If you’re looking to transform your current website into a fully functional community-powered site, you can easily find tons of different paid memberships plugins in the market. However, aside from installing the right plugin, you'll need to use the right WordPress membership themes as well to leverage the full potential of the community you grew on your site.
If you're still wondering whether to take the plunge and start a membership site, then we highly suggest you take the plunge. Creating a membership site that has a subscription for members is one of the fastest-growing ways to build a business. And truth be told, it's fairly cheap to start in terms of infrastructure. Pick up your favourite from the following membership WordPress themes, a membership plugin to go with it, a hosting package and most of your costs are sorted.
Whether you’re looking to create a steady stream of recurring income and increase user engagement, creating a members area is always the best choice for getting more and better traffic to your website.
In this post, we’ve collected a handful of premium WordPress membership themes you should try - they are perfect fits for a membership website in various different niches. Whilst you may find free membership WordPress themes (though we weren't able to find any), we always argue that you get what you pay for and we’d always recommend getting a premium download where you can get a much better overall deal.
In reality, you want your membership site to look professional, so a premium theme is the way to go.
How to Create a Membership Site
Before we begin if you're looking to set up a site a members-only, there are a few things you will need and we can recommend:
- Fast solid WP hosting - we highly recommend getting yourself a fast VPS (Virtual Private Server), because your returning visitors are going to put a lot of strain on your site and shared hosting just won't cut it. A VPS, on the other hand, can take a lot of load, especially if you work with a company that can optimize it for traffic, speed and performance.
We work with InMotion ourselves, and it handles our thousands of visitors a day very very nicely - we highly recommend you read our review (and we've got 51% off for CollectiveRay readers)
- A plugin that restricts specific areas to members only - of course, the real intent behind creating a restricted content site is such that your members pay to access the specific areas. This can be done by integrating a plugin that restricts access to logged in and subscribed members only. You may want to click here now to look at our recommend plugins below.
- An appropriate membership WordPress theme - once again, this is a very important part of your overall strategy. In reality, the look of your site is going to make a real difference whether visitors convert to members, and even more importantly, remain subscribed to the plans they choose. Given that there are various types of sites for members you can create, we've identified several templates for different use-cases (clubs, rentals, dating sites, directory listings, Q & A, etc.
Continue reading below to see an awesome selection of products that can support all of the requirements for creating a members' site.
But before we start, have a look at this two-minute video of how you can build a tight community of loyal customers which will visit your site over and over again:
The plugin referred to in the video can be found here:
Convinced? Let's have a look at a few of the things we'll need to get up and running.
Best WordPress Membership Theme Options
We do believe that once you're going to use a good premium members-only plugin, you'll be doing a website a huge disservice if you go for a free membership WordPress theme.
Premium themes are so much more refined and give such a breadth of functions that we do believe they are worth the investment. You really can't put a price on the trust you'll earn by using a WP item which is obviously a premium purchase. To help you customize the site for your own needs, with such stuff as brand colors, imagery, logos and everything else that needs tweaking, you'll find that most of these have flexible theme options to make it ready for your business.
Remember, you're asking people to pay a fee to be able to access your premium content, so you need to make sure you're not looking cheap yourself by using a free item.
Here's our top pick of premium membership WordPress themes. If you're looking for other roundup or reviews of themes for WordPress, we feature such content often.
Undoubtedly, the Divi WordPress theme is one of the best choices if you’re looking for a multi-purpose and membership website theme. It lets you create an eye-catching layout without having to know the nitty-gritty of designing and coding.
In Divi, you can find tons of different features such as theme options and also includes a drag and drop visual builder (Divi builder) that allows you to create almost any kind of layouts you can imagine, to create an impressive result.
The Divi WordPress theme is bundled with a login module for member sites that allows you to display a login form anywhere on your site. This can be a cool membership WordPress theme feature, so you don’t necessarily need to rebrand the default login form. With such a popular item, you'll find complete documentation and support.
It is also bundled with one of the most popular page builders around - the Divi page builder plugin.
If you're also interested in how to create a members site using Divi - this is a great article.
PS. The above offer is only available from CollectiveRay and grants you a 1-year or lifetime license.
Astra, one of the fastest-growing WordPress themes is an excellent choice for a membership site.
