Dev Chat February 1, 2018 at 1pm EST: Get Invited to Our Slack Channel

We will be holding a Dev Chat on Thursday, February 1, 2018 at 1pm EST in our Slack Channel.


Dev Chat Topics Include:

  • EU GDPR (European Union General Data Protection Regulation)
  • Multiple Memberships Per User Updates and Add On Compatability Roadmap
  • Becoming a Partner, New Agreement Contract and Plans
  • Stripe Customer Records (Decision on using an existing customer record if one exists for the user’s email)

All are welcome to join the discussion. Please reply to this blog post and we will add you to the Slack channel before the chat starts.

Let members access your original homepage when using the Member Homepages Add On.

The code example below will allow logged in Members the ability to access your original homepage when using our Member Homepages Add On.

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Create a Robust Directory and Individual Profiles for Your WordPress Membership Site

An important feature for many membership sites is the ability to display a dynamic directory of members and profile pages. Here is some information on how to add and customize these features using the Member Directory and Profile Pages Add On for Paid Memberships Pro.


Before you get started, consider this.

While a directory may be a desirable feature of membership, it is important to make it clear to your members what information will be made public or displayed privately. You can communicate what information will be shown, and what other members are allowed to do with that information via a Terms of Service agreement or elsewhere on your site.

Some points to include in this message would be:

  1. Can members directly contact another member via email?
  2. Can members copy the list of all members and send them mass email?
  3. Can a member opt to exclude themselves from the directory or just hide specific information?
  4. What are the consequences for abusing your policy?

Creating the Directory and Profiles

The Add On page covers primary documentation for the Member Directory and Profile Pages plugin. This includes the basic steps of generating the pages under Memberships > Page Settings and customizing the shortcode to display your unique fields.

Below are a few recipes, tips and tricks to make your directory even more robust.

  1. Capturing Additional Member Fields

    Our Register Helper Add On allows you to add new profile fields at membership checkout. This is a key plugin used by most membership sites that have unique fields based on the topic of their membership site. Some examples may include a file upload, such as a restaurant menu or resume, or business categories, such as “Small Business” or “Non-Profit”.

  2. Hide or Show Fields on Member Profiles based on Membership Level

    For many membership sites, a feature of higher-tier membership is the additional of more profile fields on the member directory, perhaps three videos or audio embeds, additional logos or photographs of a business location, or expanded contact information (website, phone, email). This can be achieved via the code recipe outlined in the link above.

  3. Allow Members to Upload an Avatar or “Logo”

    If you are planning to include images in your directory, this post outlines some recommended plugins for user avatar management on your WordPress site.

  4. Capturing Default WordPress Profiles Fields for your Directory

    The WordPress User profile already includes some key fields you may want to leverage for your membership site, such as “Site URL”, and “Description” (or biographical info). This post covers how to capture those fields for display on user profiles.

  5. Frontend Profile Field Management

    While we may eventually role this into the Add On, we recommend using the “Themes Profiles” module of the Theme My Login plugin to allow members to edit their profile fields in the frontend theme of your WordPress membership site. View the plugin in the WordPress.org repository »


Who can see the member directory and profiles?

There are a few methods to control the directory and profile visibility. It may take a little creative thinking to wrap your brain around the examples below, so please open a topic on the members forum and we will be happy to help you achieve your goals.

  1. Using the Page’s “Require Membership” Settings

    Set Membership Restrictions for a Page If your directory is visible to members only, you can control the content access to the page you place the directory shortcode on just like you do any other piece of member content. Simply edit the directory or profile page and check the appropriate level(s) in the “Require Membership” meta box.

  2. Using the [membership] Shortcode

    You can duplicate the directory or profile page shortcode and wrap it within the [membership] shortcode to show a unique member directory by level, this can take many shapes, such as Level 1 Members only being able to see other Level 1 Members, or Level 2 Members not being able to see full member email addresses, while Level 1 members cannot view this information.

    Here is an example of this method:

    [membership level="1"]
    [pmpro_member_directory levels="1"]
    [/membership]
     
    [membership level="2"]
    [pmpro_member_directory levels="2"]
    [/membership]

Want a better search, category filters or sorting?

We’re always working to example the features of this and all of our Add Ons. So if the unique directory options you need aren’t covered by the tips above, please post a comment below or open a topic on the member’s forum.

Prevent users from using an email address as their username.

The code example below will prevent users from setting their username to an email address. This is useful if you want users to use an actual username instead of using their email address in both username and email fields.

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PMPro Update 1.9.4.3

Version 1.9.4.3 of Paid Memberships Pro is out with a single bug fix.


  • BUG FIX: Fixed issue where PMPro would attempt to cancel gateway subscriptions more than once in some cases.

This bug could have a small or large impact depending on your site and settings. To be safe, you should update now.


Please update Paid Memberships Pro from the plugins page of your WordPress dashboard. You can also get the latest version of PMPro here or version 1.9.4.3 specifically here.

Thinking of starting or growing a WordPress-based Business in 2018?

