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Attackers Pummel Millions of Websites via Critical WooCommerce Payments Flaw

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Attackers Pummel Millions of Websites via Critical WooCommerce Payments Flaw

Attackers have been exploiting a critical flaw in the WordPress WooCommerce Payments plug-in in a spate of attacks over the last few days that peaked at 1.3 million attempts against 157,000 sites on July 15, researchers have found.

Researcher Michael Mazzolini of GoldNetwork discovered flaw — tracked as CVE-2023-28121 and rated as 9.8 out of 10 on the CVSS vulnerability rating scale — in March while doing white-hat testing through WooCommerce’s HackerOne program. Exploit code soon followed, particularly from RCE Security, which released a blog post earlier this month detailing how to take advantage of the flaw.

The issue specifically affects the WooCommerce Payments plugin for WordPress, versions 5.6.1 and lower, allowing an unauthenticated attacker to elevate privileges and send requests on behalf of administrator, thus gaining admin access on a site that has an affected version of the plugin activated.

Swathes of Sites Vulnerable Despite Auto-Patch

WooCommerce Payments, which provides functionality to online stores to accept payments through credit cards, debit cards, and Apple Pay, is installed on more than 600,000 sites. The payment plugin is no stranger to being under attack, but typically attackers have targeted it as part of a broader Magecart skimming attack that also affects other payment systems.

WooCommerce patched the flaw soon after its discovery through an auto-update to WordPress sites running WooCommerce Payments 4.8.0 through 5.6.1. However, users running affected versions on non-WordPress.com needed to install the update to patch, and if they didn’t, the sites remain vulnerable.

Attackers have been taking full advantage of those vulnerable sites over the last few days, in a string of attacks that are unusual in that they appear to be highly targeted rather than random, Wordfence revealed in a blog post on July 17.

“Unlike many other large-scale campaigns which typically attack millions of sites indiscriminately, this one seems to be targeted against a smaller set of websites,” Wordfence’s Ram Gall wrote in the post.

WooCommerce Cyberattacks Lead to Code Execution

Wordfence researchers saw the first warning signs of the barrage several days before the main wave through an increase in plugin enumeration requests that searched for a readme.txt file in the wp-content/plugins/woocommerce-payments/ directory of millions of sites.

While the majority of actual attacks came from a handful of IP addresses, which were shared in the post, the readme.txt requests were distributed over thousands of IP addresses. However, only about 5,000 IP addresses sent both readme.txt requests and actual attacks, Gall reported.

Common to all exploits targeting the WooCommerce Payments vulnerability was the header, X-Wcpay-Platform-Checkout-User: 1, which causes vulnerable sites to treat any additional payloads as coming from an admin, Gall said.

“Many of the requests we’ve seen using this appear to be attempting to use their new administrative privileges to install the WP Console plugin, which can be used by an administrator to execute code on a site,” he wrote.

Once that plugin is installed, attackers use it to execute malicious code and place a file uploader in order to establish persistence, Gall said. The payload observed by Wordfence researchers has an MD5 hash of “fb1fd5d5ac7128bf23378ef3e238baba” when saved to the victim filesystem, something the Wordfence scanner has provided detection for it since at least July 2021, he said.

“We have also seen attackers creating malicious administrator users with randomized alphanumeric usernames such as ‘ac9edbbe’,” Gall wrote.

Exploiting the CVE-2023-28121 Bug

The exploit attack outlined by Julien Ahrens, the self-appointed hacker behind RCE Security, triggers the vulnerability in the determine_current_user_for_platform_checkout() function, where the plugin checks for the existence of the X-WCPAY-PLATFORM-CHECKOUT-USER request header, he explained in his post. If it’s present, WooCommerce simply returns the header’s value, which represents the “determined” user.

This allows an attacker to trick WordPress into thinking that an unauthenticated user is actually authenticated, by setting the X-WCPAY-PLATFORM-CHECKOUT-USER request header and pointing it to a userId, Ahrens explained.

“What happens under the hood is that the hook effectively tells WordPress which user the request came from,” he wrote. “Since we have the userId under our control, we do now have an easy way to impersonate any user which is active/enabled on the WordPress instance, including administrators.”

Thus, once an attacker achieves admin impersonation, the entire WordPress instance can be compromised, he said. An attacker can determine if the exploit was successful based on the HTTP response code; if it’s 201, then it will return the user object of the newly created user, which can then be used to authenticate against WordPress’ administrative backend, Ahrens said.

If a case occurred in which the targeted, impersonated user doesn’t exist anymore or is disabled, an attacker will need to either query the /wp-json/wp/v2/users API method to get a list of active users or simply brute force through the userIds, he added.

