By Bob Walsh
LaterPay Technical Consultant
Let’s say you decide to build your WordPress site into the absolute leading authority on barbeque cookoffs. Traditionally, your revenue model comes down to two less-than-appealing choices:
- Choice #1: the Ad model. This means your foosball site is going to be saturated with ads. Small ads. Big ads. Banner ads. Ads that start playing the second the page opens, ads that that pull readers attention away from the foosball posts you’ve labored so hard on. And the more ads you serve, the more people will hate the experience.
- Choice #2: the Subscription model. All your content lives behind a paywall, and your dedicated readers have to pony up ten bucks to read so much as a venue change in the Norco Horse Town Brew n Que Festival. Now if you happen to be cooking in that cookoff, you’re going to pay that $10 because you need that information. But you won’t like it.
The problem with the first choice is it makes for a terrible experience. So many ads demanding your attention, sneakier and sneakier ads.
The other choice is no bed of roses either: how many sites can users afford to pay for at the rate of $10 to $15 or more a pop? At some point you’re going to stop.
There’s a third way to generate revenue on your site. It’s called LaterPay, and it’s a slick way of letting your readers buy just the content they want, when they want it, and pay later.
(LaterPay at work.)
Here’s the LaterPay value prop in a nutshell. People come to your site, see something they want to read and click on it. Instead of a tiny block of content surrounded by ads, or a paywall demanding say $10 a month, they see a dialog box saying, pay 75¢ later. A 10$ paywall is going to make you pause, but 20¢? Give it to me! And they do: They get access to what they you want, for a fair price, paid later.
Collecting payments that go as low as 5 US cents – micropayments in other words – is pretty much impossible in the traditional pay-as-you-go model, where payment processing fees of say fifty cents plus 2.7% are not uncommon. Not so when you have a company aggregating micropayments for you until they reach a decent amount, like say LaterPay’s threshold of $5.
After a while, you reach the $5.01 threshold, and when you click on that Norco Horse Town Brew n Que Festival post, you get a different dialog:
(When users hit $5.01, they’ll see the LaterPay Buy Now dialog.)
Now you see exactly what you’ve bought at this site and others who use LaterPay when the bill comes due. Most of you (78%) will pay up rather than hit that paywall dialog again on any LaterPay site.
Here’s how to set up LaterPay in a WordPress blog in about 15 minutes.
First, full disclosure: I’m LaterPay’s newest Technical Consultant and as such part of my job is hopefully convincing you to use LaterPay. The company started in Germany, and has been growing steadily as it adds merchants, including Germany’s biggest newspaper, Spiegel. Since what happens in Europe stays in Europe, you’ve probably never heard of LaterPay, but that’s about to change.
Setting up LaterPay
1. Install the LaterPay Plugin into WordPress. If you’re an experienced WordPress user, you know the drill: get the plugin, install it, activate it, done. Let’s go through this as if this is your absolute first WP plugin.
2. Click Add New on the Plugins page, enter LaterPay in the search field and once WordPress finds the plugin, click the Install it button. The Install button will turn into a Activate button; click that too.
(Search for LaterPay, and click Install Now.)
(Click to Activate)
3. Now that you’ve got LaterPay installed, you’ve got three tabs to get through before you’re actually making money with LaterPay. First, you want to work through the Appearances Tab, making LaterPay’s dialog match your site’s theme. Then you’ll want to concentrate on the Pricing Tab, where you spell out how much will get charged for what. Finally, there’s taking your LaterPay installation live which amounts to creating a LaterPay Merchant Account.
(LaterPay’s tabs in WordPress.)
4. At this point, you’re ready to start defining the Appearance of LaterPay’s Dialog on your site. With LaterPay, you control the appearance of the Payment dialog:
5. You can knock yourself out tweaking the colors of the LaterPay dialog; I just changed the header background color from a stern gray to a more cheerful purple; you want to stick with the “Teaser + Purchase Overlay” for now.
(Changing LaterPay’s appearance.)
6. You can have LaterPay appear in one of three ways:
7. As a Teaser + Purchase Overlay. LaterPay can leave the first bit of each post unobscured, then blur out the rest under the LaterPay dialog. I think this is the most useful choice: let people start to read the post, then hit them up to pay later: Since you specify what text to show right in WordPress’ Add New Post screen, you can either just copy and paste the first several paragraphs, or summarize what they’re going to read.
(Specify Teaser Content to pull your readers in.)
Teaser + Explanatory Overlay hides the text of the post, showing your readers a dialog about LaterPay. I think this is over-explaining, but it’s up to you.
(LaterPay’s Explanatory dialog, and two LaterPay passes.)
The third choice, Teaser + Purchase Link, shows the text you want to tease with and then adds a button to call up the dialog. Again, you decide what content you want for each post in WordPress’ Add/Edit Post screen. One nice thing about this particular style of showing the LaterPay dialog is it gives you the option of moving that Call To Action Button where ever you want in the post via a WordPress shortcode
(Showing teaser content and two LaterPay passes.)
