Offering your content for free may be great, but it’s not going to put food on the table. Providing a subscription service so members can access what you’ve created for a fee is a popular - and necessary - way to earn money from your visitors, in a way that’s more reliable, and less obtrusive, than just advertising.
If your site is run using the website builder WordPress, then check out these five membership plugins which will turn your media into a steady revenue stream…
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MemberMouse is an impressive plugin designed for those who aren’t fond of coding and would rather have a service do all the background work for them. This doesn’t mean to say you can’t customise it to suit your needs - on the contrary, you can fully alter its look to match and blend it with your existing theme; it just means you don’t have access to the inner guts of the program.
The installation is incredibly easy and fast. You’re able to set up free and paid memberships, with flexible pricing, recurring subscriptions and payment plans, offer one-time purchase products, free and paid trails, include coupons, support for international currencies, the list is impressive.
As you’d expect, you can create a protected members area, with content protection, and also work with time-release content (ideal when setting up a subscription-based course for instance). You have great control over managing your members, check their transaction history, manage their subscriptions, issue refunds, handle overdue payments, etc. Powerful analytics are also included, and if you’re moving from another membership plugin, MemberMouse comes with automation features to help you migrate your clients.
Prices range from $29 to $199 when paying monthly, or the equivalent of $24.08 to $165.17 per month when paying yearly, depending on the plan you choose. There’s also a 14-day full-featured free trial for you to check out everything MemberMouse has to offer.
Ease of use is the name of the game here, and just like MemberMouse above, MemberPress aims to make the whole membership process as easy to manage as possible. But if you’re comfortable with a little coding, and you’ve chosen the right plan, you can create your own CSS Styles to gain full control over the plugin’s customisation.
MemberPress lets you create an unlimited number of groups to your memberships, and takes care of the background work for you. Your members can choose to upgrade, downgrade or cancel right from your website. Promotions are pretty important for a business, and you’re able to create as many coupons as you need to grow your business - the flexibility is impressive here, and you can set their expiry dates, the discount (either a percentage or a fixed amount), what products that discount applies to, etc.
As you’d expect, you can control your content, right down to a page by page basis, or even select which files are allowed to be downloaded. MemberPress is integrated with PayPal, Authorize.net and Stripe, and you can track the information gathered from these transactions, such as renewals and cancellations, for instance, in your WordPress admin’s section.
Depending on how many sites you’d like to use this plugin on, and how many features you need, MemberPress offers three different plans, ranging from $149 to $349 per year (roughly $12.40 to $29 per month), and also offers you a 14-day money back guarantee.
There’s one good thing that sets Paid Memberships Pro above the other two plugins mentioned above: one of its plans is free. As long as your needs are simple, you could start gathering subscribers without spending a penny yourself.
Paid Memberships Pro is a very robust and comprehensive plugin, enabling you to create free memberships, or set up recurring subscriptions. Once installed, you can restrict your posts and pages by clicking the appropriate tick box. You’re able to manage the full database from a single location, check membership activity, including revenue from there. The software is fully customisable and open source - for those who aren’t afraid to get their coding hands dirty.
We liked the fact that a restricted page will show some of the content before encouraging a non-member to start a subscription, and unlock the rest of the article.
This plugin is enhanced with the use of add-ons. Some are free (like MailChimp and WooCommerce integration, setting expiration dates, and organise members-only events), but most come at a price (including what you’d expect to be basic features like email confirmation, but there you are).
The free plan includes all 21 free add-ons, all payment gateways (Stripe, PayPal, Braintree, Authorize.net, Cybersource, 2Checkout and Payfast), and the plugin’s own theme called MemberLite.
To gain access to all other paid add ons and support for installing Paid Membership Pro on more than a single website, you can either choose the Plus plan ($297 per year) or the Unlimited one ($597 per year).
Like the others on this list, Restrict Content Pro is an excellent option to turn your website - or part of it - into a members only, premium content area. It also comes with the ability to migrate members if you’re coming from a different membership plugin.
With this plugin, you have the ability to create as many membership tiers as you need, and these include free and trial subscriptions. Discount codes are available of course, but are not as fully featured as some others on this list. Still you can choose to offer a percentage or a fixed price discount.
Your clients also have the option to upgrade or downgrade their commitment at any time, and they’ll only pay the difference between the two tiers (or be refunded, as the case may be). It’s also integrated with the famous WooCommerce plugin, and for transactions, works with the most popular payment services such as Stripe, PayPal, 2Checkout and Braintree.
Restrict Content Pro works on the concept of add-ons, and this includes free and paid ones from third party developers. The standard add-ons are divided into two groups - official and pro, and you gain access to the former or both, depending on your chosen plan.
Pricing starts at $99 for the first year, for installation on one site, and gets you all official add-ons. $149 increases the installation limit to five sites. If you want the pro add-ons, you’ll need to fork out $249 for the first year. If you’d rather deal with a one-time payment, Restrict Content Pro can be yours forever for $749. The developers also offer a generous 30-day money back guarantee.
Like Paid Memberships Pro, s2Member offers a free tier to its subscription model. There are limitations of course, like for instance only offering PayPal as a payment option, limiting the number of membership levels you can have, and is devoid of anti-spam features, for instance. But if you’re starting out, free is a fantastic price point to consider.
Another unusual business model, compared with the others on this list is the fact the plugin’s two paid-for options are not recurring, subscription models: they are one-off fees, like Restrict Content Pro’s top of the line plan, only here, the prices are remarkably affordable: $89 for managing a single site, and $189 for an unlimited number of sites. That price also grants you access to any future updates when they get released. You also get a 14-day money back guarantee.
Features include content dripping shortcodes, unlimited paid membership levels, affiliate program and mailing list integration, to name but a handful.
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