Why Would You Enable User Registration on a WordPress Site? And How

In case you didn’t know, there’s one really basic feature in WordPress, and it has been there since forever (at least as far as I can remember).

I’m talking about user registration, or more accurately, publicly available (free-for-all) user registration.

Just to get the basics out of the way, let me quickly explain the process of enabling this on any WordPress site.

Just go to your admin panel > Settings > General. There, you can see a checkbox labeled as “Anyone can register” (image below).


Well, the label is pretty self-explanatory so I guess I don’t need to add anything here.

There’s also a dropdown list where you can choose the default role for every new user. This is most likely set to Subscriber, but you can choose any other role WordPress has to offer. Although it’s hard for me to see the sense in assigning someone to the role of Administrator, for example.

Once you set your blog to accept new users, your standard login page will display new link inviting people to register:


Now, this is all fine … but what’s the point of enabling this in the first place? And also, is the default solution the best possible one to use? Let’s start with some core info.

Basics of user registration in WordPress

The basic functionality WordPress has to offer enables anyone to register, so there’s not much you can do in terms of restricting access. Basically, if someone is clever enough to figure out the registration URL (which is yourdomain.com/wp-login.php?action=register) then they can get a shiny new account.

The only question here is why.

First of all, there are only two roles that make sense for new users: Subscriber, and Contributor.

The former has basically no privileges at all. The only thing a subscriber can do is manage their own profile (they can access the admin panel, section Users > Your Profile).

The latter allows users to create new posts and then submit them for review. However, once the post gets approved for publication the user can no longer edit it. Also, they don’t have access to anyone else’s content.

Other roles, like Author, Editor, etc. allow users to publish posts on their own (with no supervision). This means that if you enable this free-for-all registration on your blog and assign people to anything above Contributor, you’re in trouble.

Now, let’s talk benefits.

Why would you want to enable this?

There are a couple of reasons why you should consider enabling user registration.

1. It’s a great way to work with guest bloggers

Guest blogging is a fairly common thing to do in the blogosphere. No matter if you’re a guest poster or a blog owner accepting guest posts.

We all know that guest posting requires much time and effort. You have to write a quality post, pitch it to the blog owner, send it and convince that person to publish it.

However, it’s also kind of time-consuming on the blog owner’s part. They have to receive your article, create a new post with it, make sure that the formatting is right, and they have to do all this before they can even examine the content itself.

Enabling user registration and assigning new users to the role of Contributor can help a lot here.

When you do this, you can just create a guest post guidelines page on your blog, list all the requirements there, and link to your registration page. Once someone finishes their post, they can submit it for review and you’ll be notified immediately. Now you can easily review the post and decide its fate.

Then, feel free to ignore other guest posting requests that come through any other channel.

2. You can create a membership site

Maybe not a full-blown membership site, but you can have some premium sections that only registered users can visit. (This can be done when you register users as Subscribers or Contributors.)

Now, WordPress allows you to set any given post to be Private (image below), but this won’t do you any good here because private posts are only visible to other Editors and Admins (also, there’s password protection which is a whole another story).


Despite this small counterintuitive thing you can still offer premium content by creating a simple page template and using this line somewhere inside the template:

if ( current_user_can('read') ) { /* whatever a Subscriber can see */ }

Depending on your site’s purpose, having some simple premium content can be a nice thing. However, if you want something more complex and feature-rich I would advise trying out the WP-Members plugin.

It allows you to turn any WordPress site into a membership site. It’s actually a complete (and free) membership management framework for WordPress.

3. You can offer extra bonuses

This is somewhat similar to a membership site, but the purpose is slightly different. A membership site is about providing premium content usually in big packages or other well thought through forms and formats. Whereas an extra bonus is something a lot simpler.

You might, for example, say that every registered user gets a special code that takes 10% off their order (if the site sells something). Or you can even display special deals that only your registered users can take advantage of. (Can be done with the code mentioned above.)

The whole point of that is not just to let people in on some deals. It’s actually to get them subscribed and included on your list. That way you can contact them whenever you please through email and send even more stuff (stuff as in content, promotions and offers; in that order).

This approach is actually what the last benefit on the list is about.

4. You get a great marketing tool

Contacting people through email or other direct means is one of the best marketing vehicles online – a fact that’s probably just as old as internet marketing itself.

There are many ways you can use a WordPress blog for this. Like, for example, you can sign up to MailChimp and use a simple subscription form on your blog. But you can also include the registration process in the middle of your approach. That way, you’re getting more user interaction and making it easier for them to bond with your site.

Again, I’m just listing the possibilities, the actual ways of implementation can differ a lot, and it’s not certain that everything will work for you, your niche, and site, so feel free to experiment.

Where and how

The how-to part is very simple here and I actually covered it in the introduction. (In a nutshell: All you have to do is enable user registration in your admin panel and you’re good to go.)

The only thing we have to discuss now is where to place your registration form.

