WordPress takes on Medium and Patreon with new subscription feature

Recurring Payments are a Hail Mary pass to monetize blogging.

SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images announced a new subscription feature called “Recurring Payments” on Tuesday. The new feature puts the company in direct competition with creator platforms like Patreon and Medium. WordPress sites running on paid plans can now start charging their visitors for certain services on a weekly, monthly, or annual basis.

How does it work? — In order to make money, publishers will need a Stripe account that they can link to their WordPress account via the “Earn” page. They can then set up different tiers, accepted currencies, and the frequency of subscriptions they want to offer on their pages. The feature also supports pay-what-you-want options, so fans of a site or product can submit custom donations.

“Recurring Payments” will be available to any WordPress site on a paid plan or those that are self-hosting on Jetpack. Publishers can add a button to their sites and subscribers can cancel at any time through their Wordpress account.

What does this mean for Medium and Patreon? — With over 409 million people reading WordPress sites every month, this opens up a brand new stream of revenue for newsletters, blogs, and even businesses. Though this might stop new creators from launching Patreons, existing accounts probably won’t uproot the following they’ve built unless they want to skirt the platform’s recently raised fees.

“I think we’re all supportive of all of the other products that exist within the WordPress ecosystem,” Mark Armstrong, the founder of Longreads and an editor at Automattic (Wordpress’s parent company), told The Verge. “Patreon, Memberful, WooCommerce — which is part of our own company, so they have a memberships and subscriptions extension as well.”

Outside of Automattic, Medium creators could jump ship in favor of a more direct source of revenue. Currently, Medium membership fees go to the company before writers in the Partner Program receive a cut based on how many “Claps” their posts receive. Given that even Medium’s subscription partners weren’t safe from the ever-pivoting company, writers could find more stability with WordPress’s Recurring Payments.

Of course, it’s worth remembering that it’s a cold internet for publishers. In 2017, The Awl and ThinkProgress returned to WordPress after a stint on Medium, and both sites have since shut down.