How to Create Member’s Only Content in WordPress (Without a Membership Plugin)

As a WordPress website owner, you may need to create exclusive content for members, subscribers, or a specific group of users from time to time. One way to create member’s only content is by using a WordPress membership plugin.

The only problem is that most membership plugins come with a full suite of features. However, if you’re looking for a simple solution for content restriction, you’d be better off going with something much simpler.

With this in mind, in this article, we’ll explain how you can create member’s only content in WordPress without a membership plugin.

Why you don’t need a full-blown membership plugin

Many times, WordPress website owners end up installing heavy, feature-rich membership plugins only to use one or two simple features (like content restriction). In fact, there are many scenarios where a WordPress membership plugin isn’t the right solution.

For example, you may not need half of the features that come with membership plugins. These are typically complex (or specialized) features like drip-feeding content, creating quizzes and assignments, CRM integrations, and certificates.

Or, maybe you’re in the market for a lightweight plugin that won’t create conflicts with the plugins you’re already using. Membership plugins tend to create conflicts with (or be incompatible with) loads of themes, page builders, and plugins.

It’s also worth mentioning that setting up a membership plugin and getting your site’s visitors used to the new user flow isn’t always easy. Membership plugins often require users to create member profiles or subscribe to a plan to get started. And, finally, a membership site might not be ideal for you if you create content for both general viewers and members. Managing user access levels on the back-end isn’t easy. Since you’ll likely be publishing content regularly, you’d want to make this as simple as possible for yourself.

When you might need an easy way to create member’s only content

There are many scenarios when you might need an easy way to create member’s only content rather than messing around with complex membership plugins.

Scenario #1: Simple content restriction

A full-blown WordPress membership plugin isn’t ideal for simple content restrictions. This is when you want to grant access to members who have either the correct password, user role, or unlock link.

For example, if you’re thinking of restricting access to certain blog posts or articles, recipes, or in-depth tutorials, you would simply need to create a password-protected area.

Scenario #2: Online courses and training programs

If you’re thinking of launching an online course or training program, you might want to go with a simple plugin solution to test out your minimum viable product (MVP) and validate your idea.

The simple way to implement this is by restricting access to only the course video. This way, you can also offer a free course preview to all visitors encouraging them to check out the full version.

Aside from restricting access to video content, you can also place download links for worksheets or assignments in the password-protected area.

Scenario #3: Membership content

If you publish exclusive content for your site’s members or would like to share exclusive resources with them, setting up a simple password-protected area on your WordPress website is all you really need.

With this simple implementation, you can restrict user access to video content, worksheets, assignments, and exclusive member’s only resources like forums and discussion boards.

Scenario #4: Exclusive downloadable resources

Sometimes, you just need an easy way to provide members access to downloadable resources. For example, by entering the correct password or clicking on a special unlock link.

This is also great for website owners that want to build an email list. For example, you can offer exclusive downloadable resources in exchange for email addresses. Some common examples of content upgrades and exclusive downloadables include:

  • Infographics
  • Templates
  • Design resources
  • Checklists

How to create member’s only content in WordPress using Passster

Passster is a lightweight password-protection plugin for WordPress that lets users restrict access to content in several different ways. In this section, we’ll walk you through a step-by-step tutorial on how to create member’s only content in WordPress using Passster.

To get started, you’ll need a WordPress website with some content that you’d like to restrict access to.

Step #1: Install and activate the Passster plugin

Log into your WordPress website and head over to Plugins > Add New. Search for Passster and install and activate the Passster – Password Protection plugin to your website.

Install Passster

The free version of the plugin lets you restrict access to content using a single password. If you’d like to create multiple passwords to unlock restricted content or create an encrypted link to give members direct access to protected content, you’ll need to get the premium version instead.

Step #2: Choose the correct type of password protection

Once you activate the plugin, head over to Settings > Passster from the WordPress admin panel.

