There are a few options for creating membership sites using Ontraport. This article will walk you through the decision-making process and get you started with the most appropriate solution for you.

Spoiler Alert: If you’re looking for the quickest and easiest way to launch a membership site, the answer is simple: Use Ontraport Membership Sites and get started with these instructions.

Two ways to manage membership in Ontraport

  • WordPress + PilotPress
    A long time ago, Ontraport created a WordPress plugin called PilotPress which is used to create membership sites using WordPress and to integrate those sites with Ontraport. It’s a very robust, flexible solution that is used by thousands of sites and continues to be actively developed.
    The drawback is that both PilotPress and WordPress are complicated to learn, set up, manage and use. While the sky is basically the limit when it comes to the flexibility that PilotPress offers, if you’re not already very familiar with WordPress, you can expect it to take quite an effort to launch a new membership site.
  • Ontraport Membership Sites
    In 2019, we launched Ontraport Membership Sites, which allows users to create complete membership sites using the Ontraport Pages tool alone — no WordPress necessary.
    The advantages of this are many: It’s much easier to set up and manage, your site is invulnerable to the security issues that plague WordPress, there’s no need to integrate plugins, and so on. But, then again, the WordPress + PilotPress combo does have advantages that make it the right choice for certain users.

How do you decide?

There are two key parts to building a membership site:

  • You have to build the pages of the site, using a web page building tool.
  • You have to protect the pages, and show them only to authorized visitors.

You’re going to have to decide which tools to use for each of those.

There are two main decisions to make:

  • Do you want to build your pages using Ontraport Pages or WordPress?
  • Do you want to protect your pages using Ontraport Membership Sites or WordPress + PilotPress?

There are advantages and disadvantages to each, so we’ll walk you through them.

Question 1

Do you want to build your pages using Ontraport Pages or WordPress?

Use Ontraport Pages if… Use WordPress if…
  1. You want to get the most out of your Ontraport account.
  2. You don’t want to have to deal with hosting and common WordPress problems.
  3. You want to be able to personalize your pages for each visitor.
  4. You value simplicity and easy setup.
  5. You want our team to always be able to help you when problems arise.
    Note: even if you use the Ontraport Pages builder, you can still embed them on a WordPress site if you wish.
    Recommended for most users!
  1. You are already committed to a WordPress theme or page builder for some reason.
  2. You need absolutely unlimited flexibility and have a developer (or you are one) to support you when problems arise.
  3. You don’t want Ontraport to host your site for you.
If you choose to use Ontraport Pages, read on below. If you choose this option, you must also use PilotPress to protect your content, so you can skip the rest of this page and go here for setup instructions.

Question 2

Do you want to protect your pages using Ontraport Membership Sites or WordPress + PilotPress?

This will determine what tool you’ll use to manage users’ login, password setup and reset, and other member management needs. Tip: Ontraport Membership Sites is much slicker.

Use Ontraport Membership Sites if… Use WordPress + PilotPress if…
  1. You don’t require the features that are only available in PilotPress, which are listed on the right.
    Recommended for most users!
  1. You require your members’ user names to be synched with your WordPress user database.
  2. You require the use of Ontraport’s Partner Center.
    (Note: this feature is coming to Ontraport Pages in the near future!)
  3. You require your membership site to have navigation links which are hidden from users who don’t have access to a particular page.
    (Honestly, if this is the only reason you want to use PilotPress, don’t do it. It’s not worth the complexity.)
  4. You require extremely granular show/hide content functionality.
    (Ontraport Membership Sites also offers this, but at a somewhat less granular level.)
If you choose to use this option, and you’re going to build your pages in Ontraport (see above question), then you don’t need WordPress at all!
Click here to learn how to get started.
If you require any of the above, you’ll need to use PilotPress to protect your pages.
Click here for instructions.