Memberful is a service that makes it easy to start an online membership-based community. It manages subscription plans, one-off purchases, authentication, communication, and much more.
I first started using Memberful in 2015 when I created a new site for my neighborhood’s homeowners’ association (HOA). I needed a way to manage members, control access to the site, and secure documents for downloading. Memberful was the only solution that wasn’t bloated and complicated. Several years later, I’m still using Memberful, and I frequently recommend it to friends who ask me the best solution for starting a subscription or community site on WordPress.
Memberful has grown significantly over the past few years. They started with WordPress, but they now integrate with several more services and platforms, including Discourse, Zapier, Discord, LearnDash, Campaign Monitor, and more. Since they were acquired by Patreon in 2018, they’ve added several more features and expanded into custom landing pages and paid podcasts.
Memberful’s seamless integration with WordPress
Memberful requires a plugin to enable members to log in and access behind-the-wall content. When you install, activate, and register the plugin with your Memberful account, it syncs your members, plans, downloads, and podcasts with WordPress and automatically keeps them in sync.
There is a Memberful block located after the main content block on the Page and Post edit page. If you want to protect the page’s content, you can choose who has access to it. Then you can use the adjacent editor to include what a visitor would see if they didn’t have access to the page (weren’t logged in). You can also insert signup and login links using the editor’s toolbar.
Additionally, you can insert Sign in, Sign out, and Account links via Menus or add a Memberful profile widget to the sidebar. And if you’re familiar with editing themes, like the Coywolf Starter Theme for WordPress, you can add special functionality to templates. For example, you could use a PHP if statement to add a Memberful function that will display a Sign out link if the visitor is logged in, and an else statement to display a Sign in link if they are logged out.
<?php if ( is_user_logged_in() ) : ?>
<a href="<?php echo memberful_sign_out_url(); ?>">Sign out</a>
<?php else : ?>
<a href="<?php echo memberful_sign_in_url(); ?>">Sign in</a>.
<?php endif; ?>
Memberful enables you to customize WordPress as little or as much as you want. It’s simple enough to be used by novice WordPress admins, but powerful enough to highly customize a theme using its custom functions.
Membership management made easy
Memberful shines with its member management portal. The dashboard provides a quick breakdown of KPIs:
- Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR)
- MRR Per Subscriber
- Subscriber Lifetime Value (LTV)
- Subscriber Churn Rate
- New Orders
Creating and editing plans and members is straightforward and robust enough for most online communities.
Memberful automates all communication with members. It handles welcome messages, payments, subscriptions, and maintenance emails. Each message can be customized and also white-labeled with your SMTP service or server.
Integrations that go well beyond WordPress
Memberful started with WordPress, but they support integrations with several other services and platforms, as mentioned earlier in this review. Their service has matured to the point that you can use Memberful without WordPress. You can even use it with services they don’t integrate with yet.
Memberful uses OAuth 2.0, which means you can sign in members with an external application. I tested this with an experiment and unreleased app, and it worked perfectly. If you combine the authentication with their API, you can also personalize an external app with member details.
Thanks to the forward-thinking of the Memberful product team, their service can grow and scale as needed. If someone wants to grow their membership beyond WordPress or does not use WordPress, Memberful can still manage everything from account logins, billing, and member communication.
If I create another membership-based community, I’ll be using Memberful, and I encourage you to consider doing the same. They have a free Starter plan, and you can get more details on their Pricing page.