Subscription Website Software and Solutions
In an earlier article we looked at the option of charging website readers for allowing them access to premium content on your website. We observed that premium content typically consist of information or know-how that is not easily available free. We also saw that the typical solution was to allow free access to a sample of the high-value content and restrict access to most of the premium content.
It follows that we should be able to keep the premium content behind a firewall with restricted access to authorized persons, i.e. subscribers who have paid for the access. Ideally, we should also be able to prevent unauthorized use of the content by even the authorized users, such as posting it free elsewhere. These capabilities are available under two broad options:
- Website subscription software that we buy, or
- Subscription website administration services that we hire.
Subscription Website Software
There is free software plug-ins such as MemberWing that can be downloaded and activated at your WordPress blog. Such software has comparatively simple capabilities.
At the other end are packages like MemberGate that offer a large number of capabilities including Subscription Manager, Shopping Cart, Affiliate Program and your own Discussion Forums.
- Subscription Manager can automate such tasks as new member signup, sending subscription renewal notices and managing different membership plans.
- Shopping Cart enables you to offer physical, digital and downloadable products for sale at your site.
- Affiliate Program capability will make it possible to recruit affiliates, track their performance, compute compensation using applicable rules and provide reports to affiliates.
- Discussion groups allow creation of loyal communities who will visit your site again and again to participate in the discussions. These groups will typically need rules, setting up, moderation and maintenance, all complex tasks.
Options like those mentioned just above come at a price and the software tends to be expensive.
Subscription Website Administration Services
Vendors such as SubHub provide full administration services for subscription websites. You just sign in as a user of the service, paying a periodical charge and are then able to use the numerous facilities offered on-line. No software download and installation is involved and hence non-technical persons will find this a better option.
With Web-based solutions like those offered by such services, you can
- Build professional looking websites using templates
- Publish different types of content without the need for any technical expertise
- Charge for premium content such as expert articles, forum membership, digital downloads and other products offered at your site
- Include other monetization options such as advertisements
- Run affiliate programs to increase your sales
- Forget about administrative routines like installation, maintenance, security, backup and even things like hosting and renewal
Comparison of the Solutions
If you buy subscription website software, you have full control over everything. The only requirement is that you should possess the know-how required to attend to all these things, including installation, creating content, managing members, maintenance, backups, security, upgrades and all the other incidentals involved.
If you opt for a Web-based platform that offers the capabilities against a periodical charge, you are freed of most of the routine things. The time saved can then be spent on creating really valuable content and developing/implementing key strategies for promoting your business.
Generally speaking, the software option is for technical-minded persons while the service option is for business-oriented users.