Using Memberful to Sell Digital Content

For a recent project, my client needed a solution to sell subscriptions and digital downloads. We considered some of the standard products (Shopify, Big Cartel, etc.) but they seemed excessive for what we wanted to do. I became aware of Memberful after getting to know Drew from The Theme Foundry. Since we were using WordPress for the site already, it was an attractive option. Pricing is straightforward and includes transaction fees.

Getting started is extremely simple. Activating the plugin allows you to define which posts or pages (including custom post types) should be “protected” (i.e. requires signing up and paying for) with the Restrict Access metabox.

Memberful Restrict Access Metabox
Memberful Restrict Access Metabox

What I like best about how Memberful works is the WordPress shortcode integration. It’s very easy to create a message for logged-in users that’s different than what non-logged-in users see:

[memberful has_subscription_to="154-big-awesome"]
Protected content goes here...

This can also be done on your WordPress templates in a similar way:

<?php if ( is_subscribed_to_memberful_plan( '154-big-awesome' ) ) : ?>
Shown only to members with a subscription to the Big Awesome plan.
<?php endif; ?>

This allowed us to design a tailored experience when building the subscription and download pages on the site. Beyond the simple integration, the support from Memberful is outstanding. The Memberful admin dashboard (which is very well designed) has a persistent chat sidebar that makes it really easy to reach out to their customer support team. We had an ongoing dialogue while working on the project and their responses were quick, friendly and always very helpful. In fact, I suggested a feature and it was implemented within two weeks. Pretty amazing!

Using Stripe is a requirement for using Memberful. They don’t offer other payment processing options (PayPal, etc.) but this wasn’t a problem since we didn’t have any pre-requisites in this regard. It’s also not possible to assign a tax rate and charge tax on products based on a customer’s address. We worked around this by collecting address information for all orders and calculating taxes for Canadian orders. The order and customer data from Stripe is very comprehensive and can be exported easily.

Overall, I’m very pleased with how it’s working. This was my first foray into technically implementing an e-commerce solution and there were no big “unknowns” that caused scope or timeline issues. If you are looking to sell digital goods on a WordPress site, I highly recommend Memberful.