It is incredibly fast out of the box and has native integration with course and membership plugins such as LearnDash and Memberpress. It also has many starter sites that you can install on your site at a single click.
It also has excellent integration with WooCommerce and works very well with the Elementor page builder.
All-in-all, it's all you could ask for from a WordPress theme for a membership website.
The Astra WordPress theme has become one of the most popular WordPress themes available due to its flexibility. The theme comes with dozens of starter sites that you can install with a single click.
3. Academy Pro
This is a perfect membership WordPress theme for those who want to create a membership website to create an online course. Powered by the Genesis Framework (which we've wrote looked at this in-depth article), this product from StudioPress is a perfect choice for those who want to profit from any training they have, and which they want to post online.
Given that it is powered by Genesis, you can rest assured that this is a very well-supported, with a superb feature set and flexible configuration possibilities, which does not limit you in any way.
If you're looking to create a training course or any sort of online courses with a theme that offers drag and drop responsive features and advanced customization features, you can't go wrong with any theme from StudioPress, and of course, Academy Pro has been specifically designed for this use case...
Below are a few plugins and or features included or compatible with the Academy Pro theme.
- WooCommerce compatible.
- Theme Customizer and Options Panel
- Widget Areas
- Mobile Responsive
- Genesis framework bundled (worth $59.95)
- SEO friendly
Category: Online course/training
Compatible with: RCP (Restrict Content Pro)
Kallyas is another of those incredibly successful WordPress themes. Kallyas is built to work the Restrict Content Pro but can be used with other membership plugins as necessary.
Kallyas also has built-in WooCommerce integration and an impressive set of features. It also includes the Zion page builder.
The Kallyas WordPress theme is super flexible, has a clean design (and code), and is one most complete WordPress theme ever created - infact, it has been a best-seller for a number of years.
It uses the latest technologies and trends and is a great fit for a membership site.
OceanWP is available as both a free WordPress theme and also a PRO version to take things to the next level. It comes with many different built-in demos and ready-made websites, of course, also including templates for membership sites.
It works well with a number of premium WordPress page builder plugins such as Elementor, Beaver Builder, Thrive Architect, etc.
OceanWP is a WordPress theme we've reviewed and recommended before because it has several built-in premium extensions, allows extensive colour choices, custom widgets and integrates with popular drag and drop page builders, meaning you can create and customize the membership site you need easily.
6. Hestia Pro
Hestia Pro, a WordPress theme from Themeisle, is another multipurpose WordPress theme that can be used to create a membership site thanks to its ranges of features. It features a modern design and can be used as a single page or multiple page layout.
Themeisle is renowned for products that have very flexible theme settings, theme colors fonts, and backgrounds.
It is also fully compatible with WooCommerce and the top page builder plugins.
One of the best things we love about Kickcube is that aside from the usual site login, it enables social login as well, so your users don't need to create a separate login, something which most modern sites allow today.
This is an optimal feature for members area WordPress themes especially if you're struggling to convert more visitors into registered users. It also comes with 6 demo sites to help you get started quickly.
The Kickcube membership WordPress theme also gives you the ability to create a page layout via the front-end of your membership website theme similar to Pinterest or Zergnet.com. Since it works out-of-the-box, you don’t need to install a heavy product like BuddyPress for enabling front-end article creation.
Having said that, Kickcube is page builder-friendly, should you require to use one such as Visual Composer, or WP Bakery as it is now known.
This membership WordPress theme also supports Restrict Content Pro (RCP), one of the best premium plugins for this niche. Do keep in mind that Kickcube is not bundled with this. But if you’re looking for an option that supports Restrict Content Pro, Kickcube could be a nice choice.
KickCube costs $59 on ThemeForest.
Supported plugin: RCP (Membership theme is not bundled with it. Installing this plugin is optional).
TheCore from ThemeFuse is one of those Multipurpose WordPress themes that can be used for various things, including of course, for a memberships website.
So much so, that is recommended by LifterLMS (a learning management system plugin) as one of the recommended WordPress themes to use to create an online course.
TheCore is a fully functional and powerful WordPress theme that includes 25 demos for various niches such that you can get started quickly. Indeed, it is one of the most advanced WordPress themes designed by ThemeFuse, one of the most popular theme vendors with an established reputation.
