Membership site software are helpful tools used by many different industries that allow you to manage membership functions online. These all-in-one platforms help boost operational efficiency as everything you need is in a single place.
In the education industry, the learning management system (LMS) market is projected to reach $28.1 billion by 2025. In other words: creating a membership site with coaching and learning elements is just one potentially lucrative endeavour.
But with so many choices available, how do you know where to start? How do you know what is the best membership site software? Here’s our roundup of the best membership site platforms of 2023.
What is the Best Membership Site Platform?
Below you can find our top nine picks of the best membership website platforms.
Thinkific is a comprehensive cloud-based tool that enables you to host, market, and sell your expertise. You can link to an existing site, pick from slick design templates, and customise sections with code. What’s more, the free version offers SSL and a page builder.
You can add downloadable materials, create quizzes, assessments, and surveys for your learners. Students can resume their videos on any device, and it’s free to host videos on Thinkific. You can also track a student’s progress throughout their learning and schedule lesson content in advance.
Key integrations include Mailchimp, Mazetec, and Outgrow. Thinkific offers an app store with over 1000 apps.
- Free resources: The online academy provides free course creation and marketing resources.
- Progress tracking: Incentives and learner progression are available for students.
- Sell globally: Supports over 100 currencies and third-party payment gateways such as Stripe and PayPal with no transaction fees.
- Comprehensive support: Access a community of over 50,000 course creators, a help centre, and dedicated customer support.
Thinkific comes with five plans and an add-on option which you can pay monthly or annually:
- Free: Unlimited students, full e-commerce options, email, and phone support.
- Basic: Unlimited courses, custom domain, and live chat support for $49 per month.
- Pro: Two site admin accounts, certificates, and single communities for $99 per month.
- Premier: Unlimited communities, Brillium exam integration, and group sessions for $499 per month.
- Thinkific Plus: SSO, Enterprise API access, and a 99% Service Level Agreement. You can contact the sales team for a custom quote.
- Platform supports live video, assignments, communities, and quizzes.
- Integration wide range of industry tools
- Allows users to track a range of metrics and KPIs
- Protects content and client data with encryption and 24/7 monitoring
- Teach live lessons, on-demand or ‘blended’ lessons
- Excellent customer service
- The App Developer Partnership program offers financial rewards
- East to use course builder
- Great set of marketing tools for automation
- Provides full access to HTML and CSS
- Dedicated app store
- Supports over 30 languages
- No transaction charges
- Extensive 30-day free trial program
- Offers instant fund access
- Provides custom domain
- No integrated marketing tools – you’ll need to use third party solutions
- No chat support
- Removing custom branding is only available on the Pro + Growth package
- Single sign-on (SSO) is only on the highest tiers
- Doesn’t offer a mobile app
- Doesn’t handle EU VAT
- Offers only phone support–no chat options
- Doesn’t have built in email marketing
Best for Ease of Use
Podia lets you create a membership website and sell your courses and products as you would an online storefront. It comes with direct email marketing and automation for your campaigns and a drag-and-drop page builder that couldn’t be easier to use. You can design a logo and live-edit your pages across a variety of mobile devices too. A quick membership site software comparison shows just how comprehensive such features are and lets Podia stand out as the best platform for membership sites.
There’s the ability to charge for your webinars through YouTube Live and earn a passive income, and you can choose how you want to teach with one-on-one sessions and workshops as well as track learner progress. Podia also enables you to motivate learners through live chat and email reminders.
Podia features over 1900 apps, and key integrations include Stripe, HotJar, and Zoom.
- Free migrations: Transfer without hassle on all paid yearly subscriptions.
- Content uploads: A range of formats are available, including MP3, PSD, PDF, and more.
- Scheduling tools: Let students arrange private lessons via Calendly, Acuity or your own link.
- Discounts and packages: Offer your clients bundles and coupon vouchers.
Podia offers four pricing tiers in addition to add-ons, which you can pay yearly or monthly:
- Free: Create a website with a subdomain, email marketing and community.
