Cleeng launches micro-paywall WordPress plugin

Paywalls, where website content is only accessible in exchange for your credit card number, haven't exactly proven themselves a raging success - but a new WordPress plugin wants to bring the technology to the blogging community.

Late last year, News International head Rupert Murdoch admitted that moving the Times and Sunday Times websites behind a subscriber-only paywall had resulted in visitor numbers crashing from around 20 million a month to a mere 26,000.

Despite such a dramatic decline, Murdoch continues to hide his company's content behind subscriber-only paywalls - and while he spent a fortune developing the technology to do so, a new WordPress plugin looks to bring the same monetisation strategy to blogs on a much more affordable scale.

Released earlier this month, Cleeng aims to provide a quick and easy way for bloggers to hide away portions of their content, asking micro-transaction amounts - guaranteed below a dollar - to instantly unlock the missing portions of an article.

Unlike similar systems, Cleeng offers a surprisingly slick interface. Although users can sign up directly with the Netherlands-based company, single sign-on is also available via Google, Yahoo, and Facebook.

Once an account is created - or an existing account accessed - and payment details are confirmed, a single click is enough to unlock the article. Interestingly, Cleeng has also added the option for content creators to allow their readers to tap in to the revenue stream, earning credits that can be used to pay for future content unlocks when they refer a friend to a Cleeng-protected article.

"More than likely, consumers won’t pay for something that used to be free," the Cleeng creators admit, "and it might jeopardize your recurring traffic. But for value-add content, Cleeng is ideal."

If you use a platform other than WordPress, fear not: the company has confirmed plans to release similar plugins for Joomla, Drupal, BrightCove, and others in the coming weeks - along with localisation for non-English users.

While paywalls still have a lot to prove, Cleeng certainly seems a lot less restrictive than the sort of thing Murdoch would foist upon his readers - but only time will tell if Cleeng proves a worthy way of monetising your blogging.

More information on the WordPress plugin is available on Cleeng's website.