How to Lock Content in WordPress

Not all website owners want to give out every bit of content for free. One of the many ways to make money from your website is to lock the content away from those who are not subscribed.

This can generate an email list just as easily as it does for revenue. As long as you have content that people really want to read, that is.

In this tutorial, I’m going to show you how to lock content in WordPress. While you can do something similar by making your site private, today we’re going to focus on how you can keep it locked until someone pays.

Using the Membership & Content Restriction Plugin

In this article, I’m featuring the Membership & Content Restriction plugin. It’s an easy system that offers an array of customization options as well as shortcodes to accentuate certain pages for getting those subscribers.

This particular plugin uses PayPal Standard for processing payments.

Let’s get started.

Go to the “Plugins” area of WordPress and click the “Add New” button.

WordPress Add New Plugin

Search for “Membership & Content.” Click to install and activate the plugin.

WordPress Install Plugin

You will see a warning message regarding user registration if it’s not enabled on your website. You will have to go to the General settings of WordPress and turn this back on.

Also, Membership & Content Restriction will inform you if there is no SSL installed. This is for safety and security purposes and it’s highly recommended to enable Secure Sockets Layer on your site if you haven’t already.

If you decided to use PayPal’s Instant Payment Notification system, you must have an SSL certificate.

The plugin will add a new function to your WordPress admin panel on the left. Click the “Paid Member Subscriptions” feature.

WordPress Paid Member Subscriptions

The Basic Information page of the plugin essentially informs you of add-on modules for the “Hobbyist and Pro” versions. For now, click on the “Subscription Plans” link on the left.

Subscription Plans

The Subscription Plans screen will show you all of the plans you have developed for the site. Since this is your first, click the “Add New” button on the top of the page.

Add New Subscription Plan

Give the subscription a new name. For the sake of this tutorial, I’m just going to name it, “Premium Users.”

Next, fill out the rest of information for the plan. This includes:

  • Description
    Just a description regarding the plan and what it provides.
  • Duration
    You can set subscriptions to expire after a certain number of days or leave it at 0 for unlimited access.
  • Price
    The price you want subscribers to pay.
  • Status
    The status of the plan. You can either activate or deactivate plans should you need to.
  • User Role
    This is the user role that connects the plan to specific individuals. For instance, I am setting it to “Subscriber.”

Once your settings are complete, click “Save Subscription.”

Save Subscription

Click on the “Settings” option in the left admin panel.

Subscription Settings

In the General tab, choose a “Register Success Page.” For now, I am just going to use the “Sample Page (ID: 2)” page that comes with the plugin.

Choose Register Success

Click on the “Payments” tab along the top.

Subscriber Payments

In this tab, you will set everything you need to accept payments from subscribers. Currency type, position of the currency symbol, active payment gateways and your PayPal email address. Once you’ve made the adjustments, click the “Save Settings” button.

Save Payment Settings

Click the “Content Restriction” tab at the top.

Content Restriction Tab

From here, you can set whether users are faced with a restriction message or a redirect to a subscribing page. You can make this page completely separate by inputting the URL.

You can also set a preview of the post to act as a “teaser” for purchasing a subscription while adjusting how many words you show. Another way to tempt users to subscribe is by using the option to show content before the “more” tag of your articles.

Once you’ve made selections and edits, click the “Save Settings” button.

Save Content Settings

Click the “E-Mails” tab at the top.

Email Tab

In this section, you will customize the email messages your subscribers receive such as confirmation, activation, cancellation and expired subscriptions. This uses the WordPress PHP email method, and you may want to change the “From Email” address unless you want to use your site’s admin account.

I would suggest creating a new email address specifically for the subscription messages.

These email messages make full use of the WordPress editor allowing visual elements such as graphics and HTML coding to accentuate the content.

When you are done with these custom messages, click the “Save Settings” button.

Save Email Settings

Now, your website is ready to accept subscription plans while locking down the content.

Content Restrictions in Posts

The Membership & Content Restriction plugin adds a feature when editing posts or pages. Under the editor itself, you’ll find a window for “Content Restriction.” It is from here that you can set the content to display for specific subscription plans or users.

For example, I have an article with the check box for “Logged In Users.” This means that all logged in users can see the post regardless of the subscription type.

If I had more than one subscription plan, they all would be listed in this window. From there, I could select only those plans I want to show the message to. This is great if you’re building a hierarchy such as Gold, Silver and Bronze memberships.

WordPress Post Options

This content lock WordPress plugin is only one of many ways to enhance a WordPress hosting account. It will keep material away from unsubscribed users while giving you control of who sees what content. There are a number of similar plugins available, and you may have to sift through a few to find the perfect ones for your needs. At any rate, these methods help you monetize the site with a content locking plugin for WordPress.

What kind of things do you offer your registered users? What kind of a social site would you set up for paying subscribers if you could?

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