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Moment of Truth: aMember vs. Wishlist Member

Share the love & make a difference.

I'd like to give a big welcome to my good friend, Lynette Chandler who is going to answer an age-old question for us.

Amember or Wishlist: Which is the Better Program to Run YOUR Membership Site?

I'll pass the stage to Lynette…


Amember vs. Wishlist Member

by ~

Having worked behind the scenes of many membership sites since 2004 and also worked with both, I'd say I know a thing or two about them. If you are evaluating between aMember and Wishlist Member and asked my thoughts on them, this is more or less what I think.

Comparing Oranges And Lemons

Both systems allow you to set up gated content sites or sections, but aMember is actually more than that. aMember is designed to be a complete checkout-to-membership solution. It can generate order links that hook up to your payment processor like PayPal, and bring members back to log into the private member's area.

In contrast, Wishlist Member chose to leave the order processing part to shopping cart systems like 1ShoppingCart and focus on content protection. Sure if you're using PayPal only it can still work, just be prepared for some assembly to get it all up and running.

There's also this thing about one being a plugin and the other is a full standalone system.

Bottom line: If you don't already use a shopping cart system and you don't want to spend extra, you might be left with aMember.

Affiliates – The Bone of Contention

The lack of an affiliate program is one of the biggest reasons why people tell me they did not choose Wishlist Member. It is a good point yet, I also think one that is not entirely fair. Going back to what we discussed above, since Wishlist Member was designed to integrate with a shopping cart, I can only imagine it assumes the affiliate program would be better handled by the shopping cart itself.

Bottom line: If you are already using a shopping cart with a powerful affiliate system, it is best to handle affiliates internally and use Wishlist Member to do what is is best at. There are a lot of headaches trying to patch in an affiliate program where it wasn't designed to do so – spoken from experience.

WordPress

Everybody wants to do everything under the sun inside WordPress and why not? It's a great system. Considering Wishlist Member is a plugin for WordPress, by default it wins as far as integration goes.

At the time of writing, aMember has two plugins for WordPress integration. The old one is very limited and the only thing it is meant to do is create user accounts inside WordPress when a payment is made and remove them when payment is reversed or subscription canceled. No content protection. The new still in beta plugin for WordPress lets you protect content and manage user accounts.

Bottom line: Both can integrate with WordPress. At this time, aMember is slightly disadvantaged as the new and better plugin is still in beta.

Drip, Drip, Drip

Drip content or the ability to slowly release content over time is among the hottest requests. Wishlist Member can do this in a somewhat clumsy fashion. You need to set up multiple levels and ‘graduate' members through each level.

As for aMember, this feature can be accomplished using the Incremental Content plugin which is an extra cost.

Bottom line: Setup for drip content is easier in Wishlist Member and if you choose aMember, remember to factor in the extra cost.

Mixing And Matching

Sometimes there are things you want handled outside of WordPress. A forum is one example. At this time, WordPress forum options aren't exactly stellar. They work OK, just not as well as a native forum. In this area of connecting to other systems, aMember shines. You can use regular HTML, add a forum, use Moodle, WordPress or use all of them together if you wanted to.

Bottom line: If you will be integrating different systems aMember is it.

After All's Said And Done

There's so much to say about each of these systems, it's not possible to cover all in one post. Ultimately, don't focus too much on the software. Make your decision on how you envision your membership site to be. Note all your smallest and grandest plans for it. Then use that as your measuring stick instead of building the membership around a software's capabilities.

Lynette Chandler is founder of TechBasedTraining.com and has developed several quick, easily digestible training programs on both aMember and Wishlist Member. If you ever get overwhelmed where to begin with the setup and structure of your membership site, check out Lynette's training.


Hey guys and gals – If this is a little overwhelming, I understand.

First, there is NO perfect system.

Second, there is NO perfect system. 😉

Third, every day you waste trying to make a decision is a day you can't profit from it.

