Top Membership Site Platforms for Growing Your Online Community

Are you on the quest for the perfect membership site platform to grow your online community? 

The platform you pick is pivotal to your community’s success, but finding your perfect match can be a challenge.

In this article, we’ll shed some light on the situation with a comprehensive overview of 15 top-tier membership site platforms. 

We’ll delve into their pricing, key features, pros and cons, and their ideal user base, so you can make an informed decision that’ll boost your business growth.

The power of membership sites

Membership sites have become hugely popular thanks to their unique model of offering value. 

The subscription eCommerce market, which forms the backbone of membership sites, is expected to balloon to a staggering $1482.11 billion by 2027, growing at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 65.8%.

But what makes these sites so enticing? Well, membership sites allow you to create a dedicated space for your community, offering exclusive content that engages your audience and promotes their active participation.

This exclusivity not only brings uniqueness to your brand but also paves the way for a steady stream of recurring revenue.

Perhaps the best advantage of a membership site is its ability to fortify your relationship with your audience

This interactive model nurtures customer loyalty, making members feel valued and connected.

Moreover, it helps you establish your authority in your niche, as the insightful and unique content you provide further cements your reputation as a thought leader.

However, the cornerstone of a successful membership site is the platform you choose, as the right platform will help you deliver a smooth user experience and help your community thrive!

Understanding membership vs. subscription sites

Membership sites and subscription sites are often confused. 

However, while they share similarities, they also have distinct differences that cater to specific needs and objectives – take a look at the table below for the details.

Membership sitesSubscription sites
Core conceptA site composed of protected content that requires users to log in and pay a membership fee (with, potentially, different membership levels) to access.A site that delivers consistent content in return for a recurring fee.
ProsBuilds a loyal community.Enhances engagement through interactive elements.Provides value beyond content, increasing perceived worth.Simpler to manage as the focus is on content delivery.Offers a predictable and stable source of income.
ConsRequires continual effort to sustain community engagement.Can demand more complex site management and resources.Lower differentiation, as many sites offer content.Higher churn rate, as customers may leave once they’ve consumed the available content.
ExamplesAmy Porterfield’s Digital Course AcademyMixing Light – color grading tutorials and trainingMarie Forleo’s B‑SchoolAccessAllyNetflixThe New Yorker

Choosing the right platform: Key considerations

When shopping around for a membership site, there are several key factors to keep in mind. Here’s a breakdown of what to look for:

  • Features: Ensure the platform offers the functionalities you need, like content drip-feeding, community forums, and analytics.
  • Pricing: Consider not only the upfront costs but also the value it offers in the long run. An affordable platform lacking essential features might cost more over time.
  • Ease of use: The platform should be intuitive and user-friendly, allowing you to focus more on your content and community rather than wrestling with complex software.
  • Customer support: A responsive and knowledgeable support team can be a lifesaver when you encounter technical issues or have queries.
  • Integration capabilities: The platform should seamlessly integrate with existing tools like email marketing software, payment gateways, and CRM systems.
  • Scalability: As your community grows, your platform needs to grow with it. Choose a platform that can handle increased traffic and content without a hitch.
  • Security: Members will be sharing sensitive data, so your platform must prioritize data security and privacy.
  • Customization options: To stand out, your platform should allow you to customize the look and feel of your site, aligning with your brand aesthetics.

Remember to consider not only your current needs but also your future aspirations, technical proficiency, and budget. 

The right platform will balance all these elements, providing the best foundation for your membership site’s success.

Top 15 membership site platforms to expand your online community

There’s a wide variety of membership site platforms available to check out – each with its own strengths. 

The choice you make will depend on your unique needs, and those of your learners, so let’s take a look at fifteen top contenders.

1. AccessAlly

AccessAlly

AccessAlly is a dynamic WordPress plugin designed to empower online businesses with comprehensive tools for delivering courses, coaching, and memberships. 

The platform is incredibly easy to use, for members and teachers alike, and has no trouble scaling alongside your business as your community grows.