By default, WordPress provides a standard form that’s similar to the login form. This can be found at: yourdomain.com/wp-login.php?action=register and it looks like this:


However, you can build a more custom solution that’s probably more user friendly at the same time.

One path you can go is with the aforementioned WP-Members plugin.

You can configure it to display inline (login and registration) forms with content rather than assign them to separate pages.

This way, if someone tries to visit a page that they don’t have credentials for, they’ll be presented with a login/registration form instead. This is a very user friendly solution and it makes things much simpler.

(The plugin also provides a standard login and registration pages, in case you want to be able to give someone a permalink instead of directing them to a premium content page.)

Another plugin I’d like to mention is Theme My Login. This one is for making your login.php in tune with your current theme.

One of the standard usability problems is that the login page is often completely different from the rest of the site. When a new user navigates to such a page it feels like they are in a completely different place (especially for users with no WordPress experience).

The plugin takes care of your login, registration, and forgot password pages. It also provides a custom sidebar widget, which is very handy for encouraging registration right from the frontend of the site.

Additional safety

One final thing you can do when enabling user registration is to force every new account to be manually approved by you – the administrator. This can be handy when working with guest bloggers (Contributors). Not that much when it comes to random Subscribers, though.

Anyway, a plugin called New User Approve can help you with that. Quite simply, it acts as a middleman in the standard registration process.

That’s all on my part when it comes to enabling user registration in WordPress. What’s your experience with this? Have you ever considered using this feature?


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there are 34 comments added

  1. mishkin 31st July 2013

    Nice article. I have a bunch of premium plugins for user profiles, custom fields, user management..etc So enabling user registration is a no brainer for any community driven website.

  2. Joe 7th August 2013

    Great article, I have been thinking that I should enable user registration for my site. So this definitely helps, Thanks!

  3. Nelieta 2nd October 2013

    Thank you for the information. I noticed recently that I had a lot of subscribers to my site and was wondering if this is spam related or a good thing. I like the membership idea and will look into it.

  4. Irina @ wandercrush 8th March 2014

    This was extremely informative, as I've been confused about where these registration emails have been coming from and whether I should turn off the user registration option or not. Looks like there isn't much to gain from keeping it on if I'm running a personal food blog, which is good to finally figure out! Cheers.

  5. Hudson 16th March 2014

    I created a blog in November 2013. There is not much content. I did not even complete it. I just left it. Fast forward 3 and a half months later and I find that I have been getting many "user registration".emails from my hostgator. I have no idea how they registered in the first place. I haven't even created any "subscribe" button on any of the pages on my blog.. Can you explain how they get to register as user? Where did they find my blog? Is it through Google SEO? Bear in mind that my blog is not even completed.. Thanks, Hudson Malaysia

  6. Sarang 21st March 2015

    thanks Karol, very nice article indeed!

  7. weightgate 19th August 2015

    Considering Hudson's comment; how did the users feet registered on abareky completed site. I have a site that got over 100 users in less than two weeks of being online. Checking Google analytics, my blog rarely gets much traffic. So, where do they come from? An answer to this will be nice. Thank you.

  8. Crumbsforall 19th August 2015

    I like your article; pretty straightforward to follow and learn from. As I have a couple of users, I'll definitely consider offering then membership/giving them freebies so as to make them paying customers. Thank you.

  9. Nitin 21st August 2015

    This was informative, I was so confused about how and why to use this feature. You explained it very well. thank you

  10. Sandro 23rd September 2015

    On a new customer blog, we had about 25 subscribers signup on the first day, why so many people are seeking the blogs subscription? What are the advantages on doing it??? Thank you.

  11. Gaurav 21st October 2015

    Really confused between Newsletter and Login option for my blog

  12. Cydne 16th December 2015

    Many have been asking about why people are registering on blogs with low activity. They are most likely spam-bots that are registering so that they can post comments. So the options mentioned above for creating memberships are useful, as is adding a Captcha plug-in or the Bad Behavior plug-in.

  13. vsk 24th March 2016

    How to disable default registration link and add custom registration link?

    • Hi, Thanks for the question. As far as I know, in order to change the registration link you should install the iThemes security plugin (https://wordpress.org/plugins/better-wp-security/) and check its 'Settings'/'Hide Login Area". Check the box for 'Enable the hide backend feature' and then customize your registration slug: follow this screenshot: https://static.md/9177f50ba52919a2d1308946d57b08e5.png

  14. Eric Klee 17th July 2016

    Helpful Article. It answered the question I was thinking about when I stumbled across it. To add to the value of registering, I found Custom meta widget plugin allows a little customization to get rid of fields you don' want. I was able to solve the need to give higher user authority, by employing a plugin called User Submitted Posts. It allows any registered user to post an article, without granting access to other stuff.

    • Hey Eric, We're glad you've got something useful from this article.

  15. tushar 16th September 2016

    thanks karol for this article

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  30. eackley 22nd December 2017

    I just saw your site and this question through a Google search. If I have registered users (Subscribers), is it okay to email them my regular weekly email?

    • Sure thing. You can interact with them if they gave you their e-mail addresses.

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