Avoiding Website Compromise

Anyone using an affected version of WooCommerce Payments is encouraged to ensure the plugin is updated to the latest version, which patches the flaw. The company outlined flaw details and mitigation in a blog post published in March, when the flaw was discovered.

Once users ensure that the version of WooCommerce that they’re using is secure, they should check for evidence of any unexpected admin users or posts on their site, WooCommerce recommends. If they find any, they should update admin passwords, as well as rotate any API keys used on the site, including the WooCommerce API key.

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Website Hosting Cost: How Much Should I Pay?

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Website hosting costs can be complicated to untangle if you’ve never tried to build a website before. There are many factors involved: the type of web hosting you want, the company you choose, how long you decide to buy hosting for and what extras you buy.

This guide will provide a detailed breakdown of the costs associated with the most common types of web hosting, including side-by-side comparisons of popular hosting companies’ prices. I’ll also discuss extras and the hidden costs of hosting a website because the bottom line isn’t always straightforward.

How much does web hosting cost?

Web hosting services provide space on a web server, a specialized computer that makes websites accessible from the internet. Each type of web hosting uses a different server configuration, which determines the amount of resources — such as RAM or CPU power — and technical support available for your website.

Because of these variabilities, the type of web hosting you choose is the most important factor in determining website hosting costs.

Here’s an overview of what you can expect to pay for different kinds of web hosting:

  • Shared hosting: Most shared hosting plans cost $2 to $5 per month to start, rising to $10 to $30 per month upon renewal.
  • WordPress hosting: Most WordPress hosting costs $2 to $5 per month for the first term and $10 to $30 per month upon renewal.
  • Website builder hosting: Traditional web hosts typically offer website builder hosting for $2 to $5 per month to start and $10 to $30 per month upon renewal. Website builder companies like Squarespace usually charge $15 to $50 per month.
  • Cloud hosting: Conventional web hosting companies charge $30 to $400 per month for cloud hosting. Some companies, like Amazon Web Services, provide modular cloud hosting plans starting as low as $5 per month.
  • Dedicated hosting: Dedicated hosting plans cost anywhere from $50 to $700 per month.

Shared hosting

Shared website hosting costs typically start at $2 per $5 a month, rising to $10 to $30 per month upon renewal. Some companies, like SiteGround, charge as much as $45 per month for higher-tiered shared hosting plans.

In shared hosting, many websites share one server’s resources, such as processing power and bandwidth. Customers renting space on a shared server pay only for their portion of it, making this the most affordable type of web hosting.

Shared hosting is best for blogs, for-fun hobby sites and small business websites. The amount of traffic your site can handle depends on the plan, but as a general rule, shared hosting plans can accommodate up to 400,000 visitors per month.

The following table shows exact costs for shared hosting from several popular web hosts:

Company Monthly cost
GoDaddy $6-$18 (renews at $10-$25 per month based on a three-year term)
Bluehost $3-$10 (renews at $12-$27 per month, billed annually)
Dreamhost $3-$17 (renews at $7-$20 per month, billed annually)
Ionos $4-$9 (renews at $6-$16 per month based on a three-year term)
SiteGround $3-$8 (renews at $18-$45 per month billed annually)
HostGator $3-$5 (renews at $10-$20 per month billed annually)

WordPress hosting

WordPress hosting costs roughly the same as shared hosting. Some hosts charge an extra $1 to $2 per month for the additional software support. A few hosts offer WordPress hosting as virtual private server — VPS — hosting or cloud hosting for a higher fee. 

WordPress hosting is shared hosting optimized for WordPress, a content management system, or CMS, for building websites without requiring code. These plans come with WordPress pre-installed on your server. They may also offer automated software updates and other benefits.

WordPress hosting is best for folks looking to create a blog, for-fun hobby site or small business website with WordPress.

Here’s a breakdown of WordPress hosting costs at major hosting companies:

Company Monthly cost
GoDaddy $10-16 (renews at $13-23 per month billed annually)
Bluehost $3-10 (renews at $12-27 per month billed annually)
Dreamhost $3-17 (renews at $7-$20 per month billed annually)
Ionos $4-8 (renews at $6-15 per month based on a three-year term)
SiteGround $3-8 (renews at $18-$45 per month billed annually)
HostGator $4-14 (renews at $15-$27 per month based on a three-year term)

Website builder hosting

Website builder hosting costs vary, with shared website builder hosting often being close in price to regular shared hosting and cloud website builder hosting being more expensive — often $15 or more per month.

Website builders are tools for creating a website without installing anything, managing software updates or learning code. Website builder hosting comes with one of these builders pre-installed.

There are two types of website builder hosting:

  • Shared website builder hosting offered by traditional hosting companies like Hostinger. Shared website builder hosting is best for folks looking for a low-cost, low-effort way to create a blog, for-fun hobby site or small business website.
  • Cloud website builder hosting offered by specialized website builder companies like Squarespace. Cloud website builder hosting is best for folks creating blogs, for-fun hobby sites and small business websites who are prepared to pay more for higher-quality tools and the ability to accommodate rapid site growth.