Key features include:

  • Robust eCommerce capabilities: Everything from conversion-centric order forms, recurring payments, 1-click upsells, and more.
  • Interactive course design tools: Includes progress tracking, video bookmarks, assignment submissions, and certificates.
  • Engaging member dashboards: Seamlessly enhances content upselling and cross-selling.
  • Personalized automation:  Frees you from tedious day-to-day tasks.
  • Community engagement tools: Like gamification elements, badges, member directories, and customizable profiles.
  • Smooth migration: Facilitates the migration of existing members and content.
  • Integration: Connect your CRM and email platforms for seamless operation.
  • Tag-based access control: Enjoy meticulous content and feature permissions.
  • Content release schedules: Tailor the learning experience for each member.

Starting from $82/month, AccessAlly presents a cost-effective solution for coaches, trainers, and creators intent on expanding their online community. 

AccessAlly ensures you’re equipped with the right tools to foster a thriving and engaged community.

2. Mighty Networks

Mighty Networks

Mighty Networks is an all-inclusive platform and an excellent pick for creators, entrepreneurs, and brands aiming to cultivate their online communities and memberships under their own brand across various devices.

Key features include:

  • Build communities: Use your brand to nurture communities, including mobile apps and a website, without requiring custom development.
  • Centralization: Brings together courses, memberships, and offers in one comprehensive platform.
  • Frameworks: Provides a proven framework and educational resources for creating a valuable, monetizable community.
  • Customizable community spaces: Offer personalized member experiences based on relevance and interests.
  • Integration: Connect with other apps via Zapier for smooth operations.
  • Direct selling of access: Easily offer access to individual spaces or bundled services in hundreds of local currencies.

Although Mighty Networks offers a cost-effective solution starting from $33 a month, it’s worth noting that it has limited direct integration with other platforms and relies on Zapier for connectivity. 

However, it’s an effective way to build and nurture a thriving online community for those on a budget.

3. Kajabi

Kajabi

If you’re looking for an all-encompassing platform, Kajabi could be the solution for you. 

It’s built to equip creators with the tools to transform their knowledge into various digital offerings, including online courses, coaching programs, memberships, and podcasts. 

Key features include:

  • Create and manage content: A wide array of content capabilities, from online courses to podcasts.
  • User-friendly UI: A sleek user interface that’s intuitive even for less tech-savvy learners.
  • No revenue fees: Creators keep 100% of their income.
  • Community-building tool: Including live calls, real-time chats, and leaderboards.
  • Built-in CRM: Expands functionality, and couples with seamless integration with payment platforms like Stripe and Paypal.
  • Direct community monetization: These tools offer predictable, recurring subscription revenue from members.

Kajabi’s pricing starts at $149/month, positioning it as a more premium option. 

Despite the higher cost, it provides a robust suite of features enabling creators to launch, manage, and grow their digital products and communities effectively.

4. Kartra

Kartra

Kartra, a comprehensive, cloud-based platform, offers integrated solutions for growing and managing online businesses.

Key features include:

  • Secure transactions: Ensures payments for products or services, using both credit card and PayPal payments, are always safe.
  • Drag-and-drop page builder: In addition to mobile-optimized templates, a flexible page builder allows for the creation of stylish, customizable content
  • Customizable membership portal: Deliver content, courses, or training within a professional, customizable membership portal.
  • Marketing campaigns: Offers live or automated email/SMS marketing strategies for effective community engagement.
  • Integrated helpdesk portal: Get expert advice when you need it, with support ticketing and live chat.
  • Multi-page funnel flow: Design a funnel that converts visitors into active, recurring members.

Though Kartra may not be as feature-rich in terms of course or community creation as some other platforms, it provides a well-rounded solution for those looking to streamline their online operations. 

With pricing from $119/month, it delivers an excellent balance of functionality and affordability for growing online communities.

5. Podia

Podia

Introducing Podia, a platform designed to empower individuals and businesses to build websites, sell digital products, and nurture thriving online communities with ease. 

Key features include:

  • Intuitive website builder: Allows the creation of aesthetically pleasing websites without requiring coding or design skills.
  • Product showcase: Host and sell a wide array of digital products, including online courses, digital downloads, coaching services, webinars, and workshops.
  • Direct access: Offers members access to your products straight from within the community.
  • Support for diverse communities: Communities can be free or paid, customer groups, course-related discussions, or private mastermind groups.

