If you’ve worked with BuddyPress at all, then you know that it has a bevy of features and settings to get your online community set up just right. Yet with all those features, there is one notably missing… that feature is premium memberships.
In another article we discussed some tips for building a thriving online community and one of those tips is to make your community profitable. I’m going to walk you through the process of getting started with paid memberships for BuddyPress.
Picking a good membership plugin
Picking the right membership plugin is extremely important. Each plugin works a little differently and those small nuances can have a big impact on the way your community functions. Here is a list of the top 3 WordPress membership plugins available right now.
When I am working with a client to setup a paid BuddyPress membership site, one of my biggest considerations is the plugin’s flexibility. Finding a plugin that does everything you need it to do now is great, but if it is not able to be customized as your needs change then you are going to run into big trouble.
For this reason I generally recommend Restrict Content Pro. It is consistently the most flexible and extensible membership plugin that we work with and we’ve had opportunity to contribute back to the plugin on several occasions. Not only this, but Pippin and his team are working hard to continually add new features to the plugin.
Another reason I recommend Restrict Content Pro is that there is a BuddyPress add-on for it that will go a long way to get you started with your BuddyPress memberships. The developers behind this add-on are really top notch (spoiler alert… it’s us!).
Creating a simple registration flow
The registration flow for your membership site is super important, especially if you are using BuddyPress. The key here is to make sure that you use the registration form from your membership solution and not the default BuddyPress registration form. Any user added to your site, no matter what registration form they use, will automatically have access to BuddyPress.
Once the new member is registered, doubtless you will have profile information that you want them to fill out before proceeding to the site. BP Force Profile is a neat little plugin that will do just that. If you have set up any of the BuddyPress extended profile fields to be required, this plugin will redirect your user back to their profile page until their profile has been completed.
Another handy plugin is one that we wrote to conditionally show/hide BuddyPress extended profile field groups. This is helpful if you have profile field groups that are only applicable to certain member types.
Depending on the membership solution you go with, you will have access to a few different payment processors. My favorite, hands down, is Stripe. It is by far the easiest to manage and does not have all of the complicated settings and setup that you get with PayPal.
Once you’ve picked your payment processor, you’ll need to decide what your membership levels will look like and how much to charge and at what intervals.
My advice to you is to keep things as simple as possible. Your prospective customers should be able to understand your offerings at a glance and should not be confused by multiple membership levels. My recommendation is to keep your membership levels to a maximum of 3.
Managing member permissions
Finally we get down to the hard part. Member permissions and membership features can vary so much from community to community. You may be able to build out all of your features with the tools I linked to above or you may need to build out some custom capability management.
Unless you have a large budget for your site, my recommendation is to define membership features based on existing tools and functionality. Custom work with BuddyPress can be a lot of fun and there is some awesome stuff that can be done with it, but it can get really expensive really fast. Spend some time figuring out what your “must haves” are when planning out your membership community. Defining a clear and simple strategy up front will save you tons of money and help ensure that your community is successful.
If you have an idea for a community or want to discuss converting an existing community into a paid membership site, we’d love to hear from you! Use our Contact form to tell us all about what you are working on.
If you have any questions about anything posted here, or have other resources you’d like to share regarding membership communities be sure to leave a comment below.