Why I Switched Away From Wishlist Member

Awhile ago, I switched off of Wishlist Member. Find out why I switched to another platform, what I switched to… and what I am using today in 2019.

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. 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.

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…

Amember Pro

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.

Click Here to find out what membership site solution I am using now.

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.

About David Risley
David Risley is the founder of the Blog Marketing Academy, a 20-year veteran blogger and online entrepreneur. His focus? Building a reliable, recurring business around his "lifestyle" and the lives of his students. He has this weird obsession with traveling in his motorhome around the country with his wife and 2 kids. David also likes to talk about himself in the third person. In bios like this one. Read his full story.
  • Amanda says:

    Hey David! Big fan of the podcast! I’ve had WLM since 2016 when they were the best. But ever since Stu left to dig wells in Africa (can’t hate him) it’s gone to crap. It crashes my site so often and uses so much of my server resources that I MUST switch. I’ve looked at MemberPress and Kajabi. I’m currently, as in RIGHT this minute, trying to move over from WLM to Kajabi. Kajabi looks good, but I’m literally gonna have to input each and every one of my 500 members by hand. Yes, they allow a CSV import, but I’m just not seeing how I can format my WLM csv to their format. So far….ugh….getting WLM wasn’t the best idea. I honestly regret it. I wish I had gone with another provider that was committed to its customers for the long term.

    • David Risley says:

      Man, sorry to hear about the issues exporting stuff from Wishlist. If the issue is on the Kajabi side, then that would make me seriously re-consider Kajabi. Plus, to be frank, Kajabi is expensive and I’ve always been a little weery of all-in-one tools since I feel like they don’t specialize in anything. Just my opinion, of course.

      But yeah, one way or the other, time to ditch Wishlist Member.

  • Ike Paz says:

    Very disappointed with them.

    I got wishlist membership plugin for a site i had way back in 2011. Recently i decided to dust off my wishlist license for a new video training course i created .

    unfortunately, Im stuck with the 2011 version. If i want an update i have to pay.

    Im switching over to another membership provider.

  • Joan says:

    Wishlist member support is absolutely shocking

  • Bob Tolbert says:

    Hi David,

    I hope this will still be relevant for you since this is post is quite old but it is still very popular 🙂

    If you are still using Wishlist Member plugin, then my team has developed a plugin that automates the registration process to the site.

    So when members come back from the shopping cart they are automatically registered and logged-in to the site.

    Plus, all the details are sent to them through email.

    Also, we have added extra features according to our customers’ requests.

    The plugin is called Wishlist Auto Registration and it has been sold for about a year now with great success.

    I would love to give you a copy of the plugin in exchange for a review on your website.

    This is the plugin’s page:

    http://happyplugins.com/downloads/wishlist-autoregistration/

    Would love to hear your thoughts!

    Bob Tolbert

  • Russ says:

    Thanks for the reviews (and all the other content), Dave! I’m a bit confused: if you are using Nanacast, as suggested in your update, why would you also need Wishlist member, or any other membership plugin? Nanacast lists membership management as one of their many, many features. And, what do you think of Nanacast? Seems like all those features will fill our needs nicely, but respect your opinion. Thanks!

  • James says:

    Hey David, Thanks for this post. However, you might consider switching the title now that you have changed your mind. If I didn’t read through the whole post I wouldn’t be pursuing Wishlist Member integration on my site! Just a thought 😉

  • ashleysbooksRahn says:

    I am looking for membership software that allows customizing member profiles, or at least has a significant profile feature. I was set to get WLM but then read that the Profile plugin was only a giveaway to insiders and is not available to new customers. Interesting business model. Does DAP have a member profile feature?

  • Fred says:

    As of March 2012 I am still having issues with WLM especially in PDF file protection. I have used DAP in the past and think it’s a far superior membership solution and will probably go back to it before too long if I can’t get a reasonable response from WLM support.

  • David Hunt says:

    Am surprised that you are back with WLM as the newer versions are still overloading and crashing the server

    We have done full re installs and upgrades for over a year to no avail.
    WLM’s response same as it has been forever – no one else has this problem – get a bigger dedicated server – we have – now paying 20 times the amount for the same result

    • Mark says:

      David, this is very interesting to hear – I’m having a similar problem, everything in my WordPress install with Wishlist is super SLOW … 10-20 seconds for any page or post to load. My hosting company throttled my site because they said it was hogging resources on the server. WLM support says maybe it’s a “bad install,” even though they said it was a “bad install” last time I had a problem, which would make this the 3rd install. I’m tempted to dump them but I had wanted to launch in 10 days and have invested countless hours working on customizing it to my needs. But no one is going to stay a subscriber for long if they have to wait 20 seconds to go from page to page.

  • Wow. Confusing.

    I was just considering selling some e-courses via my site. I’ve got s2Member installed already becase I originally thought that I’d just have a membership section of my site, splitting free and premium posts. I’ve since decided this is an old and poor solution and prefer to give my best content away for free but have specific defined ‘products’ to sell such as consulting, books and e-courses.

    For e-courses I don’t think s2Member is up to the job as it doesn’t drip feed content or integrate with autoresponders as far as I can tell.

    So I looked into Wishlist member and also Profit Theme (heard of that) – I hadn’t heard of Amember but have now and will look that up too. It sounds like you’re saying after all the Wishlist is the one to go for – is that right?

    searching for wishlist again lead me here.

    I was going to go for wishlist particularly because I didn’t want a new ‘theme’ or separate site but that seems to be what you’re advising here. I guess that also brings OptimizePress into the picture.

    So to get this straight, what you recommend is wishlist, but using a separate domain, or would a sub-domain do?

    I don’t really understand the difference between domains and sub-domains so may end up just going for the former.  

  • Christopher says:

    David, thanks for the post. Yes, WLM is an easy to install plugin. While a recent post mentioned that no system does it all, WLM fails to deliver simple, basic membership features that most others consider standard business practice. For example, the way the renewal and merge functions are wired are particularly complex, and in my opinion, backwards. They have no auto reminder features for membership renewal. And, the delivery of their drip content is fairly illogical, in terms of standard web practices…among other issues. Another real downer for me was that while customer service for technical issues were generally prompt, most of the time they could never solve a problem or had to hand it off to their own developers, which sometimes took 10-14 days to hear anything back after I had bugged them on several occasions. Mostly, using WLM has been an embarrassment for me as their are always new gremlins in the software almost every time they upgrade to a new version. Just my two cents…

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