for each separate level.
As far as membership pricing, Teachable allows you to create monthly and annual payment options for your programs. However, you can’t offer free trials to your users or charge upfront fees.
That said, Teachable’s marketing tools are impressive. These include a sales page builder, affiliate marketing tools, optimized checkout pages, and more.
When it comes to pricing, Teachable offers three payment plans: Basic, Pro, and Business.
With the Basic plan, you can create a membership site on Teachable.
Ultimately, Teachable is a great place to start if you want to create a membership website on a tight budget. You only need a bit of creativity to maneuver the entire process because it is chiefly made for online courses. On top of that, they have an award-winning customer support team to help you if you get stuck.
For an in-depth review on Teachable, click here.
5. Mighty Networks
Mighty Networks brings a whole different vibe to this compilation of membership site platforms. This is because, unlike the other platforms we’ve discussed, Mighty Networks comes mainly as a community and membership platform.
The other ones we discussed are essentially online course platforms with powerful membership features.
Mighty Network allows its users to create memberships even on its free plan. It comes with best-in-class tools for building and engaging an online community. Its features will enable you to create membership levels with direct payment within the platform.
You can also create a members’ directory, host live chat events, organize polls, and more. Moreover, Mighty Networks allows your members to connect via direct messaging.
Mighty Networks has a free app for iOS and Android devices, making it easier for users to access your membership site more easily.
Mighty Networks allows you to accept monthly, annual, or one-off payments with or without free trials. On top of that, it enables you to create premium memberships in several different ways.
For example, you can keep your community free for all but charge a fee for access to courses and premium groups within the community. Also, you can charge for access to the community and the courses and groups within it.
Mighty Networks come with three pricing plans: Free, Business, and Community.
The Free plan gives you access to the basic features and attracts a 5% transaction fee. The Community plan charges $28/month plus a 3% transaction fee. The Business plan charges $98/month with a 2% transaction fee.
All three plans give you access to unlimited members, and you can even connect your membership website using a custom domain.
Ultimately, if your membership is community-focused, then Mighty Networks might be your preferred membership site platform.
Best Membership Website Builders
Memberful ranks as one of the best membership software for independent creators, coaches, publishers, and more.
It primarily exists as a WordPress membership plugin, but you can use it on membership sites hosted on a non-WordPress Content Management System (CMS) like SquareSpace, Weebly, Wix, Webflow, and Leadpages.
The only challenge with this is that these non-WordPress platforms don’t natively support Single Sign On (SSO). Thus, you may not be able to create separate member pages (or members-only web pages).
This means that while you’ll be able to sell your memberships, you’ll only be able to share your premium content through Memberful’s email newsletters and discussion forums integrations.
Another interesting thing about Memberful is that even if you don’t own a website, you can still run a membership website using its custom landing page functionality.
With Memberful, you can create any kind of subscription plan. For example, you can choose between one-time fees, monthly, trimonthly (every three months), biannual, annual, custom weekly, or custom monthly. You can also offer free trials for your programs.
Memberful boasts highly optimized checkout processes to help you convert members faster. You also get access to a robust analytics tool and members management system that helps keep track of performances and ultimately control things more effectively.
Some other things you can get on Memberful include coupon codes, group subscriptions, and more.
Memberful offers a free plan with a 10% transaction fee. Its paid plans cost $25/month and $100/month with a 4.9% transaction fee.
In essence, Memberful is a great place to start if you’re building a membership site on a tight budget.
Another solid entry on our list of WordPress membership plugins, YourMembership is a robust all-in-one membership management software designed for small organizations and has so far served over 25 million users.
YourMembership offers a smooth membership management feature that fosters easy member signups and auto-renewal. Its event management feature helps you create a personalized path for all signups and manage all events across your membership website.
Other notable features on the platform include the ability to create an online community for your membership site, advanced analytics tools for tracking performance, an accounting and payment processing system, an e-commerce and donations system, workflow automation for repetitive tasks, etc.
Building a membership site on YourMembership can be expensive. In fact, there is no stipulated price for the membership software on its website. However, some competitors like Wild Apricot estimate about $2500 in set-up fees and $6000 in the first year.
You only get a custom quote when you reach out to the vendors.
Finally, YourMembership might be your preferred membership builder if you own a non-profit or small organization with a solid budget.
Morweb is similar to YourMembership in that it is a CMS and membership website builder designed to cater to non-profits and small organizations.
It offers a drag-and-drop website builder for building fully functional membership websites.
It also allows you to accept donations online, create password-protected pages, generate member directories, and more.
Morweb incorporates a shopping cart system to help you sell products online using flexible payment packages, product listing templates, and a two-click checkout process.
Since it is tailored for non-profits, it allows you to host fundraising campaigns, manage events and sell tickets, etc.
Morweb charges from $99 to $199 per month.
In conclusion, Morweb can be seen as a less pricey alternative to YourMembership. If you run a non-profit or a small organization on a tight budget, this should work for you.
SubHub is another simple solution for building and managing a membership site. Having been in the membership space since 2004, SubHub makes it easy to run any membership site.
It lets you create multiple membership levels, set recurring fees, offer coupons, and drip your content.
It also has a shopping cart system for selling physical products. You also get access to engagement tools such as a community, social media integration, and event calendar.
Another cool thing on SubHub is that your members can add your content as a favorite and easily return to it later.
SubHub’s pricing starts at $47/month for its Starter plan. Higher up, you get the Pro plan at $97/month and the Premium plan at $147/month.
Ultimately, SubHub is great because it’s beginner-friendly, but it puts a limit on the number of members you can have on its lower plans.