- Mover: No transaction fees, unlimited downloads and a custom domain for $39 per month.
- Shaker: Zapier triggers, affiliates, and unlimited webinars for $89 per month.
- Earthquaker: Priority support, onboarding calls, and five team seats for $199 per month.
There’s also a live weekly demo every Tuesday.
- Emails are unlimited, and there are revenue metrics for every email you send
- Communicate on live chat to your clients
- Free community to grow membership
- Earn passive income from video recordings and webinars
- Features a very simple user interface when creating courses that requires virtually no learning curve.
- Podia was created specifically for course developers, whether you’re a newbie or you’re more tech inclined
- The platform receives regular updates with new features added
- Payouts are instant
- Extensive features at an affordable price point
- Easy to use user interface
- Email marketing is integrated
- Customer support needs improving
- The pages have only recently been SEO-optimised
- Students won’t be able to filter products from the storefront page because the backend doesn’t allow you to categorize products
- Instructors won’t be able embed their courses on their own websites or pages because the platform doesn’t offer custom embed codes
- No free plan
- No phone support
Best for Sales and Marketing
Kartra is a complete platform that gives you everything you need to expand your business or agency. The platform allows you to design membership sites, host online courses, and run sales and marketing campaigns.
The Kartra membership site features a drag-and-drop builder feature with a wide selection of page templates to create professional sites without coding, and you can use Kartra’s robust sales funnel builder to automate your funnels.
You can also check your member’s details and see their status instantly–great for online membership platforms–green for active and red for cancelled accounts. The platform allows you to deliver course content with videos, upload files, and podcasts too. Kartra features over 20 native integrations, including Braintree, Twilio, and Authorize.net. While it does offer multiple plans, all of them are paid plans that offer pretty comprehensive features and tools. To that end, Kartra is arguably the best platform for paid membership sites.
- Ticketing system: Support users through a helpdesk portal and live chat.
- Multi-membership portals: Bundle up memberships that you can cross-sell.
- Progress bar: Members can see how far they’ve advanced with a percentage, and you can send automated actions at each stage.
- Manage the community: Moderate comments for approval and respond to questions.
Kartra offers four paid tiers and a monthly or annual payment option:
- Starter: One helpdesk, host 50 videos, and build two membership sites at $99 per month.
- Silver: 12,500 leads, unlimited products, and unlimited team members at $199 per month.
- Gold: 25,000 leads, five custom domains, and Kartra Agency at $299 per month.
- Platinum: 50,000 leads, ten custom domains, and unlimited membership sites at $499 per month.
Best for High-End Memberships
Kajabi is a premium solution for online courses and memberships, enabling you to produce, sell, and manage your membership program from start to end, making it one of the more popular membership sites.
You can quickly view lessons and upload numerous formats, and there’s access to unlimited content and video hosting. The student learning area is also customisable for each of your services, with some stunning themes on offer.
Creating a membership community platform in the page builder is a smooth experience with over 40 premade sections ready to use, and you can easily edit and personalise your pages to suit your brand. The Kajabi membership site integrates with Zapier, Typeform, Segment, and more.
- Advertise events: Preschedule events with video countdown timers straight from your landing page.
- Blogging section: Create a blog on your site to showcase your brand and cross-promote.
- Online community: Easily grow your community which members can access from their dashboard.
- Kajabi University: Free online learning with over 350 training videos and downloadable resources.
Kajabi offers three pricing plans, and you can choose from monthly or yearly options:
- Basic: 10,000 contacts, unlimited emails, and unlimited landing pages for $149 per month.
- Growth: Advanced automation, custom branding, and access to affiliate program for $199 per month.
- Pro: 100 products, three sites, and 25 admin users for $399 per month.
A free 14-day trial is available on all plans.