Here’s a roundup of what website builder hosting plans cost from major hosting companies:

Company Monthly cost
GoDaddy $11-$21 (renews at $13-$27 per month billed annually)
Ionos $1-$17 for the first six months (renews at $12-$30 per month billed annually)
Hostinger $3-$4 (renews at $8-$14 per month billed annually)
Squarespace $16-$52 (billed annually)
Wix $17-159 (billed annually)
Shopify $29-2,300-plus (billed annually)

Cloud hosting

Cloud hosting costs from conventional hosting companies vary from $30 per month on the low end to $400 per month at the high end. Cloud hosting stores your site on multiple servers, allowing for greater uptime and faster loading speeds around the globe. Cloud hosting is also easy to scale, as your site can pull resources from more servers to accommodate high traffic levels. 

Cloud hosting is best for medium- to large-size businesses and small businesses expecting rapid growth. 

Companies like Amazon Web Services have complex, modular hosting options where you can buy only what you need for a few dollars. However, these plans often have limited technical support. Traditional hosting companies charge more for cloud hosting because they offer more robust support and features.

Here’s a quick overview of the cost of cloud hosting at three traditional web hosting companies:

Company Monthly cost
Bluehost $30-$110 (renews at $80-$250 per month billed annually)
Hostinger $10-$30 (renews at $25-$55 per month billed annually)
SiteGround $100-$400

VPS hosting

VPS hosting costs vary based on the type of VPS hosting you choose:

  • Self-managed VPS hosting involves managing the server’s software yourself or hiring a system administrator to do it. This option may cost only a few dollars more than shared hosting each month, or it may cost upward of $30 per month.
  • Managed VPS hosting involves the hosting company managing the software for you. There are some companies offering this service for as little as $10 per month, but many managed VPS hosting plans cost $50 or more each month.

Some companies, like Bluehost, offer self-managed plans where you’ll receive technical support to set up your server but be responsible for completing the setup and maintenance yourself.

VPS hosting gives you access to a virtual server with dedicated resources like bandwidth and processing power. Although you’re technically still sharing a server, your website is partitioned from other sites, allowing you to customize server settings and enjoy greater security and resources.

VPS hosting is best for medium- to large-size business websites needing to accommodate several hundred thousand monthly visitors or large amounts of data. You may also want VPS hosting if you want control over your server’s configuration — though some advanced server customization options may not be available.

Here’s a comparison of VPS website hosting costs at various companies:

Company Monthly cost
GoDaddy $9-$135 based on a three-year term (renews at $15-$165 per month based on a three-year term)
Bluehost $32-$72 based on a three-year term (renews at $82-$145 per month based on a three-year term)
HostGator $32-$80 based on a three-year term (renews at $82-$145 per month based on a three-year term)
Ionos $2-$30 billed annually (renews at $5-$50 per month billed annually)
Dreamhost $10-$80 based on a three-year term (renews at $13-$93 per month based on a three-year term)

Dedicated hosting

Dedicated hosting costs depend on the type of dedicated hosting you choose:

  • Self-managed dedicated hosting, where you are wholly responsible for configuring the server software — or hiring someone to do it. This type of hosting often starts at $80 to $100 per month.
  • Managed dedicated hosting, where the hosting company manages digital server configuration and maintenance. This type of hosting often starts at $90 or more each month.

Dedicated hosting provides an entire physical server for your website. You get the server’s full processing power, storage space and bandwidth, allowing your site to accommodate millions of viewers. You’ll also get total control over your server’s digital configuration.

Dedicated hosting is best for websites expecting millions of monthly visitors or storing massive amounts of data. You may also want to choose dedicated hosting if you want complete control over your server’s software and settings.

Here’s a quick comparison of dedicated hosting from some of the best web hosts:

Company Monthly cost
Bluehost $92-$142 (renews at $182-$291 per month based on a three-year term)
HostGator $80-$142 (renews at $170-$291 per month based on a three-year term)
A2 Hosting $80-$430 (renews at $200-$700 per month based on a two-year term)
Ionos $50-$91 based on a two-year term (renews at $100-$140 based on a two-year term)

Hidden web hosting costs and other expenses of hosting a website

Domain name

A domain name is the name of a website. For example, our domain name is CNET.com. Like web hosting, a domain name is essential to making your site available online.

Many web hosts offer a free domain for the first year. However, you’ll almost always have to pay for your domain in subsequent years, and some web hosts require you to buy a domain separately from the outset.

The cost of a domain can depend on the domain extension you choose and the company you register it with. Most domains with common extensions like .com and .net cost $10 to $20 per year.

