Growing Your Online Community with WordPress

WordPress is a versatile content management system that is perfect for setting up an online community. However, if you are only familiar with using WordPress for blogging, you may not know how to adapt it for a community website. Fortunately, there are a variety of plugins available that integrate seamlessly with WordPress and allow you to create any type of online community you can imagine. These tools can help you build fan sites, support networks, interest-based groups, and more.

In this article, we will discuss why you might want to create an online community and highlight some of the best plugins for doing so. We have carefully chosen these five plugins based on ratings, reviews, and key features. While this is not an exhaustive list, we believe these plugins are the best choices to get you started or help you expand your existing site.

Why Create an Online Community?

An online community is a platform where like-minded individuals can join together. These communities can be intended for support, networking, or just for fun. Creating your own community brings a number of benefits, whether you’re a business owner, a blogger, or just someone looking for a place to hang out online. For example:

– If you’re a business owner, it can help you to stand out among your competitors and more deeply engage your target audience.

– If you’re a blogger or influencer, you have the ability to reach out to a specific, niche audience and build a dedicated readership.

– No matter what your community site’s purpose is, you can control its content and design, unlike on a restrictive platform such as Facebook.

Of course, every community site has its own unique purpose and goals. Fortunately, WordPress makes it possible to design yours to meet your community’s needs with a number of useful plugins.

Top 5 Plugins for Building an Online Community

1. BuddyPress

BuddyPress enables you to create a social media network for your colleagues, special interest group, family, or anyone else. It offers a simple but customizable platform for building and engaging with your community. With BuddyPress, the members of your network can build personal profiles, connect with other users, and even create and interact within their own groups. You get all the benefits of your own, exclusive social media platform, without any coding required. The best thing about BuddyPress is that it’s free, and just like WordPress there are plenty of BuddyPress addons you can download for free or purchase to expand its core functionality.

2. User Submitted Posts

User Submitted Posts enables you to turn your WordPress site into a multi-author blog. This is similar to the BuddyPress-compatible plugin User Blog, but with more functionality. As a standalone plugin, User Submitted Posts is a great option for sites with a content focus. Whether you’re running a hobby group, industry community, or special interest website, your users can become part of the community by offering their own insight and experience. Of course, this plugin enables you to fully control the posts that are approved. To enable those posts, you simply need to copy and paste a shortcode onto a page, post, or widget. The plugin is free, and includes a basic submission form and limited support. However, you can upgrade to the premium version and receive a lifetime of updates, full support, and additional submission form customization options.

3. Mongoose Page Plugin

The Mongoose Page Plugin is a lightweight feed plugin that enables you to bring your active Facebook community – and all its followers – onto your WordPress site. With the addition of a shortcode on a page, post, or widget, you can add your Facebook feed directly to your WordPress community website. Even better, users can interact with your feed – liking, sharing, and commenting – all without leaving your website! This plugin’s simplicity and clean design make it a great addition to any site. Plus, its easy-to-use dashboard makes customization simple. As with the other plugins mentioned on our list, Facebook Page Plugin is absolutely free to use.

4. Simple Membership

Simple Membership is a website membership plugin that’s lightweight, user friendly, and customizable. With this plugin installed, you can easily create a membership site for your online community. Whether you want to build a more private site – only allowing approved members to participate – or offer varying permissions to different membership levels, this plugin will do the job. Simple Membership enables you to create unlimited subscription levels, both free and paid. With paid subscriptions, you have the additional benefit of accepting secure payments through PayPal. This plugin is free and, as it focuses on simplicity, no additional plugins or add-ons are offered. It is fully functional on its own, and will get you up and running in no time.

5. bbPress

The bbPress forum plugin enables you to create a full-featured forum on your WordPress website, and it’s a great way to get the conversation started on your blog. Since forums are a simple way to connect with like-minded individuals, this is a great plugin choice if you want to get your online community started quickly. What’s more, this plugin is well-designed for both for beginners and experienced forum moderators. With bbPress, you can set up and moderate your forums easily. In addition, you can divide your site into sections, and even allow user-created content. As open source software, bbPress is free to download and use. Also, there are many bbPress-compatible plugins – such as Notify (No Spam) – that extend the tool’s functionality and improve its user experience.


Whether you want to offer support, build a fanbase, or provide a place for like-minded individuals to hang out, WordPress is a great platform for creating your online community. In fact, there are dozens of plugins available for that very purpose. In this article, we’ve introduced you to five of our recommended community-building plugins. These plugins are free and easy to use, and they will help you create a thriving online community. Which of these community-building plugins interests you most, and why? Or do you have one that should be added to the list? Let us know in the comments section below!

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