I've been asked to give a talk about building membership sites with WordPress.
Membership sites is a topic I could talk on for hours, but WordCamp sessions are short and attendees minutes want very practical, hands-on guide.
So, to keep things as simple as possible, I'm going to recommend one plugin and one payment gateway.
I recommend building your membership sites with Paid Memberships Pro and Stripe.
Do you want a free video class on Paid Memberships Pro?
Step #1. Install Paid Memberships Pro
First, let's install the plugin we need.
Go your WordPress site, and install the free version of the Paid Memberships Pro plugin.
In your admin menu, you'll now see the "Memberships" menu and sub-menus.
Step #2. Configure Your Stripe Account
Let's set up a way to collect money from our members.
Under the "Payment Gateway & SSL" link, set Stripe to be your payment gateway.
Now go to http://stripe.com and either create an account or login. Click "Account Settings", as in the image below:
You will need the Live Secret Key and the Live Publishable Key.
Take those keys from your Stripe account and paste them into your WordPress site:
Step #3. Add a Membership Level
Now we're going to decide how much to charge people for membership.
Click the "Add a membership level to get started" link.
Enter a Name and Description for your membership level:
Choose how much the Initial Payment will be for members. You will also need to decide how often to charge members and how much they pay each time
Step #4. Add Membership Pages
In this step we're going to create the important pages that visitors will use to interact with our membership system.
Click "Set up the membership pages".
Paid Memberships Pro will allow you to choose which pages will become your Account, Billing Information, Checkout etc. pages.
If you don't want to use this system to set up pages, you can always use the shortcodes mentioned here. For example, [pmpro_checkout] will create your checkout process.
If you allow Paid Memberships Pro to create the pages, this is how they will appear under the "Pages" menu link:
Step #5. Test the Membership Pages
After creating all the pages, go and give them a test. In particular, visit the checkout process and make sure that your visitors really can purchase memberships.
Step #6. Set the Membership Access
Finally, now that everything is set up, we can control what users can see with the new membership. Under each person's user account, you'll be able to set the membership level. Paid Memberships Pro does take over from the default WordPress user system.
On every page and post you will see a new "Require Membership" box which allows you to control access to this content.