SSL certificate

Secure Socket Layer, or SSL, is a security protocol that encrypts website data, including data submitted to your site.

SSL certification is essential even if your website won’t be accepting sensitive data. Google prioritizes ranking sites with SSL certification. Some browsers and VPNs also look for SSL certification and won’t allow users to visit sites without it.

Most web hosting companies include SSL certification in their plans now. A handful of companies still charge separately for it, often charging $20 to $40 per year.

Extensions

Extensions — called plugins on WordPress or apps on Wix and Shopify — are tools for increasing your site’s functionality. Extensions allow you to do things like:

  • Book appointments
  • Build and sell online courses
  • Integrate your website with social media platforms

Some of these may be free. WordPress, in particular, has many free options — almost 60,000 of them.

Other extensions cost money — sometimes a lot of it. To give you an idea, let’s look at some premium WordPress plugins:

As you can see, there’s a wide price range for plugins. You can expect to find similar variations in the app or extension marketplaces for services like Squarespace and Shopify.

Themes and templates

Themes or templates dictate your site’s appearance. Most CMS options and website builders have many free themes — though you may need to find and install them yourself on a CMS like WordPress.

You can also buy a premium theme to create a more unique look. Paid WordPress themes often cost $20 to $100, while themes for sites like Squarespace and Shopify typically cost $200 to $400.

E-commerce features

Website builders like Squarespace often limit e-commerce functionality to certain plans. This means you’ll need to pay more to host a website with a store than to host a site without one.

CMS options like WordPress may require extensions for e-commerce functionality. WooCommerce, a popular e-commerce plugin for WordPress with over 5 million active installs, is free, but you’ll need to buy paid WooCommerce extensions — often costing $50 to $100 per year — to sell certain types of products or use certain payment gateways.

Marketing tools

Marketing is essential to a website’s success. Every business needs three types of marketing tools every business needs to succeed online: search engine optimization or SEO tools, social media tools and email marketing tools.

SEO tools help you optimize content for search engines by controlling the descriptions shown in search results and selecting keywords you want to rank for. These tools are often built into website builders, but they may be restricted to higher-tiered plans. If you’re using WordPress, you’ll need an SEO plugin. These plugins can be free or paid, with paid options costing $100 or more each year.

Social media integrations help you build community and increase visibility by making it easy for people to follow your social profiles and share your content on social media. These integrations are often built into website builders, but they’re not always available on all plans. If you’re using WordPress, you’ll need a plugin. There are many free social media plugins, as well as paid plugins typically costing $50 to $100 per year.

Email marketing tools help you build deeper connections with your audience through email campaigns. These tools are usually paid extensions or third-party services. You may be able to start for free, but you’ll need to upgrade once you exceed a certain number of subscribers or monthly emails. Paid plans often start at $10 to $20 per month.

So what should you pay for web hosting?

The cost of website hosting depends on the type of web hosting you choose:

  • Shared hosting and WordPress hosting typically starts at $2 to $5 a month and rises to $10 to $30 each month, with some plans costing as much ast $40 or more each month.
  • Website builder hosting costs are similar to shared hosting if you choose a traditional web host. If you choose a website builder company like Squarespace, the price can be anywhere from $15 each month to $2,300 each month.
  • Cloud hosting plans from traditional hosting companies can cost anywhere from $10 each month to $400 or more each month. Some companies offer modular cloud hosting plans with complex pricing models starting as low as $5 each month.
  • VPS hosting costs anywhere from $10 each month to $145 each month.
  • Dedicated hosting costs anywhere from $50 each month to $700 or more each month.

Once you understand the type of hosting you want and the website hosting cost you’re willing to accept, you can check out our list of the best web hosts to find a company to work with.

Every type of website hosting comes at a different price point, so it’s hard to establish an overall average cost of website hosting. However, there are some general rules you can establish:

For basic hosting types like shared hosting and WordPress hosting, you’ll typically pay $5 to $10 each month for your first term and $10 to $30 each month on renewal.

For advanced hosting types like VPS or dedicated hosting, you’ll typically pay $10 to $40 each month for your first term and $40-plus upon renewal.

Hosting a website online can cost anywhere from $2 each month for shared hosting to $700 each month for dedicated hosting plans.

Renting an entire web server typically costs $80-plus each month.

Web servers are specialized computers that require advanced configuration to make websites available online, large amounts of continuous power and temperature control to keep them running. Maintaining these servers is expensive, and the cost is passed on to the consumer, along with additional fees to help hosting companies make a profit.

Yes, you can host a website for free. However, free web hosting plans often have strict limits on storage space, bandwidth and monetization. You’ll usually have to use a subdomain and allow the company to place ads on your site — and the ads will usually pay the hosting company, not you.