- Excellent tech support and customer service
- Create podcasts and send them to popular audio apps such as Spotify
- Live events and webinars are available on all tiers
- Video analytics in addition to heat maps
- Provides in-depth course insights that gives you better insight into student progress
- Offers unlimited video hosting allowing you to create as many courses as you want
- Courses can be SEO-optimized to make sure it ranks high on search engine results
- No polls and quizzes for your community
- The affiliate program isn’t available on all plans
- Kajabi is priced higher than average–nearly double than other platforms
- Custom certificates are not supported
- Assessment customization is limited
Best for WordPress
MemberPress is a solid choice for WordPress users who want a subscription site platform and LMS (learning management software) platform.
You’ll be able to develop a password-protected community with built-in integrations such as BuddyPress and can create and manage forums as well as specific accesses. Members can also create or join forum posts and easily message each other.
The course builder allows you to create dedicated course pages, and from the curriculum tab, you can quickly add lessons, including five different types of quizzes. MemberPress has over 2000 custom integrations, including MonsterInsights, Stripe, and Zapier, making it the best platform for subscription websites.
- Theme compatibility: Works with all WordPress Themes.
- Podcast memberships: Blubrry PowerPress allows you to create podcasts, and you can grant exclusive access for specific memberships.
- Gift cards: Membership gift cards are available for customers; you can create client coupons too.
- Customer support: Ticketing system with a response time of two hours on weekdays.
MemberPress has three pricing levels that you can pay monthly or annually:
- Basic: Unlimited members, unlimited courses, and two-factor authentication for $25 per month.
- Plus: Available for two sites, unlimited quizzes, and BuddyPress for $40 per month.
- Pro: Gifting, corporate accounts, and TaxJar for $50 per month.
Best Free Plan
For free membership site software options, Teachable is a popular choice for teachers and educators who want to build an online school, showcase their hobbies, and sell courses on one platform.
The free version is generous and offers unlimited hosting, students, and 1:1 teaching. You can publish one course and upload a total of 10 videos, and there are even options to add custom code and receive payments.
It’s easy to upscale to a paid plan, and you can unlock SEO optimization for your pages, live-group coaching sessions, and a custom domain. Teachable offers key integrations with Facebook Pixel, Circle.so, and ConvertKit.
- Payment methods: Over 130 accepted currencies via Apple Pay, Google Pay, and PayPal.
- Public API: Showcase your courses and content on any website, and connect to almost any tool.
- Partner scheme: Earn up to 30% commission with every Teachable referral.
- Exclusive learning: TeachableU on the paid plan includes training, monthly live streams, workshops and more.
Teachable offers four tiers that you can pay for monthly or annually:
- Free: Payment processing, integrated website and builder, and student management.
- Basic: Unlimited courses, custom domain, and email marketing for $39 per month.
- Pro: Advanced reporting, live chat, and group coaching for $119 per month.
- Business: 20 admin users, advanced theme customization, and bulk student imports for $299 per month.
Teachable also offers a 30-day trial for any of the paid plans.
- Create completion certificates or use templates that students can download
- Data monitoring and security with support if an outage occurs
- Podcasts from Teachable creators on Spotify
- Live events, webinars, and group challenges
- Unlimited access to key features–bandwidth, courses, students, and coaching
- Supports graded quizzes
- Easy and seamless setup process
- Simple, one-click checkout process
- Your students only have a 30-day refund option
- Long waits to get paid for course creators on the Free and Basic plans
- If you’re on a Basic Plan expact to get charged a 5% transaction fee per transaction.
- Pricier than other platforms with similar features
7. Mighty Networks
Best for Community-Based Memberships
Mighty Networks is our top membership community platform. There’s a great deal of flexibility to create free and paid communities that give your members more freedom and interactive features.
Members communicate via direct messaging and small group chats and can add comments as well as see if other members live nearby or have similar interests. You can live stream directly to your community and create long-form and short posts with multimedia, and there are options for adding polls, questions, and topics too.
The community essentially lives on your site, and you can monetize your services via community membership subscriptions or build and sell your courses. Mighty Networks has seven key integrations, including Raklet, Stripe, and Memberful.
- Share options: You and your community can share anything directly to Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Private members or course groups can share things with their own group.
- Member data: You can export your client’s data, including email addresses.
- In-built analytics: Check active members, estimated subscription revenue and more.
