How to Setup WordPress Paywall for Your Content

Do you want to create a paywall for your WordPress content? If yes, you are in the right place.

A WordPress paywall allows you to monetize some or all of your website content. For example, you can offer premium content in exchange for a one-time payment, a subscription payment, or user registration.

Paywalling is one of the quickest ways to monetize a website and make money from your visitors, and it is easier to implement if you provide high-quality content on your website.

In this article, you will learn about paywalls, and I will also show you how to add a paywall to your WordPress website.

What is a Paywall?

A paywall is a content restriction mechanism. It lets you lock your content until a visitor pays to access it.

Paywalls are common on news websites like the New York Times and The Washington Post. They usually require you to create a free account before you can access their news content fully.

Paywalls are also used on membership and community sites, where users must pay before accessing exclusive content such as videos, PDFs, articles, online training, etc.

Sometimes paywalls do not require visitors to pay for a subscription or a membership plan; instead, they are required to signup for a mailing list, share the content, or create a free account on the website.

There are different types of paywalls that you can implement on your website. We have the Hard paywall, Soft paywall, and Metered Paywall.

The Hard paywall involves hiding all your WordPress content behind a paywall. Visitors are only shown the title and a few paragraphs’ previews of the content before being prompted to pay for full access.

The Soft paywall involves having both free and paid content on your website. Visitors can access some content for free while they are requested to pay for the premium content.

The Metered paywall works like a trial version of the software. Visitors are allowed to access all content, but they are required to pay after a certain number of views. So, for example, a visitor can read three free articles in a week, but if they want to read more, they have to pay.

Benefits of Content Paywalls

Recurring Revenue there are different ways to monetize a content website, such as affiliate links, Ads, and sponsored posts but most of these methods do not offer a stable source of income, especially with the advent of ad blockers.

Putting your content behind a paywall gives you an excellent way to build a consistent stream of monthly on yearly income from your website visitors who would pay a monthly or annual fee for your content.

Community Building – Paywalls can help build a community around your brand and help you to sustain your business. Having a paywall that promotes a subscription or user registration can make your visitors feel like they are part of a community instead of casual readers. You can also create a forum on your website to encourage community engagement activities for your members.

Branding – A paywall on your website can also improve your brand perception. Visitors may see your content as being of higher quality compared to sites that offer every content for free. This perception can improve the way visitors see your brand or business.

How to Add WordPress Paywall to Your Content

WordPress does not come with an in-built paywall feature, so you will require the help of a paywall WordPress plugin to set up one on your website.

The easiest way to create a paywall on your site is by using ProfilePress. ProfilePress is the best WordPress membership plugin that allows you to quickly sell products and membership plans on your website, including access to premium content.

In the sections below, I will show you how to install and activate ProfilePress, set it up, and use it to create different types of paywalls on your WordPress site.

Let’s get started.

Install and Activate ProfilePress

The first step in the process will be to install and activate the ProfilePress plugin. You will need to purchase a ProfilePress Pro License and install the ProfilePress plugin. To do that, head to the ProfilePress website to purchase a suitable license plan.

After purchasing your copy of the ProfilePress Plugin, you will receive a confirmation email with a link to download the plugin zip file and your license key. You can also download the plugin from your account page on the ProfilePress website.

Once you have downloaded the plugin, login to your WordPress admin dashboard, and navigate to the Plugins page; click on the “Add New” button and click “Upload Plugin“.

Next, click “Choose file” to select the previously downloaded plugin zip file. Finally, click “Install Now.”

After installation is complete, click the Activate Plugin button.

At the top of the page, you will see a notification that says, “ProfilePress needs to create several pages,” Click on the “Create Pages” button to complete the plugin setup.

If you do not see this notification, navigate to ProfilePress > Dashboard and click the “Create pages” button to complete the plugin setup.

With this done, we have completed the initial setup of the ProfilePress plugin on our WordPress site.

Setup a payment method

Once we are done with the plugin installation, the next step is to set up a Payment Method for our paywall. For this article, we will set up the stripe payment gateway, which is in-built into the ProfilePress plugin.

You can configure the Stripe payments on your site by navigating to ProfilePress > Settings > Payments > Payment Methods and choosing Stripe.

Click on the “Connect Stripe” button, follow the prompts, and you are all set to start accepting payments from your customers.

Aside from Stripe, ProfilePress supports other popular payment gateways including PayPal, Razorpay, Paystack, and Mollie.

Setup Membership Plans

Now that we have a way to collect payments from our paywall customers, the next thing is to create the products that will be sold to our customers. In this example, we will be making a Silver membership Plan.

Go to ProfilePress >> Membership Plans to create a new membership plan or open up the edit screen of an existing one.