Podia does have fewer advanced features than other platforms on our list – however, it compensates for the deficit with simplicity and user-friendliness. 

With a basic free option and paid plans starting from $39/month, Podia offers an affordable solution for individuals and businesses looking to kickstart their online community journey.

6. Mighty Pro

Mighty Pro

Mighty Pro is a customizable platform designed to create and manage branded mobile apps and websites for community, coaching, and course delivery.

Key features include:

  • Flexible branding options: Allows users to create immersive member experiences.
  • Full technical support: Encompasses both launch and design customization.
  • Branded mobile notifications: Boosts member engagement and is ideal for high-ticket programs, group coaching calls, and live events.
  • Integration: Seamless integration with your email, CRM, and payment systems using Zapier.
  • One-on-one Community Design coaching: Gives users access to support that can help fine-tune the platform.
  • Access to the Mighty Design Studio: For world-class design, splash screens, and app store marketing strategies.

While Mighty Pro’s pricing isn’t publicly listed and requires contacting their team for a quote, its extensive features make it a compelling option for those seeking a comprehensive, branded community platform. 

Whether you’re scaling up or just starting, Mighty Pro offers tools to create and grow your unique online community effectively.

7. Wild Apricot

Wild Apricot

A cloud-based membership management software, Wild Apricot is packed with automated tools that make running an organization a breeze.

Key features include:

  • Secure cloud storage: Protect all membership data, and allow easy access, seamless updates, and sharing across any device.
  • Simple member application process: Supports web-based, mobile-friendly forms for easy online completion and payment.
  • Automated notifications: Including renewal reminders, invoices, and self-service options for members to renew their memberships.
  • Exclusive content for members: Accessed via member-only web pages, such as networking forums and specialized blogs.
  • Searchable online member directories: Allows for easy networking.
  • Membership widgets: Enables the embedding of membership functions on any website.

Wild Apricot’s focus makes it more suited for organization management rather than individual creators. 

However, it still provides a comprehensive toolset for community building. Pricing starts from $60/month for personal use, and the community plan is available for $140/month.

8. Teachable

Teachable

Teachable is a user-friendly, no-code platform that helps creators build meaningful businesses with online courses, coaching, and digital downloads, retaining complete control over their content and their student’s journey.

Key features include:

  • Intuitive course builder: Allows creators to impart their knowledge without needing coding or design skills.
  • Quick and easy sales: Showcase digital products like PDFs and audio clips.
  • Course management: Set milestones, schedules, and process payments.
  • Monetization tools: Includes upsells, bundles, and order bumps that can maximize earnings.
  • Support programs: Access weekly group coaching sessions and business training courses for paid plan subscribers.
  • API and integration: Facilitate seamless communication between your Teachable products and your preferred marketing and analytics tools.

Despite its comprehensive toolset, Teachable lacks some community-building features compared to other platforms. Pricing-wise, it offers a free version, with paid plans starting from $39/month.

9. Memberful

Memberful

Memberful is a flexible membership software built for independent creators, publishers, educators, podcasters, and more. 

It provides the tools you’ll need to create, manage, and monetize online communities.

Key features include:

  • Subscription plans: Create plans with a variety of features and prices.
  • Streamlined checkout: Offer a user-friendly process that supports credit cards, Apple Pay, and Google Pay.
  • Intuitive dashboard: Provides hassle-free management and in-depth analysis of your community members.
  • Custom plugin: Allows you to sell memberships from your WordPress website directly.
  • Integration: Connect with popular community platforms like Discord and Discourse to create private, members-only spaces.
  • Additional features: Includes selling gift subscriptions, setting up referral programs, offering free or paid trials, and managing multiple communities.

Memberful is a flexible choice that fits neatly into your existing workflow, and offers a free version of its service. However, it lacks the comprehensive features of its paid plans, starting from $25/month.

10. Patreon

Patreon

Patreon stands as a dynamic platform that empowers creators to establish sustainable businesses by offering exclusive content and experiences – all according to their own schedule!

