We’ve already written a lot about creating a membership site with WordPress, and there are several plugins available to help you create an entire member management system, from purchasing access to restricting content and managing members.

However, many of these solutions are complete overkill for creating simple content paywalls. For example, you’ve probably read articles on popular news sites like the New York Times or Wall Street Journal — you can often read some content for free, but then you’re required to subscribe or pay a per-article fee to access content on the site. These are simple content paywalls.

Creating a paywall is simple, and you can do so without the hassle of signing up for a merchant account, installing a payment gateway integration, managing member accounts, or configuring complex content restriction plugins.

If you only want to sell access to content without worrying about other member management tools or processing payments securely, then there are lightweight platforms you can use to create content paywalls with WordPress. One tool that easily integrates with WordPress to do so is CoinTent.

Content Paywalls with WordPress: CoinTent Review

CoinTent is a content restriction service that lets you easily sell access to your WordPress posts or other content. CoinTent offers a free WordPress plugin and simple pricing to let you restrict content unless a reader purchases access via a one-time fee or a subscription. This lets you create a lightweight membership or pay-per-view site with WordPress

All you have to do is restrict your content via the CoinTent plugin, and CoinTent will handle hiding this content, managing access to it, and accepting payments. You can set up pricing and access rules in your CoinTent account, track analytics and revenue from your content paywalls, and you’ll get a monthly payment from CoinTent (for revenues over $10 in a month).

CoinTent will let you restrict entire categories of posts — and can display an excerpt as a teaser — or you can restrict portions of content (such as videos or infographics) via shortcode. This lets you restrict content on posts, pages, or other parts of your site.

Pricing for CoinTent is simple. If you sell subscription access, then CoinTent charges $0.30 + 5% of the transaction to manage the payment processing and content restriction. As payment processors typically charge $0.30 + 3% of transactions for just payment processing (and may charge additional fees), this is comparable to what you’d have to pay for only payment processing services without content restriction.

If you sell pay-per-view access, you’ll be charged a percentage base fee for any transaction under $2.00, as micropayments are typically more expensive. Their FAQ explains that you’ll keep 80% of all revenues via one-time purchases made through the CoinTent widget on your site.

CoinTent remits to publishers 80% of all money collected on their content. 15% covers credit card fees, fraud protection, security. The last 5% is our fee.

This pricing would only kick into effect for very small payments of under $2.00.

Using CoinTent, you can easily create a content paywall on your WordPress site in 4 steps.

1. Create a CoinTent Account

Creating a CoinTent account was fast, simple, and free. I entered my email and password, and I had access to my publisher dashboard. You’ll only pay for CoinTent when you make sales, so you can set up your account and content restriction for free.

When you log into your account and view your account details, you’ll be given a publisher ID and token. You’ll use these to connect CoinTent to your WordPress site via their free plugin.

Content paywall with WordPress:  CoinTent Account Credentials

CoinTent Account Details

Your CoinTent account is also where you’ll set pricing for your content or subscriptions, as well as view analytics on your revenue, so we’ll come back to our CoinTent dashboard after we’ve set up the WordPress side of our content paywall.

2. Integrate CoinTent on Your WordPress site

You can download the free CoinTent plugin from WordPress.org and install it on your site to integrate with your CoinTent account. Setup is pretty simple, and there’s documentation available to help you get going.

Content paywall with WordPress: CoinTent plugin settings

Plugin Settings

A new CoinTent menu will be added to your WordPress admin when you activate the plugin. There are only a couple of steps you need to take to be up and running. First, you’ll have to enter your CoinTent publisher ID and token in the plugin settings to link your site to your CoinTent account.

Content paywall with WordPress:  credentials

Enter CoinTent Credentials

You can also restrict your content in the settings, as this lets you restrict entire categories of content.

Content Paywall with WordPress: CoinTent category restriction

Restricting categories

I liked the ability to set an “Excluded Category”. For example, if I have a post that’s in the “Restricted: Basic” category (which could be your music or tutorials category), and it’s also in my “Public” category, it won’t be paywalled. This lets you provide public or sample posts to help sell other content within a category.

There are a few other basic settings, such as excerpt length and the way purchasing widgets are displayed, that can be configured within minutes.

3. Restrict Content by Creating a Content Paywall

There are two primary methods that you can use to restrict your content: post categories and shortcodes. Restricting entire categories can be done while you’re doing basic plugin configuration, and posts in these categories will show an excerpt and then block the rest of the post until a reader purchases access.

