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There are lots of options out there, but the best membership platforms help you create on-brand sites with all the features you need to run an online community.

It should also support key payment processor integrations like Stripe, Apple Pay, and PayPal.

If you already use the WordPress CMS, you will have to install a membership plugin.

If you are just creating your site and you prefer a purpose-built website builder, then you can use any of the software tools I will list below.

  • Kajabi: This site builder software is perfect for online-course-based membership websites. It lets you create and sell online courses with ease. You can set up podcasts and coaching sessions and also build thriving Kajabi communities.
  • Mighty Networks: this is an all-in-one site builder that has features for building just about any type of membership program. You can create courses, publish blog posts for your feed community, organize live events, and set up chat communities.
  • Podia: you can use the platform to sell online courses and digital products, organize webinars and workshops, and create course-specific communities. It’s more of a direct competitor to Kajabi and there is even a comparison page on the company’s website.
  • Teachable: this platform is optimized for online coaching. It helps you easily create coaching packages and relevant payment plans. You can also sell online courses and digital products.
  • Thinkific: this is a direct competitor to Teachable, but it distinguishes itself by offering more live online learning features. The platform also has an app store with extensions that you can use to add more features to your site that aren’t part of the basic CMS.
  • Wild Apricot: this is a powerful site builder platform that is perfect for businesses and organizations. It is particularly well suited for non-profit organizations. It lets you easily create community spaces and organize events. It also comes with an email marketing feature and it will integrate with your in-house software tools.
  • Substack: this is a unique platform that primarily seeks to help content creators monetize their work. It lets you create a membership blog or podcast site and publish your content directly to your members via a subscription newsletter. The company will also help you market your site aggressively to your target audience.
  • MemberPress: this is a WordPress membership plugin and it lets you gate posts and pages on your WordPress site. It has features for creating chat communities, content feeds, and even content dripping.
  • Memberful: another WordPress plugin that is arguably the best membership site builder available for the CMS. You easily gate your content and set up community spaces, but what sets it apart is the wide variety of ways it lets you monetize your site and accept payments. You can create special promotions, discounts, and coupons to incentivize people to join. There is also a free plan that offers most of the features you need to get started.