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5 Time-Saving WordPress Block Editor Tips and Tricks – WordPress.com News

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5 Time-Saving WordPress Block Editor Tips and Tricks – WordPress.com News

Who doesn’t love saving time?

From List View to keyboard shortcuts to the powerful Command Palette, the WordPress Block Editor is loaded with time-saving tricks that will streamline your workflows and ensure that you’re operating at peak efficiency. In this Build and Beyond video, Jamie Marsland shows us his five favorite WordPress Block Editor time savers.

Ready to get going? Start your free trial today:


Join 110.9M other subscribers

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11 Best WordPress Paywall Plugins (Free and Paid Options)

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11 Best WordPress Paywall Plugins (Free and Paid Options)

At WPBeginner, we’ve had a lot of experience working with different website monetization tools, including paywall plugins, membership software, and more. We’ve tested everything from simple plugins to complex solutions, learning that there’s no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to paywalls.

The right paywall plugin can help you monetize your content effectively by controlling who can access specific pieces of content. It can also be handy for collecting leads and expanding your email list.

In this article, we will review the top paywall plugins for WordPress, including both free and paid options, to help you find the perfect fit for your site.

wordpress-paywall-plugins-og

Quick Picks: The Best Paywall Plugins for WordPress

What Are WordPress Paywall Plugins, And Why Do You Need One?

A WordPress paywall plugin allows you to monetize your content by restricting access to certain posts or pages until users make a payment or subscribe to a membership plan.

There are a lot of similarities between a paywall and a membership plugin, but the biggest difference is that membership plugins can offer anything in their plans. This can include things like private communities, courses, training programs, live events and meetups, discounts, and so on.

On the flip side, paywall plugins usually only limit gated content.

Think of sites like Medium.com, the New York Times, Patreon, or others that allow users to access premium content when they subscribe.

The New York TimesThe New York Times

Some paywall sites charge by individual post, while others allow you to access everything after paying an upfront fee.

So, why do you need WordPress paywall plugins? Sometimes, you want to save your best content for your most loyal paying customers.

Gating your content is one of the most proven ways to make money online blogging. However, paywalls are not only limited to bloggers.

Here are some other use cases for paywalls:

  • Content creators and podcasters could gate their most valuable media content to make it exclusive to their paying customers.
  • Digital publishers like online newspapers or magazines can restrict access to premium articles.
  • Course creators can offer premium tutorials and educational content with paywall plugins.
  • Photographers and artists can use paywall plugins to sell access to artwork, digital downloads, or high-resolution images.
  • Freelancers or agencies could charge a fee to access premium resources, like templates or support.

The point is there are many directions you can take. A paywall is often used to monetize your content, so you get paid for all the valuable information you provide to your audience. But it’s also a great way to grow your email list since you can require users to create an account to access premium content.

Why Trust WPBeginner

At WPBeginner, we have more than 16 years of experience in creating WordPress websites, monetizing content, and online marketing. When testing plugins for our reviews, we try them out on real websites and pay special attention to unique features, pros, and cons.

For more details, see our editorial process.

1. MemberPress

MemberPress websiteMemberPress website

MemberPress is the best paywall plugin on the market, allowing you to sell exclusive members-only content. This plugin comes packed with features that allow you to build a paywall behind your WordPress site, manage content and memberships, and receive recurring payments.

As the site owner, you are in charge of content access rules. You can drip content based on set time periods and access expirations. Dripping content based on a time schedule is a great way to improve customer retention, as customers have to remain onboard for continued access.

Beyond that, you can also create different membership levels. Users can choose the plan they want to join, and each plan comes with its own unique content, pricing, and features. That way, you are able to build membership plans that appeal to different audiences, which can help boost sales.

For example, in the MemberPress settings, you can choose how many pages a visitor can access without a subscription.

seo-paywall-settingsseo-paywall-settings

This is a great way for new visitors to sample your content and get a preview of what to expect in your premium content.

In addition, there are plenty of other rules you can set. For example, you can choose to gate content based on tags, categories, and other taxonomies.

access-conditions-protected-contentaccess-conditions-protected-content

For more details about what this plugin can do, check out our ultimate MemberPress review.

Pros:

  • MemberPress is easy to use.
  • It integrates with many other third-party apps, such as Drip, Constant Contact, Stripe, PayPal, and others.
  • You have total control over how you want to restrict content and create membership levels.

Cons:

  • While MemberPress offers a free version with basic features to restrict content, the Pro version has much more advanced features like subscription billing, digital downloads, content dripping, and more.

Why We Recommend Using MemberPress: With MemberPress, it’s easy to set up and restrict specific posts, pages, categories, and files to paying site members. You can even restrict content based on account signups and not paid subscriptions. In our experience and testing, we haven’t found a paywall plugin that offers as many features as MemberPress does.

