You’ve invested time in your business blog. You are getting traffic, and people are commenting on your blog. Certainly you can monetize the site with ads, but what if you wanted give subscribers an option for paid access to premium content, month to month? There has been a lot of buzz about paid membership sites as an online business model, and rightly so, they are a great passive revenue model. In this post I’ll review this WordPress plug-in that turns your blog into a membership site.
What it is…
Wishlist Member is an easy way to turn your existing blog into a membership site. There is no need to purchase expensive software, hosted on a different domain, move all the content there, etc. Using the familiar WordPress Admin panel options to allow you to secure content, configure access and membership levels, and integrate one of the popular payment gateways. Get the full scoop here.
Here is a breakdown of the various components of Wishlist Member.
Installation: Like many WordPress Plug-ins, it is easy to install, just upload and activate.
Unlimited Membership Levels: If you have a service that tiers the offerings (Silver, Gold, Platinum), you can put those levels in Wishlist Member assigning different price points. If you add a new offering, add a new level.
Add to Existing WordPress blog: After adding to an existing site you secure existing content, or you can opt to secure future content when you create it.
Paid Options: Wishlist Member lets you create Free, Trial, or Paid membership accounts. An effective approach is to give a $1 trial, which automatically puts them in a designated membership after 7 days.
Controlling Content: Using the “Hide Button” you can prevent content from being viewed from membership levels of your choosing.
Sequential Delivery: Sometimes new customers can feel overwhelmed when they see all the content available in a given membership site. This feature allows you to release content in a controlled manner, after 30 days Module 2 is released, then Module 3 after 60 days, etc. It is very flexible, and is important in avoiding the buy, download, and dash customers. Something I wish I had in my membership site a couple years ago!
Shopping Cart Support: Supports PayPal, Clickbank, Google Checkout, and 1ShoppingCart.
Secure RSS Feeds: This lets members see paid content in their RSS reader of choice. Since the feed is secure and tied to their membership level, it stops working when they stop paying.
Login Redirection: Control the member welcome page after logging in. This is helpful if you want unique messages for each access level such as news, updates, or inviting them to upgrade their membership.
Secured Content Options:
- “More” Tag Security, protects anything after this commonly used tag (creates the default “Read more” or “Read the story” links) allowing you to prompt the user for membership to the premium content.
- Custom Error Pages, when attempting to access content that is not available at the visitors membership level, and are encouraged to register, or upgrade their membership.
- Partial Content Display, Show what you want in a post and hide the rest. Allows you to reserve a key component for a given membership levels only.
What I Like
Simple Installation: If you have any familiarity with WordPress plug-ins, it really is as simple as uploading and activating.
Great Interface: If you have been using WordPress for any time, you find the interface to be familiar, and intuitive. You can have a look by reviewing any of the videos on the right hand side of this page.
Leverage Existing Search Engine Juice: Since you are using the same domain, and the same IP Address, you have little to worry about when it comes to the search engines. Other products where you have to move existing content to another domain or IP address have to contend with this issue.
Plugin Updates: On the dashboard you see the version you are running, and a link to download the latest version if needed. Recently they added Paypal and Clickbank integration, as well as Aweber autoresponder integration.
Affordable: I personally have spent thousands on membership site software, and have friends who have spent much, much more for custom solutions. For under $100 (at the time of this writing) what you get this hits the sweet spot for many, and the fact that future updates are included is also nice. There is also a multi-site license available for those who need it.
Reputation: I know the maker, Stu McLaren and Tracey Childers to be solid guys. I was hard pressed to find any complaints about the product; thus far, their customers seem to be happy with the product and the support.
Large Site Considerations
Scalability question: since it is relatively new, I am uncertain how well it scales. As much as I would like to test the scalability, I was unable to in time for this review. There are products that have been out for a long time, and proven to scale well, but obviously are not at this price point. I have friends who have the potential for 10s of thousands of members, and I’m not sure this is the best fit if you are in this situation. Again, I haven’t tested it with 10K or more members, but I am curious how it will handle such a load. Perhaps the creators or larger customers can comment on this.
If you have an existing WordPress blog, or have an idea for a membership site, this is a great way to turn business blogging into profits. I’m not a big fan of FREE solutions for paid products; if it goes down, I want to be able to get support. $97 as a one time fee is not a lot compared to other membership site solutions, and you can begin working with it in about 15 minutes. Get more info here.
What are your thoughts on Wishlist Member or membership software in general? Leave your comments below.
*Image Credits to WordPress Wishlist