Paid membership and subscription plugins
I just wanted to share my experiences with paid membership plugins here.
I have spent a couple of days looking now and have ended up with the free s2member plugin. Along the way I tried wp-wave and the plugins found at WPMU DEV. The two latter were a disappointement (as were all “premium” or commercial plugs I have tried so far) and I wish I would not have spent the money. But let me start from the beginning.
As it stands now there are no (or very little) methods on how to differentiate user accounts. WordPress has user roles which define who can do what but this is still far from being suitable for monetization.
My personal wishlist of base requirements for the ideal membership plugin looks as follows:
1. a free membership is possible.
2. admin may define paid membership categories.
3. users may upgrade any time from free to paid membership.
4. users are granted a trial period when signing up / upgrading to a paid plan.
5. admin may restrict access to content depending on the membership.
6. admin may restrict access to features depending on membership.
7. admin may limit ressources (i.e. disk space, number of groups) depending on membership.
I understand that especially the last two points on my list are not easily achieved at all and true enough: After 2 weeks of research I have found no plugin (Commercial or not) that can cater to all my needs. Even more so I have come to the conclusion that every time I compare commercial plugins with open source ones, the open source ones usually win, but thats another story.
To cut to the chase:
s2member has in my opinion the best set of features that neither a wp-wave nor WPMU DEV plugins can top. I think that the plugins on WPMU DEV are just presented nicely, but for each plugin that is presented there you can find an open source one that does exactly the same (or better, no offense).
My solution for now?
I will use s2member to offer two paid memberships in the future each with a 30-day free trial period. The first one is paid monthly, the second is paid annualy offering a 17% discount. Both have the same set of features since I for now see no other proper way of setting up paid memberships. The drawback is that people who want to sign up need a paypal account with a credit card since s2member uses the subscription type payments.
I hope you find this information useful if you are also trying to implement paid memberships on your site.
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