Paid Membership Being Applied To The Forum

*Update* Based on some feedback as well as more personal thought, I’ve decided not to pursue the idea of paid memberships. Instead, I’ll find another way.

If you blinked twice after reading the headline of this post, I don’t blame you. I’ve had some time to think about different ways in which I can generate another revenue stream and the forum sprang to mind. So with some research along with a bit of brain storming, I’ve decided that it’s time to try paid memberships for the forum.

I’m in a difficult position. I don’t offer any products. I don’t offer any services. The only thing I have to offer is my passion for talking and communicating about WordPress. On a world wide web where everyone wants everything for free, this puts content producers such as myself in a predicament. At least there is no room for GPL debate regarding this decision!

While one of my goals has always been to be a leader of or create a great community, the other goal was to see if I could make content production a full time job. I’ve made moves in my personal life to try and achieve that goal such as working one night a week at my other job to provide more WordPress time. While I have advertising spots spread across the site and the forum, it’s simply not enough income. I don’t have a ton of affiliate links to throw in anyone’s face or special ebooks to give away. All I have is a passion to foster an enthusiastic bunch of people around the WordPress software.

The subscription rates for the forum I believe are fair. Starting next Sunday, October 11th the WordPress and Other Projects forums will be locked down from the public, only to be available to paying members. The WordPress Tavern section will remain open to all registered members. I decided to opt for flexibility between pricing and the number of options to choose from. No refunds will be available for any subscription. Here is the list.

  • 1 Month $15.00
  • 6 Months $60.00
  • 1 Year $90.00
  • 2 Years $120.00
  • Lifetime Membership – $199.00

These payments are not recurring and go through paypal.

No one has to tell me that the forum has been a blast thanks in large part to those participating there. I sincerely appreciate everyone that participates on the forum. For all members of the forum that registered an account between February 2009 to September 31st 2009, you will be able to purchase a discounted Lifetime membership for $79.00. Please don’t view this as a slap in the face for helping to make the forum what it is because it’s not. I had monetization on the mind ever since I launched WPTavern and although when I started, I couldn’t predict what would happen, this is one of the ways I have decided to monetize. The discount is a token of appreciation that I hope you’ll accept and continue to be part of this ongoing effort. If not, I understand and thank you for your previous contributions.

I’m hoping that these membership fees will ultimately help me to continue what I’m doing and perhaps, pay for a few more wordcamps that I can attend/cover. We can either discuss this development here in the comments or in the forum here. Update


8 responses to “Paid Membership Being Applied To The Forum”

  1. Good Luck Jeffro,

    I respect your decision, although I probably don’t have the time free to use the forums to a level that would justify paying. They were a very useful free resource, but you contribute so much to the WP community that it’s fair enough that you charge for some of it.

    Just don’t start charging for the PodCast! :)

  2. WOW. That’s the most disappointing thing I’ve heard all day, of course it’s still early.

    Perhaps you are looking at it all wrong. Maybe you should start producing something that folks want to buy.

    Along with the numerous premium plugins (which I think are great) this continues to herald the beginning of the end of WordPress as we know it. Paying for a forum to discuss free software?

  3. I’ve decided to hold off on paid memberships. There are other things I can try and it wouldn’t be worth it for the very few that would pay.

  4. What about some crazy idea like a lottery/contest.

    Premium Theme and Plugin developers could donate a theme or plugin to give away. But instead of giving it away, you can sell “tickets”. Each ticket would be $2.00 and a packet of 5 tickets would be $7.50 (or something). Then at the end of each month, you’d award the premium plugin or theme to a randomly chosen ticket number. It would all be set up so that it would provide you an additional monthly stream of revenue, but it would also add value to the user’s who are buying the ticket. It gives you a chance to win a nice theme or plugin for low cost. Now I’m not sure how legal it would be (in all US states and around the world), but it would be a simple way of adding some income, without selling advertising or something like that.

  5. @Jeffro – I agree that’s great news. I hope you find another way to make some money from your efforts.

    I’ve been thinking about this. The people who a) have the money and b) are willing to spend it are those using WordPress to run websites that make them money. When they have a problem, or need some custom work done, they’re often willing to pay.

    Now, I know you’ll say that you don’t have the technical skills to help these people, BUT you do have a very solid community that does have these skills. Maybe you can hook the two up and take a cut of the profits?

    Just throwing some ideas out there, but what about a Support forum where people could pay $50 to post what their problem is, then the WPT community jumps in and solves it for them. The person who provides the solution gets 50%, you get 50%. Okay, maybe you may want to give the person solving the problem a higher percentage, but you get the drift. The WordPress Support Forum is full of topics where people didn’t get an answer – some of these would be willing to pay for the answer.

    Or what about a ‘job-board’ co-ordinating freelance work? Okay, there are other places out there for that, but you have the community that could provide those services and enough reputation to get some traction…

    Anyway, over to you. I hope you do find a model to make some money from all the effort you’re putting in.

  6. I find Justin Tadlocks forum the best $25 bucks I have EVER spent. I know Jeff knows how it works, but for anyone who hasn’t been, it’s $25 a year to join. Now anyone can go, but you have to be a member to see Justin’s answers/posts. He only answers questions about his work, but it’s great. I consider it invaluable as a user of hybrid themes. I’m sure it requires a fair amount of effort on his part to answer the forums, but I can’t imagine a better model.

    Maybe you could hire some folks to answer support questions? Split the profits with them? I’d pay $25 a year for that, but I’d have expectations. $90 a year though…

  7. Do whatever brings you (a) the most happiness, and (b) the most benjamins. Nobody else is going to pay your bills bro. Just a whoooole lot of lip service ;)

    Also we've just about finished the new WP e-Commerce Members plugin that integrates with bbPress. So if you decide to go down that route let me know and we'll set something up with you.

    Actually I think Stephen Cronin came up with the best option. We were thinking of doing the same thing but we are to busy to do it alone. We could help setup that infrastructure and share some $$$...

    You know how to contact me bro. Anybody else keen to help with this?

    -Dan “enjoying a wp tavern coffee break” Milward


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