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How to Create a Paywall in WordPress (with Preview Options)

Do you want to create a paywall on your WordPress site?

Adding a paywall allows you to monetize some or all of your content with a subscription plan. This freemium model is already used by top publications like the NYTimes and the Washington Post.

In this article, we’ll show you how to easily create a paywall on your WordPress site and publish paid content.

Creating a paywall in WordPress

What is a Paywall and Why Use One?

If you provide lots of high-quality content, then a paywall is a great way to monetize your site, particularly if you don’t want to sell ads on your WordPress blog.

A paywall hides or locks your content until the reader pays to access it.

Paywalls usually ask the visitor to buy an ongoing subscription so you can make money online blogging with WordPress over the long term. However, you can also set a one-off fee for accessing all your site’s paid content.

Many newspapers use paywalls on their websites. Here’s an example from the UK newspaper The Daily Telegraph.

The Daily Telegraph's paywall

Despite the name, not all paywalls ask for payment.

Some websites use a paywall to grow their email list by asking users to subscribe to their email newsletter or register for a free account, as you can see in the following image.

New York Times asking for an email address but not payment

In many cases, paywalls offer a trial where visitors can access a limited amount of free content. For instance, readers might be able to read 5 articles before they need to buy a membership subscription.

With that being said, let’s see how you can you can create a paywall in WordPress.

Creating a Paywall on Your WordPress Site

The easiest way to create a paywall is by using MemberPress. It is the best WordPress membership plugin that allows you to easily sell subscription-based products on your website including access to your premium content.

First, you need to install and activate the MemberPress plugin. For more details, see our step by step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

Once you’ve activated the plugin, go to MemberPress » Settings » License page to enter your license key.

Enter your MemberPress license key

You can find the license key under your account on the MemberPress website and in your purchase confirmation email.

Simply paste your license key into the field and click on ‘Activate License Key’.’

After that, you will need to set up a way to easily accept credit card payments in WordPress. The good news is that MemberPress supports several popular payment gateways.

You can add a payment method by going to the MemberPress » Settings page and switching to the ‘Payments’ tab.

The MemberPress payment settings page

Then, click on ‘Add Payment Method’ and open the ‘Gateway’ dropdown.

You’ll see that MemberPress supports PayPal and Stripe payments. If you’ve purchased a MemberPress Pro plan then you’ll also be able to use Authorize.net.

Adding a payment gateway to a MemberPress paywall

After choosing a gateway, you’ll see some settings to configure the payment method.

For instance, if you’re adding PayPal payment to WordPress then you’ll need to enter your PayPal email address.

Entering details for your chosen payment method

When you’re happy with how the payment method is setup, don’t forget to click on the ‘Update Options’ button to store your changes.

You may be able to get more sales and improve the customer experience by allowing users to choose a payment method. To add more gateways, simply click on ‘Add Payment Method’ and repeat the process.

Creating a Subscription Plan for Your Paywall

Now that you’ve completed the initial setup, it is time to create the paywall. To do that, you’ll need to create a membership level in MemberPress.

Simply visit the MemberPress » Memberships page and then click the ‘Add New’ button.

Add new membership

On the next screen, you need to give your membership plan a title. This will appear in your admin area and will also be visible to the people who visit your WordPress website.

Next, type how much this membership will cost into the ‘Price’ field. in the following image, we’ve called our membership ‘Premium Subscription’ and set the price to $5.

Setting up the new membership, including the price

If you want to create a free membership then you can leave the price at 0.00.

You can also choose between ‘Recurring’ and ‘One-time’ payments using the ‘Billing Type’ dropdown menu.

By accepting recurring payments in WordPress, you can automate the billing process and save a lot of time. This can also be a way to make money over the long term.

One-time payments don’t renew automatically, which may help put your audience and ease, and make them more likely to sign up. Every site is different, so you may want to try different settings to see what works the best for your site.

If you do select recurring payments, then you can choose from monthly, yearly, weekly, quarterly, or set a custom interval.

If you select ‘One-Time,’ then you can choose ‘Lifetime’ or set an expiration date, which can either be a calendar date or a length of time, such as one month since the person purchased their membership.

Optionally, you can provide a description for your membership plan in the text editor or customize it further in the ‘Membership Options’ box. For example, you can create a custom thank you message or a custom welcome email.