TheCore includes a number of features such as:
- An advanced visual builder
- Multiple slider plugins
- Theme is WooCommerce ready - therefore compatible with some of the membership plugins mentioned below
- Translation ready
- BuddyPress and BB Press ready
- Brizy page builder plugin fully integrated
ThemeFuse have a scheme where you can actually get this theme and $189 worth of stuff for free so do check out there offer below.
Julia – Talent Management is a WordPress theme lets you create sites for the talent/model industry. As you can see it plays around with shifting colors and a monochrome look and feel.
Julia is a neat fit for creating sites for talent agencies or agents. Once a user registered on the site, she or he can update their profile via backend. Alternatively, she can send the details to the agency through a contact email address or the prominent social media contact details.
After installing Julia, you can install free plugins associated with it.
Julia has been tested and works very nicely with the Paid Memberships Pro plugin. In case you want more details about this specific plugin, visit our detailed review.
LoveStory is a template / WordPress theme that is best suited for creating a dating WordPress membership site. It has almost all the built-in features you’ll need in this kind of theme such as extended user profile, different roles, and levels, chat messages and more.
Let’s look at a few features of LoveStory – Dating and community membership site theme below
- Extended profiles: It allows users to easily edit profiles and upload pictures.
- Chat messages: Users can read and write messages. The built-in chat feature provides live chat notification.
- WooCommerce support: LoveStory has a built-in system in which all payments are processed with WooCommerce. You are also allowed to limit the number of messages and photos for each user based on the user level.
Whilst this is perfect for a dating community, it is a wonderful choice for websites requiring subscription-based WordPress themes
Recommend Reading: If you're looking for setting up a network or dating site, you might want to look at our article: 10 Amazing Themes to create a community or social network.
Listable is best suited for creating and monetizing a local or global directory that asks for a fee for listing a business or product. It has tons of features such as listing cards, which makes it a superb choice to go for if you're creating a directory of places, establishments, locations or other similar listings. To make it easier for you to administer, Listable bundles many free plugins.
It also includes WooCommerce, such that you can have various ways of making money. These options include listing packages using Paid Listings, or subscription-based packages, which are a neater way to make money these days.
The look and feel of this WordPress theme are inspired by an Airbnb kind of look, which is minimalistic but very user-friendly and functional, giving enough attention to the right elements at the right time, while also being SEO friendly.
The site is also great if you can to create such stuff as a local travel guide.
Let’s look at a few features of Listable – Friendly WP directory below
- Listing cards: Allows a popup or detailed display of a business or product listing such that all the attention can be shifted to the specific items
- Monetization-ready: By including WooCommerce and other extensions such as Paid listings, you can start making money immediately from your site
- Flexible, customizable and fully supported: Listable has plenty of options to customize the look and feel of the site, with such stuff as filters, search, Maps for locations and other built-in functions. It integrates nicely with popular design plugins such as the Beaver Builder page builder plugin, you can also use a form builder to customize the entries. It comes from a Power Elite Themeforest author, meaning full peace of mind.
- Drag and drop layouts - PixelGrade create WordPress themes that are very easy to customize. In particular, Listable uses layouts where you can use drag and drop widgets which will snap to their places.
- Page builder ready - works with a number of page builder plugins such as Beaver Builder, MotoPress and SiteOrigin.
A sound choice and we highly recommend you check out the Preview of Listable here.
Category: Local / Global Directory
12. Estate Pro
While Estate Pro is a real estate oriented membership site theme, you can create any kind of members-only websites that requires unlimited user levels, restricted page access, and post creation limits.
It offers out-of-the-box support for most of the payment gateways such as PayPal, Authorize.net, and Stripe.
It also gives you advanced search features so you can filter searches based on taxonomies, meta fields, and post types. For this kind of membership website, these searches improve the user experience.
Category: Real estate
(Recommend Reading: if you're planning to create a Real-estate based sites, we've selected the best WordPress themes for creating a property site)
Shoppe is an eCommerce WordPress theme from Themify that is built specifically for eCommerce membership websites - so you can use the WooCommerce memberships that we'll mention below. It comes with 4 website skins, multiple layouts, several header styles, and unlimited colors and uses the Themify builder plugin to.
