I get a lot of questions about how membership sites actually work with WordPress. People understand that it is a plugin that creates the site, but they don’t understand the actual mechanics of how that works. That is why I am writing this post today! Specifically, I will be talking about Wishlist Member, a plugin that I have used on many client projects as well as my upcoming workshops.
A membership plugin doesn’t actually make a membership site. What it is is access control for users and permissions control for content. What this means is that it acts as an interface to register users after purchase, and then give them access to the right content based on their purchase.
To sum it up, the user control basically works in this way:
The access control on a per-post level works this way:
Essentially, you make the site using WordPress in any way that you want, and you use the plugin to set permissions on each of your pages and posts to only show that content to the users you want. (You can also control content on a page to show members and nonmembers different content, but I am not covering that in this post.)
Users in a Wishlist Member system are created as regular WordPress subscribers with special permissions. Your users use the regular WordPress login to get into the site, and once they are logged in, their specific content is unlocked for them to see.
I hope this post has helped you to better understand the mechanics of a membership plugin. If you have questions, please let me know below!
If you want to learn more about making a membership site, please make sure you get on the list for my upcoming free workshops, as one of the topics I will be covering is a step-by-step tutorial in making a membership site!