There are so many membership platforms out there that it is now a minefield you have to tiptoe through if you want to find something good to power your site, fortunately I have been there and done that and I think there are really only 4 choices:
Get Response – $15 a month
That’s right; you can run your whole membership site through an autoresponder. This works well for smaller membership sites with a small monthly fee. You get them to sign up after payment for the autoresponder series and then have the messages queued up so they get one straight after signup to give them the first set of content, then email them once a month with new videos and content.
You can give them information in the actual email and/or refer them to a page on your site which has the bulk of the content for that month. This is not as robust as having a membership system because for instance your billing will be manual, if someone cancels their account then you’ll not have to remove them from Get Response yourself so they don’t get content for free. Also people can’t login and browse through all the content, but it is a cheap and easy way to deliver content and I have been a member of a few sites run like this and enjoyed them.
Wishlist Member – $97
I am using this one personally for Rocker Lab and i am loving it , it is a plugin for WordPress so you get the easy content management of WordPress combined with a powerful membership site script.
You can install it on a new or existing blog and it locks up any content you don’t want people to see without paying. It integrates with Paypal and Clickbank etc and can handle multiple membership levels and prices.
It also comes as standard with sequential content delivery so you can release new content each month to each member. All in all it looks like a powerful and easy script to use, although it doesn’t seem to handle the affiliate program so it is not as powerful as the next one, but PayDotCom.com can handle that side of things.
Amember.com – $179.95
This is more expensive but you are getting serious now, this is a high-end script which is harder to use but packed full of features. It has a built in affiliate program, it can handle payments so it knows when people have cancelled and after their month expires they lose access (with Paypal at least). You can setup multiple levels of membership with different content and prices, you can even drip-feed content but you’ll need a $40 add-on for that.
Installation is done by their team for free when you purchase the script so you don’t need to worry about that, but you’ll need to get to grips with everything inside yourself. The member’s area is essentially just a locked website, so you can use whatever template you have and the script forwards people to the right page after they login.
It can also email all your members and even has protection to stop people sharing their login details, so it can lock people’s accounts if it detects too many IP addresses logging in to one account in a short amount of time. This is what I use now.
For your first site then you probably aren’t going to want an expensive script, but then upgrading once you have members is going to be a pain, you’d have to manually setup accounts for them and manually remove those members when they leave.
I’d probably recommend the $97 script to start you off as it gives you lots of functionality while still giving you the ease of use provided by WordPress.