Allowing Temporary Access to Premium Content with WordPress

Allowing Temporary Access to Premium Content with WordPress

Software developers have done it for a long time now – for a limited time offered their services or products for free.

But that model wouldn’t seem to make sense for premium content, would it?  If you always offered your content for free for a limited time, it would seem that all someone would need to do is to check it out right after it was published.

And that’s true. That’s all they would need to do.

And yet this model has worked for some. One site that currently employs this strategy is the very successful entrepreneur interview site Mixergy.

Give access to premium content then shut it off with a pay wall.
Give access to premium content, then shut it off with a pay wall.

A Look at How Mixergy Does It

Let’s take a quick look at what Mixergy does.

These days, Mixergy puts out about three interviews a week (plus another “course” type post).

If you catch the interviews soon after they’re published, then you see a video interview like this.

mixergy-video

However, after a certain amount of time (maybe about a month or so), the video is no longer available, and you see the following.

expired-video

That grayed out video is actually just an image. When you click on it, it links to Mixergy’s sign up page.

mixergy-sign-up

Interestingly enough, even after the videos have expired, you can still read the transcript. And so that’s something that Mixergy has decided to still give for free (perhaps for SEO purposes, I’m not sure). And there are other advantages to signing up for their premium access besides just being able to watch the video interviews.

But there’s no question that temporarily allowing access to the videos and then revoking that access is a core part of their strategy. And it seems to be working for them.

Setting Up Your Own System

You could do the same for your own content – or maybe even just a portion of your content.

You might, for example, run a membership site with premium content that is far more valuable than regular content you might put on your blog for one reason or another.

If you were to take only some of that content and make it temporarily available on an on-going basis, over time, you might very well entice more visitors into the pay area of your site.

Another way you could spin the temporary aspect of the content is to email your subscribers when it first comes out so that they know it’s available.

This would likely encourage more people to sign up for your list, and it would also likely encourage more engagement with your content.

Scarcity is a proven motivator. If people know it’s going away soon, they will drop everything else and make it a priority.

If someone thinks they can just “get to it whenever,” they are much more likely to never get to it at all.

Structuring Your Temporary Content

Of course everyone’s situation is different. What your content consists of and what you’re ultimately trying to get visitors to do (e.g. sign up for premium access a la Mixergy) will determine how you set your system up.

In the example we’re going to present, we’re going to offer some content for free for a few days, and then we’re going to cut that content off after the first paragraph and present the visitor with the option to pay for that individual piece of content or to pay for on-going content.

We’re going to do that with WPMU DEV’s Pay Per View plugin.

This is but one option, of course. You might choose to show the visitor something else once the content has expired. You might show them a linked image as Mixergy does. You might show them an email sign up form, so they’ll get notified right away next time. You might show them a video ad for your membership course. Etc., etc.

Building It – Plugins Needed

The first plugin we’ll be using is called Show/Hide Content at Set Time. (There may be others that can do this too. But as this one worked, we’re going to run with it.)

The concept here is pretty simple.

1. You use shortcodes to wrap the content you want to go away after a certain time – i.e. the premium content (with the butterfly). In this case, the content expired on March 20.

shortcode-premium-content-expired

2. And then after that, you use shortcodes again to simultaneously make public content that you want to appear – i.e. your option for them to pay for the content or a link to your membership sign up page or an email collection form, etc.

Of course you’re going to want this “call to action” content to go live at the same time the premium content expires.

Let’s do a simple example first just to show the idea.

shortcode-show-after-simple

Integrating Pay Per View

Now let’s get a little more sophisticated with all this by incorporating WPMU DEV’s Pay Per View plugin.

We’re going to expire the content as we did in Step #1, but then we’re also going give users a chance to see that content if they pay for it.

Once you have your payment options set up the way you’d like them with Pay Per View, go to the editor of the actual post you’ll be working with.

At the top in the right-hand sidebar, you should see settings for Pay Per View that you can apply to this particular post. You’ll want to make sure of two things here:

  1. Enabled? is set to “Always enabled”
  2. Method is set to “Use selection tool”
pay-per-view-settings

Because we expired the premium content in the beginning of the post, we’re going to want to repeat it again below but wrap it in the Pay Per View shortcodes so that the plugin knows what it’s supposed to show when someone pays.

You get your Pay Per View shortcodes by using the button on the visual editor and then filling out whatever information you’d like.

visual-editor-button

And, of course, we’re going to wrap all that in the “showafter” shortcodes of the Show/Hide Content at Set Time plugin. So in the end it will look like this (with content wrapped inside of shortcodes wrapped inside of more shortcodes).

double-shortcodes

And so when the premium content (with the butterfly) is open to the public, it looks like this.

premium-public

After it’s expired, it looks like this.

pay-per-view-in-action

Is This for You?

Of course you’ll have to consider the SEO implications of “going temporary.” In Mixergy’s case, as mentioned, they still have a transcript of their interview up. If they’re like many sites, they probably see far more visitors to a page over the long haul via search than they do on the initial publication. And so that works for them.

You’ll have to judge your own situation. If you’re temporarily bringing in premium content from a membership site, for example, then you weren’t going to see any search traffic for that content anyway.

So it’s something to think about. But it may just be worth trying. Who knows? You may end up with a core strategy for your site, as Mixergy has.

Photo: wall art