I've used Amember and currently have 3 sites using it. It's not perfect, but it is powerful and there are people who can help you set it up right.  Do I love it? Nah. Does it work? Yep! Especially now that I've gone through some of Lynette's training so I know what the heck I'm doing! 🙂

Speaking of which – Lynette has some training on each of the options above that I wanted you to know about in case you were considering either for your membership site.

Recommended Resources:

Rapid Wishlist Membership Site Development: Profit from a Wishlist powered membership site before the week is over.

Amember Power Series: Quick Membership Site Setup Kit

-> See more Training from Lynette here: Full List of Courses

I hope you enjoyed this! Please share your experience with either solution or ask your questions below.

Warmly,
Nicole Dean

26 Comments

  • Barry Wheeler
    Reply

    Great article.

    I currently was looking for something like this but wasn’t sure which to use because they wouldn’t easily integrate into WordPress. It sounds like aMember might be the one for me, especially if it support Affiliate marketing.

    Will it handle large membership sites? The one I currently own has over 30,000 people that visit each day!

    • Lynette Chandler
      Reply

      Hey Barry, I have to admit I haven’t worked with a membership site with over 10,000 paid members. Definitely something to consult amember support. Congratulations on your successful site though!

      If WP integration is of utmost importance keep in mind the new beta plugin for aMember integration is just that beta so it can change drastically with each release.

  • Glennette
    Reply

    Great post Nicole! I use and really like amember. One reason I chose it was because I am a member of numerous websites that use amember and I would inevitably get sucked into buying something else due to the “Add/Renew Subscription” tab. I like how you can see everything that’s available!

    It was also more user-friendly to me than wishlist. Maybe it’s because I’m a techie but I was able to get amember up and running faster than wishlist member. Admittedly, I need to look at WL again as it’s been a while and things may be different but that’s my experience with it. :o)

    P.S. It was great seeing you at NAMS6!

    Glennette Goodbread, Owner
    Premium Web – Marketing Help for Service Providers

  • Ken
    Reply

    Great article, thanks for the info. A few years back, I couldn’t decide either, so I bought Wishlist because I’d purchased previous software from that author.

    Sadly, I never implemented it. So your “every day you waste” comment is apropos.

    I’ll figure out what to do with it over the weekend! (Checking out the training)

    • Lynette Chandler
      Reply

      Hi Ken, thank you. I understand completely about putting it to use sometimes things get in our way… Keep in mind that you don’t have to create a full fledged membership. You could always use it to deliver unique content for ‘free members’ as a way to build your list. Or use it to deliver one time purchase products. Just a thought.

  • Donna Price
    Reply

    Hi Nicole-

    Thanks for great information. A question I have asked myself. I use WishList Member and am a member of several sites using AMember. For me, wishlist has been great. I think there is a learning curve to setting it up and getting it running. I use Clickbank for my affiliate program so am easily able to integrate wishlist with clickbank and aweber. I do provide a drip system of delivery for my program and have found it easy to set up the different levels and move people through the levels.

    As a member of AMember sites I have had some problems. I receive an email from the site ower with a special offer and I can’t access it because I am already a member, yet they are still emailing me the special offer.

    I also don’t always get in during the month to get a lesson and then it is gone. In wishlist I am able to set it up so that once you have paid for a lesson, it is there for you forever.

    I love the price of Wishlist — one time fee and not a monthly fee. I have been able to easily set up small sites quickly as membership sites, without the additional cost of AMember or another script.

    Like everything in life, there are pro’s and con’s to both. You have to know what you are trying to accomplish and figure out which tool will work best for your situation. Since both are good products and have successful sites its comes down to the individual buyer and their particular needs and skills.

    Thanks for bringing great conversations to the table, Nicole!!

    • Lynette Chandler
      Reply

      Yes, there you are right. It really all boils down to what will suit what you’re doing. Sounds like the site owner has mis-configured some things as for as the amember site you’re referring to.

