WordPress Plugins

How To Setup a Membership Site Using a Plugin

Many of the worlds most popular and successful online marketers have developed their own products.

Many of these products are online courses which include video’s, eCourses, digital downloads and other forms of premium content.

One of the best ways to make money online is to develop your own products and sell access to the content using a membership site.

This way you only allow access to registered subscribers and/or premium paying members.

You can even setup this type of site to offer different levels of membership by restricting access to different content.

In this tutorial, i’ll show you how easy it is to setup your own membership program on a new website or your existing site using a plugin.

You’ll be able to protect your content from the public and only allow access to subscribers or paying members.

This creates an opportunity to make money and build your email list.

Membership Plugin

There’s several good plugins i have used to setup membership sites, some free, others premium.

In this post, i’ll be using the S2 member plugin which is free and offers premium upgrades if you need them.

You don’t need to upgrade if you want to use PayPal as your payment gateway and Aweber or MailChimp as your email list service.

General Options

Once you’ve installed and activated the plugin, go to the plugins general options.

Deactivation Safeguards

Select Yes to safeguard all data/options in case of accidental deletion of the plugin.

Security Encryption Key

Click auto-generate to create a Security Encryption Key to protect sensitive data from hackers.

Email Configuration

I left this at the default settings however you may wish to customize the auto generated emails S2 member sends out.

Open Registration / Free Subscribers

Set this to Yes if you want to allow open registration to free subscribers at Level #0 which i have done.

If you want to charge a fee for membership, you’ll set this at No as all other Membership Levels [1-4] require payment.

Membership Levels

I set this at Level #0 for free Subscribers.

If you want different levels of membership, name them or use the defaults.

Login/Registration Page Customization

This is the page you use everytime you login to your site.

It will also be used for new registrations and every time your members login.

You can simply use leave the default settings “as is” or upload your own logo to your media library and add the url in the settings which is what i did.

Make sure you change the size of the logo to match the settings.

Custom Registration/Profile Fields

You can easily create custom fields here if you want to add more fields to your registration form.

You could collect phone numbers and anything else you like however i simply left these settings as the defaults.

Login Welcome Page

This is one of 2 pages that need to be setup.

You can create and/or choose an existing Page to use as the first page Members will see after logging in.

Use something like this so your members know they have logged in: Welcome To Our Members Area

I created a special page for this using a portfolio page template included in my theme.

Membership Options Page

Create a landing or sales page for your membership options page.

I used the built page template included in my theme.

This is where new members arrive before signing up so its a good idea to link to this page from your posts.

Here’s my landing page.

As i’m allowing open registrations for free subscribers, i also inserted a link in a big green button (Created using MaxButtons) which redirects new members directly to the registration form.

That’s all the settings which i configured in the General Options.

You can easily integrate your email service which we’ll take a look at next.

Email List Integration

Under the API List Servers tab you’ll find settings for MailChimp and Aweber.

If you’re allowing open registrations then building your list of subscribers is important.

If you don’t use any of these premium email services, you could simply export your subscribers emails and import them into another program.

I used MailChimp for this so here;s what i did.

MailChimp List Server Integration

Login to your MailChimp account and find your API and List I.D.

Click the link  add an API Key and it will take you to your key.

To find your lists I.D read this short guide.

Enter these into the settings and you’re done.

PayPal Integration

I’ve already written about how to setup & integrate PayPal with S2 member plugin.

You find the links to the PayPal options and buttons under the s2member tab in your dashboard.

Spam Registrations

Once you setup this plugin, it will automatically enable new members to register in the role as a subscriber.

This can cause large amounts of automated spam.

To fix this problem, install the  Blue Captcha or SI Captcha plugin which integrates with Akismet.


If you’re creating a membership site simply to allow open registration and build subscribers, s2 member is very easy to setup.

You’ll need alot more time if you want to enable paid membership at different levels.

This membership plugin is one of the best in my opinion.

Next time i’ll show you how i protected content using a range of different methods.

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