8. That’s pretty much it for Appearance, let’s talk about something more interesting: the money. LaterPay lets you mix and match four kinds of payment options:
First off, you can charge everybody who wants to see the site a flat fee per post. In this case, everybody who wants to read a post will have to cough up a whole 5 cents. Of course, you’re free to set that as you see fit and change it for specific posts:
(Setting the price for all posts…)
(…and setting the price of one particular post in the Add/Edit Post screen.)
You can also decide certain categories of posts are going to be priced differently: here I’ve set my Productivity Category higher, at 25 cents.
(You can set prices for individual categories.)
9. You can set as many price per category rules as you need, against the [optional] backdrop of a flat price per post. Or, you could base what LaterPay charges by time. You can create either Subscriptions (which auto-renew) or Time Passes (which don’t), either for all of your site, or just particular categories of posts. Time Passes are a one time, one approval deal; subscriptions are agree once, and they just continue to auto-renew. In this case I’m creating a one week pass Time Pass to everything in the Productivity category for 99 cents. Next to it, I’m going to let prospective readers buy everything on this site for a month for $1.99. (a subscription).
(A ‘time pass’ on the left for a week of my Productivity category, or buy the whole site for a month on the right for only $1.99)
The Fine Art of Pricing
What’s the point of having four different ways to price your content? It’s to make it possible to capture revenue from different kinds of readers. Say we were talking about a newspaper. You have a subscription just for sports fanatics so they can happily ignore the rest of the paper. But you also got casual readers who will read posts outside of their interests if you price them low enough. Then there’s business people who only ready the Business section: sell them a subscription to just the Business Section for a very reasonable $3.99 a month.
What you want to do whether you’re running a blog or a newspaper is sell people the content they want to buy. Nobody has the time or inclination to read everything you publish at your site: but they do care about particular areas you care about and write about.
Let’s take another example: say you’re a foodie blogger, specializing in unique, healthy recipes. Most of the time, you’re posting about individual healthy recipes, ideas for getting leveraging your cooking time into several meals, etc. Every Tuesday, you present a set of recipes that let your readers buy groceries for a week without waste. Instead of littering your site with ads for things your readers don’t need, you use laterPay to charge $0.99 for each of your weekly meal planning posts. So how does it work?
For the first month, people who want your weekly menu plan post get the LaterPay dialog, and agree to pay another 99 cents. On their fifth weekly recipe list, they’re going to a dialog similar to this one:
(Paying up at LaterPay.)
Since they’ve hit the $5 mark, they need to enter their credit/debit card details, and pay up. But they’ve already said yes four times, why wouldn’t they pay? Habituation is a strong psychological factor: just notice when you’ve checked your email last.
On another level, your reader isn’t paying for one post; they can see the other four posts they’ve bought and they’re reminded of the value of what they’ve already read. This itemized bill, or invoice, shows them what they’ve bought from all LaterPay vendors.
Now for the bad news: about 1 in five people won’t pay, and you and LaterPay are out that money. But about 4 out of 5 (78%) will pay. LaterPay keeps 25% of your sales – and yes, that’s higher than other payment processors who charge around 50 cents and 3% of each sale. But I think it’s a fair price to pay for increasing overall purchases with a frictionless process, tracking and aggregating sales, constantly updating and improving this plugin, having me around to write posts like this, and paying the salaries of people who work to keep LaterPay humming along.
So what happens to the person who didn’t pay? Nothing. Unless they try to buy something else at your site – or the latest Apple hardware review site down the virtual block from another site who uses LaterPay. Once they hit five bucks, every time they click to get access to something LaterPay protects, they going to see that same dialog. And that’s across devices – phone, tablet, desktop.
Other pricing examples
Consider Dotto Tech. Steve Dotto, a longtime Canadian TV personality, has been covering the ins and outs of tech for years, producing weekly YouTube webinars, walkthroughs and product reviews. He’s a guy I can relate to. Presently, a major source of revenue is straight out patronage support via his patreon.com page. If Steve [Steve’s not a LaterPay customer, and the lawyers want me to say no endorsement implied or expressed] wanted to make a buck for his cool explainer about Agorapulse, he could with LaterPay. And if you were like me interested in Evernote but not interested in his posts about webinars, Steve could offer a $2.00 LaterPay monthly subscription to just that category of content.
Or consider Chris Oliver, who makes excellent screencasts over at the GoRails site. Chris is following the freemium model, with some of his podcasts for free, but the really good stuff costs $19 a month. Having just two price points – zero and $19/month – doesn’t give most viewers the right choice. For example, Chris did a really excellent 8 part video series on building a Trello clone in Vue.js with a Rails backend. If you were a Ruby on Rails developer wondering how to integrate Vue.js with Rails, having the opportunity to buy this series for say $0.99 would be extremely enticing – especially if you can pay later for it.