If you’re using the premium version, click on the Addons tab to activate either the:

activate-multiple-passwords/activate-users/activate-unlock-via-link

  • Multiple Passwords option
  • Users option
  • Unlock via Link option

Click the Save Changes button to proceed. Here’s a quick explanation of the different options:

Single password

This option is available out of the box in the free version. It lets you restrict access to content using a single password.

For this, go to the Shortcodes tab and configure the following settings:

Single password in Passster settings
  • Set the Protection Type to Password using the dropdown.
  • Enter a password or use the Generate Password button to automatically generate a secure password.

Click the Save Changes button.

Single password shortcode

A new shortcode will automatically be generated for you.

Multiple passwords

If you’re running a marketing campaign or have a segmented list of members, you may want to provide different groups of members with different passwords to access the same content.

For this, head over to the Password Lists tab and click on the Add new Password List button.

Add a new password list

Next, configure the following settings:

List of passwords
  • Give the password list a title (like Member’s Only).
  • Decide whether you want to expire passwords. Setting this to Yes lets you create on-time passwords that are automatically removed from the password list after they’re used. These are great for offering freebies, downloads, or course previews.
  • Add a comma-separated list of passwords in the Passwords textbox.

Click the Save Password List button to proceed.

Go to the Shortcodes tab and set the Protection Type to Multiple Passwords. Use the Password List dropdown to select the password list you just created. This is great for managing multiple password lists.

Select the password list

Note: You can use the Passwords option to add multiple passwords without creating a password list.

Click the Save Changes button.

Copy the password list shortcode

A new shortcode will automatically be generated for you.

Users

This is great for membership sites or any kind of account-based restriction. You can use this option to grant access to specific user roles (such as Members) or specific users.

For this, head over to the Shortcodes tab and configure the following settings:

User role and users settings in Passster
  • Add a comma-separated list of user roles that you’d like to grant access to e.g. members.
  • Or, add a comma-separated list of users that you’d like to grant access to e.g. John Doe.

Click the Save Changes button to proceed.

User group shortcode

A new shortcode will automatically be generated for you.

Unlock via link

You can automatically generate an encrypted link to let users gain access to protected content. It lets you automatically shorten links using Bitly.

For this, head over to the Link tab and configure the following settings:

Direct, encrypted link to unlock restricted content
  • Enter the page slug of the page you want to restrict access to e.g. hidden-content.
  • Enter the password that will be encrypted in the unlock link.
  • Optionally, enter your Bitly access token to shorten the encrypted link.

Click the Save Changes button to proceed.

Encrypted unlock link shortcode

You’ll notice an encrypted link will be generated for you. This is the direct unlock link you can give your members.

Step #3: Configure cookie duration (optional)

With Passster, you can choose to use a cookie for a specific number of days. When the cookie expires, the user will have to enter their password again.

Passster cookie options

For this, head over to the Options tab and enable the Use Cookie option. Next, set a cookie duration in days. For example, if you set it to 3, the user will have to re-enter their password after three days.

This is great for offering trial memberships and keeping your member’s only content secure.

Step #4: Add the shortcode to your content

If you’re using either the:

  • Single password
  • Multiple passwords
  • Users

… option, you will need to add the shortcode that was generated for you to your content. For the purpose of this tutorial, we’ll demonstrate using the multiple passwords option.

With the shortcode copied to your clipboard, go to the page you’d like to add the member’s only content to. Next, surround the content you’d like to protect with the shortcode. It should look something like this:

Unlock without Membership plugin

And here’s a preview of what it will look like on your site’s front-end:

Preview of the front-end with content locked

When a member accesses your site and enters the correct password, they will be able to unlock the content:

Preview of the front-end with content unlocked

Conclusion

Passster lets you create password-protected areas on your WordPress website so you can create member’s only content without using a membership plugin.

You can choose to create a single password or multiple passwords to unlock the content. Alternatively, it also lets you grant access to restricted content via an encrypted unlock link or by user role (or selected users). Which content restriction method will you use to create member’s only content for your members? Let us know in the comments section below!

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