How to Add a Private Members Area to Your WordPress Website

Creating content that isn’t available anywhere else is a rare feat in website development. If you have entirely unique content — inside information valuable to professionals in your industry, for example — you can charge for access to that content as a means of generating revenue.

Creating a members-only area is something that WordPress can’t do by default. You can create password-protected content, but WordPress only allows administrators and editors to access that content — and you don’t want to give editor or administrator access to regular readers. To add a members area to your website and profit from your content without sacrificing your website’s security, you’ll need to install a plugin. These are our favorites.

WooCommerce Membership

Link ($39)

If you’re going to charge for access to your website, you need a way to collect the payments. WooCommerce Membership gives you content protection and payment collection with one plugin. With WooCommerce Membership, you can create multiple subscription tiers for memberships of different lengths or to give different subscription tiers access to different content. If you cancel or refund an order, WooCommerce Membership will automatically cancel the related subscription. You can edit any post or page to give access to all users, all subscribers or only subscribers with certain subscription types. WooCommerce Membership also has a bulk editing feature that lets you modify the access levels of many pieces of content simultaneously.

Simple Membership

Link (Free)

Simple Membership is an open-source plugin that allows you to protect your website’s content and sell access to content via PayPal, Stripe or Braintree. Simple Membership allows both one-time and recurring payments. It also allows you to create as many membership tiers as you like. A sidebar widget allows members to log in conveniently. With Simple Membership, you can protect posts, pages, attachment pages and photo galleries. You can also tease the content behind the paywall to encourage visitors to pay for memberships.

Simple Members Area

Link (Free)

If you don’t need a way to collect subscription payments from your website’s members, Simple Members Area provides the most intuitive method possible for protecting your content. To begin using the plugin, you’ll create a page and set its visibility to “Private.” That page will become your website’s home page for members. WordPress will automatically direct members to that page after they log in. To protect additional pages, set them to “Private” and link to them from the main page.

SUMO Memberships

Link ($19)

SUMO Memberships has an impressive array of features for an inexpensive plugin. Using it, you can sell access to restricted content through your WooCommerce store. SUMO Memberships allows you to sell access to posts, pages, products or any specific URL. You can also give portions of pages away for free to give potential customers previews of what you’re selling. If SUMO Memberships has any shortcoming, it’s that you can’t use it to sell subscriptions with time limits — you can only use it to sell permanent access to content. To sell subscriptions, you’ll need the SUMO Subscriptions plugin ($39) as well.

SUMO Subscriptions and SUMO Reward Points are two plugins that can add additional features to SUMO Memberships along with the ability to protect and sell access to your content. Those features include:

  • Automatic renewal reminders via email for members whose subscriptions have nearly expired
  • Allowing users to renew their subscriptions manually or approve automatic renewals in advance
  • Allowing users to change membership payment methods
  • Grace periods for overdue membership renewals
  • Reward points for paid subscribers