How to Make Your WordPress Site Private

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I recently started work on a membership site teaching WordPress theme development. As I was writing and publishing course lessons, I realized I needed a way to keep the site private until ready for launch.

In this post, I’ll cover the plugin I used to make the site private, and I’ll also share the plugin I switched to for collecting email addresses before the launch.

My Private Site

The simplest solution to make your site private is to use the My Private Site plugin.

screenshot of the My Private Site plugin

This plugin is an easy and reliable solution for making your site private.

Once you’ve installed and activated the plugin, you’ll find a new Private Site menu option available under Settings.

Settings page from the My Private Site plugin
It’s a little wordy, but there are more options below

While there are quite a few options, the only one you definitely need is the first one labeled, “Private Site”. Simply check this box and save your changes to make your site completely private.

What does “private” mean?

To clarify, by making your site private I mean that no one can view any content without being logged in. If anyone who isn’t logged in visits, they’ll be redirected to the WordPress login form.

screenshot of the WordPress login form

My Private Site settings

If you’re not sure the plugin will meet your needs yet, here’s a complete screenshot of the settings page.

complete settings page screenshot for My Private Site

You can click on this image to view it at full size.

How to add a “coming soon” page

There are many reasons you may want to make your site private, but if you’re launching a new site you should have a coming soon page.

For my upcoming site, I used My Private Site when first setting it up. I then switched to the Coming Soon Page & Maintenance Mode plugin.

Coming Soon Page & Maintenance Mode by SeedProd plugin

This plugin will still keep your site private, but instead of redirecting everyone to the login form, they’ll see a “coming soon” page. More importantly, you’ll want to collect email addresses so you can notify subscribers when your site launches.

The free version of the plugin doesn’t have email integration, but the pro version does. At $29, it’s a reasonable price for the functionality. I think the only way to do it cheaper is with LaunchRock (free), but, unfortunately, it doesn’t integrate with any third-party email services like MailChimp.

Making WordPress private

If you need to make your WordPress site private, these are both excellent solutions.

It doesn’t get simpler than My Private Site for restricting access to your site. While email collection with the coming soon plugin isn’t free, it will improve your marketing leading up to your launch.

If you have an eCommerce store, try out one of these private WooCommerce store plugins instead.

If you have questions about either plugin or about making a site private, please post a comment below.

Ben Sibley
Ben Sibley
Ben Sibley is a WordPress theme designer & developer, and founder of Compete Themes.