Crowdfunding has quickly become a normal way to generate capital for new projects and products. However, the approach suffers from many of the drawbacks of a non-subscription business model. Most crucially, you’ll need to rely on a high number of customers in order to reach your goals.
Patreon was created in part to provide a consistent, ongoing income source to help creatives keep doing what they do. However, with the recent release of its WordPress plugin, the platform has now become an excellent way to create a membership website with WordPress.
In this post, we’ll discuss the benefits of creating a membership website, then introduce Patreon and its corresponding plugin. We’ll then show you how to use the plugin, and finally, touch on how the Patreon API can enhance the membership experience for your visitors. Let’s get started!
The Benefits of Creating a WordPress Membership Website
In simple terms, a membership (or subscription) website is one that requires a regular payment to access its services. That’s a pretty broad definition and can encompass various payment frequencies and levels of access. For example, the dating site eHarmony offers a few different payment methods for one service – access to the dating site. However, depending on the products and services offered, you could encounter any number of membership tiers.
These sites are advantageous for visitors since they get access to content that is often of a higher quality, or more suited to their particular needs than other options. For the site owner, on the other hand, the main benefit is the income generated. However, there are a few other pros:
- The income you earn is ongoing and regular, meaning you can operate more a stable business.
- Since you’re earning regular revenue from the same set of customers, there’s less urgent need to find new leads.
- You can develop a community that fosters engagement and participation, bolstering brand loyalty.
As for the platform you choose to create your membership site, WordPress is obviously a strong choice. You can choose from one of the many dedicated plugins to get the job done. However, there are also some third-party solutions that can be ideal. Let’s discuss one in particular.
Patreon is a unique entry into the world of crowdfunding and revenue generation. The premise is simple: as the content creator, you sell visitors on your work by populating a profile page with information about what you’re offering and who you are. You’ll then invite visitors to support you by subscribing to various tiered membership levels (with no fixed term). For example, you can ask for a monthly subscription, or alternatively charge per piece of content:
Until recently, Patreon existed in its own ‘bubble’ without any dedicated integration tools. However, the platform now offers an App Directory, which enables you to link to various third-party services – including WordPress.
While there are many Patreon integrations worth considering, we’re naturally most interested in the WordPress option. It enables you to link Patreon-specific functionality to your WordPress website, meaning you can restrict certain content to subscribers only. The difference between this and a standard membership plugin is that the administrative hassle is handled on Patreon’s end, so you can keep all your subscribers in one place.
Without this solution, visitors would have to be routed through your dedicated Patreon page. While this isn’t necessarily a problem, bringing traffic into your website on a consistent basis is a key metric for boosting search rankings. Plus, using your website as a central ‘hub’ is always a smart idea.
Some of this plugin’s other key features include that it:
- Enables you to designate Patreon pledge levels directly from the WordPress post editor.
- Lets you create a prompt for non-subscribers, asking them to make a pledge.
- Provides a simple Unlock With Patreon button for current subscribers.
The Patreon WordPress plugin is completely free, as long as you have a Patreon page set up. However, there are plans to introduce a premium version with additional functionality in the future.
How to Use Patreon to Create a WordPress Membership Site
To use the Patreon integration plugin, you’ll first need to visit the WordPress.org plugin page, and install and activate it. Once that’s complete, you’ll see a new option on your WordPress dashboard – Patreon Settings. Navigating to this screen brings up a comprehensive set of options:
Before you begin, it’s worth noting that you’ll need to be using the Pretty permalink option. When you have that setup, navigate back to this page and note down the Redirect URI. Then, you’ll need to follow these instructions to generate your API credentials (using the Redirect URI), and populate the rest of the fields within your Patreon Settings using those credentials.
After that, save your changes by hitting the Update Settings button. Then, go over to Settings > Permalinks and click Save, to make sure the rewrite rules are in place. Now, if you navigate to any post or page, you’ll see a metabox on the right-hand side where you can enter a Patreon contribution amount. If the above steps haven’t been carried out successfully, this metabox will be temporarily locked:
Before you go, there are a few more options at your disposal within the Patreon Settings screen. These include the ability to make your entire website subscriber-only and to create a custom Call To Action (CTA) for non-subscribers. These are some smart ways to customize your experience and are worth checking out. Finally, another way to tweak your membership site to suit your needs is to use the Patreon API.
How the Patreon API Can Help You Customize Your Membership Website
For those with the expertise (or with specialized requirements), the Patreon API could be your ticket to an enhanced and uniquely customized website. In fact, there’s an entire Developer Portal to help you tweak elements of your Patreon subscription model to perfection. This portal contains tools and advice for integrating Patreon into websites of all kinds, including WordPress.
To get you started, there is a set of in-house client libraries that help with integration. Plus, there’s a comprehensive quick start guide on how to get up and running with the API. There are also a number of webhooks available, and by signing up you can even register your own. Using a combination of the API and these webhooks, you can:
- Export pledge data, including real-time updates on subscribers.
- View the current user’s profile and campaign (only if they are a creator).
- Obtain a paginated list of a creator’s pledges.
There’s a wealth of extendability made available by using both the API and webhooks. What’s more, Patreon is also open to discussing further integrations. If you’re interested, getting in touch should be your next step.
Creating a membership website is a smart way to earn consistent income from hardcore fans of your products and services. In addition, combining WordPress with a quality membership solution such as Patreon lets you restrict content to those who pledge on the platform.
In this post, we’ve talked about membership websites in general, then focused on Patreon and its recent developments. The platform’s Developer Portal and App Directory are full of great ways to connect various services and functionality together. However, its WordPress plugin will be of particular interest for those who wish to earn income through regular memberships on their websites.
Do you have any questions about using Patreon and WordPress together? Let us know in the comments section below!
Featured image: Pixabay.
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