Or take the case of a developer who’s you’ve found when trying to figure out a problem. Many’s the time I’ve search fruitlessly on Stack Overflow, only to find one of the developers I know about, like Justin Weiss or Dave Ceddia have written a post solving the problem. If you’re an expert in your field – whatever your field – LaterPay is an easy way for people to pay you 30 cents here, fifty cents there, when your content helps solve their problem. Those less than a dollar payments don’t sound like much, but when they accumulate, they can add up to real money.
Time to go Live
10. So you’ve set LaterPay’s appearance to match your WordPress theme. And you’ve figured out a pricing strategy combining various default prices, exceptions, time passes and subscriptions to appropriately charge people based on what they are interested in on your site. And, you’ve done all this with LaterPay in Sandbox Mode (the default), so your readers are not being bothered by various tweaks and changes as you prep to go Live. What’s left? Getting a LaterPay Merchant Account so you get your live API Key and Merchant Key and go live.
11. When you click on LaterPay and go to the Account page, you’ll have already auto-generated credentials for the sandbox environment – but you’re not actually charging anyone. In order to charge your customers you’ll need a LaterPay Merchant account. Click the “Request Live API Credentials” button to go over to LaterPay’s site and create your live Merchant account.
(clicking this button takes you to…
(Create Merchant Account).
12. Now you’re in your Merchant Account. Fill in the info about yourself, and add what U.S. bank account do you want LaterPay to pay into.
(Enter your info, and your bank details)
13. When you click the “Create Merchant Account”, two things happen. First off, you’re opening a LaterPay account and behind the scenes, LaterPay is creating an account at the bank it uses, and you agree to let LaterPay control access to this account. That’s all spelled out in the Terms & Conditions that you probably skipped over , but you’re entering into a contract so you should do your due diligence and read the fine print, especially the part that LaterPay doesn’t charge any startup, setup, or monthly fees.
14. The other thing LaterPay does is send start the process of setting up a contract and a relationship between you, LaterPay, and a U.K. bank, Paysafe. Banks these days are required to Know Your Customer to prevent money-laundering and other nefarious activities. So a real live person needs to look at your information, verify its correct and you’re a legitimate customer. If the people at Paysafe have a question about the information you supplied, you’ll get an email from me (if you’re in the U.S.), with their questions. Usually within a business day or two you’ll get your Live Merchant ID and Live API Key emailed to you from LaterPay.
15. Once you get your Live account details, you’ll log into LaterPay again and you’ll land on the minimalist LaterPay Analytics Dashboard:
(Your LaterPay Merchant Account)
16. This is your main screen in LaterPay. Here you can see how much you’ve made, check out what you’ve paid in sales tax (LaterPay handles this for you automatically), and invite other people to your account. But for now, all you want is to click on Developers in the sidebar and get your Merchant ID and API Key.
(Grab the Merchant ID and API Key and enter those values in your LaterPay WordPress Plugin.)
17. Back in the WordPress, paste your Live Merchant API and API Key into LaterPay plugin. By the way, LaterPay is in still in Test mode, so you’re not actually charging your readers yet.
(LaterPay’s WP Plugin with Sandbox and Live Environments’ values filled in (but obscured).)
18. Once you’ve entered those two values, you’re good to go. Flip the toggle at the top of the Account from Test to Live mode, and LaterPay is live on you site.
(LaterPay in Live mode.)
By the way, you can preview what your readers will see by previewing any Post:
(Previewing a post, with LaterPay styled to show its Overlay over obscured text.)
That’s a wrap!
So let me recap the Laterpay proposition: you decide to implement LaterPay on your WordPress blog (we also have an API, a slick connector, and other options). Instead of damning your readers to blinking ad hell, they pledge their micropayments to you through LaterPay. At some point they reach $5, and they’re asked to pay up. When they get the bill, they also get an itemized receipt or invoice detailing what they bought when from you and other vendors using LaterPay. About 78% of them do – and that’s about a gazillion percent more revenue than you would have had without LaterPay.
LaterPay isn’t free: it is based on a commission – aligning its incentives exactly in-line with yours. LaterPay takes 25% of each completed purchase, which is higher than other payment processor. But it’s simple to use, increases overall sales, has no upfront costs, lets you put forth a different, novel, offer to your readers in whatever form you want – subscriptions, day passes, pay by WordPress category, buy just one post – and collect later.
That offer – buy now, pay later – builds trust between your readers and you: they say they’ll pay later, and you take them at their word instead of barraging them with ads or demanding an upfront subscription payment before they read anything. And isn’t that trust something you want to build with your readers, whether you’re selling them a single post for a few cents or a book+video for $50 or a course worth $199?
LaterPay resets the relationship between readers and content creators, giving both parties a better proposition.