s2Member Paid Membership Plugin for WordPress


WordPress is great for multi-users and for creating blog sites. But what if you want to monetize it so you can charge for subscriptions? There are some plugins available, this one we found to be not only free, but fully featured.

Of all the ones tested, this was the most complete out-of-the-box, and had the most documentation, with over 50 help videos. The documentation is excellent, but I found the first few steps to be time consuming with trial and error. Here is a quick-start guide to s2Member:

Step 1: Installation

Installation is the same simple installation that all the WordPress plugins use. Go to “Add New” under the Plugin section of the administrator dashboard. Search for s2Member®. Choose to install it and it’s done.

Or you can download it from this link and install it manually.

The s2Member menu will be added to the dashboard:


Step 2: Become comfortable with S2Member configuration

Configuration is a complicated process with a plugin like this with so many features and levels. There are a lot of decisions to make. Start with the QuickStart Guide at the top of the page.


There are 55 tutorial videos, and you can watch them all before you start, or view them as you need them. To get the basic setup fully configured, though, just go down through the following sections and make choices.


Each section opens an explanation of what happens, with instructions on the choices you need to make and guides on how to implement them.

Step 3: Start with General Options and continue down the list


Each time you click on an item in the menu, you will see another list of configurations options to work with for that section. Just like the Quick Start Guide, each section expands to give you details about each step.


There will be an explanation of the option, a field for making the choice, the recommended setting, and a link to more information if you need more explanation.

Step 4: Create two pages for registration


Go to Pages > Add New in the dashboard and create two pages that you will need to refer to later during configuration.

1. Welcome Members Page – create and/or choose an existing Page to use as the first page Members will see after logging in. This special Page will be protected from public access ( automatically ) by s2Member. You don’t need to put much on the page yet. “Welcome New Member” would work for now.

2. Members Options Page – create and/or choose an existing Page that showcases your Membership subscription options. This special Page is where you will insert the PayPal® Subscription Buttons generated for you by s2Member. This Page serves as your signup page. It should detail all of the features that come with Membership to your site, and provide a PayPal® Subscription Button for each Level of access you plan to offer. This is also the page that Users will be redirected to, should they attempt to access an area of your site that requires Membership.

Step 5: Set up a PayPal sandbox


Before you can fully test the site you need a way to create the pay buttons. In the Pro version of this software, you can use other payment gateways, but the free version is restricted to PayPal.

You don’t need an actual PayPal account to setup a sandbox (which is strictly a test environment so you can see if everything is working.)

Go to https://developer.paypal.com and set up an account and create two test accounts.

  1. Merchant Test Account
  2. Customer Test Account

After you have those, go to the API Section and write down the API Information so you can enter it later.

Step 6: Set your membership labels


Go to General Configuration > Membership Levels/Labels and add your levels. The free version comes with 5 levels, the pro version allows unlimited levels.

You should decide what you are going to name them and figure out the pricing and features of each so you will have the information handy when you go to create the PayPal buttons.

Step 7: Add your PayPal account details and set other paypal options


From s2Member®>PayPal® Options go to the top of the page and expand the PayPal® Account Details section.

Enter the PayPal information you wrote down in step 2. Or if you’re ready to go live, enter your actual PayPal® API information in this section.

Step 8: Create Your PayPal buttons


From s2Member>PayPal® Buttons, expand the sections button levels and create buttons for the levels you want.

IMPORTANT: * Buttons are NOT saved here. This is only a Button Generator. Once you’ve generated your Button, copy/paste it into your Membership Options Page. If you lose your Button Code, you’ll need to come back & re-generate a new one. If you’re in Sandbox Test-Mode, and you’re NOT using the Shortcode Format, please remember to come back and re-generate your Buttons before you go live.

Step 9: Fill out the PayPal options and generate the code


Paste the Shortcode in the Members Options page you created.

Step 10: Place the button code in the membership page


Put any html, pictures or text you want to describe your offer on this page, and then publish it.


When you view the page you will see your description plus the PayPal buttons. You are now ready to test or take subscriptions. If you’re in sandbox mode, you can try it out and judge your user experience before going live. Just be sure to regenerate all your buttons and copy the new codes into this page.

Step 11: Fix the design and content of the membership page


Once you have your s2Member® -> General Options configured, and you’ve got a good understanding for how things work, go back and customize the title and content for this Page. You’ll want to be creative with your Login Welcome Page. However, you should configure your General Options first, and test things out. That way you’ll understand why this page is important.