- Course builder: Design courses with ease and gate content.
Mighty Networks Pricing
Mighty Networks offers three pricing plans that you can pay annually or monthly:
- The Community Plan: Unlimited members, native videos, and a site for $39 per month.
- The Business Plan: 20 hours of live streaming, a dedicated course community, and 1TB of data at $119 per month.
- Mighty Pro: Personal app and account management and strategy support at a custom price. Contact sales for more details.
Mighty Networks offers a free 14-day trial on the first two plans.
Best for Video-Centric Memberships
Uscreen is the best all-in-one platform for video makers. Unlike YouTube, all your content stays under your control.
All plans come with video hosting, a pop-up website, and a high-quality online video player. HTML5 plays your videos back in crisp HD, enabling captions and screen-reader technology as well as allowing members to watch from any device. You can build a quality Netflix-style service with the option to sell ecommerce products straight from the video player.
There are also in-built sales and marketing tools such as the Leadzen marketing funnel, which offers a free video for an email subscription. Key integrations include Drip, HotJar, and Google Analytics. Uscreen integrates with over 2000 apps.
- Detailed heatmaps: See where and how your users engage with your site.
- Customised profiles: Users can set an avatar, create a profile, and access their billing information.
- 24/7 support: The team responds via email and chat support as required.
- Live chat functionality: Communicate in real-time with your community when live streaming.
Uscreen offers three pricing tiers which you can pay monthly or annually:
- Basic: A customisable website, selling options, and marketing and automation tools for $99 per month.
- Growth: Ecommerce integration, community features, and 150 hours of video storage for $199 per month.
- Uscreenplus: Mobile and TV apps, dedicated account manager, and support for your customers. Contact the sales team for more information.
A free 14-day trial is available on the Basic and Growth plans.
- Launch TV and mobile apps with no coding
- Dedicated video business school to get tips and advice
- Built-in security, SLAs and protection for videos on demand (VOD)
- Five monetisation choices: subscription, pay-per-view, rentals, bundles, and lifetime
- Excellent community building and engagement features
- Easy access to a range of monetization options, including subscriptions
- Intuitive and easy-to-use environment
- Good analytics and customer insights
- Not many in-app integrations at the moment
- Live streaming is only available on the highest tier
- Some limitations in customization
- Basic plan only has a handful of themes
Best Membership Website Builder
Wix lets you create stunning sites without coding knowledge. Beginners to more advanced designers can build pixel-perfect sites in their image with a variety of customisation options.
But did you know you can create a ‘Member’s Area’ with Wix? Here you can sell digital goods, deliver members-only content, and add a community forum. You can quickly choose which free app to set as the primary communication method with your members too.
In terms of content, you can stream videos, add audio, and employ multiple media formats as required. The Wix App Market also features over 300 apps, many of which are valuable third-party integrations.
- Payment options: Clients can pay through AliPay, PayPal, and Stripe. Pricing packages are also available for creators.
- 24/7 support: Open on all plans. You can submit a ticket or request a callback, and the help centre offers additional resources.
- Custom branding: Wix offers a free logo maker to use on merchandise and your social media profiles.
- Additional income: Sell your music through the Wix music app or add it to your site.
Wix offers three pricing plans which you can pay monthly or annually:
- Business Basic: Custom domain, unlimited services and classes, and 50GB of storage for $27 per month.
- Business Unlimited: 10 video hours, automated sales tax, and advanced shipping for $32 per month.
- Business VIP: Unlimited storage, unlimited video hours, and Smile.io loyalty program for $59 per month.
- Automated SMS notifications and email reminders to limit no-shows
- Host public events, sell tickets online and scan them from the Wix Owner app
- Wix ADI lets you instantly build a website based on simple questions
- Over 500 templates with extensive editing tools and features
- Offers modern-looking templates
- Easily customizable
- Uses artificial intelligence to design pages
- Lots of great themes with customization options built-in
- AI enhanced functionality to help with building your store
- On-page support to help you make the most of the service
- Lots of apps and plugins for extra functionality
- Various secure payment options and SSL certificate
- Built-in analytics are only available on the highest tier
- Product subscriptions aren’t available on the lowest plan
- It can get expensive
- You can’t change templates easily
- Not the best at SEO
- Lacking some advanced automation and upselling features
The Best Free Membership Platforms
One of the best things about free versions and trials is the ability to test membership software without investing.