Membership options

Pro Tip: If you do create a membership-specific welcome email, then it’s a good idea to test that this email sends properly. If the email doesn’t arrive in your inbox, then we recommend using a SMTP service provider to improve your email delivery rates.

After configuring the membership level, just click on the ‘Publish’ button to create the membership plan.

You can create multiple membership plans with different subscription levels. For instance, you might create a premium plan and a VIP plan which gives your users access to extra exclusive content and features.

To create more payment methods simply follow the process described above.

Adding Content Behind The Paywall

Now that you’ve created a membership plan, it’s time to choose the content that you will restrict with a paywall.

MemberPress is a powerful plugin that lets you restrict access to your content in lots of different ways. For example, you can restrict WordPress pages by user role.

To add content behind a paywall, go to MemberPress » Rules and click on the ‘Add New’ button at the top.

Creating a new rule

Next, you need to select the content that you want to restrict.

MemberPress lets you restrict access to specific pages and posts. For example, you might lock the latest post on your WordPress blog so only registered members can access it.

Adding a paywall to a single WordPress post

However, restricting access to each post or page seperately can take a lot of time.

If you have lots of content to restrict, then MemberPress also lets you create rules for entire categories and tags. This lets you restrict sets of related content, for example you might add content locking to all posts tagged ‘Premium Content.’

Adding a paywall to an entire WordPress category

When you’re ready, open the ‘Protected content’ dropdown and choose the type of content that you want to restrict, such as ‘A Single Post,’ ‘Posts Categorized,’ or ‘Child Pages Of.’

Depending on the option you choose, you’ll get access to some extra settings. For example, if you select ‘Posts Categorized’ then you can type in the category name.

Then, scroll to the ‘Access Conditions’ section and select ‘Members.’

Adding a paywall to your WordPress website

You can then choose the membership this rule will apply to.

By default, if a non-member tries to view the restricted content,then they’ll see a ‘You are unauthorized to view this page’ message.

The default message that visitors will see if they aren't subscribed and logged in

To customize this message, scroll to the ‘Unauthorized Access’ section and open the ‘Unauthorized Message’ dropdown.

You can now choose ‘Custom’ and type a message into the post editor.

Changing the unauthorized access message

It’s also a good idea a link so people can easily buy a membership and unlock the paywall.

You can also show an excerpt of the locked content, which will make visitors want to read more. To create a paywall teaser, open the ‘Excerpts’ dropdown and choose how much of the post you want to show, such as the first 100 characters or the post excerpt.

Previewing paywall content on your WordPress website

Once you’re done, scroll to the top of the page and click on the ‘Save Rule’ button to make the paywall live.

Now, go back to Posts » All Posts in your dashboard and you’ll see all the posts that match this criteria are now marked as subscription-only in the ‘Access’ column.

Posts with their access level listed

For more help with setting up MemberPress, check out our ultimate guide to creating a membership site.

Giving Non-Members a Limited Number of Free Views

What if you want to let non-members see a certain amount of your content for free? This can be a great way to promote your premium content and get more members.

You can create a free trial in MemberPress by going to MemberPress » Settings » General.

Settings - General in MemberPress

Here, you’ll need to scroll to the ‘SEO & PayWall’ section and check the ‘Enable PayWall’ box.

This adds a new section where you can type in the number of paywall-protected pages and posts that non-members can see before it triggers the paywall.

Enabling the paywall feature in MemberPress

Note: On this screen you can also give search engines access to your protected content. This helps your paywalled content rank in the search results, which can get you more visitors. However, this setting only works if you turn off any caching plugins, which may slow down your site.

After making this change, scroll to the bottom of the page and click on ‘Update Options.’

We hope this article helped you learn how to create a paywall on your WordPress site and add free views option. You may also want to see our guide on how to increase your blog traffic and must have WordPress plugins to grow your traffic.

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Reader Interactions

8 CommentsLeave a Reply

    • It would depend on what tools you are using to display ads on your site and where the ads are as there are different possible tools that can be used.

      Admin

      • Google Adsense would be the one for now.

        One last question. Do Subscribers have to actually login to a WordPress account to view the restriced or paid content?

        • You could use widgets that hide for logged-in users to allow for what you’re wanting and yes, users would need to log in to their account to see your content.

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