  • Bill (LoneWolf) Nickeson
    Reply

    I’ve gone the Wishlist route. I looked at a few (not aMember thought — I wanted a WordPress solution). But I wanted the drip feed option to do fixed term membership courses. Wishlist seemed to be the best option.

    I’m a bit slow getting things set up since the kids are out of school and I’ve been Mr. Mom all summer 8=) But I like it so far.

    I’m also looking at adding a forum module to the site and that seems to be a bigger learning curve. But it seems pretty straight forward. I’m using Simple:Press so far, but that isn’t the focus at this point so it’s pretty much just sitting there at this point.

    I’ve tried Drupal for another project since I wanted to try a forum and it works fairly well. I like WordPress better than Drupal, but the WordPress forum plugins didn’t seem as strong back then as they do now.

    • Lynette Chandler
      Reply

      Hi Bill. bbPress is on it’s way to release a plugin version. Apparently it will be phasing out the standalone version. SimplePress is a great solution for heavy communities. I used that on one project and on a later one I took a chance and went with bbPress (beta) because I wanted something a lot simpler just as a support forum.

  • Glennette
    Reply

    Here’s another option that I discovered recently and wish someone would hire me to use *LOL* so I can play with it.

    http://cart66.com/features/subscriptions/

    Glennette Goodbread, Owner
    Premium Web – Marketing Help for Service Providers

  • Down Or Just Me
    Reply

    Great post! I wasn’t really familiar with all of the differences between aMember and Wishlist Member, but this totally cleared those up and I feel like I have a much better handle on it… Though I still haven’t decided which one’s best for me just yet!! 🙂

    Laurie

  • Jeanette Cates
    Reply

    Great summary, Lynette. I used amember for years, but made the switch to Wishlist when their features matched my needs. Comparing the two, I find Wishlist MUCH easier to use on a daily basis – both for me and for my members.

    If I were selling standalone products for download, then amember could work. But I set up sites that I want my members to log into repeatedly and USE the materials. And wishlist has the user-friendly setup mastered hands-down. Plus, with it being a WordPress plugin, my world is unlimited in terms of other plugins I can use to enhance it even more.

    For dripped content that I want to come out more than once a month, I use the WPDrip plugin from Robert Plank. Again much easier to use than even the Incremental Content from amember.

    It took me a while to make the switch from amember to wishlist – but I’ve never looked back. It was the perfect move for me.

    Jeanette

  • Bill (LoneWolf) Nickeson
    Reply

    bbPress was still in beta when I first looked at it. The thing I didn’t get was why it had trouble sharing member information with a WP site since it was developed by the same developers (or at least a subset).

    Working as a plugin will probably make it integrate much better. I’ll have to check it out at some point.

    • Lynette Chandler
      Reply

      I know right? That was the reason bbPress was never a strong contender for me until they came out with the plugin. It is a lot easier to install and use. Although I still think one major feature is missing – thread or new thread notification for admins.

  • JP
    Reply

    Hi,

    Good article. Would have been great to see pricing differences for each program, but that can easily be compared by going to the websites.

    Anyway, I’m leaning more towards Wishlist and wanted to know if it’s possible to have multiple Wishlist memberships running on just ONE domain.

    I’m building my brand in a niche and want to just use ONE domain.

    For example: MYNICHECENTER.com (not my actual domain)

    I have 3 different products that will all be sold on this domain and will all have memberships. For example:

    MYNICHECENTER.com/product(1)membershiparea
    MYNICHECENTER.com/product(2)membershiparea
    MYNICHECENTER.com/product(3)membershiparea

    These will all be separate memberships, since they are all separate products.

    Can I run multiple Wishlist memberships on just 1 domain like the above?

    Best,
    JP

    • Bill (LoneWolf) Nickeson
      Reply

      JP, in Wishlist you would just set up 1 membership site and create separate memberships within it. They can be completely separate or you can have them overlap where needed (and cross promoted).

