Revising the Membership and Paywall

In July of 2012 I established my site as a paywall with a time delay for all the articles to be free (originally 7 days, revised down to 3 days and then 2 days and moving around randomly since then depending on my mood). It was $4 month, or $40 a year — over the years there’s been odd discounts ($30/year for a couple weeks) and a short lived Quarterly membership ($7 every 3 months). The original paywall cost me $1,500 to have developed and took close to three months to implement. Since then I have hired people to do minor updates to the system, but amazingly it has kept plugging away mostly as it was originally intended.

At the time I implemented this, there was simply no commercial option I could buy, or use, which had all the features I wanted (using Stripe as my payment processor was a major hurdle at the time as most plugins didn’t support Stripe). Had I waited just a couple months more, all the widely used plugins would add most of the support I wanted and needed, but I had made my bed and was already signing up members.

Side note: There’s still a handful of you who signed up on day one, and have kept that membership in place — I am so grateful for that. And completely amazed by it.

For two years now I have wanted to update and modernize the paywall. I’ve received quotes nearing $100,000 to make the system I want, or explored options which left me scratching my head about how they might impact my members. I’ve drug my feet as I either couldn’t afford to do what I really wanted to do, or couldn’t be assured what I wanted to do could be done how I wanted it done.

So while I am excited to move to something modern and easy, I also have a tremendous fear that touching what I have already, will lead to people simply leaving. If I couldn’t migrate everyone over, keep them paying, and get a new system — I felt if I could not attain this goal — I would lose more than 50% of my members.

Real or not, the fact that no company had been able to assure me a smooth transition is what held me from doing anything.

But more than two months ago functionality broke for members, as WordPress no longer displayed a cancel link for members and this left members with no way to cancel — they had to contact me. This is embarrassing and not how I want to run my site. So the impetus for me to get over my fears of losing members, was the current system not being easy enough for my members to leave. But that’s what I believe in: that you never should have to jump through hoops to unsubscribe to something.

I set off down the rabbit hole of finding another solution, and starting today I will be moving the site to Memberful. This also greatly shifts how the paywall works, as Memberful doesn’t have a time based paywall — content is either behind the paywall, or it is not.

I have moved every membership to Memberful (with the help of thier awesome support team who really went above and beyond to help me) and if all goes well every current member should only have to reset their passwords to continue using the site as they did before. Your private RSS feed (which includes the paywalled posts) can be found here. If you are a current member, you should have already received an email to reset your password, please check spam if you do not see that, or click here to reset it.

If you aren’t a member, you can remedy that here.

Sign in to your account.

The New Membership Benefits

Instead of getting to see posts before everyone else, new members will receive:

  • Exclusive weekly content. I’ll be writing a member-only post each week about iPad productivity and publish it on Monday. This is the biggest change as it will behind a paywall, and never not behind a paywall.
  • Members will also be able to access my running page of the best products I have found, and I will update that page monthly.

I will likely add more perks in the future, but these are the perks I know I can fully commit to right now and sustain going forward.

New Pricing

I’ve kept the long running $4/mo and $40/year pricing, but I’ve also added a lifetime membership offering. It’s priced at an absurd $500, but you’ll only be charged once, and you’ll always be a member from there on out — hey you never know unless you try.

Your Continued Support

I’m proud that I have been able to make a little money off of this site every year since I introduced the paywall, and I hope to operate this site that way for many more years. Not having to run ads not only keeps the site clutter free, but allows me to not have to bother with invasive ad tracking software. More than any of that, not having to manage sponsorships and advertisers keeps me 100% focused on writing — and I could not ask for more than that.

From the bottom of my heart, to all readers (members or not), thank you very much. I know you can’t subscribe to every site, so I truly appreciate those of you who do choose this site.

Join now.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled programming…

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Article Details

by Ben Brooks
5 minutes to read.


It’s a whole new paywall out there.