2. MemberMouse

MembermouseMembermouse

MemberMouse is one of the most user-friendly paywall plugins you’ll find. It allows you to sell protected content and products. What’s great about this software is that you have plenty of options to maximize sales, such as one-click upsells, free and paid trials, and members-only pricing.

In addition, you can restrict content access by protecting certain pages and posts and auto-lock shared accounts. Just like MemberPress, you can add custom content dripping schedules and multiple membership levels. Overall, you are in the driver’s seat when it comes to content restriction and dripping.

membermouse-drip-contentmembermouse-drip-content

For instance, you can set a specific content drip schedule based on the specific membership level. This helps to encourage subscribers to continue renewing their membership.

Plus, you can create login forms so users can easily sign in anytime once they’ve become members. MemberMouse creates custom HTML for each login form.

login-form-codelogin-form-code

You can then add that HTML to a custom sales page or landing page you’ve created using a page builder plugin like SeedProd.

For more details about the features available, check out our MemberMouse review.

Pros:

  • You can sell paywall subscriptions and physical products.
  • The plugin connects with your favorite email marketing services and payment gateways.
  • You can embed the login form on just about any page on your site, such as your home page, landing page, or other pages.

Cons:

  • There’s no free plugin, and the pricing starts at $199.50 per year.

Why We Recommend Using MemberMouse: Due to its advanced features, we recommend MemberMouse for larger and enterprise-level companies. It’s good for creating paywalls, membership sites, and physical product sales.

3. WishList Member

WishList MemberWishList Member

WishList Member is a paywall plugin that allows you to sell premium content on your site.

With this plugin, you have granular control over when, who, and which content you are giving access to. Even better, it’ll automatically provide access and remove access based on the membership level. Like the other plugins, you can create as many member levels as you’d like.

You can also automate content distribution by scheduling posts to go live on a specific time and date. We also really like the cool “sneak peek” feature, which shows snippets of gated content. This gives readers a taste of what they are missing and can help drive conversions.

WishList Member is one of the few plugins that offers a Pay-per-Post feature. Rather than providing access to specific content based on membership level, users can pay for each post separately. That means you can also set a different price point for each post, depending on its value.

Additionally, one of the best things about WishList Member is its wide range of integrations. You’ll find a long list of payment providers, email marketing services, and other marketing automation.

For example, if you are a course creator or coach, then you can integrate the plugin with LearnDash or FunnelKit Automations to build a backend sales funnel for higher-ticket programs.

Pros:

  • You can use sneak peeks with previews of specific content and invite users to sign up.
  • There’s a huge library of integrations.
  • You can choose to gate content by membership or charge per post.

Cons:

  • The interface is a little complicated for beginners.

Why We Recommend Using WishList Member: WishList Member costs $147 for a single license, making it one of the less expensive paid membership plugins. Considering all of the features you get, you will have total control over your paywall at a fair price.

4. Paid Memberships Pro

Paid Memberships ProPaid Memberships Pro

Paid Memberships Pro proves that you don’t need to buy an expensive plugin to have an effective paywall. With the free version alone, you will have a solution to secure your content and charge a recurring subscription for it.

The free version offers 28 different types of content restrictions, such as:

  • Limited access to a specific number of page views before hitting the paywall
  • Show sneak peeks or hide the restricted content entirely
  • Drip feed access based on a schedule
  • Offer directories to view other member profiles
  • Created personalized content based on membership level

That said, the paid version gives you more control and advanced features. In our testing, we were very impressed with the Paid Membership Pro plugin’s array of features, which you can access upon upgrading.

The paid plans offer premium customization recipes so you can customize your paywall site to your exact needs. For example, you could add a progress bar to show how much content a user has consumed or redirect members upon logout based on level.

Additionally, you get a ton of addons like Google Analytics and eCommerce tracking, premium support, advanced checkout page customizations, and more.

Pros:

  • The plugin supports popular payment gateways.
  • It provides paywall site performance, such as revenue and sales reports.
  • You can allow users to buy single-category purchases, one-time access, or even individual content.

Cons:

  • The plugin does not include a built-in feature that allows administrators to selectively enable or disable specific user actions. For example, you may want to allow users to self-upgrade but disable the self-cancellations option.

Why We Recommend Using Paid Memberships Pro: We like Paid Memberships Pro because the free version is good enough to get started if you just want to create a paywall in WordPress. But if you want to add other customizations like improving the checkout experience, the ability to accept donations, or other advanced features, then you can upgrade to the Pro version.

5. Thrive Leads

Thrive LeadsThrive Leads

Thrive Leads is a list-building solution designed to convert traffic visitors into email subscribers. It offers a variety of features, such as the ability to create a pop-up lightbox, sticky and floating bars, in-line forms, and even a content lock with a paywall.