If you’d like to provide longer teasers or only hide certain parts of your content, you can use the restriction shortcode instead to hide portions of posts, pages, or other content. The basic restriction shortcode is simple:

[cointent_contentlocked]Paywalled Content[/cointent_contentlocked]

This will display the purchasing widget on my site, and any content within that shortcode will be hidden until the reader buys access via a one-time purchase or subscription.

Content paywall with WordPress:  purchasing widget

Basic Purchasing Widget

You can also customize this purchasing widget by adding some attributes (which are entirely optional) to the shortcode. It accepts all of the following attributes:

  • article_title: By default, the widget uses the post title to display while customers purchase content. Use this if you want to set a custom title for the purchase.
  • title: The title to display above purchasing buttons, i.e., “Please purchase this content to continue reading.”
  • subtitle: A subtitle / message to display above purchasing buttons, i.e., “To view the rest of this article:”
  • post_purchase_title: This replaces the ‘title’ field after the reader purchases
  • post_purchase_subtitle: This replaces the ‘subtitle’ field after the reader purchases.
  • image_url: URL for an 80px image to be shown in the widget
  • view_type: This can change the display of the purchasing widget (details in the documentation)

Let’s add a couple of these attributes to change the purchasing widget display for my content:

[cointent_lockedcontent view_type="full" title="Don't stop here!" subtitle="Subscribe or purchase to keep reading" image_url="/wp-content/uploads/coffee-icon.png"]Restricted content[/cointent_contentlocked]

Now I’ve changed to the full (boxed view), and customized the widget text. The default text can be changed in plugin settings if you want to create a generic default, but it can be overridden in this shortcode.

Content paywall with WordPress:  full widget

CoinTent full widget

Any content that you’ve restricted via the category restrictions or shortcodes can now be managed within your CoinTent dashboard. This will let you change pricing and determine what content is accessible to subscribers (if you choose to create subscriptions).

4. Manage Content Paywalls with WordPress via CoinTent

Once you’re done setting up your content restrictions, you can manage access and pricing in your CoinTent dashboard under Content. You should pay special attention to price, expiry, and labels.

Content paywall with WordPress:  managing content

Managing Content Access and Pricing

Price will change the cost to access the content if the reader has used a pay-per-view purchase. Expiry will set an optional expiration (in days) for access to the content. For example, if I set an expiry of 7 days, then any reader who purchases the content via my content paywall will have access for one week.

Labels are important if you decide to sell subscriptions in addition to pay-per-view content. Each subscription can access one or more labels. In my case, I’ve created a “Basic” and a “Premium” label, which will correspond to basic and premium subscriptions. Premium subscribers will pay more and have access to all of my content, while basic subscribers will be able to access most, but not all, content.

In short, labels will determine which posts can be accessed by which subscriber.

If you do choose to set up subscription content paywalls, you can do so within your Dashboard under Subscription. Create a new plan for each subscription, set pricing and an optional expiration, and determine which labels the subscriber should be able to access as part of the subscription.

Content paywall with WordPress:  subscription plans

Creating Subscription plans

For example, if a reader purchases a basic subscription on my site, this will unlock any post with the “basic” label.

Once you’ve set prices and optionally created subscriptions for your content, your content paywalls are fully operational 🙂 .

Other Content Paywall Tools from CoinTent

While you won’t need this to restrict content or sell access to it, it’s very helpful to have access to analytics in your CoinTent dashboard. The built-in analytics can show you important information such as total revenue for a period:

Content paywall with WordPress:  CoinTent analytics

CoinTent Analytics

You can select from several reports and date ranges to get an idea of where purchases come from, how revenue is broken down based on payments or subscriptions, and revenue by source.

Content paywall with WordPress:  analytics options

Analytics Views

What will Content Paywalls Look like to Readers?

I liked that CoinTent lets readers stay on my site to make purchases. All purchasing takes place in an overlay so readers simply complete the purchasing form, and they can immediately continue reading.

You can customize the form with your logo and header color so that it’s consistent with your site.

Content paywall with WordPress:  purchasing

Purchasing Paywalled Content

Readers create their account, add funds, then purchase the content access. The content is then immediately unlocked and they can stay on your site to continue reading.

Subscriptions work in a similar manner — readers select the plan they’d like to use, create an account via CoinTent, and complete the subscription purchase.

Content paywall with WordPress:  CoinTent subscription purchase

Purchasing a Subscription

With either option, they’ll see the post-purchase messages you’ve configured, and continue reading.