Key features include:

  • Connect with learners: Create a distinct space beyond traditional social media to build deeper bonds with the community.
  • Robust publishing tools: Share diverse media directly with followers, free from algorithmic interference or ads.
  • Paid memberships: Set up memberships or sell digital products to enhance your direct earnings
  • Powerful analytics: For deeper audience understanding and engagement strategies.
  • Communication tools: Enhance relationships between creators and followers through direct messaging, integrated community platforms, comments, and polls.
  • Custom payouts: Patreon ensures creators have control over their payouts, with options for anytime withdrawals or monthly auto-payouts via various methods.

Pricing is performance-based; the Pro plan takes 8% of the income you earn on Patreon and the Premium plan takes 12%. 

For creators seeking sustainable and consistent income from their followers, Patreon offers an enticing proposition.

11. BuddyBoss

BuddyBoss

BuddyBoss is a versatile WordPress-based platform optimized for fostering online learning and community building.

Key features include:

  • Limitless growth: Allows unlimited members, courses, and groups, letting your community flourish without restrictions.
  • Design tools: Create an online school, incorporate gamification, and provide lesson unlocks, quizzes, certificates, and more.
  • Facilitates social interactions: Supports individual profiles, posts, comments, likes, direct messages, and public mentions.
  • Activity feeds and social search: Update members on community happenings and help them find relevant content or connections.
  • Interaction layers: Offer groups, events, job boards, and online stores, enabling your community to plan activities, share opportunities, and engage in commerce.

Starting from $228/year, BuddyBoss provides a comprehensive solution for those looking to seamlessly integrate online learning and community building on a WordPress site. 

The platform offers a rich, social-media-like experience while retaining control over your brand and data.

12. Bettermode

Bettermode

Bettermode is an all-in-one community engagement platform that focuses on enhancing customer relationships through personalization and streamlined experiences.

Key features include:

  • Knowledge sharing: Engage customers using threaded conversations and gamification, encouraging peer-to-peer interaction.
  • User feedback: Collect user votes and comments to gauge customer sentiment and drive improvements.
  • Consolidation of user logins: Enhance convenience and bolster security.
  • Analytics: Provides insights into community health and business impact, empowering data-driven decision-making.
  • Integration: Bettermode’s seamless integration into existing websites or apps facilitates increased engagement.
  • Badges and leaderboards: Foster a healthy competitive environment among members and promote active participation.

Priced from $599/month, Bettermode might be on the pricey side compared to other platforms. 

However, its sophisticated approach to customer engagement could be a significant asset for businesses aiming to nurture deeper customer relationships.

13. Substack

Substack

With Substack, independent creatives can access an array of tools to publish and monetize their content directly to their audience through subscriptions.

Key features include:

  • Deliver content: Publish and distribute content directly to subscribers.
  • Total control: Creators retain full ownership of their intellectual property, mailing list, and subscriber payments, ensuring control over their work and revenue.
  • Strong creator community: Approximately 40% of all new free subscriptions and around 20% of paid subscriptions are generated within the Substack network.
  • Integration: Substack integrates a blog, newsletter, payment system, and customer support, allowing creators to focus on content rather than administrative tasks.
  • Diverse content types: Create and publish a variety of content, including posts, podcasts, and videos.
  • Built-in community features: Use threads to promote engagement and foster a sense of community among subscribers.

It’s worth noting that, when enabling paid subscriptions, Substack charges a 10% fee on each transaction, in addition to a Stripe credit card fee (2.9% + $0.30) and a recurring payment billing fee (0.5%).

14. Discourse

Discourse

Discourse is an open-source platform that fosters dynamic and engaging online communities through customizable discussion forums.

Key features include:

  • Open-source codebase: Providing total customization and flexibility to suit your community’s specific needs.
  • Dynamic notifications: Keep users updated when their posts are quoted, when they are mentioned, or when they receive replies.
  • Real-time chat channels: Facilitate live interactions within the community.
  • Moderation tools: Ensure the maintenance of healthy, on-topic discussions, and aid in suppressing spam and managing content effectively.
  • Trust system and badges: Empower reliable community members with additional abilities to help manage the community.
  • Robust API and official plugins: Offer easy integration with other systems and extend functionalities like chat integration, topic voting, and more.

Starting from just $25/month, Discourse is a highly customizable and budget-friendly solution for online community management.

