This post was originally written in 2010… back when I still used Wishlist Member. As I write these words in 2019, I am going back and updating older posts. I will leave this here for posterity, but you can enjoy the evolution of my membership site.
You can check out my most recent look at Wishlist Member (for 2020) here. Enjoy!
Today has been hectic.
Aside from some unusual family distractions, I’ve had to deal with a last-minute switch to a different membership site solution. And that’s about as fun as slamming a finger in the door.
I’m switching away from Wishlist Member. Wishlist is a pretty popular WordPress plug-in for “out of box” membership sites. A lot of people like it. Plus, as a subscriber of mine pointed out to me, I actually promoted it to my email list last week. So, it makes pretty odd timing that I’m ditching it.
I figured I’d post a quick explanation. Plus, I also want to emphasize the fact that my position on Wishlist Member is, shall I say… nuanced. 🙂 I am NOT going to throw Wishlist under the bus. It works for many people. I’m just not one of them.
Table Of Contents
It All Started When…
… I installed Gravity Forms. I noticed that the conflict list distributed with Wishlist Member listed Gravity Forms as a conflicting plug-in. I could find no information about this, but was later told privately by Stu (founder of Wishlist) that there is no conflict. So, I figured I needed to just upgrade.
Yesterday, they released a brand new version of Wishlist Member. So, I upgraded. And all hell broke loose. My database load went through the roof and it literally ended up crashing all of my websites by choking it on high server load.
I thought that it HAD to be a coincidence. I mean, how could a plug-in do that? But, after testing, it definitely seemed to be Wishlist Member. When I de-activated it, server load recovered. Re-activated it, it shot up. Doesn’t get any more definitive than that.
Now, is it solely Wishlist? I don’t know. Perhaps it is a conflict with another plug-in and the situation is unique to me, but still…. this is a deal killer.
Pile On To Other Limitations
Even before this, I had a few issues with Wishlist Member. For example, depending on your payment solution, there wasn’t any full integration. This means that when somebody canceled, I had to manually cancel them inside of Wishlist Member.
There is no member account page where people can easily view/manage all information related to their account.
It did a crappy job protecting my private content from my RSS feed. I actually ended up having to hack up the RSS code a bit to deal with that. Which means if I update the WordPress core, I had to go back and fix it again.
Here’s The Thing…
I think it is possible that my demands on Wishlist Member might have been a little much. I think I introduced a lot of complexity because I was trying to keep free and paid content all on the same blog. Using a “walled garden” setup is MUCH easier.
Plus, it is highly likely that my issue with server load was atypical and probably wouldn’t be easily reproduced by the Wishlist Member guys. I was invited to submit a support ticket to them about it, but alas, I was in a hurry. I had to disable Wishlist Member to even keep my server on the Internet, and I had an active membership program to run.
So, in the end, I decided to jump ship and switch to…
Yes, I switched to Amember Pro, using WordPress as my CMS in a “walled garden” setup. I have a history with Amember, having used it on 3 other membership sites already. I know the product fairly well.
Amember isn’t exactly the easiest solution in the world. Wishlist is MUCH easier. That said, Amember works dependably once you’ve got it set up. It’s like an old Toyota pickup… it might not be pretty, but it’ll work for a long time. 🙂
I checked out Digital Access Pass (DAP), and it looks to be a pretty worthy alternative as well. For me, though, I wanted to stick with something I already knew. And that’s Amember. I know I can get set up quickly with Amember, whereas I’d have to re-learn a bunch of things to use DAP.
So, In The End…
Let me be clear…. I’m not going to come out today and crap on Wishlist Member. I may use it again in the future on a fresh, from-scratch project. Wishlist is indeed super easy to use.
I just don’t think Wishlist is nearly as mature as many of the other solutions out there. Works for many, but not everybody.
Update: June 2011
Since I don’t show dates on my blog posts, it might appear as if this is an up-to-date post. It isn’t, and my position has changed since this was originally written. 🙂
This post was written in September of 2010. Today, about 9 months later, I have completely reversed myself and am now using Wishlist Member on all but one of my sites (and soon, the remaining one will be switched over as well).
As I said above, Wishlist DOES indeed work better if it is used as a standalone installation. So, give yourself a separate install of WordPress for your membership site, set up Wishlist and you’ll be happy. In my case, I have integrated it with Nanacast, and I have full integration. At the time of the original post, I was using 1Shoppingcart and there was no full integration, but they have even fixed that. So, if you use 1SC, there is full integration now and cancelations are handled automatically.
So, if you happen upon this post, just know… things have changed. Wishlist is now what I recommend to people. And I’m using it myself rather than Amember Pro. So much easier.
Update: November 2015
Whew! A lot has changed. Well, I’ve now reversed myself again – and no, I am no longer using Wishlist Member.
In fact, my entire business here at Blog Marketing Academy has now shifted to a membership site model and, for that reason, the tools I use internally were VERY important choices for me to make.
Update: January 2019
In case you hadn’t yet clicked that link above, I’ll let you in on the secret…
I use MemberMouse.
And in a testament to MemberMouse, yes I am still using it here in 2019.
Truth is, there are a lot of membership plug-ins out there for WordPress. Wishlist Member was one of the first. It is still out there and people use it, however it has definitely fallen from grace as the primo solution it was once considered. I’m sure it is still a perfectly workable product, however there’s now so much competition that there are better solutions.
A few of the solutions include MemberPress, Digital Access Pass, AccessAlly and s2 Member. There’s even some which were built to work on conjunction with specific platforms, such as ActiveMember360 which is specifically for sites using Active Campaign.
But, I’ve built my business on MemberMouse and I’m pretty happy with it. I find it to be the most powerful membership solution for WordPress out there. Truly enterprise-class. My entire business runs with MemberMouse at the core.
Update: March 2020
I have taken a new, fresh look at Wishlist Member. And I specifically made some comparisons to how it stacks up to a tool such as MemberMouse. Check it out: