Content is not free. It takes time to update your website with quality content and it takes money to have someone else do it for you.
How do you profit from this investment of time and money?
This is a question that many website owners have been asking themselves over the last few years. There are many business models that are built around high quality content. Some websites place network advertisements from services such as Google Adsense, others sell advertisements directly. It is also common for companies to use content to drive traffic towards their own products and services.
Another option is to remove advertisements altogether and charge visitors to view your content. Some people to do this by selling books, others do it by placing content into courses and selling it as a package.
Today, I would like to show you ten WordPress plugins that can be used to charge people for viewing your content. These can be used to charge for membership courses or even individual pages. A few of these plugins rely on third party services to function, whilst others are stand alone plugins that work on their own.
Cleeng is a free WordPress plugin that lets you sell a wide range of content on your website including articles, images, videos and downloads. You can choose to protect whole articles or just a few paragraphs.
The Cleeng service supports a whopping fifty five payment methods including PayPal, all major credit cards and SMS payments.
It only takes a few minutes to protect content and then create a package for it. You can define start and end dates for the protection and even offer commissions to anyone who refers you new customers.
Whilst the plugin is free to download, important features such as reporting, coupons and micro-payments are not available unless you upgrade. With the cheapest premium package starting at Â£85 per month, Cleeng could be a costly option if you are not generating a lot of sales.
A free plugin that lets you monetize your content using the Tinypass service. Using the plugin, you can protect your content and charge people as low as two cents to view it.
It allows you to charge per article, per category and over time. You can even let visitors choose what they pay you.
Tinypass offer a lot of payment options. One of the best things about the service is that visitors do not need to sign up in order to make a purchase. Their Paywall option is very flexible. For example, it allows you to restrict purchases to a certain number of views.
Tinypass have a fair pricing structure. They charge 30% for paments under $1.99, 15%+$0.30 fees on sales under $2,000 and 10%+$0.30 for sales over $2,000.
MediaPass allows you to charge for your articles, videos, or your whole website. The service has no monthly fees, however the company takes 35% of your subscription revenue (a similar rate to what Google takes from Adsense publishers).
Once you have installed their free plugin, you will see options to protect the whole page with an overlay, part of the page, or protect a video.
The plugin integrates beautifully with WordPress. It even shows columns for Mediapass in your post and category pages. Membership options can be configured directly through your website too, however Mediapass handle the payment side of things.
Mediapass have managed to convince many top websites to use them, however 35% seems like a big percentage to give away. If you are generating a lot of sales, you could be losing a lot of money to the middleman.
There are dozens of great membership plugins available for WordPress such as Wishlist Member, WP-Members and s2Member. Many of these are reviewed in our WordPress plugin database, so I made a point of including some lesser known plugins in this article :)
For whatever reason, Paid Memberships Pro does not get the recognition it deserves; which is a shame as it is one of the best membership plugins available. Its membership level system is very easy to understand. After just a few minutes, you can create a new user membership level with recurring subscriptions. Free and trial accounts can be offered too.
Protecting content is straight forward. You simply need to wrap the content you want to hide inside the membership shortcode and then select the membership levels that are permitted to view that content.
The plugin integrates with a range of payment gateways and offers reporting, discounts, trials, email notifications and more.
Paid Memberships Pro is 100% free to use. Upgrading to the premium option for $97 will give you access to documentation, video tutorials and support forums.
5. Pay Per View
Pay Per View is a premium WordPress Plugin from WPMUDev that lets you sell content in a variety of ways.
The plugin integrates directly into your post editor. It can be used to protect text, audio and video. Visitors will not be able to see the content until they have paid the fees you set.
Visitors can make a micropayment to see your content immediately or pay a higher amount to view your content all day. You can also offer visitors a subscription option for viewing content over a set number of days.
Payments can be made via PayPal or credit card. The plugin also allows visitors to sign up for an account using Facebook, Twitter or Google+.
Pay Per View is an affordable solution that costs only $19 for all features. It is a great option if you are looking to charge visitors per view.
Premium Contents is a free WordPress plugin that lets you lock blog posts. Visitors can unlock your content in a number of ways. In addition to sending a payment via PayPal, they can sign up to your blog or agree to certain terms and conditions.
The plugin displays a large content box that highlights that a page is locked. The length of time that a customer can view your content after paying can also be adjusted. This will change the permissions of the customer back to a normal user after their access has expired.
Premium Contents is a simple yet effective way of charging people for viewing your content. It lacks many features that other plugins have, such as protecting specific areas of a page and subscription options; however it is a great option if you are just looking to protect individual articles.
A membership plugin from Jigowatt that supports PayPal subscriptions. It allows you to lock complete articles or parts of an article using a shortcode.
It allows you to create an unlimited number of user levels. This allows you to create a tiered level of content i.e. offer more content to specific memberships.
WordPress Premium Content is available from CodeCanyon for $35. The plugin listing shows that the plugin has not been updated since 2012, however the comment section highlights that Jigowatt are still actively providing support to customers.
A feature rich plugin that lets you control who sees your premium content. It allows customers to pay on a one-off basis or pay for a subscription. It is also one of the only plugins that lets you control whether paying members see advertisements or not.
Memberships are handled through the WordPress admin area. Once users are logged in, they can choose which membership package best suits them and upgrade to a premium membership.
WP Premium Members can be purchased from CodeCanyon for $20. In addition to restricting content, the plugin integrates perfectly with their other plugin WP Pre Advertisement.
Restrict Content is a WordPress plugin by developer Pippin Williamson that allows you to restrict content to logged in users.
The basic version offers five user levels: Free, Trial, Basic, Medium and Advanced. Content can be restricted using a shortcode. There is also a shortcode for displaying messages to those who are not logged in and an option for hiding content from your feed.
Member and payment information can be exported via the admin area. You can also modify the emails that are sent to subscribers.
The plugin is free to download, however in order to get features such as discount codes, unlimited subscription levels and PayPal integration; you will need to upgrade to the premium version which retails from $42.
Content For Money is a free WordPress plugin that allows you to lock part or all of your content. It is the most basic content restriction plugin that I have come across. You can define your PayPal email, price, currency and message to visitors.
Unfortunately, the information displayed to customers is basic too. All it shows is a PayPal button and your custom message which explains that the content is restricted.
If you are only looking for the basic functionality of charging people to view your content, Content For Money is a good option. You may, however, be a little restricted by what the plugin cannot do.
With ad blockers on the rise, many website owners are giving serious consideration to charging for content. It is easy to understand why. Good content takes time and money to produce. Charging for content does not only stop ad blockers, it also cuts out any advertising middlemen.
Charging for content is by no means the perfect business model. There are pros and cons to charging people to view your content. In many niches, you could be losing money by removing ads. It is therefore important to try this monetization method out methodically before rolling it out on your whole website i.e. do some testing and look at how well it is received by your visitors.
I hope you have enjoyed this article. If you know of any other good WordPress plugins for charging users for content, please feel free to share them in the content area :)