Shoppe has several demo WordPress themes that you can use to kick off your site using the 1-click demo installer.
With LaunchPad membership WordPress theme, you're ready to build an online course using LifterLMS.
LaunchPad is a perfect choice for teaching languages, real estate training, online music teaching, business courses, marketing and digital marketing, online health and fitness and many other niches.
The Launchpad premium WordPress theme allows you to modify all aspects of the design, layout and typography of your online courses website. If you're planning to use LifterLMS to power your online course, you can't go wrong with LaunchPad.
For sure one perfect reason to create a subscription site would be for educational purposes or to create online courses. For this reason, the Teachme membership WordPress theme would be an excellent choice.
This is an educational template for those providing online courses - for example, training providers would be a valid candidate to use, since this is key to such a company/course.
Teachme WordPress theme has been perfectly designed in a way to help boost both your conversions and reduce your churn rate.
The full-width design provides plenty of space to display all the courses available and their descriptions neatly to the member. The header section can be used with an image slider showing the available modules with a CTA button to subscribe to the course.
With Teachme, the plans can be displayed directly on the homepage as necessary - with the pricing table function being a convincing way to push all the benefits of each course.
TeachMe also has built-in support for LMS (Learning Management Systems) which makes a great options.
Vayvo premium WordPress theme caters for a different niche - the media streaming niche that can be great for a membership WordPress theme.
Some of the features of Vayvo include free membership trials, membership plans, premium content restriction via armember (built-in), premium slider, video rating system and full support for all languages.
As with most membership WordPress themes Vayvo includes a drag and drop page builder to customize the look and feel of your membership website. Themeforest purchases and Vayvo customers also get access to their support team for a full 6 months as part of the purchase.
Maya Reloaded is a creative multipurpose theme that allows you to create different kinds of websites.
It gives you 30+ different layout concepts to pick from, so you can create almost any design using it. It also consists of premium WordPress plugins such as Visual Composer, Slider Revolution, Visual Composer for Google Maps, etc.
18. WP Rentals
This multi-featured product is a WordPress theme that allows you to create a booking platform for properties. Users can list their properties which are ready for daily rent. You can make a commission for each submission or each confirmed booking.
(Recommended Reading: 7 Best WooCommerce Themes and plugins for online bookings)
It also allows users to sign up with their social login credentials, such that users are not required to create a separate account. You can sync booking to iCal.
With WP Rentals, you can create a system with control for each package with a recurring option
Category: Booking platform
If you’re looking for a BuddyPress supported item to build a collaborative online community, online courses, or a niche social network on a WordPress platform, Thrive could be a perfect choice.
All of the features are added as WordPress plugins.
So you can enable only those functionalities you’ll need for your eventual members' sites.
Best of all, it is a lightweight download with no tied-in framework so it is a great community membership WordPress theme.
Category: Niche social network
20. Zelle Pro
This is another great membership WordPress theme option from ThemeIsle. Zelle is a neat WordPress theme and is a multipurpose theme, but still a great product to use for a WordPress membership website.
Using such stuff as parallax effects, custom content blocks, Google Maps integration, portfolio, packages and pricing table suitable for your membership plans multi-lingual and RTL-ready.
Zelle Pro is also built for performance, something that needs to be kept in mind given the heavy traffic generated by a membership site.
21. Digital Pro
This is another StudioPress WordPress theme that is so versatile it is easy to create an online course, membership site integrated with eCommerce, so you can use such stuff as WooCommerce Memberships or other membership plugins.
As with other StudioPress and Genesis framework WordPress themes, this theme offers such functions as full theme customizations options and the Theme Customizer, Widget Areas, Customizable Headers, Translation ready, landing pages and more.
Check out how Digital Pro can be used for membership sites.
22. Magazine Pro
If you want to create an online magazine where the members will have exclusive access to specific premium content if they are paid up, the Magazine Pro theme from StudioPress is a great idea for you.
While its homepage features an area for your featured articles, it then gives different sections for different news or category items.
Given that this is a Genesis framework theme, expect all of the benefits of using this framework to be available in this WordPress theme.
Given that this is for a magazine, the theme has been optimized for readability with awesome typography and easily readable fonts and spacious layouts.
