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Guide to Recurring Payments in WordPress

Subscriptions are one of the best ways to gain a stable income from your website. You can start receiving regular payments as soon as a customer signs up. However, you’ll need to use the right payment solution. The wrong tool can make it harder for customers to sign up, reducing your potential revenue. 

Fortunately, WordPress has made implementing recurring payments pretty simple. There are two primary methods you can use to start receiving these payments. Both options, Stripe and WooCommerce, are easy to set up once you know how to get started.

In this article, we’ll talk about why you should use recurring payments and how they work. We’ll then detail how to set them up via two methods. Let’s get going!

Why Use Recurring Payments?

Small businesses and websites can use recurring payments to streamline their payment processes. Recurring payments automate the process of billing and collecting monthly or yearly fees. This can reduce the administrative work you have to do, letting you focus on other parts of your business.

Most importantly, recurring payments help to keep your cash flow more stable. Products or services sold via one-time fees are more unpredictable, while this system ensures that you’ll get smaller but more regular payments from your customers.

How Do Recurring Payments Work?

Recurring payments can take various forms. However, at a basic level, they involve charging your customers a set amount at specific intervals. The ‘renewal period’ can be set to any length of time, such as a month, six months, or a year.

At the end of each renewal period, your payment system will invoice, charge, and send a receipt to the customer. The system continues this process until the customer changes or cancels their subscription. If a payment fails, the system will typically notify you and/or the customer so the problem can be addressed.

Method 1: WP Simple Pay With Stripe

If you’re looking to implement recurring payments on your website, you have a couple of options. We’ll look at two of the best techniques you can use. The first option is to use a combination of the Stripe payment processor and a WordPress plugin.

Step 1: Create Your Stripe Account

If you do not have a Stripe account yet, you’ll first need to create one. On the Stripe website, hit the Start Now button:

Stripe account creation

You’ll need to provide your business email address, full name, and a strong password. You can then create and activate your account, following a few simple steps.

You may also need to provide additional information about your business. It’s a good idea to add your bank account at this point, because Stripe may take up to seven working days to verify it. 

Step 2: Download WP Simple Pay

To connect your Stripe account to your WordPress website, you can download the WP Simple Pay plugin:

WP Simple Pay plugin

You can find and download this tool through the WordPress Plugin Directory, or from the Plugins section of your dashboard. WP Simple Pay is free to use, although there is a pro version available with additional features.

Step 3: Connect Stripe and WP Simple Pay

After installing and activating WP Simple Pay, navigate to the plugin’s settings. Then select the Stripe Setup tab:

Connect Stripe and WP Simple Pay

Click on the Connect with Stripe button, which will take you to Stripe and prompt you to log in. After doing so, you should be redirected to your website’s Stripe Setup tab. That’s all you need to do to connect your Stripe account to WP Simple Pay. 

Step 4: Create a New Form

You can now create a form for your recurring payments. Navigate to Simple Pay > Add New to open a new form:

Create Simple Pay form

There are some tabs here with fields you’ll need to fill out. After adding a title, you can customize payment options, tweak how the form will appear on the screen, and decide what it will display.

In addition, the Custom Form Options tab lets you add new fields to your form as needed. The last tab is Subscription Options, where you can set the renewal period and more.

Step 5: Add Your Form to a Post or Page

To add your form to a page or post, you’ll need to copy the shortcode that’s provided when saving it. Then open up the page or post where you want the form to appear, and paste the code into a Shortcode block:

Add Simple Pay form to post or page

If you are using the old WordPress visual editor, you can select the form you want to add, and then hit the Insert Payment Form button.

Method 2: WooCommerce

If you’re already using WooCommerce to run your online store (or thinking about doing so), that plugin can also be used to set up recurring payments. Let’s look at how that works.

Step 1: Download the WooCommerce Plugin

To use WooCommerce for recurring payments, you’ll need both the core plugin and the Subscriptions extension:

WooCommerce banner

You can download and install WooCommerce from the WordPress Plugin Directory if you haven’t done so already. Then, the Subscriptions add-on can be found in the Extensions section of the plugin’s settings.

Step 2: Create your WooCommerce Account

If you are not using WooCommerce already, you’ll need to create a new account after activation. Fortunately, there’s a simple wizard that takes you through entering your business details, shipping options, and more:

WooCommerce account creation

You can also set up your payment methods, which includes activating PayPal and/or Stripe. If you do not have a Stripe account, you can ask WooCommerce to set one up for you. You will need to open your own PayPal account if relevant.

Step 3: Create Subscription Products

After setting up the necessary tools, you can start adding your subscription products. Navigate to WooCommerce > Products > Add Product to open the product editor. Each item should be given a unique name:

Create subscription products

In the Product Data section, select Simple Subscription or Variable Subscription. You can then enter the cost, frequency of billing, and length of the subscription.

Other information can also be entered here as needed, such as free trial days and sign-up fees. After creating a subscription product, you can add it to your website the same way you would for any WooCommerce product.

Step 4: Manage Your Subscriptions

WooCommerce Subscriptions also has an administration page for managing your subscriptions. This page lists all of the subscriptions purchased on your site. You can find it under WooCommerce > Subscriptions:

WooCommerce subscription management

On this page, you can change the status of subscriptions and see their start dates. End dates and the dates of the next payments are also listed. 

Recurring Payments: Other Methods

Of course, you are not limited to WP Simple Pay and WooCommerce for managing recurring payments. There are other methods you can use, such as PayPal and contact forms.

PayPal may be the simplest alternative method to use, because your customers will generally be familiar with it. You can set up recurring payments in your PayPal account, and avoid the need to add an extra plugin to your site.

If you are going to use a contact form, you will need to choose the right form provider. Certain contact forms tools have payment extensions, such as WPForms Stripe Addon. When you build your forms, you’ll also need to make sure and request all the information needed to process payments. 

Optimize Your eCommerce WordPress Site with WP Engine

Adding subscriptions to your eCommerce website can stabilize your income. However, you’ll need to be able to receive recurring payments in WordPress first. You can set this feature up easily with WooCommerce Subscriptions or WP Simple Pay and Stripe.

While subscriptions can boost your income, however, you’ll still need the right resources to support your eCommerce website. Here at WP Engine we provide you with what you need for your site, leaving you with more time to focus on WordPress development!

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