Click on “Add New Plan”, and you will be taken to the page where you can add a plan and set up the details for your product. After filling in the details, set the price, subscription length, and billing frequency you want to associate with this plan.

Once you are done editing the membership plan, save your changes.

Every membership plan includes a checkout link to add to your website pricing page or email your users to make payments or purchase the product.

Go to ProfilePress > Membership Plans, and you should see a checkout page link associated with the membership plan you created above.

Activating the Paywall Addon

Before creating various paywalls on our website, we need to activate the metered paywall addon available in the ProfilePress plugin.

Navigate to ProfilePress > Addons and toggle on the Activate button in the Metered Paywall section.

How to Set Up a Hard Paywall

To set up a hard paywall, go to ProfilePress > Content Protection and click the Add a New Protection Rule button.

add a protection rule profilepress

On the next page, add a Title, and from the dropdown menu under Content to Protect, select All Posts.

content to protect panel in profilepress

Scroll down to the Access Condition section, and from the dropdown menu against the Who Can Access the Content option, select Logged in users.

As soon as you select the Logged in users option, several new options will appear in the Access Condition section.

access condition panel in profilepress

Firstly, go to the “Select Membership Plans That Can Access Content” field and add the membership plan you created in the step above.

You might also want to select additional Roles that can access the content besides paid members with an active subscription. You could choose the Administrator and Editor roles.

Tip: Whichever user role you select, make sure to choose Administrators as well because you would want admins to access your site’s content.

Next, go to the Restricted Access Message Style Option and select Blur & Fade Effect from the dropdown menu. Next, under Message to Show to Unauthorized Users, select the Post Excerpt + Global RestrictedAccess Message.

Hit the Save Rule button to save your setting.

custom message for unauthorized users

Click on the customized here link, as shown in the image above, to add a custom message for your paywall. This message should inform the visitors that they need to become paying subscribers to access the full content.

Make sure to include the plan checkout or pricing page URL you copied in the set-up membership plan section in this custom message. Visitors will use that link to make payments and subscribe to your website.

adding custom message for paywall

Alternatively, you can select “Post Excerpt + Custom Message” as the Message to show to unauthorized users if you don’t want to use the global restricted message.

That’s it. You have set up a hard paywall on your WordPress website.

Users can only read excerpts or a few paragraphs when they visit your published posts. They will need to subscribe to a membership plan to view the entire content of every post on your website. This is Hard Paywall in action.

hard paywall on wordpress content

How to Setup Soft Paywall

To set up a soft paywall, you must separate free and premium content. Then tag the premium content as “paid” or “premium.”. Instead of the use of tags, you can also use categories.

The tagging happens in the WordPress content editor. Open the page or post, go to Tag, write paid or premium, and hit enter. You will need to tag all your premium posts and pages this way.

adding tag in gutenberg editor

Next, navigate to ProfilePress > Content Protection and click the Add a New ProtectionRule button.

On the next page, add a title, and from the dropdown menu under Content to Protect, select Posts with Tags or Posts with Categories if you used categories to define your premium content.

A search box will appear on the right as soon as you do that. In the search box, look for the tag you just created. Then, select the tag and hit the Save Rule button.

Next, you must go to the Access Condition section to configure who can access the premium content. For example, it could be members with an active subscription to selected membership plans.

Since we have already covered it in the previous section (hard paywall setup), we won’t be repeating the same thing here.

By completing this setup, all posts tagged premium can only be accessed by paid subscribers or selected user roles, with the rest of the posts available for free.

How to Setup Metered Paywall

To set up the metered paywall, we will have to go through four steps:

  1. Restricting content
  2. Setting up a metered paywall
  3. Preventing abuse of paywall
  4. Adding countdown slider

i. Restrict Content

First, restrict your WordPress site content using the guidelines laid out in the hard paywall setup section.

When done, hit the Save Rule button and proceed to the second step, which involves opening the Metered Paywall settings page beside the Content Protection menu tab at the top.

ii. Set Up Metered Paywall

You need to modify the first three options on the Metered Paywall page. Let’s take a look at each option and try and understand what they mean:

  • Reset limitation after allows you to choose a length of time when visitors can once again read your posts for free.
  • Restrictions allow you to choose which post types you plan to restrict and how many posts, pages, or custom post types you will offer for free.
  • Total free views allow you to define the number of posts a visitor can view for free. This is a global setting, and it will override the previous setting on free views.

Hit the Save Changes button to save the modifications.

paywall free views setting in profilepress

iii. Prevent Abuse of Paywall

After setting up the metered paywall, you need to ensure that your premium content is protected from access via an incognito browser.