Content paywall with WordPress:  content purchased

Content Purchased

Summary: Use CoinTent to Create a Content Paywall with WordPress

CoinTent let me create a lightweight content paywall system with WordPress easily without any upfront costs. Rather than install a membership plugin, get a merchant account and sign up with a payment processor, and worry about managing your plugin and member accounts on your site, you can let CoinTent handle content restriction, payment processing, content access, and optionally allow subscriptions.

CoinTent also ensure that you don’t have to worry about payment processing security, as they handle all payment details for you. You can then focus on what matters to you: your content.

Setting up a CoinTent account only took a couple of minutes, and I was able to restrict content easily by restricting my categories. You could take more time to set up restrictions via shortcode if desired, but category restriction made setup fast and simple.

The only dislike I had was managing content labels for subscriptions, as I couldn’t delete or rename them after they were created. However, CoinTent support was able to help with this and told me they’re working on improving label management.

Aside from this small issue, CoinTent lets you create content paywalls with minimal effort that will only cost money when you generate revenue by selling content. You can sign up for free to try CoinTent out:


Note: This post was sponsored by CoinTent, as the product was provided for us to review. The opinions in this article are solely those of the author without bias, and are based on experiences using the product. For more information, please see our editorial policy.

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Posted by Beka Rice

Beka Rice manages the direction of Sell with WP content and writes or edits most of our articles to share her interests in eCommerce. Or she just writes as an excuse to spend more time jamming out to anything from The Clash to Lady Gaga. Who knows.

4 Comments

  1. If I were a publisher, I would be worried about relying so heavily on a third-party for a core feature of my business. CoinTent looks flexible and easy to use, but what happens if they go out of business? Poof, all of my subscribers are gone and I have to do a ton of work to get my site operating normally again. (Correct me if I’m wrong, I’m making assumptions based on their marketing site and previous experience with other products.)

    We generally like to keep things separate and recommend owning the software that runs your site. That often means platform independence (bring your own payment processor, swap it out if you get better terms from another provider) and open source (WordPress vs. Squarespace vs. Shopify). There’s more of an up-front cost, but then you own your business and have the ultimate long-term flexibility.

    1. Hey Dalton, I think this is a risk to any hosted solution, such as the inability to export Squarespace products, Shopify blog posts, or Gumroad memberships / subscriptions — you simply won’t have access to all data in a hosted solution. If you choose a hosted platform, you gain ease of use and less responsibility for security (in the case of processing payments anyway), but that hosted solution has to store the data for you, process payments for you (one reason why solutions like Gumroad, Shopify, or CoinTent can have competitive rates, as they’re aggregating payment processing for a discount), and can’t necessarily transfer a subscription to you. I’m not sure if this is planned for the CoinTent API (accessing / transferring subscriptions), but it’s not always available for hosted solutions or apps.

      I definitely agree that one of the beauties of self-hosted / open source plugins is the ability to own your data, but with that comes the responsibility for your site and its security. If you’re the kind of person that’s willing to take on the up front costs in set up, managing your own payment processing, investing (potentially) in PCI compliance, and being ultimately responsible for any site issues, then there are definitely tons of options available to you.

      I think services like this are meant for a different person: perhaps someone who’s validating an idea to see if it gains traction; someone who doesn’t have any interest in managing their own payment processing and payments security, or troubleshooting potential incompatibilities that tend to arise between server + plugins + themes (and having done more than enough support for eCommerce plugins, there are tons of conflicts / issues that you’d never expect to arise, but that we see daily); or someone who simply wants the easiest solution they can find. Hosted solutions mean you don’t have to worry about updating your software or conflicts that can break important eCommerce functionality.

      “With great power comes great responsibility,” as Uncle Ben used to say 😉 . You can always gain more flexibility and control over your solution via a self-hosted platform, but then you take on the additional responsibilities associated with them, which (while it may work for people like you and I who are comfortable doing so) isn’t for everyone.

  2. Was keen to hear about other services besides cointent as there are many more WordPress solutions and I was researching options. What are your thoughts using pay walled membership plugins for example? Or non PayPal solutions such as eWay?

    1. Hey Edwin, I think it depends on how much content you’re restricting, if you’re comfortable setting up your own payment processing with attention to security or want someone else to do it, if users should have accounts on your site, and how detailed your restrictions need to be. There are definitely a lot of WordPress-specific solutions — we’ve got a category of posts devoted to them — but I’m in the camp that the site setup / your preference for responsibility dictate what you should choose.

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