      What you’re creating sounds similar to membership levels except that they don’t build on one another like levels do.

      I’m not sure how Amember would handle it, but I’m sure it would be very similar.

  • JP
    Reply

    Great Thanks a lot Bill…

    If I were to create just 1 membership site with separate memberships within it, would I be able to customize everything from graphics to layouts, etc., with those separate memberships?

    • Bill (LoneWolf) Nickeson
      Reply

      That can be done but it is a lot trickier. One possible solution is to look at the Headspace 2 plugin. It has tons of features, but one that you might find useful is the ability to have each page or post use a different WordPress theme.

      There will be issues with trying to do that, but the graphics will be easier to handle that way. You may have some trouble with menus and widgets if the themes you use don’t use the same names for menu and widget areas.

  • sanjay
    Reply

    recent client of mine uses wishlist and 1shopping cart. I was wondering between the two (amember and wishlist), glad you wrote this kind of post. Makes thing more clearer.

  • Ricki
    Reply

    Lynnette, thanks for clarifying the two. I get asked by many prospects which member system to use. I create a site that compares Wishlist, DAP, and WP-Member. I have no experience with AMember though.

    I really like how you explained that Wishlist Member expects a cart or Paypal to handle the recurring subscriptions. I have may small business associations and prospects who purchase it expecting an all-in-one solution.

    AMember is a solid system similar to DAP that integrates with WordPress, but can be used for a whole lot more.

    For small associations with limited money, I have pointed them to the WordPress Membership Plugin at http://premium.wpmudev.org/project/membership. It handles simple annual membership dues.

  • David
    Reply

    Great article Lynette. This is a very common question I get as well and theres no one size fits all answer. I still find amember more powerful, but wishlist definitely has a place, especially for those who like having everything in one interface.

    In the link to my name above, you’ll find an audio interview i did discussing the differences with Ken Gary (he wrote a plugin that hooks amember up with wordpress more effectively than the official one).

    Thanks,
    David

  • Jen Morgan
    Reply

    Thanks for the good and thorough review. I am using Wishlist Member plugin and I love it.

    You wrote about drip content:
    “Drip content or the ability to slowly release content over time is among the hottest requests. Wishlist Member can do this in a somewhat clumsy fashion. You need to set up multiple levels and ‘graduate’ members through each level.”

    I would like to mention a plugin called WP Drip which is very popular and easy to use plugin for dripping content. I love it and I know that many of my members are also using it. It can really make the process of dripping simpler.

    Many thanks again.

    Jen Morgan

  • bryan zazz
    Reply

    Hello everyone. I fell on this excellent article and comments without really trying, and very glad I did … must be one of those “lucky clicks” … hehe. Unlike most of the other posts, I am a developer-turned-marketer, so I was actually wearing my ‘dev’ hat reading your article and posts … I am the lead developer of a new tool you probably never heard about, but you probably will. We’ve been working on it for over a year now (project started in March 2011). It’s called Squizmore. It’s not a ‘membership tool’ per-se, more like an “Internet Marketing Platform” – long label which implies that it runs a number of tools, integrated, and of these “membership” is one of the toolset. Ok, hope this doesn’t sound too spammy – because it’s not my goal here, but I really like your article and posts, and wanted to contribute my little grain of salt… As a developer, reading what real users want and need is “golden” information. Squizmore is still in development, but some of the tools were being released recently and are quite useable, and we would definitely love to get some early feedback from this panel on our baby… You can get acquainted with it at squizmore.com – Thank you for your time!

  • Bob Tolbert
    Reply

    Great review! I’m using Wishlist Member and I love it since it is very simple to use.
    My team and I are developing plugins for Wishlist and I would love to hear your opinion regarding our new plugin: Wishlist Error Page Booster.
    This is the link to the site: http://wishlisterrorpagebooster.com
    Looking forward to hearing your opinion.
    Regards,
    Bob

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