“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest,″ said Benjamin Franklin. If teaching represents that investment, just think how much that interest is compounded when a teacher steps out of her classroom to teach other educators. This is what Samantha “Sammy″ Taylor has done sharing her unique e-courses throughout Australia, with the help of WordPress and Paid Memberships Pro.

Sammy Taylor, a primary school teacher and literacy coach, created Andrell Education in 2011, and later, Big Write & VCOP, to share her classroom literacy approach to improve pupils’ writing skills. Her approach, known as VCOP (“vocabulary, connectives, openers and punctuation″), is a teaching method that she herself learned during a year she spent teaching in London.

VCOP has shown to improve the teaching of writing skills to primary school students, and Sammy put it into practice upon her return to Australia. Presented with a cohort of students who upon entering grade three did not reach the minimum level for writing, she implemented Big Write and VCOP in the classroom: the results were almost immediately and impressively apparent.

Sammy Taylor

There is nothing more powerful and rewarding than watching that lightbulb moment when a student understands or masters what they were finding difficult before. 

—Sammy Taylor
Banner Image for Andrell Education Case Study

VCOP Teacher Training Sessions

Sammy’s teaching methods proved so successful that other teachers would visit her classroom to see what she was doing, and to ask how they could implement her approach. Deciding that there was a need to share her approach and the resources she used and developed, she launched teacher training sessions in the Big Write and VCOP methods.

Eventually, Sammy stepped away from teaching in the classroom to focus on training other teachers in her literacy approach in order to have a greater impact on education than she could in a single classroom.

However, just as it affected many businesses, Covid proved both a devastating challenge to her training sessions and a lightbulb moment for Sammy. Up till then she had been giving away her digital resources at no cost. The difficulties posed by Covid made her realize that she could generate revenue from the educational value those resources offered, and that meant a switch to an online digital format.

Grid of resources available on Sammy Taylor's VCOP website

Using WordPress for a Membership Site

Sammy had worked with WordPress before, and while she was familiar with its advantages, she also knew that it was important for her to map out the “must have″ features she needed for her new venture. At the same time, the 93% downturn in her business caused by Covid meant that affordability was also important, one of several features that made WordPress the most attractive option.

In particular, she found WordPress to be: 

  • Economical
  • Flexible enough to create what she wanted and her priorities
  • User friendly so that she did not need advanced tech skills
  • Able to integrate with a membership plugin
  • Compatible with a document library plugin for resources

Why Paid Memberships Pro

Sammy’s next challenge in creating a membership site was figuring out how to set up a multi-tiered digital membership so that a resource could be visible to the public but not downloadable unless a site visitor had the right access level. 

Compounding that issue was how to set up membership access for schools, where she needs to take into account school licensing, immediate pay portals, payment via invoice, and the ability to allow for individual access for multiple teacher accounts. 

Her research on plugins and membership platforms, as well as input from Facebook groups, led Sammy to Paid Memberships Pro. Sammy finds the plugin easier to learn than another membership platform she previously tried, and is especially appreciative of PMPro’s tech support. She shares that the plugin did much of the work and the tutorial videos were easy to follow, greatly assisting her in setting up the plugin the way she wanted.

Moreover, since PMPro supports school license accounts, it solves the multiple problems of school membership access, and each staff member is able to have their own account, instead of just one teacher.

Before using PMPro I just couldn’t envisage how to make the digital membership site work the way I needed it to.

—Sammy Taylor
Sammy Taylor

PMPro made setting up different levels of membership a snap.

  • Sammy’s VCOP website currently offers four membership tiers for individuals: free, standard, platinum, and platinum lifetime.
  • While the free level is restricted to free resources and downloadables, the standard and platinum levels allow for additional resources respectively.
  • In order to share resources with colleagues, however, a school license is required.

PMPro Tech Stack

A feature of PMPro that Sammy appreciates is the choice of add ons that work seamlessly together. The Proration Add On is especially helpful, as it allows members to try her program on a particular level and then upgrade easily.

She also considers the Sponsored Members Add On essential—with this add on she can arrange for schools to generate a unique sponsor code for their staff. (Note: The Sponsored Members Add On is being deprecated in favor of the new Group Accounts Add On that that offers more features and no-code setup.)

The Pay by Check Add On likewise is a boon for enabling school memberships, as many schools have limitations on credit card authorization and are dependent upon using purchase orders. With this add on Sammy can invoice schools directly.

All in all, in terms of business impact, Sammy reports that her clients’ user experience is smooth, that her renewal rate is excellent, and that PMPro is exactly what she needed to serve her members.

Sammy Taylor

[Paid Memberships Pro’s] customer support has been fabulous.

—Sammy Taylor

Sammy’s List of PMPro Advantages Includes:

  • Tech support
  • Tutorial videos
  • Add Ons, especially Proration, Pay by Check, and Sponsored Members
  • User experience
  • Contributes to the positive renewal rate
  • License accounts for schools
Infographic for Sammy's List of PMPro Advantages

Sammy’s Wishlist and #1 Challenge

When asked what new features she might like to see implemented in Paid Memberships Pro, Sammy suggests a sub-total view on the checkout page for clients to see before committing to payment. This would provide greater clarity, especially when using the Sponsor Add On or other discount coders based on seats purchased.

And while it’s not something Paid Memberships Pro can help with outside of making membership management efficient, Sammy’s greatest challenge is lack of time for adding new resources and blog posts, especially as she plans to convert her legacy website to a Paid Memberships Pro based website.

Nevertheless, she expects to keep adding courses along with video based training and to continuing building her digital resource library, for which she uses the Barn 2 Document Library plugin for WordPress. And she continues to think about how she can further engage students in literacy, while sharing her passion for it with other teachers.

PMPro, together with Barn2-Document Library, was exactly what I needed for my customers.

—Sammy Taylor
Sammy Taylor

Empowering Education Through Digital Resources and Strategic Partnerships

Sammy’s transformational educational approach is an excellent example of how to leverage open source platforms to share your mission and get paid.

  1. Innovative Teaching Methodology: Sammy’s VCOP approach has significantly improved writing skills in primary school students.
  2. Transition to Digital Training: Faced with the challenges of COVID-19, Sammy adeptly shifted to online training, utilizing her resources for broader reach and revenue generation.
  3. Technical Support and Resources: PMPro’s exceptional customer support and tutorial videos were pivotal in setting up and managing the membership site.
  4. Customization for Educational Institutions: PMPro’s features catered specifically to school licensing and payment options, proving essential for Sammy’s business model.

Selecting the right platform and partner is crucial when launching your online membership businesses. PMPro’s user-friendly interface, deep customization features, and support for educational institutions allowed Sammy to seamlessly transition to the digital format.

Kim Coleman

It’s an honor to develop the PMPro platform and give entrepreneurs like Sammy a comprehensive and flexible tool to support her business.

—Kim Coleman, Co-Founder, Paid Memberships Pro

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