When Stephen King, in 1996, decided to publish a novel in 6 monthly installments – The Green Mile – it was like going backwards in time. Not just because the story was set in the 1930’s but because serial stories were a thing of the nineteenth century.
But he did it, and each mini-novel was a hit. And then a movie was made – one that you have to watch.
It’s not hard to believe that Stephen King was successful – after all, the guy can write. The challenge is more about us.
How I watch Television
These days I almost never watch television. It doesn’t mean I don’t watch shows. I just don’t watch them live on a TV.
I don’t because most of my TV show watching happens when I fly on planes. And it happens when I watch these shows without commercials, on my iPhone or iPad.
But you know the biggest difference related to how I watch TV?
I watch shows all at once. What I mean is that I buy the entire season on iTunes and then I watch 5 or 6 shows in a row (on a long flight). Then I get into a hotel room and I watch 4 more shows.
And the result of this behavior is that I can get thru an entire season of Breaking Bad in less than a week (I know, because I did).
We all like Instant Gratification
Maybe you have more patience than I do. But among the folks I hang out with, I notice we’re all very similar. We want everything. And we want it all right away.
So the idea of waiting a month until the next mini-novel comes out, or the idea of waiting months until the next season of House of Cards appears just seems crazy.
I get it. But if you’re building a membership site, and you’re charging people monthly with every expectation that they’ll keep coming back, you really need to think about stepping away from idea of instant gratification.
What is Content Dripping?
So with all that said, let’s dig into the idea of content dripping.
At it’s basic form, it means that you release content at regular intervals (like King’s mini-novels). And people have to keep coming back to get the next installment.
It means you normally have to create a schedule of your content (this is an image from how iThemes Exchange does it).
- Your membership plugin has to support content dripping.
- Your content has to exist already.
But once you have it, and you create a schedule, then different people get access to different amounts of content based on how long they’ve been an active member.
It’s powerful stuff.
The Two Reasons you want Content Dripping
If you’re charging people monthly, and hope they’ll keep coming back, then either you are on the hook to keep creating new amazing content or you’re going to want to drip existing content. And as I’ve written about before, if you don’t create a constant stream of high quality content, you’ll end up creating situations of incremental regret.
Beyond the desire to have people come back, you also don’t want people to cheat you – and it’s a very real thing. If a person registers for your content, signs in, downloads everything over the next couple of days, and then logs out and requests a refund, you’ll be pretty frustrated, right? Well, sad to say, it happens. Content dripping releases content on a schedule so that people can’t log in and take everything in a single shot.
So if you know it’s what you want, then the question is, which WordPress plugins will give you the feature?
The Best Membership Plugins for WordPress that Drip Content
There are four WordPress membership plugins that I recommend that support content dripping. That’s not to say a few others also promise the feature. But I’ve had issues with those because some of them aren’t GPL, others are really complex to use, others have horrible support, and others promote their plugin but rarely update the codebase.
Instead, I prefer the plugins that are easy to use, powerful in nature, and are well-supported. The options below are all products I own, have used, or am currently using on projects. I can tell you that they work, and they work well.
iThemes Exchange ($97/year) – potentially the easiest of the entire group to get set up. Also, by just 2 dollars, the least expensive. The iThemes team continues to grow their Exchange product but their Membership extension does what it needs to do, and won’t require a lot of learning on your part to make it happen.
MemberPress ($99/year) – Also a very easy and relatively inexpensive solution, as a membership solution it’s further along in it’s product roadmap. It supports a variety of additional features like pausing a membership that make it a fan favorite.
MemberMouse ($19/month) – MemberMouse may be the most powerful of the bunch. I introduced it to my friend Jared Atchison and he’s been building sites on it ever since. It has an incredible list of features but will take a bit longer to learn. That said, if you call Jared and he’s available, maybe you don’t need to learn it at all.
Cart66 Cloud ($25/month) – Cart66 is the only one of this bunch that offers an entire ecommerce solution beyond just a membership solution. So if you want to drip membership content while also selling other products, you’ll want to check them out.
Drip that Content
So there you have it. You know what content dripping is. You know why you should think about it. And you know what products will help you.
All that’s left is for you to get out there and create some amazing content and put it on a schedule.
And when you do – don’t forget to come back and post a link to your cool membership site, telling me what you did and what you used. I want to hear all about it.