My experience in the WordPress products world has taught me a thing of two about the full stack of issues facing an entrepreneur. This post aims to share my thoughts on starting up in the WordPress economy as well as experience-based actions you can take to improve your chances of success.


Is there space for my next big idea?

As a serial entrepreneur, I can’t stop myself from considering every hobby from a business standpoint. It’s something I may need therapy for, but has done me a great service throughout my life. I see this same energy in our plugin users—largely new businesses entering the online marketplace to get paid for a broad range use cases, from premium content to communities, premium services and many verticals in between.

Today, our support customers lean toward the non-developer, roughly a 60/40 split. I understand that these are just the plugin users we interact with, certainly not the full 60k active sites using our plugin. This trend leads me to believe that there are more DIYers going it alone to create their online membership or subscription site presence. We strive to build a core plugin that can be configured without developer support because I believe:

  1. Projects don’t have a “one size fits all” budget.
  2. Developers of all levels should be able to charge a fair price for their services.
  3. An open web means that site owners should have access to the key tools they need at a price that’s comfortable.

Where my entrepreneurs at?

As it relates to the solopreneur or DIYer, there are some notable shifts to be aware of in today’s changing WordPress economy:

  1. There’s been an increase in managed web hosting, specifically services to monitor your site, perform updates and provide security.
  2. Page builders and the new Gutenberg Editor (which will be soon be part of core) are available to help you improve content layout and design.
  3. Coming changes to WordPress.com’s hosted platform now allow users to pay for premium services and unlock added features.
  4. A rise in retainer-like WordPress management services allow businesses with smaller budgets to leverage skilled developer support at scale.
  5. Let’s not forget changes outside the WordPress bubble, specifically the rising popularity of all-in-one website tools such as Squarespace and Wix.

Take a moment to reflect on how these factors will affect you. How will they impact the competitive landscape of the market you are hoping to enter? How will these shifts affect the ease at which you can launch and grow?


Let’s not forget the developers!

As it relates to a developer, you may be facing some interesting choices for how to stay competitive and profitable in today’s WordPress economy. Just like most businesses, be it a plugin product like Paid Memberships Pro or yourself as a freelancer, there are only four ways to get paid more:

  1. Work more.
  2. Raise prices.
  3. Acquire market share from your competitors.
  4. Grow the market by obtaining new entrants.

Each factor above has an appropriate time and place. At Paid Memberships Pro, we leverage all of these methods to grow. But, the most interesting piece I want to touch on relates to item 4: growing your market by obtaining new entrants.

I believe that leveraging new trends and technologies are the secret to helping you grow your market and obtain new entrants. In fact, this approach is how Paid Memberships Pro has grown into the solution it is today. When we started out, our plugin didn’t offer every payment gateway, email marketing integration, or a majority of the other third-party integrations now available to our users. By keeping an eye on new plugins and services that are growing in popularity, we are able to extend Paid Memberships Pro the right way: the way that the market is already responding to.

This same type of thinking applies to many other aspects of the WordPress economy, such as social marketing, SEO, security, e-learning and more. What are the trends in these markets and how can you become a go-to resource on these new technologies?


Is it too late to enter the WordPress economy?

Let’s go back in time and talk plugin products.

Circa 2008 the plugins repository was far less dense. Innovative plugins as well as “me too” plugins with stiff competition in the closed source market could launch as open source projects in the WordPress plugin repository and steadily grow their user base. Paid Memberships Pro launched around this time, and we chose to put our full plugin in the repository because we (1) believe in open source software and (2) saw it as an excellent path to create and grow our user base. We were the only membership plugin that included the Stripe and Authorize.net gateways for free, right out of the box, and available in the repository.

So today, just like in years past, there are many ways to attract and grow your user base, deal with competition, and have an advantage. And, if you’re entering an existing market, you must consider established competitors and develop a marketing/product development/pricing strategy that wins. So what are some techniques you can employ to get paid?

  1. Be the ONLY product that does something
    Great – you’re innovative. But ask yourself, “Do I do something that people even want?” Usually you don’t want to enter a market with NO competitors. While it can mean you are truly new, it could also mean there is no demand for what you’re building.
  2. Be the CHEAPEST product among your competition
    Great – you’re a discount. But is that your true value? Using price as a differentiator can be a component of a launch strategy, but I don’t recommend competing solely on price. Just take this as a warning that competing on price and price alone makes it difficult to raise prices down the road. But if you must, it’s best to qualify a lower price as a “launch discount” or sale, not the implied value of what you’re offering.
  3. Do the same things as your competition BETTER
    Now we’re talking! It is perfectly acceptable to launch a product in a (somewhat) crowded marketplace if you are doing things “better”. Maybe your code leverages newer technologies and trends in development. Maybe your user interface is more intuitive and friendly for non-techies. Maybe you’re just friendly, nicer, and people like you. Maybe you offer more friendly integrations via third-party tools and open APIs. These are all differentiators that would allow a not-so-innovative idea to gain traction.
  4. Position yourself for ACQUISITION
    While this is generally a long road, products (and maybe more specifically the teams that develop them) are actively being bought up by larger players. If this is a path you’d consider, it may be useful to think about as a “back of mind” motivator.
  5. Slow and steady can WIN the race
    Scott Bollinger recently wrote about the differences in today’s WordPress products market. In his post, he writes about bringing products to market, stating, “It’s going to be a lot harder than it used to be, and it’s going to take longer.” I believe this was always the case to some degree — unless you laid a golden egg: being the ONLY product doing something with the funding to push hard and fast in terms of marketing and dev.