The plugin has an easy-to-use drag-and-drop visual editor, allowing you to create an opt-in form. Beyond that, there are tons of professionally-designed templates, so you can pick one that best fits your offer.

What we like most about Thrive Leads is that you can choose to gate your content via an email opt-in or by collecting payments.

Content LockContent Lock

If you want to set up a paywall for your premium content, you’ll need to add a link to your checkout page. Keep in mind you’ll need a WordPress payment plugin such as WooCommerce.

Thrive Leads comes as a standalone plugin subscription or as part of the entire Thrive Suite. For example, with Thrive Apprentice, you can easily set up a paywall and get your visitors to pay for access to your membership site.

Pros:

  • There are lots of opt-in templates to choose from.
  • You can embed the content lock on any part of your website.
  • The plugin is intuitive and easy to use.

Cons:

  • You need a separate plugin to collect payments.

Why We Recommend Using Thrive Leads: Connecting your paywall plugin to other marketing and lead generation tools can be a hassle. That’s what makes Thrive Leads special. With the Thrive Suite, you have everything you need to attract and convert new customers without bouncing from one plugin to another.

6. OptinMonster

OptinMonsterOptinMonster

OptinMonster is our top-recommended lead generation software, meaning it’s the best tool on the market to get you more traffic and grow your email list.

OptinMonster offers a content-lock feature only for in-line campaigns, meaning lead generation forms that are already embedded onto a page. With this feature, you can remove your gated content from the page until the reader signs up or make everything blurry for users until they sign up.

OptinMonster content lockOptinMonster content lock

Once the user enters their email, the gated content will appear, and they will be able to start reading your exclusive material.

Plus, just like Thrive Leads, it allows you to create engaging lead generation campaigns such as lightbox popups, slide-in scroll boxes, and fullscreen welcome mats.

Pros:

  • It’s a great way to grow your email list.
  • There are tons of templates and lead generation types.
  • You can remove content from the page or make it blurry to fit your needs.

Cons:

  • Doesn’t accept payments for paywalls.

Why We Recommend Using OptinMonster: If you are looking for a way to hide content until users sign up for your email list, then OptinMonster is a great option. Although it’s not a traditional paywall, it is a great option for lead generation.

7. AccessAlly

AccessAllyAccessAlly

AccessAlly is a learning management system (LMS) plugin designed to help coaches, trainers, and creators sell their digital products.

Unlike most platforms, AccessAlly focuses on being an all-in-one platform that helps online coaches create stunning learning experiences. With the platform, you’re able to deliver online courses, memberships, certifications, high-end coaching programs, communities, and books. There are even templates for each of these, so you never have to start from scratch.

AccessAlly templatesAccessAlly templates

After testing AccessAlly ourselves, we really like the control you get when it comes to protecting content. With access tags, you can easily upload and protect files like PDFs, MP3s, and more.

As a course creator, you can restrict content based on membership level or course. Everything is handled with tags and materials, ensuring only paying members can view certain materials.

In addition, AccessAlly’s protected content allows you to remove it from Google search results. That way, unauthorized users won’t be able to stumble onto your restricted paywall content.

Pros:

  • You can house all of your digital products, memberships, communities, and gated content in one place.
  • It can integrate with other tools like CRM apps and email marketing services.
  • Use gamification to keep users engaged by earning points for accomplishing tasks.

Cons:

Why We Recommend Using AccessAlly: AccessAlly is a powerful plugin that is best suited to content creators and online coaches. With this plugin, you can protect gated content and separate it into membership tiers. Plus, there are built-in recurring Stripe and PayPal payments.

8. Restrict Content Pro

Restrict Content ProRestrict Content Pro

Restrict Content Pro is a WordPress paywall plugin that allows you to restrict content in a few ways, such as tags, content category, membership status, WordPress user roles, and more.

We like that Restrict Content Pro allows members to manage their accounts easily. They can view their account status and membership expiration date, upgrade or cancel their accounts, and view their complete payment history and past invoices.

You can also send automated, customizable emails to your subscribers. It has tags to choose from, so you can personalize your emails, like adding their first and last name, expiration dates, coupon codes, and more.

While there is a free version, the Pro version offers more advanced features. In our opinion, detailed reporting about the earnings on your paywall site is crucial to success. You can even offer free trial subscriptions so potential buyers can try a membership before they buy.

Pros:

  • You can offer free trials to boost sales.
  • The plugin offers a WooCommerce integration, allowing you to restrict who can buy products from your online store based on membership levels.
  • The plugin offers a lot of content restriction options.

Cons:

  • Content dripping is only available as an add-on in the Pro version.

Why We Recommend Using Restrict Content Pro: Restrict Content Pro offers a comprehensive customer dashboard that allows users to make changes to their memberships. We also like that it offers excellent premium features at an affordable price point.

9. aMemberPro

aMemberProaMemberPro

aMemberPro is a simple, user-friendly paywall plugin that gives you total control over which content is made available to the public.

Like the other plugins on our list, you can create unlimited member levels. This allows you to sell which content to restrict based on different price points and subscription terms.

The plugin allows you to build your own members-only area. Every piece of content goes to only the members’ area, so non-paid members won’t know what’s inside.

What stands out about aMember Pro is its multi-language support, so you can easily translate your content to any of its 22 languages.

Beyond that, you get advanced features like flexible signup forms with automatic password generation and even a built-in affiliate program. The affiliate program is a great way to encourage subscribers to spread the word about your memberships.

Pros:

  • You can create your own affiliate program, similar to a plugin like AffiliateWP.
  • The checkout process allows for extensive customization, such as flexible signup forms, fail-back payment processors, coupon codes, and more.
  • The plugin gives granular access control for your paywall site.

Cons:

  • There’s no free version.
  • It has an outdated interface.

Why We Recommend Using aMember Pro: This is a great plugin that offers plenty of customization. You also have full control over scheduled content drips, membership levels, and the type of content you want restricted.

10. LearnDash

LearnDashLearnDash

LearnDash is a popular WordPress LMS plugin that allows you to create unlimited online courses, quizzes, and lessons. With its simple drag-and-drop editor, you can set up backend courses without writing a single line of code.

This plugin is great for anyone looking to sell courses on their WordPress site. This learning management system goes way beyond just a simple paywall site.

It comes with comprehensive course builder tools, where you can design branded course content. For example, users can access the next module only once they’ve completed the previous one, which offers more structured guidance for more efficient learning.

Online learning can quickly become dull, which is why LearnDash is the best plugin for keeping users engaged in your material. You can add a private forum, create membership quizzes, issue user badges, and even give award certifications upon course completion.

awarding-points-questionsawarding-points-questions

You can even set content restriction rules, such as requiring students to meet a certain number of points by completing quizzes or reading past articles in a series.

For more information, check out our complete LearnDash review.

Pros:

  • Great for selling online courses.
  • LearnDash has plenty of gamification elements to engage users.
  • You can control how you want to restrict content access.

Cons:

  • It’s a plugin designed for courses rather than just a paywall.

Why We Recommend Using LearnDash: We like LearnDash because it takes a more dynamic approach to your traditional paywall site. Rather than just gating content, LearnDash offers more ways to engage users, such as progress bars, gamification elements, and awards, which is great for building customer loyalty.

11. WooCommerce Memberships

WooCommerce MembershipsWooCommerce Memberships

WooCommerce Memberships is a membership plugin addon for WooCommerce store owners. With this plugin, you can restrict services, products, and content to only registered users in your store.

It’s one of the few tools available that brings your shop, content, and memberships together. Giving special access to paid members helps to build a tight-knit community and boost loyalty.

For example, you may want to send members gifts along with exclusive content. This allows you to add more perks to each membership plan than you would get from a simple paywall plugin. You can even offer free shipping for paid members.

Like the other paywall plugins, you can also drip content, meaning customers need to be a member for a set period of time before they can access certain pages or posts.

Besides that, WooCommerce Memberships give you other advanced control options. You can restrict product viewing to only members so only members can view your best products. This works great if you sell items using something like an auction plugin to deal with limited inventory.

Restrict products in WooCommerce MembershipsRestrict products in WooCommerce Memberships

Pros:

  • You have tons of control options, like which types of content and products to restrict viewing.
  • The add-on allows you to offer free trials.
  • You can drip content on schedule.

Cons:

  • It is only available for WooCommerce store owners.

Why We Recommend Using WooCommerce Memberships: WooCommerce Memberships are a great way to gate content for store visitors. When customers pay to become a member, they are happy to receive extra perks they might not find elsewhere.

Frequently Asked Questions About Paywall Plugins

Can I put a paywall on WordPress?

Yes, all you need is a paywall plugin that allows you to restrict access to content by page, post, category, URL, and so on. That way, visitors must complete an action like creating an account on your site or becoming a paid member to view the paywall.

What is the best paywall plugin for WordPress?

The best paywall plugin is, hands-down, MemberPress. It comes with powerful access control, letting you restrict content however you’d like to.

You can also drip content to members after a certain time. Beyond the basics, you’re able to sell online courses, which provide a more interactive learning experience than just a basic paywall.

What is the best free paywall plugin for WordPress?

Paid Memberships Pro is the best paywall plugin with a free version. It offers tons of content restriction types, giving you granular control, and you can accept recurring payments.

We hope this article helped you find the best paywall plugin for WordPress. You may also want to check out our ultimate guide to creating a WordPress membership site and our list of the must-have WordPress plugins and tools for business sites.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.



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