MemberPress is a more versatile option on this list. It comes as an all-in-one membership plugin for WordPress. The service helps entrepreneurs to build membership site platforms, host online courses, accept payments securely, sell digital downloads, and more.
MemberPress enables you to control access to your content by setting your privacy parameters.
It’s among the membership site platforms that also serve as Learning Management Systems (LMS) for entrepreneurs who want to sell online courses alongside their membership programs. It also provides you with a password-protected community forum.
Its membership website builder helps you generate beautiful, dynamic pricing pages for your membership packages, and it integrates with several payment processors, like PayPal, Stripe, and Authorize.net.
The platform also offers flexible payment options that allow your members to update, upgrade, or cancel their subscriptions straight from your website.
Other features include coupons, analytics and reporting tools, affiliate marketing, content dripping, and more.
MemberPress’s pricing starts with Basic at $149/year for one website. Its Plus plan goes for $249/year, while its Pro plan goes for $349/year.
Finally, MemberPress is a fantastic choice if you’d like to run a membership site alongside selling online courses and other online products on your WordPress website.
MemberSpace brings a simplified twist to membership solutions. It allows you to turn any page on your website into a members-only area with a few clicks.
You simply choose a page you’d like to lock and then set how much every user should pay to get access. This can also be used for any type of product like full online courses, video tutorials, webinars, member directories, etc., and you get complete control of the look and feel of the website.
The platform is also flexible enough to work with WordPress, Squarespace, Weebly, and any other CMS you use.
If you’ve been using a different service provider, the service offers free migration for every new user.
There is no limit to how many people you can enroll, and you have complete control of your member database. You are also allowed to create membership tiers so users can upgrade and downgrade as they see fit.
The platform has impressive marketing features like abandoned signups, which automatically retargets and recover uncompleted signups using best-practice email templates and popups.
Other features include failed charge recovery, cancellation alternatives, automated upsells, instant payouts, and more.
As for pricing, you pay $25/month for its lowest plan and $200/month for its highest plan.
In conclusion, MemberSpace is awesome for its simplicity, along with its powerful marketing features.
12. WishList Member
Wishlist Member is a premium WordPress plugin for transforming your website into a membership site. It’s currently being used by over 106,000 membership sites, online courses, and communities.
The platform gives you complete freedom over the look and feel of your WordPress website. You can also build as many membership levels as you want and even automate processes like moving members to new levels, creating new posts, etc.
WishList supports several payment providers like PayPal, Stripe, ThriveCart, 2Checkout, and many more.
Other features include multiple payment setup, free content creation, free trials, paid memberships, drip content, partial display, email service, etc.
Pricing comes in four tiers running from $147/year for one site to $397/year for 50 sites.
Ultimately, WishList Member is incredible for its simplicity, cool automation, and flexibility with payment services.
Some semi honorable mentions in the membership platform world are ClickFunnels, Kartra, Wix, and Squarespace. They’re decent and get the job done, but they don’t have the same features as the 12 we covered above.
Things to Consider Before Selecting Your Best Membership Builder
Now that you’ve gotten access to our list of the best membership site platforms and builders in 2021, it’s probably gotten a lot easier to make a choice.
But before you choose a platform that’s perfect for your needs, there are a few things you need to consider. You need to take note of the most basic features that should come with all membership site platforms and software.
Let’s take a look at them below.
Taking Payment and Membership Levels
A membership program is essentially run on the subscription model. So, you need to consider what payment plans you’d like to feature on your program and see if your target membership service provider supports them.
Popular payment packages include monthly and annual payments. But some creators prefer weekly, quarterly, biannual, or even custom plans.
The best platforms offer multiple membership levelsto help you maximize your earning potential. So be sure to look out for that.
Communities are essential because they help you connect better with your members. Members get to interact with each other as well, boosting engagement levels.
Some membership service providers provide a functional community alongside each membership site, while others allow creators to use Facebook or Slack groups to build their communities. It’s always better to choose the former because it helps you keep things more organized and streamlined.
Allowed Content Types
Naturally, as a content creator, you might want to share a variety of content to keep things as exciting as possible.
You should always look out for platforms that support multiple content formats. For example, sometimes, you might want to drop video tutorials, checklists, PDFs, newsletters, live calls, etc.
You need a platform that supports every type of content you plan to make.
3rd-party integrations help supercharge a platform’s capabilities. Ensure that your provider supports a wide range of 3rd-party solutions for email marketing services (e.g., MailChimp, ConvertKit, etc.), analytics (e.g., Google Analytics), payment processing (e.g., PayPal), etc.
You should consider all these with respect to your budget. Choose the platform that checks all your boxes and roll with it.
Final Verdict On Membership Site Software
There are several membership service providers out there, all with their individual strengths and weaknesses.
So it’s necessary to take your time to decide what works best for you. But here’s what we have to say.
First, if you’re a non-tech, it will be more reasonable to try hosted membership platforms because they’re easier to use.
In that case, if you’d like an all-in-one platform where you can host a membership site, sell courses and physical products while supporting them with powerful marketing tools, then we strongly recommend Kajabi.
However, if Kajabi’s features are out of reach due to its pricing, Podia is a strong alternative. Podia offers reliable membership management and marketing tools. Just like Kajabi, it allows you to sell coaching programs, courses, webinars, and more.
Mighty Networks is also worth taking a look at.
On the flip side, if you’re tech-savvy and would love full flexibility and customization options, then you might want to try WordPress solutions.
In that case, we’ll recommend WishList Member. This is because it’s super easy to use, works smoothly with WordPress, and does not limit you in terms of payment processing.
Ultimately, we hope you found this guide helpful. Do take your time to consider everything we’ve discussed, and you will likely make the right choice!