One member recently wrote to me asking how it would be possible to turn their WordPress blog into a site that has both a members section and a free area.
Some blogs do this well, whilst providing great content they also have a section that is only accessible if you sign up for their newsletter or actually make yourself a member of the site.
This is much easier than you think, and we will discuss the pros and the cons of each method.
Firstly to actually perform this, you do not need any extra plugins added to WordPress, as a very simple on/off switch comes as standard on your current setup. When you create a new post, take a look at the top right of the dashboard screen, and you will see Visibility options. You can then set a password option for this particular post. Unfortunately, you will then need to add a feature where people sign up to be a member of the blog, and then you must manually give them a password for these types of posts.
The next method to making a members section of your site, is to download a simple free plugin called WP Member. This enables you to restrict content to members only, and is very flexible if you want to customize this facility. Of course, this is much simpler than the above method, and takes a lot less admin.
For those that want to restrict content, as well as charge for it, there is a few plugins that can help. The most popular over the years has been EasyPaypal, which will give you a lot of basic features that are usually restricted to paid plugins.
There are many benefits of having members only sections, and the only drawback is that some people will click the back button, rather than fill in a short registration form. The only way to combat this is to actually offer some great FREE content in the first place. That way, this will presell them into making themselves a member for all the premium content. It is also a good idea to give people a teaser of the type of content in the members area – such as allowing the titles of members only posts to appear on the blog, and even the first few lines of the actual post. This will get them interested, and ensure you cut down on the number of people clicking that back button…