This design will easily give you a beautiful result out of the box - and is very easy to set up even if you are not too technical yourself.
23. MH Magazine
We've already discussed above that one of the best ways reasons to create a site for members would be if you own a magazine or newspaper and would like users to be able to access the premium content online, but restricted only to those who have bought a subscription from you.
Besides magazines who have a physical copy and want to digitize their presence, this also applies to newspapers who want to shift their audience to their online presence, but still restrict it to paid users.
As you can see from the above screenshot of a demo of the MH Magazine WordPress theme, this is one of those home page layouts which is perfectly suited exactly for this scenario. It follows the exact structure which you would expect from an online magazine, with several scrolling headline articles and then other titles in different categories.
There's lots of room for advertising within this modern and one of the best WordPress membership themes, whilst you can also use the background for additional advertising space (both to push people towards conversion or for external advertising to monetize the site).
It integrates very nicely with plugins listed below allowing for a smooth implementation of a paid magazine or newspaper and has full documentation to go with it.
Given that we've brought up the subject of magazines, we also love this theme from WPZoom - Indigo.
This is an awesome WP multi-purpose template with flexible features that can be used to create a restricted area. The homepage features two navigation menus, (you can use this for Public vs Members-Only) featured slider for top news items, a 3-column widget area for giving special attention to specific articles, a sticky menu, featured categories, various fonts and colors available and many more features you'll find useful.
Of course, given that this is an article-focused design, it also includes custom widgets to show the most popular posts, any recent tweets you've been pushing, email signup form, social pages icons, and anything else you'll need. It includes various layouts, such as magazine, blog, two and three-column, and six different color schemes to select from, to be able to match your branding.
We have one final WordPress for you, and it's fitting that this is one of the most popular WordPress themes for magazines out there.
From the ever-popular ElegantThemes, this is one for those who believe less is more. These guys know it all, an excellent look and feel and how to design a winning product, they are also the authors of the most popular Divi, used by literally hundreds of thousands of users.
Extra is a clean modern magazine theme for membership sites for those who want to take their things to the next level, and of course, given that we're in this to build a members-only area, this template supports that very nicely.
If you're looking to build a premium news portal or informational portal, which is primed for premium subscribers, Extra is an excellent choice with great support to be used as a membership WordPress theme. As part of your download, you can also get access to a page builder to customize layouts and pages as necessary.
(Buy through this link and get an exclusive 10% OFF until October 2021)
Free WordPress Themes
Try as we might to find members-only templates which are free, we were unable to come across any good ones. If you are a vendor who has a free WordPress version of a members' or subscription theme, do get in touch and we'll list your item here if we find it suitable.
In reality, as we have said earlier, it would be a bad idea to opt for free WordPress themes when you're planning to create a premium product.
Of course, to feature here, your download should have many features related specifically to members-only websites, or integrate with plugins which we mention next in this article.
Best WordPress Membership plugin
Now that we've reviewed a collection of best WordPress themes/templates, let us introduce and guide you to the best WordPress membership plugin options that will instantly transform your existing website into a members-only site.
While these plugins will work on your site regardless of the design you’re using, we strongly suggest you pick an appropriate theme to leverage the full potential of the plugins you’re using.
That said, most of the items listed in this article do not require anything. But if you are looking for additional features that these templates do not provide, you may try installing one of these.
If you are looking for plugins and theme reviews, we share these very often on CollectiveRay - do visit often to find our latest posts.
Let's get started with our preferred options!
If you're planning on using WooCommerce as your eCommerce product, you can enable restricted access through an additional extension to this most popular of online shop extensions: WooCommerce Memberships.
This is one of the most popular and probably the best WordPress pro plugin for membership sites - and we've looked at this product in detail here.
As you can see below, this extension allows you to create specific rules to be able to restrict specific parts only to users who are paid-up members of the site.
Given that this is an approved software by the WC team, you can rest assured of the quality of this. This has been given a very good rating by several reviews from actual users of the extension.
The beauty of this extension is that it has tons of features, for example, you can choose to Drip premium content (i.e. release the articles strategically, let's say over a number of weeks to mimic an online course, you can use it subscriptions, you can send customized emails, and most of all, it's very easy to manage, as you can see from Chris Lema's comments below.