You need to activate the IP Blocker feature to prevent this abuse. First, go to the Metered Paywall > IP Blocker and select the Enable option to enable the feature. Then, hit the Save Changes button before exiting the page.

ip blocking metered paywall

iv. Add a Countdown Slider

Popular websites like The New York Times and Medium allow visitors to read a few premium articles for free before asking them to sign up for a subscription. Then, they inform the visitor of how many views are left using a countdown slider.

You can also create a countdown slider on your WordPress website and inform visitors how many articles they can view before subscribing.

Open the Metered Paywall option on your WordPress dashboard and go to the Countdown Slidebox section.

Select the Enable option and add the link to your pricing or checkout page in the Button Link option. Visitors will use this link to go to a page where they can sign up and make payments.

You can change the button text and message and log in to the text if you need to.

enable countdown slidebox paywall

When you are ready, hit the Save Changes button, and the countdown slider will be added to your WordPress site.

countdown timer paywall

That’s it, you have now completed the setup of a metered paywall on your WordPress website.

Bonus: How to Lock Content with MailOptin Plugin

As an alternative to using the ProfilePress plugin, you might consider using the MailOptin plugin.

MailOptin is an all-in-one solution for converting site visitors into subscribers. It allows you to create, customize, and showcase professional opt-in boxes on your WordPress site.

It has an easy-to-use form builder that lets you create attractive-looking pop-up lightboxes and display them based on certain conditions. It also allows you can lock specific parts or pieces of your content on your site and ask site visitors to perform particular actions before accessing the restricted content.

MailOptin is a handy plugin, especially if you aim to build an email list or grow your subscribers using Paywalls.

Very quickly, I will show you how to install and setup the MailOptin Plugin, create an opt-in form, and create a WordPress content locker which we will use to lock our content and request our visitors to opt-in to our mailing list before they can access the whole article.

Step #1: Install and activate the MailOptin plugin

The first step is installing the MailOptin plugin, which you can easily do from your WordPress dashboard.

You will need to purchase a MailOptin License and install the MailOptin plugin. To do that, head to the MailOptin website to purchase a suitable license plan.

After purchasing your copy of the MailOptin Plugin, you will receive a confirmation email with a link to download the plugin zip file and your license key. You can also download the plugin from your account page on the MailOptin website.

Once you have downloaded the plugin, login to your WordPress admin dashboard, and navigate to the Plugins page; click on the “Add New” button and click “Upload Plugin“. Next, upload the zip file and install and activate the plugin on your WordPress site.

Step #2: Create and customize your opt-in form

With the MailOptin plugin installed on your site, navigate to MailOptin > OptinCampaigns and click the Add New button.

Add new optin campaign

Enter a name in the Title field and select In-Post from the Select Optin Type section.

Next, select the template you want to start customizing. We’ve decided to go with the Letter Box theme for this example. Once you click on the Select Theme button, you will automatically be redirected to the customization page.

Using the options available on the form editing page, you can customize the opt-in form appearance and feel on the front end of your WordPress site.

Click on the Design tab to customize the background color of your opt-in form. You can customize the typography using the Headline and Description menus and set text colors.

It’s also essential to display custom button text for the content locker to look professional and relevant to your audience.

Go to the Fields section and scroll down to the Submit Button section. Enter the custom text using the Button Label text field and set the button color.

Step #3: Create a WordPress content locker

With your opt-in form looking precisely how you want it, click the Integrations button and select your email service provider using the Select Integration dropdown menu. As an example, we’re using Mailchimp.

Click the Configuration button and select the Lock Content Below Optin checkbox.

You will see new options appear. For example, you can select how the content locking style will display the restricted content and add custom CSS selectors.

Once you’re done, click on the Save Changes button and remember to activate the opt-in form using the checkbox next to the Save Changes button.

Before leaving the form customization page, click the Embed & Shortcode menu and copy the shortcode for the opt-in form. Also, disable the Show Optin Globally checkbox using the Display Rules > Page Targeting menu.

Now, navigate to the page or post you want to add a content locker to and paste the shortcode exactly where you want the content locker to appear.

Make sure to click on the Update button to continue.

As you can see, the content has been locked right from where we placed the shortcode. So now, site visitors will have to enter their email addresses and name before they can have full access to the premium content on the WordPress site.

Final Words

Paywalling is a quick and easy way to monetize your website. It is a perfect choice for anyone who wants to monetize their content without using ads, sponsored posts, or affiliate links.

Even though WordPress does not come with a paywall feature, you can add a WordPress paywall to your website using the ProfilePress plugin, a powerful paywall plugin for WordPress.

In this article, we have covered how to build a paywall system that allows you to offer exclusive content to your visitors and generate income from your WordPress website.

Get the ProfilePress plugin today.

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