Blog / Paid Member Subscriptions / A free WordPress Membership plugin – Paid Member Subscriptions

A free WordPress Membership plugin – Paid Member Subscriptions

Cristian Antohe
Last Updated: 27/10/22

Sometimes, finding the right WordPress membership plugin can cause issues even for experienced developers.

  • “A really steep learning curve”
  • “Could not figure out how to set access levels”
  • “Paid for the premium and got half ass support”
  • “After activating this plugin, the speed of my site dropped dramatically”
  • “Not developer friendly”

These is all real feedback from people regarding various WordPress membership plugins. None of the above has anything to do with features or what the plugin can do. Instead, they emphasize:

  • bad user experience
  • really difficult to set up
  • and lack of developer support

While developing our new plugin, we didn’t try to implement every single feature a WordPress membership plugin might need. Instead we tried to focus on:

  • ease of use and good user experience
  • using best practices when developing the plugin
  • creating a core of features that we can support for all our users (particularly since this it’s a free plugin)
  • took into consideration the possibility to extend the plugin through hooks and filters
  • make sure it works well with other plugins

Keeping it simple

While developing our plugin, we tried to find a balance between a few core features that need to be found in the plugin and features that can be later added via addons or 3’rd party plugins. And this is what we came up width:

Hierarchical subscriptions


This is one of the most used features in a WordPress membership plugin. It’s hierarchical membership levels that allows users to upgrade from free to pro later on if they want to. It also make it easy for the administrator to organize the subscription plans.

As for working well with other plugins, each membership level allows you to create a new user role for your WordPress users, or select an existing user role if needed.

This user role also changes as your user moves up the membership levels and gets removed if he deletes his subscription. This way it’s a lot easier to work with 3’rd party plugins that use user roles as a differentiation between users.

Members Interface


A simple to use member interface. Nothing fancy here, but we’ve tried to make the information easily available. As an administrator you can also manually change the membership levels a user has.

Payments Interface


Again, all the information needed for payments like the payment status or the transaction ID is available. You have access to detailed logs related to each payment, making it easy to troubleshoot failed payments.

Trimmed down settings page


We tried to keep settings at a minimum. For example, to get started all you need is your PayPal address. There are also defaults for the messages displayed when the content is restricted and templates for the emails sent to users or successful sign-up.

Straight forward content restriction

Content restriction is a must have feature of any reliable membership plugin, so we made it as smooth as possible.

We also want to make sure it integrates with WooCommerce, making it really simple to restrict product purchase for non-members and be able to offer special prices to members when purchasing a certain product.


We wanted the member of the site never to see the backend of WordPress so we created a few shortcodes to help with that:

  • [pms-register] – simple user registration where the user chooses the membership level he’s interested in.
  • [pms-account] – simple edit profile page
  • [pms-login] – login widget
  • [pms-recover-password] – password reset
  • [pms-restrict subscription_plans=”9,10″] Content restriction based on user subscription [/pms-restrict]

Taking it forward with add-ons

We’re aware this won’t be sufficient for all membership sites so the plugin was thought through from the start to be easy to extend using add-ons or other plugins.

We’re also launching with a few add-ons like:

Get started with Paid Member Subscriptions

Download from

UPDATE: The steps below have been completed, check out the complete list of add-ons.

This is just the start and we already have plans for a few more add-ons like Email Reminders, Invoices, Stripe and PayPal Express & Pro payment gateways as well as improving the payments interface and creating a few shortcodes and developer functions that will help integrating our plugin with other 3’rd party plugins.

Also, we’ll be releasing free addons as well, that are really useful for certain users but don’t need to be part of the core plugin. Things like Labels Edit or Email Confirmation Field.

So let us know what you think either in the comments or contacting us via our support!

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17 thoughts on “A free WordPress Membership plugin – Paid Member Subscriptions

    Would love to see the email handlers!


    1 – Initial Account Verify link email.
    2 – Email for: Direct link to the page for that person to then buy THAT Membership plan
    3 – Membership PAYMENT confirmation, thank you and membership approval email!


    Hi Guys,

    Is it possible to integrate it into the multisite signup form? After a user fill the fields in the first step ( username and password ) and select the “Gimme a site” option, on the step two user see the plans radio inputs besides the site name and site title fields.


    Hi Vasili,

    That’s not possible at this stage, however I’ve written it down and we’ll consider it for a future version.


    Hi, I really like how simply the setup of this plugin works. Well done!
    It would be great if it was possible to use other payments, such as Stripe, Braintree etc.



    Yes, we have a new payment gateways we want to implement.

    Stripe is on our short list. Braintree, depending on how many requests we get, we’ll implement that one as well over the next year.


    Hi Cristian. Your plugin looks really good. I wonder, if using it for our club subscriptions (rather than website subscriptions) could it be possible for the end-date to run to the end of our club’s membership year (end of July) rather than for 12 months from registration? Thanks, David.


    Hi David,

    Thank you for your kind words!

    Currently that’s not possible, but we’ll take it into account in the future.


    Another vote for Stripe.
    Also regarding payment methods we need to have an option for a *non* card method, i.e. many members prefer to make a bank transfer using their online bank facility. So this would need a “pending” status until we receive the payment and we set them to “active” in the admin.


    Thank you Mike for your suggestions. Beginning next week we’ll start development for the Stripe gateway.
    We’ll also look into how we can add a manual/bank wire option for the payments.


    Hey, Cristian

    Excellent post. I have been stuck at a problem for many days & can’t find what to do.

    My Scenario: I am trying to make a forum website with different forums for users(Free customers on one end & Doctors, Interior Designers, Restaurant owners etc on another end in different forums). I want to charge these local businesses to participate in the forum. I am using Paid Membership pro plugin.

    The Problem: I have created levels for each of them but after Registration, everybody lands on that choose membership page. I do NOT want the free users or the unrelated local businesses to see what I charge for some other business & neither I want them to change over to another unrelated level.


    Is there a way to add current members who did not sign up through the plugin? We’ve installed your plugin to gather/manage new members but already have members of our group who need to have accounts and member access login info to our site. They came on board before we started using the plugin.


    nice explain of membership plugin for WordPress I would like to suggest you also mention about ARMember. This is the one of the powerful form builder plugin for wordpress.


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