I have tried several plugins in order to create a membership site here and all of them had a feature that I wanted missing or the support was absent. Others were too difficult to set up and I moved on after frustration kicked in. There are many plugins, forums, platforms, and everything else that you can use to bring in money to offset costs of servers and other expenses.
I haven’t tried every single one, but I will absolutely review all the ones I have tried personally. Getting these things right truly matters. When you are asking for a reader to become a supporter and give you $5/month or more you better have a good reason why they should. I don’t just hand my money out like it’s in an endless supply. If I get the value added and the site is a part of my growth personally or professionally then I open my wallet to keep them around. By the title and image you can see this is a review of ARMember, which is a paid plugin that you can pick up on Codecanyon…or not. I don’t mind paying for certain plugins and especially when it has the features that I want and need.
Well, if you have visited this site in the past month you will notice that ARMember is activated and fully installed for registering, donating, and so much more to come. Meaning you are using it already. Before we jump into the meat of this review I want to say that this isn’t a money grab. I will never put up a paywall between readers and my posts. I honestly chose to add a membership to the site to pick up donations and a core audience that is more than a drifting reader. All commenting can still be done without having an account on this site. I am only asking for people that want to support this and be a part of the community to join. The only thing I am reserving for members is the forum. Otherwise, you can read all you want and enjoy the site as originally intended.
Reasons I Chose ARMember
There are a lot of reasons to love this plugin, as well as a couple items that could be improved. I am not going to create a giant listacle for this, so instead, I am going to point out the main features that stood out to me and opened my wallet. You can stare at their plugin page for all of their listed features, but please note that they are developing very quickly.
- WooCommerce Integration: You can utilize WooCommerce to get the payments of your defined ARMember plans. If you use want to use payment gateways which are not yet supported by ARMember then they can easily use any that work with WooCommerce. Second thing is that you can restrict woocommerce products by plan in the access rules section.
- Good Modal Popups: Not all pop-ups are bad, but 95% are. This is the 5% that I want to be popups. Each form pops right out without having to load each page over and over again. This was the biggest thing that sold me this plugin because I am after the most efficient and frictionless site possible. I want to “wow!” you. I need to remove eForm with ARMember in the near future to eliminate the rest of the forms.
- Modal Everything: This was the whole reason I wanted to use the White Label Login but it was just a shadow of what this brought to the table. I wanted everything at a good price. This fit that need perfectly.
- Stripe Built In: I am done using PayPal if I can help it. Not that Stripe is amazingly better, but at least it’s an option where in many cases you have to buy a Stripe add-on separately. Less plugins are better for performance and better for the wallet.
- Social Login: I am a huge fan of quick setups and you get all of the main platforms for sign in. It comes with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, G+, and Vk sign in. With White Label Login if you used another method of signing in then it created a new account for you. So if you registered with the site 6 months ago and then feel like signing in with Facebook then it would make a second account for you. ARMember just links them to your one account.This is the way it should work.
- Easy content restrictions: Now this is an area where most sites restrict content and I want to minimize that here. I won’t hide posts or anything but menu items can be restricted for members along with anything else if I chose to implement this. You can hide a menu item, a page, post, or anything. It’s granular.
Alright, those are what brought me over and made me delete a couple plugins. ARMember has solid support, very little issues with the Avada theme, and requests for future implementations are received without a brush off. I am 100% happy to have this for my site. I even bought two licenses in case I am thinking of another site that I can offer this with. Do you need it? I don’t know that answer and for most, the answer is no, but I like the idea of having a bit more control over my site and content if I need it. Those modals though. That is #1 all day long and probably 99% the reason I jumped. Good modals are underrated, and I am done with the page load after page load for small things. My goals from day 1 was to have solid content that gave insight and a call to action as well as a frictionless experience to the very best of my ability. I think I am almost there. I tune the site each day if I can and find ways to make it better for all of us. Before jumping into the next section I just want to point out that ARMember has all of their features on their Codecanyon page which you can see on the button at the bottom of the post. I don’t see a point of taking their content and putting it here.
A Coggle From My Collection
Like everything I do, it’s always visual and Coggle is where I do it. I can’t get my ideas out or understand something complicated unless I can see it. I love maps and while it’s not complete in my book, at least Coggle made me learn Markdown. I want to share this coggle that I have been working on with you. It shows the tree of pages it creates and the ones you have to make. The goal is to add to it’s documentation so buyers can love it and get using it sooner than later. I am always tweaking my Coggles so this will change over time. Click this link to see the Coggle in your browser. Hopefully, this helps a bit and the Coggle is public so comments on there are welcome and I will continue to make it better as I get more thoughts into it. This has been my #1 “go to” tool for brainstorming. I donate $5/yr because of how good it is. They don’t let you donate more than $5/yr so I am not being a cheapskate. This is not to say that you should donate.
ARMember is quickly patching things that need fixing so I think a lot of what I wrote about will be eliminated in short order. One issue that was massive and almost made me walk away was the licensing. Their licensing system kept deactivating my license after 30 minutes or longer some times. They troubleshot each day with me for probably three weeks until we realized they connected the license to the hostname and that is not a good thing. I tend to bounce using Cloudflare or Amazon along with my server. Luckily, I had patience and it got it fixed by working together.
Update: Their licensing was based off of DNS and not URL. This has been fixed.
