How To Create A Paywall In WordPress

Jan 3, 2021

A paywall is an extremely efficient way to earn money with your content online. You essentially hide/lock your content behind an ongoing subscription or a one-time payment, so the user has to pay to access it. There are other forms of “free” paywall where you require users to subscribe to your mailing list to access the locked content. This way, you grow your reach and build a list of users in exchange for quality content.

Paywall Example

More recently, newspapers try to stay afloat/relevant by offering content behind a paywall, be it paid or free. For example, The Daily Telegraph charges for a subscription, while The New York Times only requires an email subscription.

Here is an example of a paywall on the Daily Telegraph:

Alternatively, you can provide a limited amount of free content; let’s say five free articles before a user has to pay or purchase a subscription. That way, you offer visitors insight into your quality content, so they know what they get when they buy a subscription.

A paywall is a perfect way of earning money online if you don’t want to bug your readers with tons of ads or sell any merchandise.

Creating A Paywall With WordPress


In this guide, we’ll use MemberPress to create a paywall on our website. MemberPress is one of the best membership WordPress plugins on the market, and it allows you to sell subscriptions, offer paid content, sell digital downloads, and online courses. You can collect payments, configure membership tiers, and restrict access to your content. 

MemberPress is a premium plugin, so you’ll need at least a Pro subscription to access the required features.

1. Purchase, download, install, and activate the MemberPress plugin on your WordPress website.

2. Head to MemberPress > Settings > License and enter your license key to validate your license to use all the features.

Payment Methods

3. Next, add a payment method so you can receive payments. You can do so from MemberPress > Settings > Payments tab. Click the + sign to add a new payment method. The plugin supports multiple major payment gateways, so you can choose from Stripe, PayPal, Authorize.Net, etc.

Provide a name for your payment method, and choose a payment gateway from the drop-down menu.

The plugin will ask you to fill in the details for the required payment method. Stripe will require linking your *Stripe account, while for PayPal, you only need to input your PayPal email address.

Quick note: Stripe is a popular online payment processor.

Feel free to add multiple payment methods by clicking the + button in the Payments tab.

Once ready, click Update Options to save changes.

Configure Your Paywall

4. Now that we’ve set up payment methods, we need to create the paywall itself. We’ll start by configuring membership levels in MemberPress. Head to MemberPress > Memberships, and click Add New at the top of the page.

Configure the following options:

  • Name of the subscription
  • Price of the subscription
  • Choose if it’s a one-time fee or a recurring subscription
  • Set the time interval if it’s a recurring payment
  • Select the trial period option if you want to offer trial access

If you want this to be a free membership tier, make sure to set the price to 0.00.

Feel free to add a description for the membership plan in the text editor and customize detailed options under the Membership Options section. Additional options allow you to change the registration button text, enable a custom thank you page, customize welcome emails, payment methods, etc.

The default settings are fine, but feel free to customize them if needed.

Once ready, click Publish to create the membership plan.

We recommend creating multiple membership plans with different subscription levels so you can offer various content (premium and VIP plan with exclusive content, for example).

Paywall Rules

5. Now that we have everything ready, we can configure which content we want to restrict. Head to MemberPress > Rules > Add New. MemberPress offers robust rules that allow you to restrict content to membership plans in multiple ways.

a) On the new rule page, click the first drop-down menu, and select the content that matches your desired conditions. MemberPress allows you to choose content by category, pages, child pages, tags, individual posts, etc. For example, you can select the All content tagged premium option.

b) Next, select the individual member or membership plan. Choose Membership and choose the plan you’ve created previously.

c) Scroll down to the Unauthorized Access section and customize the unauthorized message. This is the message all visitors that don’t have access will see when they try to load the content. You can type in your message, adjust formatting, and add images, links, etc.

d) Click Save Rule to save changes.

If the visitor tries to visit the post/page with the premium tag – they will see a login page with your custom message.

Tag Posts

6. Now, if you head back to Posts > All Posts in your WordPress Dashboard, you’ll see that all posts that have a premium tag have your custom membership plan under the Access column.

7. Alternatively, you can entice your visitors with some free content. MemberPress allows you to configure the number of free views before visitors are required to purchase the content. Head to MemberPress > Settings > General, scroll down to the SEO & PayWall section, and select the Enable PayWall option. Right below in the text field, enter the number of free views you’d like to provide to your users.

Once ready, click Update Options to save changes.

That’s it! You’ve now set up the paywall on your website, and you’re ready to earn money with your quality and exclusive content.