Question & Answer, 29/12/15 Image


0.59 What is a Membership Site

1.24 Membership sites and my business

2.13 Optimize member

5.48 Wishlist member

9.13 Which one should I use?

Hey Guys, Malisa here from Small Business Performance Coaching

Today I thought I would cover a question that I get asked about weekly, if not almost daily! “When building a membership site, should I use wishlist or optimizemember?”

Now I know there are many many other plugin options for wordpress membership sites, however these two, in my opinion are the two big players, with iMember360 coming in a close third.

So, if I was building the site, my preference would be to use the Optimize Press theme and Wishlist member protection for the set up. I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, that is just my preference due to the functionality of both options. But before we get into all of that – let’s take a look at membership sites, their functionality, place in your business and then you can make up your own mind!

What is a Membership Site?

Put quite simply a membership site is a private access area where people use their own unique login to access exclusive content that is not available to the general public.

Access to the site can be a free membership, a one off fee or a recurring subscription payment.

How Can I Use One in My Business?

So, now that you know what a membership site is; your brain is probably buzzing with ideas. Within our business we utalise membership sites in many different ways.

We have staffing websites that all staff are given access to with training videos on systems and processes, ability to book leave and access information that is pertinent to them completing their role.

We have membership sites that are an add on bonus for clients, basically a portal where they can access information & training as well as easily communicate with other clients

We have paid subscription sites where content is drip fed to clients and members as part of a paid subscription service or course.

As you can see, membership sites are very versatile and really, the possibilities to incorporate them within your business are endless.

So lets look at some options regarding your membership site software!

Optimize Member

Optimize member is a FREE membership plugin that is provided as part of a subscription to Optimize Press. Optimize Press is a theme and plugin for wordpress that allows you to build pages by inserting pre made elements (videos, opt in forms, headings, images etc) to rows and columns on the page. Basically it’s super easy to create really professional looking pages without knowing much about web design.

So, in saying that the optimize press package ranges in price from $97 through to $297 depending on how many licences you want and a few additional features.

However, I’m not here to sell you on the benefits of optimize press – we are here to talk about membership sites!

The Optimize Member plugin default comes with 10 membership levels set up for you, however, you can set up more yourself by customizing the plugin code.

You can then quickly and easily navigate the general options area of the optimize member menu to set up your levels, redirection pages, connect your email auto responders & customize your registration page details.

Managing your members with optimize member is easy and can be done through the normal users interface of wordpress – where you are able to change their membership level settings as well as import or export a list of your members.

And of course, you have the capacity to offer both free and paid memberships.

With the protection of your content, there is the ability to hide or protect whole pages or blog posts, as well as setting it up so non members can see a teaser.

A notable feature that I really like in the optimize member plugin is their drip feed feature which allows you to set for content to be “unlocked” on a particular date after they join. However, with all it’s awesomeness there is also the drawback that if you want to skip someone ahead in the content, unfortunately YOU CANT as it’s based on their registration date.

One of the big draw backs that I’ve noted with Optimize member is that although you can have unlimited membership levels – they are all directed to the same page or dashboard after login, this is of course unless you are proficient in code and can update the plugin code settings, much similar to how you need to update it for if you want more than 10 levels.

In terms of its ability to link to shopping carts & payment integration, Optimize member offers trial periods as well as ongoing subscriptions, however if you’re wanting to offer discount codes and one time offers, you do need to start looking at additional plugins that support these features – annoying!

Integration with payment methods is limited but has improved more recently, you can now integrate with paypal, clickbank, infusionsoft, authorize.net, stripe, JVZoo, 2Checkout and sort of with SamCart.. they have also advised that an option for Braintree should be available in the near future.

Overall, I do think Optimize Member is a useful plugin, however I would only recommend it for a basic membership site with one level functionality with paypal or stripe payments, that is of course unless you are quite proficient in creating sites and integrations – then of course, you won’t have a problem with the additional features.

Wishlist Member

Wishlist Member – my go to and trusted plugin for membership site builds! The plugin software costs from $197 for a single site or $297 if you want unlimited licences. Which is a bit of a no brainer if you ask me 😉

As for the functionality; Wishlist works slightly differently in terms of membership levels and drip feeding.

It provides an unlimited number of levels for you that you can easily set up using the set up wizard, or manually by creating them within the plugin. You can also easily set up different dashboard pages for each level, meaning you can run multiple programs off the one site, without having to worry about any messy code.

For a newbie to the whole membership site process the Set Up Wizard is a godsend – basically it goes through and asks you a series of questions regarding the functionality of the site and even creates redirection pages for you (albe it they aren’t the greatest looking of pages, the functionality is there)

As for drip feeding, this is a bit different. Remember how I said optimize member had an option for releasing content determined by how many days someone has been a member for? Well, with wishlist member you can do this with an additional paid plugin called “Wishlist Content Scheduler” or.. you can create a work around, by using the sequential upgrade feature and just creating a new membership level for each upgrade. Of course if you are wanting a daily drip fed for an extended period of time, I would recommend buying the plugin, but for a simple weekly course – this is a great work around.

Something mentionable about wishlist is that you can also secure your RSS feed, meaning it gives members the option to still receive content via RSS if they are that way inclined.

Members accounts are managed directly thru the wishlist plugin option where you can easily change their membership access and even move them forward in your membership program. And of course there is the option for both free and paid membership options as well as trials and free periods.

Just like Optimize Member there is the ability to hide or protect whole pages or blog posts, as well as setting it up so non members can see a teaser.

Shopping cart and payment integration includes PayPal, ClickBank, InfusionSoft, Authorize.net, Stripe, Premium Web Cart JVZoo 2CheckOut SamCart eWay 1ShoppingCart Cydec Pin Payments Recurly Red Oak Cart Sam Cart & Ultra Cart as well as quite a few other not so well known options. There are also numerous plugins available that allow for additional integrations that are not directly supported.

Personally I find the wishlist member plugin a more robust option – it has been tried and tested for many years before optimize member was even a viable option. Not only that, there are soooo many additional plugins on the market that work in conjunction with wishlist member, allowing it’s scope of ability to increase even further and be customized almost exactly to just about any need!

Which One Should You Use?

There are three main things that should be taken into account when asking yourself this question.

  1. What is your drip feed or sequential upgrade functionality going to be like & are people all joining at once or at different times, are they going thru the program together or are people moving through at a different pace.
  2. What is your capability like with plugins and setting them up (although both are relatively easy to set up, there is still some learning involved) Particularly if you’re wanting to customize optimize member outside of the scope of a basic site.
  3. What is your budget for this project? If you’re on a super tight budget, then optimize member could be the way to go, but if you have some flexibility I would definitely recommend future proofing your site with wishlist, so you can customize things further down the track.

Ultimately at the end of the day, both plugins are going to give you a simple membership site that you can get off the ground with only a few hours of set up.

So the choice is yours.

If you found this article informative and useful, I’d love it if you hit the like and share button up the top, and if you have any questions about membership sites, please don’t hesitate to put them in the comments below!

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