That said, it’s worth noting that freemium versions often come with limitations. If you want the best features and the option to scale your business, the paid plans are always better in the long run.
Membership Site Platform Guide
Our guide below will help you pick the best membership platform for you.
What Are Membership Site Platforms?
A membership site platform is a members-only site where your users access exclusive content and are part of your community. The perks of being a member include online courses or training, webinars, and discounts.
Some membership sites offer free content when signing up, while others require payment first. Many organisations and clubs start membership sites to foster strong relationships and boost customer loyalty.
Membership vs. Subscription Websites
Membership websites have more of an emphasis on creating a community.
In contrast, subscription websites are more single-minded in their approach and only offer their services or products as part of a monetary contract. Membership sites aren’t obligated to have subscriptions but can choose to do so.
Both have their place, and there can be an overlap. For example, hybrid models offer the best of both worlds with payment tiers such as recurring billing, subscriptions and one-off payments, as well as free content and communities when required.
What Features to Look for In a Membership Site Platform?
Here are some key features to consider:
- Payment provider integrations and ecommerce options: This is important if you’re offering additional services like coaching, for instance. You should consider ecommerce options as well for scalability. Make sure your clients have choices to pay from anywhere.
- Gated and exclusive content: This allows you to control what’s public and members-only. There should be an option to show some content to visitors with the idea of turning them into leads later.
- Contact segmentation: Your chosen platform should be able to categorise your contacts and non-members automatically, as well as other segmentation options (including CRM functionalities).
- Automation workflows: Welcome, reminders and course completion emails save you time and allow you to re-engage members.
Membership Site Platform FAQ
You can find some frequently asked questions below.
Q: What Are The Benefits of a Membership Site?
The main benefits include the following:
– Form mutually beneficial relationships where you help people with your expertise.
– Have a reliable recurring income with other monetary opportunities.
– Grow your reputation and brand as an authority on a specific subject matter or niche.
– Build a loyal audience and customers.
– Create affiliates, partners, and creative collaborations. The potential you have is close to limitless.
Q: Why Do People Join Membership Sites?
The primary reason people join is for educational purposes. Your potential users want to train and fill any gaps in their knowledge and expect an online course with modules, resources and a community.
Some people want to see tangible results, such as being able to cook French cuisine proficiently at the end of the course.
Others want to access support groups of similar-minded people or desire contact with the business owner who’s an authority on a subject because they admire and value their communication.
There isn’t always a clear-cut reason why people join, as it’s typically a mixture of reasons, as well as curiosity. That said, the best membership sites do everything they can to learn why.
Q: Which Community Features Should I Add?
Your platform should have a community forum, a blog, a comments section, posts and questions. It should also have group and live chat functionalities and a place for members to share resources. Members need to be able to interact with one another and contact you directly.
Moderation and rules are essential to set the tone and standards of your community.
Choosing The Best Membership Site Platform
Membership platforms are an excellent way for you to create a brand, community and voice without relying on platforms like Facebook. You can implement social media, but it’s (almost) always on your own terms.
Just ensure you’ve thought about payment integrations and ecommerce options, gated and exclusive content, contact segmentation and automated workflows.
Overall, membership software can cause transformative changes that make people and businesses better.
Here are our top picks:
- Thinkific – Best Overall
- Podia – Best for Ease of Use
- Kartra – Best for Sales and Marketing
- Kajabi – Best for High-End Memberships
- MemberPress – Best for WordPress
- Teachable – Best Free Plan
- Mighty Networks – Best for Community-Based Memberships
- Uscreen – Best for Video-Centric Members
- Wix – Best Membership Website Builder
Do you have any experience as a membership site creator? Have you used the platforms listed? Let us know in the comments below.