Need some guidance/help regarding free/paid blog creations and my own billing platform

Hi there team - I need some advice ....
History:
I am using WPMU to replace an old "do it yourself" website building platform. The old solution allowed the user to get a 30 day free trial - then if they wanted to "go live" they went to my site and purchased a hosting package and then I activated their website builder tools but my billing system handled the recurring invoices and I simply "suspended" their priviledges if they didn't pay etc.

I have been hosting for many years so I already have a serious billing platform in place (it's called Advanced Webhost Billing System or AWBS in case anyone is familiar with it). Thus, I don't want to use the PayPal or Amazon checkout methods for managing my WPsupporter subscriptions so I am trying to figure out the best way to set up my Multi-site and manage the billing/privileges.

Right now I have manually set the paid subscribers to 365 days but this is tedious and requires we monitor too much (especially if we grow!).

Needs:
We want to offer a full meal deal for 30 days for free. They can build their site, use the themes and plugins, access support etc but their domain will be at ourwebsite.com/theirwebsite. At the end of 30 days they either have to sign up or their site reverts to just sitting there with no administrative tools. So they can still have a site but they can't do anything with it. Basically - if they go to login they get a message that says "you need to subscribe in order to use these features" or something like that and then they have a link to go to our site to purchase a package.

Once they purchase a hosting package we will map their domain and they will continue full access.

Of course, we only want to restrict website administration - not subscribers (i.e. we don't want to prevent people from being able to subscribe to blogs and/or login to them to post comments etc)

Right Now:
Right now I've set up our multi-site using the supporter plugin and setting up my exisiting "do it yourself" website customers with 365 days of supporter access - but this is not going to work because everyone is on a different pay cycle etc and it will become a management nightmare.

I'm looking to the community for some recommendations on how I might accomplish these goals - would the membership plugin be a better solution? Is there anyone out there that might be able to help me connect the supporter ordering to my billing platform via an API or something?

Looking forward to your feedback!
Harmony

  • wpcdn

    Hi,

    A few thoughts that may help a little:

    As for integrating Supporter (or whatever payment mechanism you're using in WordPress) with AWBS:

    I don't think there's a feasible way to do this. They're just two separate animals. It would be great to have an add-on for AWBS or WHMCS or ClientExec that creates a WordPress multisite site, but I don't know of anything that does this. We have the same dilemma in that we offer multisite hosting (where users will pay for a site within the network) and standalone cPanel hosting. We'd love for everything to be billed under the same system, but it just isn't practical. However, with the multisite product, we will point out the benefits of paying for it right there in your WordPress Dashboard. And I think most people will appreciate that.

    Speaking of AWBS, WHMCS and ClientExec, we've been using WHMCS for some time and it's been a love-hate relationship. We are loving the new version of ClientExec (4.1). It's still missing some of the nuances that WHMCS has, but we like it better in many ways. And the development team is ultra-responsive. In case you haven't looked at it recently, it's worth a look now.

    As for Supporter vs. Membership, I don't think that's your answer. Membership is more of a "pay to read" solution, whereas supporter is more of a "pay to blog" solution (not to be confused with the Pay to Blog plugin).

    As for blocking access after the free trial, Supporter isn't really set up to do that. But there are hacks mentioned elsewhere in this forum that can add this functionality.

    This might help:

    https://premium.wpmudev.org/forums/topic/pay-only-supporter-solution

    Beyond that, the upcoming version of Supporter will have more features, but I don't know if this is one of them. And I don't know when it's coming out.

    HTH,

    Mark

  • Mason

    Nice response here Mark. There's not really a decent way to do this - although if you were looking to migrate completely away from AWBS and have everything on the same host through WordPress Multisite you could then run everything through Supporter - but obviously folks won't have the ability to have their own cPanel and the other server-side items.

    For my own stuff I have a WordPress multisite with Supporter running for small individual clients. They can do all the things your talking about here 30 day trial, then stay on by purchasing a subscription or quit - although I don't provide the ability to create membership sites on my install.

    I also have a hosting re-seller account and use WHMCS for managing that. I don't have open registrations for either of these services though. Mine are all folks who contact me direclty - I listen to their needs and then determine which system is best for them and set it up. Mostly the difference comes down to the size and complexity of their site's needs (and, of course, their budget).

    Mark, I haven't used ClientExec, but will probably give it a look. I have the same love-hate thing going with WHMCS.

    While the next version of Supporter is gonna bring a whole new level of making WordPress 'software as a service' a reality - it still won't be possible to integrate into AWBS or WHMCS.

    Thanks!

  • coburnenterprises

    Thanks for the input guys. Like MasonJames I have the one on one relationship with most of my clients so I can "limp through" this but I really want to do a "hands off" solution for the "do it yourselfer" where they can sign up and go. I ended up creating a hosting product in AWBS that allows them to get a 30 day free trial using a coupon code then we just have to manually add them to our multisite platform - not too bad and also sets things up for when they're ready for domain mapping. (Gets their domain on our DNS platform). Since we give them email hosting and run their mail through our google/postini spam filters it makes it easier for us if we have their dns.

    It's a bit clunky but since we have the one on one contact I think we can limp through it.

    I thought I could uninstall supporter once I made that decision but then realized I still need it for the plugin access control piece ... oops.

    If you guys haven't looked at AWBS I do recommend it - it's worked well for me for the last 4 or 5 years - I buy their support license for $60/year and they keep it all updated for me which is great! I also find their support team to be incredibly responsive. Of course, I haven't looked at anything else since I made the decision (just not enough hours in the day for yet another learning curve!).

    Thanks for the input.
    Harmony