membership structure advice needed

I have a membership site, that I’m building, for tutorials and a Q&A forum to help business owners and other sales pros.

I’m not sure if I want to allow visitors to see any of it or some of it, and whether or not to allow for a free limited membership and a premium one, or to do a free trial, for a few days, moving into a premium membership, or just to lock out everyone unless they are a paid member.

I know the free look or free trial seems appealing to give people a sneak peek, but I could do that with a video demo. I plan to implement the affiliates plugin also, so other members will be referring people. I don’t want to overly complicate this, but does anyone have general advice on this topic?

  • Tom Eagles
    • Syntax Hero

    Hi @william_bronson

    With regards to the demo, as you said there are a few options available to you.

    You could make a limited amount of content as a demo and password protect it so that only people who registered could see it (you could add the password to the welcoming email) this way the only people who can see it are already signed up as members, even though a trial basis.

    Thats one method, the second is to limit the pages / content to the trial members. with short teasers about the main content, this way you dont get any hit and run sign ups. or simply shorter versions of content (excerpts etc.)

    Also limit the affiliate program to fully paid up members as a benefit, so trial members cant use it, it’s the same method they use here.

    The trouble when setting up a new site is deciding on the amount of preview content available and what to show. But thats a call on your end.

    I think in membership you can drip the content but i am not sure of thats on a per user basis, if not it would be an awsome update for the plugin so they would only get access to the bulk of the content after the trial period had expired and they had signed up in full.

    anyway enough of my ramblings hope this gave you a few ideas to mull over.

  • william_bronson
    • The Incredible Code Injector

    awesome. That’s one of my top scenario choices and I like it.

    The only issue I have is how to “tease” the content.

    With membership plugin, if I protect pages, categories, or menu items, it removes them from view altogether.

    Since my membership content is displayed by category, I can’t figure out how to display a message on the page. The page is just a dynamic category viewer with thumbnails of the video posts. But I’ll play with it.

    Okay, so here’s what I think I’ll do.

    I’ll lock out visitors totally from the members content and help forum, and have a demo video on my front end to show that stuff.

    Then, I have 2 options:

    OPTION A:

    I’ll have a 7 day free trial, with limited content and functionality, and as many indications or teasers of the premium content as I can figure out.

    Then, after the free trial, they will have to upgrade.

    or

    OPTION B:

    To have a free AND a premium membership indefinitely, and tease the heck out of the free members, only allowing the affiliate program to the premium members.

    So that’s the only decision now, on foundational structure.

    Wow, it helps so much to have someone to bounce this off of. Thank you!

  • Tom Eagles
    • Syntax Hero

    @william_bronson

    Hi there, glad to have been some help, one of the things i love about this site, it’s not just the technical help but that broad depth of experience and as most people here are working on similar projects even though they may be involved in different markets is that they will have faced similar choices and issues and so they are great to bounce ideas off as you say.

    Personally i would go with option A in your case unless there was a huge difference between a and b.

  • Timothy
    • Chief Pigeon

    Trials are popular and people love to shop with their eyes, just like they eat with their eyes. So giving them samples could tempt them in.

    But giving them to much removes the reason to register. It’s finding the balance.

    Using Videos are cool, but you need to keep them current and catchy.

    What I’ve done before is use a multisite, the main site is the promo drop site, all the about us info, contact forms, promo material, etc, etc.

    The second site is the membership site, no access to strangers. It uses the same design and navigation (with the extra membership links) thus looking to be the exact same site to avoid confusion for members.

    domain.com <– Main site, promo stuff, contact forms, etc, etc

    members.domain.com <– All the membership content, full protected.

    Making sense?

    I always like this approach.

  • william_bronson
    • The Incredible Code Injector

    @timothy

    I took your advice. However, I’m not seeing what happens after the trial.

    The subscription page didnt have a way to upgrade. the text was there but no selection button. so I deactivated the premium membership and added that level below the free trial period in the same membership. crossing my fingers.

