If you’re a WordPress user who runs multiple sites, there are a few reasons why you might want to manage them from one central place. For example:

  • Your sites have the same set of users
  • You want to use the same plugins, themes, and/or custom code on all of your sites
  • You want to allow users to set up their own sites on your network

If any of these situations apply to you, a multisite could be very beneficial.

What is WordPress Multisite?

A multisite network is a collection of sites that all share the same WordPress installation. They can also share plugins and themes.

— via WordPress.org Codex

If you want to create a multisite with WordPress and manage all of your sites from a single installation, you’ll first need to create a network on that installation. All of your sites will exist on this network, collectively forming a single multisite.

Here are a few more basics about multisites:

  • All of your sites use the same codebase but have different database tables. However, wp_users and wp_usermeta will be shared across the entire network.
  • Your sites can be either subdomains or subdirectories.
  • You can utilize domain mapping across your different sites
  • Plugins installed at the network level are available to any site on the network
  • You can activate a plugin across your entire network (or “Network Activate” a plugin)
  • Themes that are installed and enabled at the network level are available to all sites

So, let’s say you want to run a multisite using Paid Memberships Pro. How do you do it?

In this post, we’ll take a closer look at three different methods for using PMPro across a multisite network and how to implement each method.

Network and Multisite Mega Post Banner Image

First, Paid Memberships Pro Cannot be “Network Activated”

Some plugins allow you to “network activate” across the entire network. However, Paid Memberships Pro cannot be network activated.

Using a membership plugin on your multisite network means something different for each use case. So, we’ve built a restriction into our core plugin to not allow network activation.

This post covers various ways to use Paid Memberships Pro with your network site, the most basic of which is: treat each site in the network as a separate install and only activate the plugin on each install you need to.

Paid Memberships Pro is fully compatible with the multisite environment. Keep reading to learn how to properly configure PMPro based on your specific multisite network needs.

Paid Memberships Pro + WordPress Multisite

Let’s cover the three main ways to use PMPro with a multisite

1. Run PMPro Separately on Each Individual Site

This is the most basic way to use Paid Memberships Pro in your multisite network—and is the best method if you want to have separate Paid Memberships Pro environments for each of your subsites.

Activate Per Site Needed - Membership to a Single Network Site

Simply install the plugin via Network Admin > Plugins > Add New.

Then, edit a specific site in your network. Hover over My Sites in the left side of the admin bar, select a site from the dropdown, and click Dashboard.

From here, you can treat the site as a standalone installation. Navigate to Plugins, locate “Paid Memberships Pro” in the list, and click Activate. Now you are ready to begin the Initial Plugin Setup.

A site visitor can sign up for membership at any site in your multisite network the same way as they could if it were a single site. Users who purchase a membership to more than one site in your network will use the same user account (username and password) to log in to any site in the network.

2. Use PMPro to Charge Customers to Create New Subsites on the Network

This method will enable you to automatically create a network site for any member who purchases a membership to your main site using the Member Network Sites Add On.

Member Network Sites Add On - Sell/Create a Network Site at Checkout
Screenshot of Multisites attached to one member

Once configured, members can purchase a membership at the network’s main site (the primary domain of the network) and specify the “Site Name” and “Site Title” for their new site on the network.

Any sites attached to a member will be deactivated if they cancel or their membership expires.

You can limit and pre-configure the themes and plugins available to these subsites by following this tutorial.

A member’s site on the network can also come with the PMPro plugin already installed and activated. For example, some businesses use this Add On to sell an online training bundle site, where the site owner can then set up PMPro and create their own membership site in the network.

Member Network Sites Add On Docs and Download

3. Use a Single PMPro Installation to Manage Memberships Across the Entire Network

Do you want to sell membership access on your main site that will automatically provide access to members-only content on one or more sites throughout your entire multisite network? You can do this with our Multisite Membership Add On.

Multisite Membership Add On - Membership Across the Network

For example, let’s say you have a network multisite dedicated to all types of pet care. You have a main site (www.petcare.com), as well as a site on the network for various type of pets (birds.petcare.com, cats.petcare.com, and dogs.petcare.com).

Using the Multisite Membership Add On, you could offer a membership to one specific pet’s subsite (Bird Level OR Cat Level OR Dog Level). Then, you could also offer a Premium Level that includes access to all of your pet care subsites.

With this method, all of the membership levels and users are managed on the main network site. The subsites use the main network site’s database to mirror the available membership levels and verify a user’s access permissions.

NOTE: Post category access permissions per membership level are not automatically shared across network sites. In this case:

  • You would have to set them up on each site one at a time.
  • We recommend avoiding locking posts down by categories, unless you have the same categories (in the same order with the same ids) across all sites.
  • Setting the same categories in the same order with the same ids should be done before “Multisite Membership” is activated on your new subsite.
  • You may also deactivate “Multisite Membership” on existing subsites, configure your categories in the same order with the same ids on the subsite and then reactivate “Multisite Membership”.

How to Configure the Multisite Membership Add On

  1. Install Paid Memberships Pro via Network Admin > Plugins > Add New. ⚠️ Remember: Do not “Network Activate” the plugin.
  2. On your main network site, activate and configure Paid Memberships Pro by following the Initial Plugin Setup guide.
  3. For each site in your network that has members-only content, navigate to the site’s Dashboard > Plugins. Then, activate Paid Memberships Pro AND the Paid Memberships Pro – Multisite Membership Add On.
Multisite Membership Add On Docs and Download

In summary

I hope this post helps you understand the various ways you can use Paid Memberships Pro across your multisite network. Configuring a multisite environment is an advanced WordPress process, and using the Add Ons described in this post may require custom code.

Need help with custom code? Whether you need a one-time quick project or want to establish a long-term engagement for full-scale development, there is a solution for you. Get in touch with one of our agency partners to extend or customize your membership site.