s2Member, a product I’ve mentioned before, allows you to monetize your blog by charging a membership fee or charging for access to particular pages or files. As such, it’s an incredible value for anyone who owns a blog. The free version of s2Member integrates seamlessly with PayPal, the “for sale” version offers multiple payment options, (including PayPal Pro, Google Checkout, Authorize.Net, ClickBank, AliPay, and ccBill). There’s also an API that you can use to extend its capabilities.
My previous mention of s2Member was brief and didn’t go into specifics. This time I’ll give a bit of a walk-through using screen captures.
PayPal Pro has the advantage of lower per-transaction fees than regular PayPal, and allows you to process transactions while keeping users on your site. There’s no need to go to PayPal and return, which can increase conversion rates as well as make your site more “sticky”.
This first image is pretty self-explanatory, and shows the menu of options for generating PayPal forms for the different levels of membership access. In fact, s2member is so simple to set up that you might just want to skip this explanation and browse through the images to get a sense of it.
As you can see from this next image, it’s quite simple to choose payment options for the different levels of membership, including length of subscription and renewal options.
You can set it up as a one time charge or a trial period followed by recurring billing. s2member also gives you the option of offering a basic membership with restricted access for free.
Setting up the PayPal account information is simplicity itself. You simply enter your PayPal email address, API username and password, and API signature, all of which you can get by logging into your PayPal account.
s2Member also integrates easily with PayPal’s sandbox mode for testing purposes, and can log transactions locally for easy debugging. PayPal’s sandbox setup is more complicated than it needs to be and it annoys me, so personally I just use the log option, hide developing sites using .htaccess, and set prices to a penny for testing.
Like any good e-commerce/membership system, s2Member automatically sends a welcome email to new users. The welcome email can contain as much or as little information about the transaction as you prefer, and can be customized using easy-to-use placeholders in the body of the email template.
Click on the picture on the left to see what I mean. The variable placeholders are conveniently explained below the admin form, but have been obscured on purpose by the WordPress logo.
If you’re looking for ways to make money on the internet, and need to know how to create a site, try using WordPress and s2Memberto create a paid membership blog. Membership website software can be confusing, and these tools make it less complicated.
Of course, you’ll need to have a subject for your blog, but that’s a whole other article.
More soon. Check back in a bit.