s2Member®—a powerful (free) membership plugin for WordPress®. Protect members only content with roles/capabilities.
In principal s2member is a great plugin - from the possibilities you get with it, it is pretty awesome for a membership plugin.
However there are a couple of catches that are simply not acceptable if you intend to really make money with your website!
1. NO INVOICES whatsoever. Yes you got that right, basically this plugin is impossible to use if you don't geoblock all EU customers using geoblocking plugins! IN EU you now need to write correct invoices following the VATMOSS directive. S2member cannot even write invoices at all - so this alone ruins it.
2. No working VAT model. You cannot properly set up VAT charging at all. It will not base the VAT on anything but user entered data. No IP checks, no country codes / credit card country codes checking from payment processor. So again - impossible if you have a single sale to EU! - what's worse - there is not even a possibility to have your user enter his full address on checkout. Checkout is instead only offering State, Country, Zipcode - not city, no nothing...
3. No email reminders without using additional plugins from 3rd party vendors. So suppose membership of a user is ending. There are no emails sent out to the user to remind him to prolong his membership. So basically you will lose out 30-40% turnover just because of this if you don't buy additional plugins.
4. Support - what is that? If the support doesn't like your question they simply ignore it. E.g. anything on the above shortcomings.
So in principle it's a great plugin, but it misses essential things and therefore I can only recommend it for non paying membership sites. It has really great functionality, but the polishing is simply missing and means basically if you use it professionally you better start hiring lawyers to defend you from EU and soon Japan authorities (as long as you live within any OECD country - e.g. also USA) because s2member makes it impossible to correctly attribute VAT and invoices. (you are liable from your first 0,01€ sale to pay VAT to an EU country if your customer resides in EU for digital products such as memberships.)
Right now the only way to stay more or less legal is to only allow Stripe as payment processor (meaning purchasing s2member pro) and pay for Octobat.com to manage your invoicing. (plus using a renaming plugin like say-what to change state to city).
If you don't like dealing with technicalities, do not get this plugin. I can code a little bit, but I'm not a techie pro. It seems a complete waste of time to me that their explanations on how things work take it for granted everyone knows coding. And that you can somehow read minds to know where things go.
Newsflash: people use WordPress because they *don't* know coding. That's why WP is so successful. Every time I look into something to make sense of their jumbled mess, I'm struck with the feeling that this program was put together by the kind of coding geeks who feel folks who don't code (i.e. speak their language) are somehow inferior. I'm sure they're not really like that; I'm just making an example.
The times I have asked for help in the forums the only person who has answered my cry was a fellow member.
I got this system to work in conjunction with Comic Easel. Hours of fighting it later (and losing money from not being able to deal with commissions over this) I finally got it partially set up to my needs. However, there was one very basic need the makers of S2Member left out: the ability to tell the system to skip a post when someone who does not have access lands on it and go to the next okay post. Rather, you are forced to have the system push these people to the membership options page, i.e. "buy now"! so that "buy now" is in their face whether you want it there or not. For a system that must be read in linear fashion, like mine, this is very bad as I am unable to restrict 99% of my content just to keep the website flowing evenly for everyone. I.E. if there were people who wanted to support my page by getting a paid membership, it's been rendered completely pointless.
The same goes for their concept of a drip feed. You are forced to drip feed according to membership level and time they've been a member as opposed to the post's age. Another strike against them. (All membership systems I have looked at seem to be like that about the drip feeds, to be fair. Which is insane that no one has thought perhaps there would be this OTHER option needed.)
I tried all of the membership systems I could that didn't want an arm and a leg upfront. s2Member was the only one compatible enough with Comic Easel for me to consider working with. So there's hope.
If you go slow and take things one at a time you do eventually figure out how to set things up... except for the API Scripts. I'm sick and tired of rereading that mess.
They have an experimental feature in it that really polished off an issue I had with the setup. Hopefully they'll keep it as I need it dearly.
There's nothing else for me to go to. So I at least can offer one limited option for my readers. It's not enough to hook them in, though.
It didn't destroy my website. It plugged in and everything still looks great.
And finally, I'm sure with a little out of the box thinking I'll figure out what I can use this system for in offering stuff to my readers. Unfortunately I have the silent, stoic kind of reader who really just wants pages and nothing else. I can think out of the box all I want. Until S2Member catches up with my needs (and thus the needs of the other thousands of people who do what I do) I can't recommend it.
But I have hope. Can't recommend it yet.
To all intents and purposes, this is a very powerful plugin. However, trying to report a recent bug as left a very bad taste in my mouth, so to speak.
The user support for non-pro users is not very user friendly. You can report a problem, issue or bug via WordPress Support, but it does not seem like the developers pay much, if any, attention to it. The issue I was having had been reported on WordPress Support Forum over 22 hours beforehand by several other users.
So I went onto the S2Member website. Not particularly user-friendly, in my opinion. And when I eventually found the "Contact A Human" option and clicked on it, I had to jump through so many hoops & checks before I got to GitHub. I don't have a GitHub account, and don't want one. I don't appreciate being forced to join GitHub just to be able to get any support.
A simple email form would have been so much more user-friendly and made my whole user experience so much more pleasant.
I used to be a fan of s2m when it runs their support off a forum, before they moved everything to WebSharks Support Center. Ever since they moved to WebSharks support for their paid customer (S2M-Pro), I can no longer recommend it to anyone without feel like I have misled them into some kind of trap.
On WebSharks, be prepared to spend hours to "prep" you questions to just get on the queue! they want you to submit a log, download and install a mini server-check program before you can even post your question... and after that, they MAY get back within 48 hours, with even MORE trouble shooting tasks that YOU have to do before they even look at your questions... and you need to complete those tasks in a timely manner, otherwise, your ticket may get deleted.
So stick with the free version if possible, at least you will get some love here on WP support forum... once you paid for it, their support seems to operate under the assumption that "any problem you run into MUST be your fault"... at least that's how their WebSharks system makes me feels -- that I am now trapped in the mouth of a Shark.
The plugin is quite messy and unclear.
The support is very low and poor.
Juste one person to answer ???
Installed the plugin and it seems to be powerful and useful as a membership/subscription system. It just lacks a good front-end interface between my WP Theme'd site and its functionality. This could be awesome if users could login and/or register via a page that is consistent with my site's theme.
I've been trying to fix a problem with S2Member for over a week. I went to the Forum for the free version, posted my problem, and didn't get any assistance, though the developers say the Forums are definitely responsive when you have a question or problem. Basically, when my members pay for restricted pages, they only get the unrestricted pages. I've spent hours reading about S2Member and watching videos, which I'll need to continue doing until I find an answer because there's not adequate support for the free version of S2Member. I've set it up according to the reams of instructions I've read, but it doesn't work. The developers may feel that providing hours of instructions is support, but if their product needs that much instruction, maybe it could be presented in a more straight-forward way. I've set up other plug-ins, and had no problems, but S2Member is frustrating and very stressful.
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