  • william_bronson
    • The Incredible Code Injector

    I’m stuck with a decision now.

    I have a trial-to-premium subscription. They sign up free, but have to authorize payment for the premium set to start in 3 or 7 days. So they don’t need to do anything to upgrade. It’s automatic. I’m concerned about offering a free trial where they need to pay or authorize payment for the upgrade. I like it but just need to think about spinning it to the public.

    I have two other stand alone subs. One free and one premium. In that scenario they could sign up free and then upgrade. I could set the free to finite so it would be a limited time free then they would either lose their membership or have to upgrade.

    I’d rather they be in the loop, able to get my communications and see my content, or what I want them to see.

    So it’s a decision, as you can see

  • Timothy
    • Chief Pigeon

    Please do let us know how you get on with this.

    If you have any ideas for feature updates to handle these things differently then please feel free to open any feature requests you wish. :slight_smile:

    The most popular ideas will always be considered. :slight_smile:

    Take care.

  • william_bronson
    • The Incredible Code Injector

    well, I had a subscription set up with a free trial at the beginning and then it moved to a premium membership.

    I have affiliate loaded.

    Sure enough, it doesnt charge, but acts like it will. In other words, it sets up for payment once the trial is over. Cool.

    But, in affiliate with test users, it logs the affiliate credit from the beginning, showing I owe commissions on a referral who got the free trial and may be able to cancel before the paid portion starts, but I don’t see how that would trigger reducing the commissions.

    It should trigger commissions when a payment is made, or at least there should be a trial module that’s outside the normal routine, so people can offer free trials without all of this headache.

    Now, I need to stick with two subscriptions. One free and one premium, making the free one a finite length of time. That way the affiliate commissions won’t be all messed up.

    I’m going to test the free trial as an automatic upon registration and make it 3 days, so the excitement is still there somewhat.

    I don’t think I want a free membership without an end date. The affiliate plugin doesnt distinguish between what someone is signed up for. So, if they are a free member, I can’t lock out the affiliate program to them. Or at least I can’t see how.

    Still very confused and I havent even been able to concentrate on my content, which is what I should be focused on.

  • Mark Wallace
    • Learn-ing-er

    Hello!

    I’m concerned about offering a free trial where they need to pay or authorize payment for the upgrade

    Still very confused and I havent even been able to concentrate on my content, which is what I should be focused on.

    If you finish all you content 1st it will be much easier to set up the Membership plugin!

    What i have been thinking of doing is create two sets of content.

    1 for trial membership and use fees to let them get some updated post!

    2. The full access membership that will give them everything!

    I would be interested in seeing what you come up with!

  • Timothy
    • Chief Pigeon

    1 for trial membership and use fees to let them get some updated post!

    2. The full access membership that will give them everything!

    Thats never a bad idea. You could have:

    domain.com – Main site, contact info, about, etc, etc.

    membership.domain.com – All the membership goodness.

    trial.domain.com – All the trial membership goodness.

    You could then use AutoBlog:

    https://premium.wpmudev.org/project/autoblog/

    Or something like content Mirror:

    http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/content-mirror/

    That would take the content from the membership to the trial site.

    Take care.

  • william_bronson
    • The Incredible Code Injector

    very cool. I needed those tools.

    But for my site, I can just use categories and the MORE tag with membership access levels.

    Keeping it completely separate is an interesting idea.

    However, I have three extra categories I added.

    Free, Trial, and Premium

    If I simply tag each post accordingly, then it will either show, or not show according to their level.

    Also, with the more tag, I could have a post and lock out the bulk of it to trial members.

    With video content, I could create two videos. one short with ad for premium membership, and one full. Then, if I lock out premium members from seeing the trial content, only trial members would see it.

    It occurs to me that I could simply give a free 7 day trial and have it completely open to all content. So it really is a free 7 day look at exactly what they will have access to, instead of a limited look.

    Any thoughts on that? It would be much more simple.

    7 day trial, finite, free

    monthly premium, serial, $

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