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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
You can also restrict your content in the settings, as this lets you restrict entire categories of content.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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 🙂 .
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:
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.
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.
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.
With either option, they’ll see the post-purchase messages you’ve configured, and continue reading.
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: