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Joel R

[Guide] Joel's Guide to Subscriptions

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@Joel R great information. I'm about to install subscriptions on one site and then maybe move another site where I'm using products as subscriptions to the newer/simpler subscriptions. 

For a site that has thousands of members that are signed up and essentially free, do you create a free subscription and move them all into that or leave them alone and in subscription settings just leave off the setting for:

 image.thumb.png.718c364153b9e21c1e5376a02a658732.png

 

If you don't have a free plan, and want to offer a free membership in addition to paid, I think I need to create a free subscription, correct?

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18 minutes ago, AlexWebsites said:

For a site that has thousands of members that are signed up and essentially free, do you create a free subscription and move them all into that or leave them alone and in subscription settings just leave off the setting for:

Leave them alone.

The purpose of subscriptions is to enhance member privileges, right? So there's no benefit to define a free subscription that does nothing.  

Every community already has a free subscription.  It's called registration.  

The only time a free subscription makes sense is if you're offering an enhancement.  Your tiers would look something like:

- Default registration

- Default registration + free membership that changes permission

(But then my question becomes why don't you just make the membership permissions part of your default registration for all users.  Why make users opt in?)

- Default registration + paid membership

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The only reason I was thinking of having a free subscription was to define (in a block) in the selection process what that includes. This way you have a block for free membership with a description, in addition to paid, for comparison. This is how I have my products set up for subscriptions. Everyone opts into something.

 

Edited by AlexWebsites

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That's ... A lot of work when your real purpose is to simply provide a comparative description LOL.  

In general, when you write your stuff for the paid subscription, make it a comparative description so users can see the increase.  Don't just say "1000 PM limit." Do something like "Increase from 50 PM to 1000 PM."  

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2 minutes ago, Joel R said:

That's ... A lot of work when your real purpose is to simply provide a comparative description LOL.  

In general, when you write your stuff for the paid subscription, make it a comparative description so users can see the increase.  Don't just say "1000 PM limit." Do something like "Increase from 50 PM to 1000 PM."  

That's a good point. I'll start my other site without a free subscription and see how it goes.

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Has anyone used group promotion in conjunction with subscriptions? So let's say you have a subscription level called "Premium" which moves a subscribed member into a "premium group" but you want to be able to move members based on group promotions, into this same "premium group" if they hit 1000 posts (or something like that). If they hit that, they get promoted into that group automatically. So once they hit that, they no longer need to pay for a subscription into that group. 

 

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So unless I'm missing something, there is no way to present subscriptions during the registration process or even directly afterwards without forcing users to purchase a subscription, at which point if you want to also offer a free membership, you have to create a free subscription package. I just don't see any other way around this in order to give the opportunity to purchase during registration. There really should be a way to offer this as a step during the registration process with the option to "skip" choosing a paid subscription and just staying with a  regular "free" membership.

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On 1/22/2019 at 8:16 PM, Joel R said:

Yeah I don't think so, and I think someone else brought this up before too.  

Post in Feedback.  

The more I look at this, there is no way to present subscriptions during registration without forcing a purchase during registration and having a free subscription option (if you offer a free option, which most I think do, to capture membership). It's almost as if when they designed it, they assumed your community will be either all paid subscriptions or you'll have to sell them afterwards only, which I think is a slight oversight by IPS.  

Would be good to also be able to incorporate subscriptions into a profile completion step as an option. I know its "dumbed down" version of products, but I think it functions so much cleaner than using products as subscriptions. 

Below are topics I've started in the feedback forum. If you agree with any of these, please reply within those topics, like, etc.

 

 

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On 9/30/2018 at 3:41 PM, Reto Bachofner said:

I hope, that this way the can look around as long they want and that I can convince them to sign up for a payable membership. It will look like this

- Basic Account as a Group

- Subscribe Package One with more rights and access to Member-Only Forum

- Subscribe Package Two with full rights and full access (e.g. ability to have an own Blog or to run a own Club)

I will let you know how I setup this in detail and how it worked out. 

@Reto Bachofner Did you ever get this setup detailed? We're in a very similar situation with a need to offer a free trial before having a member sign on for a yearly renewal. We're using 7 days for the trial too.

 

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On 8/22/2018 at 10:39 AM, Joel R said:

If you need help, feel free to post your community here for us to help.  

http://www.winepress.us/forums/ 

I built the WinePress.US forums back in 2002.  I have over 23,000 members but over the years, LOST a lot of activity in the forums, as I was self hosting the site.   I am now switching  over to the cloud hosted service by IPB, and want to have a 'subscription' option in place prior to sending out my bulk email to everyone, notifying them that WinePress.US has undergone a complete upgrade, and that we want them back.    I feel that some members will want to support more, and appreciate the work put into the site over the years.  

I guess to start, I'd need general guidelines such as what a "free" membership offers, versus, what an upgraded VIP package may offer.  I'm open to that.      Heck, I'm open to a lot of ideas, as long as I can make them work on my site.   

As for advertising, I've always used direct contact with my customers, and manually uploaded their banners.  I have different packages for those, which have been 99% of my site income over the past 17 years.

Thanks in advance for your assistance and review.

Joel

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Congrats in the relaunch and the new energy that you're bringing to your community.  Communities are like gardens, and require constant care.  

Some thoughts: 

1. Prelaunch.  Make sure that you preview the biggest changes with your inner circle of users to help them feel like they're "in the know." That can help get those users to get on board with the changes, and leverage their enthusiasm when the rest of the community sees the changes.  

2. Launch.  Sounds like you have a solid plan for a relaunch with the bulk mailing.  

3. Subscriptions.  I haven't done a deep dive into your community yet, but in general, build your user subscriptions around features that are relevant.  Give them more of something they love, enjoy, and crave.  You want to tie the subscriptions to your community's mission.  

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For anyone moving from products to subscriptions, I've run into a mess with a ticket opened for a couple for weeks now with now Tier III Support, so a little tip. If you ran products as subscriptions and had multiple products tied to a a customer, make sure you look at this before you transfer your packages to subscriptions and make the order of the product you want to keep tied to the member, the last one you convert.

I have a scenario where members signed up for FREE (product) subscription and then upgraded to Paid (product) subscription, but I never had it so the FREE product would come off their purchases or get upgraded, so they had two under their account. I transferred my paid products to the new subscriptions first and then all the free....all those members who paid for a subscription were moved into a FREE subscription (because it was the last one converted), Very messy and and have some conflicts now going on with what's active and what's not.

Just wanted to share for anyone transferring products to subscriptions. Do free first (if you have a free product) and do paid last on conversion.

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On 3/10/2019 at 11:29 AM, AlexWebsites said:

For anyone moving from products to subscriptions, I've run into a mess with a ticket opened for a couple for weeks now with now Tier III Support, so a little tip. If you ran products as subscriptions and had multiple products tied to a a customer, make sure you look at this before you transfer your packages to subscriptions and make the order of the product you want to keep tied to the member, the last one you convert.

I have a scenario where members signed up for FREE (product) subscription and then upgraded to Paid (product) subscription, but I never had it so the FREE product would come off their purchases or get upgraded, so they had two under their account. I transferred my paid products to the new subscriptions first and then all the free....all those members who paid for a subscription were moved into a FREE subscription (because it was the last one converted), Very messy and and have some conflicts now going on with what's active and what's not.

Just wanted to share for anyone transferring products to subscriptions. Do free first (if you have a free product) and do paid last on conversion.

These tickets are still with support level III, over a month now. 

On another note, I'm now using this plugin by @A Zayed to display commerce links under account settings. I like that there is a manage subscriptions link by IPS as default under the user menu but you still need a main menu item for some of the other commerce links if you want them available. So now I'm centralizing it under the account settings section which is a better place for it in my opinion. I created a Billing & Purchases section which is all commerce links instead of having it in my main menu. Just a tip for anyone running subscriptions.

image.png.c3ad07a4707a0d7e312b84f20ded1d

 

 

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Is there any guide on how to migrate from 'products' to 'subscriptions' ? 

All my current VIP members have signed up for a 'product' with renewal terms and paypal billing agreements.

whats the process?

 

 

 

Edited by bern5

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2 hours ago, Subseven said:

Do you still have to buy Commerce for $100 to have subscriptions?

Subscriptions are a part of Commerce, which contains support tickets, products, subscriptions, and hosting. 

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3 hours ago, Joel R said:

Subscriptions are a part of Commerce, which contains support tickets, products, subscriptions, and hosting. 

Hosting is separate for me. Still sucks then.

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I too was critical and thought Commerce was grossly overpriced just to have subscriptions, but after taking a gamble and purchasing it in a last ditch effort to try to bring in some income, it quickly became clear how much work, time and research has gone into it, especially the payment side.

I don't like some small things such as how it lists all of my members as Customers before they've even bought anything, but I do particularly like how the settings contain pseudo advice and tips in places on how best to configure depending upon on what you're trying to do. The gift card feature is really nice bonus too, enabling members to buy or contribute towards a subscription because the value can be used within the store.

I said this some time ago but Commerce seems to be a victim of trying to be all things to all people, with clients paying for the flexibility and development of features they don't need, whereas in 4.4 it could probably have become more modular, with payments, anti-fraud, transactions and support tickets becoming a 'Core' type central module and then we could just purchase or add when the time is right whichever modules we need such as in-stock products, digital products, shipping, subscriptions, hosting. That would be more efficient in some ways.

I don't know how popular the hosting aspect of a Commerce is, you never seem to hear about anyone using it, but it seems like a bit of a white elephant or it doesn't seem to inspire confidence. I do like the idea of being able to resell to my niche community members but I don't think there would be any demand. On a tech or web hosting community it would make more sense but such sites would probably already be using WHMCS or similar.

Edited by The Old Man

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