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Ravi Attri

It is very helpful


We’re glad you found it useful, Ravi! 🙂

Kind regards,


Lesley Austin


This was so useful. I very much appreciate the screenshots and step-by-step. It helped me so much in going through this process with more confidence than I usually have with WP.

I’ve reached the end of the tutorial and successfully put a test order through, received the two emails from Paypal in my test customer account about payment, but nothing in those emails seems to give my customer a place to get started with profiles and getting to know the site and such. So I am left feeling that this didn’t really give me a true customer experience and wonder if I’ve left something out?


Hi Lesley,

Sorry we missed your comment. If you ever need support in the future, [url=http://www.ostraining.com/support-forum]www.ostraining.com/support-…[/url] is the place to go.

Kind regards,



Hi, I was also playing around with s2Member + PayPal SandBox.

I was wondering: Did you ever succeed to make the “subscr modification button” work? (to allow a free subscriber to “subscribe” and be promoted to s2Member level #1, say, WITHOUT BEING DIRECTED TO THE REGISTRATION PAGE after the PayPal transaction)

My experiments (again, meanwhile with PayPal SandBox activated) always led the already existing user to REGISTER for a new username after completing the checkout with PayPal 🙁 which entirely misses the point of a “subscription modification button”. 🙁


Hi and welcome, Yaniv!

That’s a good question! We would love to get into a discussion with you on this. If you are a student at [url=http://ostraining.com]ostraining.com[/url], please log into the support forum ([url=http://www.ostraining.com/support-forum/)]http://www.ostraining.com/s…[/url] and post the question in there, so that one of our support techs can look into it for you. If you’re not a student, I hope you’ll consider becoming one, so that we can give you the attention you deserve. You can find out more about our online class at [url=http://www.ostraining.com/online]www.ostraining.com/online[/url]

Kind regards,



What I understand is that both the registration page as well as the login page have to be filled with the content for registration/login. How do I do that. This tutorial does not show that.

FWIW, I am struggling with this part for two days now and I want to finish it now.

I have more work to do.


Hello everyone,

Please somebody tell me how to make the form display in the LOGIN page..

Is there any short code to do this ??

Please help me Im quite confused …



Can you tell me how can I update user role after paypal payment?

3Zachary Romanelli

Creative blog post – I Appreciate the insight . Does someone know where my assistant could access a template CA BOE-230 copy to edit ?


Can you use S2 member plugin without making use of paypal, our payment would happen via a different channel? Can you setup your levels differently in that way?


s2Memberships now allows you to select Stripe as an option instead of Paypal.  

They also have something call Pro-Forms & according to their s2Member Pro-Forms blog, “You can integrate with services like Stripe™, PayPal Pro, and Authorize.Net.”  You might want to give that a look: [url=https://s2member.com/kb-article/s2member-pro-forms/]s2Member Pro-Forms[/url]

Also, here is a link to a blog that tells you how to configure your payment gateway for using something other than PayPal.  You might find some useful info: [url=https://s2member.com/kb-article/configuring-s2member-payment-gateways/]Click for blog[/url].

You might also want to try a Free Registration Form instead.  This would allow you to create members without having them pay: See WordPress Dashboard → s2Member (Pro) → PayPal Pro-Forms → Free Registration Forms

Note: If you’re not going to use PayPal, simply ignore the PayPal configuration & generate the Free Registration Pro-Forms.

Hope this helps!


Thank you mikall@OST.


My pleasure!


Two questions before I install the S2 member plugin:

1.  After installing, can I do my design and configuring without making it live?  If yes, how do I do that?
2.  Can one de-register members who have registered via the free login page as my payment for membership happens via invoices provided to clients?

Your input is appreciated.


[url=https://s2member.com/kb-article/configuring-s2member-general-options/]Here is a blog post[/url] from s2Membership that might shed light on the configuring process. You simply publish the plugin when you are ready to take it live.

Referring to expiring a member account, you might want to try this method: According to a forum response, “s2Member has an EOT time field in the user profile, which you can edit manually to add a date of expiration.”

Not to imply this is the only way to deactivate a member, you would have to download and play around with the plugin to discover what all is available in that regard.


I would like to test play around with the S2 member plugin on a sub domain of a multi site.  It is asking me to configure the multisite but S2 member free edition doesn’t have that configuration option. Is there any way to bypass this or configure with a licence. Many thanks

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