15. MemberPress

MemberPress

MemberPress is a versatile WordPress membership plugin empowering creators to monetize their content, build online communities, and offer online courses and digital downloads with secure payment options.

Key features include:

  • Full control over content access: Allows you to set up an effective paywall in just a few clicks.
  • A robust Learning Management System (LMS): Build and sell online courses to your community.
  • A digital “home”: Fosters stronger relationships and engages your community.
  • Drip content: Release content at timed intervals to maintain member interest and pace courses.
  • WordPress affiliate plugin: Turn your members into promoters, incentivizing them to expand your community.
  • WordPress subscription plugin: Automate billing and simplify your business’s financial operations.

Starting from $399.50/year, MemberPress is a comprehensive solution for creating a thriving online community, offering valuable content, and managing monetization efficiently.

Which platform is best?

Now that we’ve showcased fifteen stand-out platforms, you might be wondering which one to choose. It’s an important decision, after all, as choosing the right platform is an integral part of setting up a thriving membership site and community.

Your platform needs to meet your existing needs and scale alongside your ambitions – which is why AccessAlly takes center stage as our number one recommendation.

AccessAlly is a one-stop-shop solution that equips you with all the necessary tools to build, manage, and expand your online community with simplicity and efficiency. 

Its suite of tools allows users to deliver enriching experiences to members, boost loyalty, and ensure that their business continues to thrive.

The team from Life Pro Fitness migrated over 150,000 members on their Life Pro Fitness site to AccessAlly’s WordPress solution. 

After a successful migration process, Tegan Gainan from Life Pro Fitness said:

“I would definitely recommend AccessAlly to anybody and everybody who’s looking at doing a member portal and looking for something super easy to use, easy to manage, easy to implement. And automated. I keep using the word seamless, but I think that’s the best way to put it.”

Best practices and challenges in setting up a membership site

Creating a thriving membership site comes with a variety of challenges that can impede your progress, unless you’re aware of effective strategies to overcome them. 

Let’s take a look at a few common roadblocks:

  • Technical setup: Getting the right technical structure in place can be daunting. Luckily, a platform like AccessAlly can simplify the process with a user-friendly interface and extensive technical support.
  • Content creation: Keeping your members engaged requires you to consistently deliver valuable content. So, establish a content calendar and stick to it. Regular updates and diverse content keep your learners coming back for more.
  • Member engagement: Active members are crucial to your site’s success. Encourage interaction through forums, live events, and personalized experiences. With AccessAlly’s built-in CRM, you can tailor the user journey for each member.
  • Pricing strategy: Pricing your membership isn’t always a straightforward process. Research your audience, study your competitors, and consider the value of your content. A/B testing can be a powerful tool to find what works best.
  • Migrating members: If you’re transitioning from another platform, AccessAlly simplifies member migration with an easy import feature that ensures your learners experience a seamless transition.
  • Scaling: As your community grows, so do your technical and administrative demands. A robust, scalable platform like AccessAlly is built to support this growth, allowing you to focus on what matters most – your members!

Take the next steps: Growing your membership community with AccessAlly

We live in an increasingly digital world where personal connections have never been more critical and it’s a fantastic time to build an online community via a membership portal. 

Doing so lets you nurture an engaged audience, deliver exclusive content, and monetize your expertise.

Naturally, the success of your membership site lies heavily on your chosen platform. 

There are plenty of solutions out there, but AccessAlly consistently outshines its competitors with robust features, scalability, and unmatched support, making it the ideal choice for creators at any level.

With AccessAlly, you’ll have a platform that can:

  • Develop personalized, engaging experiences for your members.
  • Automate your administrative tasks.
  • Simplify technical setup.
  • Seamlessly scale your community.

Ready to take your online community to the next level? 

Then it’s time to explore AccessAlly! Check out its capabilities firsthand and see how it can help you build a thriving, engaged community that not only sustains but fuels your growth.
Try AccessAlly today and elevate your membership community!

Nathalie Lussier

I’m a writer, technologist, and regenerative farmer. I founded AccessAlly with my husband in one frantic weekend to solve my immediate course platform issues. Over a decade later the company has grown, and our product has evolved to serve millions of learners across the globe.

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