Unless you have spent a good part of your time off this planet, you probably know that membership sites are growing by leaps and bounds, and have been for the last couple of years. And when it’s time to start seriously thinking about the right plugin to protect and/or monetize your content, there are plenty of choices out there.
In today’s post let me introduce to you the free version of the Paid Member Subscriptions plugin. I will touch on the premium version later, but let’s dive into the free version for now.
The Paid Member Subscriptions Plugin
The basic intro page gives you an overview of the features and the add-ons available. I will touch on the latter in a bit, but keep in mind that the add-ons are not available separately, only with the premium versions.
Settings – General
The General Settings offer some standard options, but I found that the ability to show previews of protected content, a maximum number of words for the post content and the option to turn the more tag off and on was a nice touch.
Settings – Payments
Payment setup is very straight-forward. Like many membership plugins, by default it accepts PayPal Standard and Manual/Offline payment. The premium version add-ons allow you to also add Stripe, PayPal Pro and PayPal Express.
Settings – Messages
This is another nice feature where you can control a custom message for both logged-out members and non-members. From experience, having done membership sites in the past, this is a great option for you to get creative with working on conversion for people who land on your site’s content as nonmembers.
Settings – Emails
And you can easily set up the emails to go out from specific new and existing member actions.
Adding Subscription Plans
Creating subscription plans in some plugins can be overwhelming. They may have options that you just don’t need or they confuse you a bit more than you had anticipated. The subscription plans here are simple and easy to set up.
Adding Members and Member Accounts
Setting up a page for registration and payment is done using a variety of shortcodes on any WordPress page. You can also use shortcodes for content restriction and managing membership plans. Lastly, you can easily add any new member as long as they are a registered user on your site.
Payments and Reports
There are also pages where you can view all members and their status.
You can also display reports on earnings and income filtered by dates.
As I mentioned before, you can protect pieces of content on pages via a shortcode. But any complete page or post has these options as well.
Upgrading to the Paid Member Subscription Hobbyist or Pro Version
Upgrading to one of two versions will add some more helpful features for building up your membership site. You can compare the two here. I will share with you here a few of the added features.
Discount codes are a great way to promote or reward existing members They can be set up by either flat rate or percentage for any of your subscriptions.
Global Content Restriction
You can restrict subscription plans based on post types, taxonomies (eg. categories and tags) and term. If you add any plugins that add specific post types, like an event calendar, those would also be included and available. You can add as many rules as you need to.
With the free version, you get the standard emails and are able to customize them, but adding this feature allows you to poke at your customers a bit more and follow-up with them as well. These can be subscription reminders or a nice followup offering some incentive after a subscription expires.
Content Drip Sets
This is a handy feature if you want to spread out content to your members at specific times. In other words, rather then giving them all your content at once, you can give them access to new content, say weekly or monthly. Having this as an option instead of built in makes a lot of sense.
Navigation Menu Filtering
I love this feature. Back in the days when membership sites were new—and so were the plugins— in order to show specific menu items to members and nonmembers, you had to use some kind of page builder or plugin. This add-on is a great way to easily hide and show content in your navigation menu to your members and their specific plans, no matter where they are.
Multiple Subscriptions Per User
In some cases, you may want to give your members an option to belong to different subscription levels at the same time. This add-on lets you easily add any number of subscriptions to any of your members.
The Other Add-Ons
There are add-ons that let you connect with Stripe, PayPal Pro, PayPal Express, and that also offer recurring payments for PayPal Standard. There is a reCaptcha add-on as well.
As I mentioned at the beginning, there are a lot of plugins out there that are doing content protection and subscriptions for membership sites. When I played around with the Paid Member Subscriptions, I found setup to be intuitive and not overwhelming. I didn’t get lost in numerous settings and protecting content was straight-forward.
In the premium versions, you get just enough options to grow out your site according to your needs. And I will admit, once again, that I liked how easy it was to filter navigation for members and nonmembers.
The free version comes with quite a bit and if you have a simple site ,where you want to not only protect your content, but put it behind a paywall, this plugin makes it pretty darn easy. If you are looking to start that membership site, do shop around, but also check out the Paid Member Subscriptions free plugin, and their premium versions along the way as you make your final decision.