Their release of version 1.6 cured a lot of issues and as of this writing they are working on Font Awesome not working for logged out members, and other minor issues coming in 1.7. The largest issue I have with this plugin is the documentation. It’s new and having high-quality documentation matters for everyone (at least me). It’s getting better but my goal is to try to pitch in and create my version of documentation that will augment theirs. I have even offered to rewrite some of their’s to help it along. I want to see plugins that are easy to install and deploy with references that are current and understandable. We are not there yet with this but hopefully soon. When I see a plugin that seems to have it all I tend to latch on because of the potential benefits for all of us.
As far as I am concerned, we are in beta with membership on AdamMulholland.com and it will be there for a while. This is worth the effort since their support is not like any other I have used and they want to fix it all. These developers are making big strides into this product as well as there other plugins like ARForms. I don’t use any of their other plugins here…yet. We will get there sooner than later. I also want to see yearly subscriptions along with more subscription options that I can offer with membership. This will be a non-issue in short order as they are very aware of this want from their customer base.
Profiles seems to be just lacking at this point too. What’s this? Well ARMember has it’s own profile page that you set up along with the WooCommerce account page. Oh, the eForm plugin I use has it’s own page for form submissions, and if I enable the bbPress it has it’s own profile pages. I need one page that covers all of this without looking awful. This is probably my biggest hurdle and while it would be awesome to have the developers improve this, it’s on me to make this happen. So it’s like 25% ARMember and 75% me. At least this is my view at the moment and one of the biggest things I am hoping to fix quickly. They give me several choices of layout, but it’s not a complete setup in terms of look and feel. It looks odd on a desktop and there isn’t much flare to it. I added a sidebar to it and it helped a bit, but as of right now it doesn’t make sense as a page on it’s own. This is not why I bought it so it’s important to point out that I could remove this feature today and feel absolutely fine with it. It’s something I could do in the near future. This is not a deal breaker. It should be noted that they give you a custom CSS box to make use of if you are knowledgeable and honestly there are many sites online that teach basic HTML/CSS. This might be a good opportunity for all of use to improve our profile pages.
Finally, my last issue is much like the previous except more frivolous. It’s worth mentioning for those that might not understand user roles yet. There are too many user roles on this site so it’s not entirely their issue, but they contribute to the problem by adding the ARMember role. I understand why they added it in order to respect the other roles and allow for custom setups. When asked about changing it or why it’s a role they didn’t really give me an answer that I could comprehend. It states next to the option to change it that it’s recommended not to and I wanted to know why. This is literally their reply to my question through their support ticket system.
“ARMember” role is just new wp role. with no extra capability assigned. Its added while installation of ARMember plugin to identify that users having ARMember role came from registration forms of ARMember. And another thing is in other default role if there are some permission assigned by other plugin then also this ARMember role users access won’t be disturbed. But, you can always set your desired roles if you are advanced user and find some advantage by doing that.
A lot of this is something I need to improve on. When you are using so many plugins that carry their own roles it becomes challenging and something that is a top priority to fix much like the profile page. Just beware that this will add another role and I don’t have a reason why you should keep it or change it. Beyond those items in this section I can’t point anything else out to note. This could be because I am not using every feature yet, or it’s already that good. They had a good showing with ARForms previously so I expect that we are seeing that transfer over to this plugin. If you find something I didn’t cover then post it in the comments below so I can add it in. Getting a complete review is always the goal.
WooCommerce Is Missing the Mark
Adam…you just said WooCommerce is a positive. Why is it now a negative? Well that is for a couple of reasons. While I think ARMember is headed into that direction, WooCommerce addon and the documentation is not very helpful. You are suppose to go to ARMember>Add-ons>Activate WooCommerce and the world opens up. Well, kind of. I made an attempt at this morning over tea and my results we defeating. It clearly states in the documentation that only Free, Lifetime, One time, and Semi-Automatic subscriptions are allowed. Well I have mine set to monthly so my assumption is that I can’t use WooCommerce. This is probably still be figured out and I expect in future versions for this get better. As of right now I have 2 shopping carts essentially and that can be really confusing. Not only do I have 2 carts, but I have 2 pages with each ARMember and WooCommerce each having a profile and an account page. We are witnesses the beginning of something great, but in many cases this makes me wish I didn’t put so much effort in building WooCommerce into the site.
My List of Must Fix
I want to help ARMember along and I have gone back and forth support on many items as I found them. I don’t expect instant results and neither should you. Developing is a difficult task for sure. So my quick list of features I would like to see in the future are:
- WooCommerce integration for monthly subscriptions.
- Menu items, that don’t include the form number in the title.
- Outgoing HTTP request to HTTPS, I submitted the ticket but can’t see if it’s been fixed.
- Better looking profiles and profile integration with WooCommerce and bbPress.
This list might seem harsh, but I still plan on using it even with these issues because I believe in this product and that is something I will live with.
If you think you have a site that someone would register and pay you for then this is what you want. Even just to offer certain things to a group of people like those that might be donating through Patreon then it’s worth the learning curve. If you asked me 6 months ago if I would turn this into a membership site the answer would have been no. Looking back is always 20/20 and I want to offer a bit more to those that support what I am doing. Without question, blogging and creating content is my choice and I don’t expect money in return. It’s the internet and everyone wants something. I am abandoning Patreon in exchange for membership. It is basically the same without all the juicy rewards but perhaps that will make it into this as well. I don’t know what I could give to you, but I do plan on writing books sometime soon. If I missed anything major in this review please let me know in the comments and I will go back to add it and give you credit for the correction. We’ll leave the minor things out for now though. In my judgement this is one of the best plugins out there at the moment and I can say that I support their efforts 100%. Check it out and if you think you can put it to work then grab this.