- $149 for one site
- $199 for 5 sites
- $249 for 25 sites
If you are a web designer, we would suggest going for the top tier plan, because this will more than pay for itself with multiple clients.
If you're not convinced, see what others are saying about this.
The basic version of the Restrict Content is probably the best WordPress membership plugin - it is a simple option that restricts specific areas of your site to registered users only. Restrict Content Pro utilizes the default user roles like Administrator, Editor, Author, and Subscriber to restrict the content.
It's also got full documentation to help get you started. It also works well with most WordPress themes. This is another great pro plugin for membership sites.
The premium version offers the following features.
- Unlimited number of discount codes
- Reports to see how well your members' site is performing
- Unlimited subscription packages
- Personal: $49 provides a license for one site
- Plus: $99 for an unlimited number of sites
- Professional: $199 (11 pro-add-ons are available)
- Ultimate: $499 (11 pro-add-ons, lifetime support, and lifetime updates)
Wondering what people think about Restrict Content Pro? The following is probably something to keep in mind.
MemberPress is another option worth trying. By downloading the premium version, you’ll also get access to Affiliate Royale Premium product that lets you create an affiliate program for your members' site.
MemberPress is a perfect fit for anyone who wants to restrict digital download resources from regular visitors.
Some features of MemberPress include but not limited to
- Coupon support
- Send email notification to your members as reminders
- It also lets you group your digital items based on member level.
- $129 for one site
- $249 for up to 5 sites
- $349 for up to 25 sites including Affiliate Royale
This is one of the most popular members' site plugins in the WP official directory. The free plugin lets you create a members-only site using one of the four base options.
- Dripped content
You can put your premium articles behind a paywall and entice your visitors to access it by becoming a member of your site.
The pro version gives you everything you’ll need for your members' site. For example, with the pro version, you can add paid access, create a free trial period and add coupon support to your site.
With this, the real magic lies in the add-ons. Add-on features are not bundled with the premium version. You can install only those add-ons you’ll need for your site. That means you don’t need to deal with features you don’t need on your site.
Do keep in mind that to download the Pro version, you’ll need to become a premium member of the WPMUDev site.
Once you become a member, you can access the premium version as well as the entire add-ons without paying anything extra.
Price: Become a member of WPMU Dev to download the software, which costs $49/month,
5. Simple Membership Plugin
Our fourth option is from wp.insider - a highly-rated (4.5-star average) which is available as a free download both via the WP repository and it's own website.
The product supports both one-time fees and subscriptions to the site, you can have sections of the site which are free and other sections which are members-only, and payments can be accepted via Paypal primarily.
We've now seen all the stuff you need, you should be all good to go to start your new venture! Let us know if you need any more information and of course, we'd be more than happy to provide this!
Other options we have not mentioned here include Paid Memberships Pro, which we will eventually add to this review.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I create a membership site on WordPress?
To create a membership website, you'll need a WordPress installation on a good hosting server such as InMotion hosting and a WordPress membership plugin such as WooCommerce memberships or another membership plugin that we have listed here. Using a Membership theme such as the ones listed in this article also helps you create a design that is targeted for a membership site. The plugins will typically guide you to create all the necessary stuff such as membership plans, a payment gateway, restricted content and everything else you may need.
How much does a membership site cost?
Creating a membership site costs from around $500 to easily about $10,000 per year. Essentially, it pretty much depends on what you use. You can create a WordPress membership site that will be fairly cheap to set up, excluding time to set up. If you had to outsource the development, expect estimates to cost from $3,000 to $10,000 or more. Maintenance, in general, depends on how much traffic your website will generate. The higher the traffic, the higher the costs.
What is the best membership site software?
If you are setting up a membership site on WordPress, the 3 best plugins to use are 1) WooCommerce Memberships, 2) Restrict Content Pro, 3) MemberPress and 4) Paid Memberships Pro. These are tried and tested tools and you can't go wrong with them. They are all paid software, but you'll get excellent ROI by using these highly-rated plugins.
Have you tried any of the choices for WordPress membership theme listed in this post? What is your experience with them? Share your thoughts with us by dropping a line below.
Please leave a useful comment with your thoughts, then share this on your Facebook group(s) who would find this useful and let's reap the benefits together. Thank you for sharing and being nice!
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