    Paid Memberships Pro was built over many, many years of client services work. We sold just $2,300 worth of support memberships our first year. Now we sell that much every day. We transitioned from general WordPress site development, to WordPress Membership site development, to a WordPress Memberships Product company over the span of 8 years. Not a quick-win or “golden egg” by any stretch of the imagination.

In short: building a [website, product business, client-services team] may not be as easy as it once was. But that shouldn’t stop you from trying.


What broader or alternate economies must your consider?

A conversation about launching new businesses in the WordPress economy would be incomplete without noting that your [website, product business, client-services team] is part of many additional economies.

For example, we consider a few distinct markets as our own. We compete not only with other OSS membership plugins, but also with closed source and hosted membership SaaS companies. Separate from the membership software market, we also consider the market of our customers (membership-based websites), asking:

  • What kinds of membership businesses are people launching online?
  • What new or existing tools do membership site owners want to integrate with?
  • How much of the “problem” should our plugin solve – just be a tool or offer a complete platform?
  • What is the skill-level of most people starting up a business with Paid Memberships Pro?
  • What services other than technology do these new membership-based businesses need support for? Who can provide that support?

Try to create a similar list of “questions” for your business. What broader economies are you part of? What changes are happening in your target customer’s economies? These questions are great talking points to launch a conversation on the bigger picture of your business’ market.


So should we all just quit now?

Depending on how your business does WordPress, you may be feeling more or less pain in this changing WordPress economy. There is more competition within every channel—be it more developers ready to discount their work or your former clients bringing web development in-house.

Then consider the WordPress plugins market: so saturated with offerings and increased difficulty getting noticed without a big name attached to your product.

And, while I can’t cover every flavor of web presence, I doubt the solopreneurs / DIY site owners reading this will have difficulty identifying some basic factors facing your unique web-based market.

In summary, I think the most important takeaways from this rambling post are:

  • Stay on top of trends and leverage them as a differentiator
  • Position yourself/your business as a specialist rather than a jack of all trades
  • Launch your minimum viable product, then grow with control
  • Cash out along the life of your business

Even in a competitive market, there’s a place for your business. Discard the nostalgia of how it once was and embrace the new landscape before you.

Let’s keep the conversation going in the comments below.

Form Builder for Paid Memberships Pro: New Premium Plugin by Figarts

Our Register Helper Add On allows you to collect additional fields at membership checkout, on the user’s profile, or for administrative view-only. For people who aren’t familiar with coding, this plugin can be a bit daunting to use. Figarts recently launched a third-party extension to simplify form building with Register Helper: Paid Memberships Pro – Form Builder.

Form Builder for Paid Memberships Pro


About the Premium Plugin

FigartsPaid Memberships Pro – Form Builder allows you to create fields via a drag and drop builder. The plugin includes the option to add “checkout boxes” just like Register Helper allows you to do, all without custom code.

View the Premium Plugin

 


This extension requires the Register Helper Add On for Paid Memberships Pro, which you can download via the WordPress Repository.

Change “Pay by Check” wording to open up more payment options for members.

Our Pay by Check Add On adds a second payment option for members to make purchase by “Check”. With a little help from WordPress’ gettext filter, you can open up more payment options for your members. What types of changes can you make? In some parts of the world, “Check” is spelled “Cheque”. Alternately, you could use the Pay by Check Add On as a workaround to offer members the option to pay by bank transfer. This code recipe will help you rename “Check” to “Cheque,” “Pay by Bank Transfer,” “Send an Invoice” or any other messaging you desire. Our recipe below changes the words “Pay by Check” to “Pay by Cheque or Bank Transfer” on the Membership Checkout page. If you need this to say something else, edit the $translated_text variable on line 11. The Code Recipe https://gist.github.com/travislima/012893d789e57b5055bbc1570753ebf6 Customize and add this code to a helper PMPro Customizations plugin (our recommended method)….

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Styling the Checkout Page: Inline Labels and Inputs

v1.9.4 of Paid Memberships Pro introduced a table-free checkout page, improving the usability and display across device types and themes. This new layout placed the form’s input labels on their own line, above the input field.

The recipe below includes the necessary CSS to display these labels inline with the form inputs for large displays only.

Comparing the checkout page with and without the custom CSS for inline labels


The Code Recipe

You can also add this CSS directly into the ‘Additional CSS’ area of your WordPress Customizer. This is accessed via Appearance > Edit CSS in the WordPress Dashboard.

Note: Be sure to remove the <style> </style> tag when pasting this CSS into the “Additional CSS” block.