From a purely conventional standpoint, it seems perfectly reasonable to assume that blog owners want as many people as possible to read their blog posts. You want your blog posts to be indexed by the search engines and you want them to rank highly in keyword search engine results pages. You want those posts to be shared far and wide on social media, and you want them to be featured and highlighted by authority sites in your niche. This all makes perfectly reasonable sense.
Except this isn’t always the case. There are times when you may want to protect your posts — or even your entire blog — behind a password and that’s when the appropriately named Password Protected Categories WordPress plugin by Barn2 Media would prove perfectly invaluable. It does exactly what you think it does and it does so in such a simple yet elegant fashion.
Password Protecting Your Blog
By default, while you can password protect individual blog posts in WordPress, the ability to password protect entire categories is not built into the content management system. For that, you need a plugin like the aptly named Password Protected Categories. Once installed and activated, you’ll be able to lock content behind a password.
There are innumerable possible usage cases where such a configuration may prove useful. If you want to have a private family or company blog, for example, one where you don’t want the content to be widely accessible by the public, it’s easy enough to lock it behind a password.
From a business standpoint, you may also be interested in building a membership or subscription site. The easiest way to do that is to lock up this “premium” content behind a password. What’s great is that because you can set an entire category as password protected, you can still have public posts on the same blog too. They can serve as “teasers” for the premium content, and you simply provide the password to users and readers who are members.
You might even consider having areas dedicated to specific clients. Each client can have their own category or sub-category on your blog, and you simply provide them with the password to access that content. This makes it easy to revoke access at any time too by simply changing the password. It also means you don’t have to set up a number of new users in WordPress either.
Setup and Configuration
The actual steps for how to setup this plugin are actually very straightforward and easy to understand, even for WordPress novices. If you have some familiarity with blog categories and basic settings, you’ll have no trouble getting everything configured just the way you want it.
After you download the plugin (as a compressed zip folder) and upload it to your WordPress control panel, as you would with any other plugin, it’s a simple matter of activating the plugin and entering your license key on the settings page. The settings page itself really is just a single page. Here, you can set the password expiration period, whether protected categories should be publicly visible, and some of the finer details for how you want the login page to look.
When you create a new category in WordPress, you’ll notice that there is a new option at the end for “visibility.” Public categories are as you’d expect and private categories can only be viewed by logged in users of a certain level. The password protected visibility is what you’d want and you can set as many passwords that you’d like for any given category.
What’s neat here is that if you set a parent category as password protected, all of the sub-categories (aka child categories) will also be protected by the same password. If someone enters the password for the parent category, they gain access to all the content in the corresponding sub-categories. This allows you to retain the same level of organization as you had before.
And then, whenever you create a new post in WordPress, you simply select the password protected category as the category for the post. It really is that simple. I’ve used “Protected Test” as the name of category for the purposes of this review, but you can name it whatever you’d like, just like a “normal” category. And remember that you can set as many or as few password protected categories as you’d like.
Something that is important to note that is while the password protected blog content is not visible on your actual website unless someone enters the appropriate password, it is still visible through the RSS feed. As such, you will need to change your RSS settings if you want to continue hiding this content from users who aren’t authorized to read your password protected content. You should also be mindful of any automatic social sharing plugins you’re using, as they don’t differentiate with password-protected content either.
How Does It Look?
When a visitor to your website arrives at either the page for your password protected category (e.g. example.com/category/protected) or a specific blog post within that category that is password protected, he or she will be shown a screen similar to this one here. The exact wording can be changed on the settings page.
Once the correct password is entered, the user is then automatically directed to the page they had originally wanted to access. If you had set it such that password protected categories and posts are not publicly visible, those categories and posts will become visible as normal after a user has entered the password. Here, you can see the “protect” sub-category in my site’s navigation menu; it wasn’t visible before.
Another note worth mentioning is that while you can protect content behind a password, there is no “logout” function built into the plugin. That’s where the password expiration period kicks in. If you want to be extra safe, you can set this for a shorter period, bearing in mind that authorized users will need to enter the password more often as a result.
Licenses and Pricing
Like the Posts Table Pro plugin also from Barn2 Media, the Password Protected Categories plugin is sold on a similar subscription basis. When you buy the plugin for the first time, it’s yours to own for life. However, that initial payment only covers new features, security updates and customer support for the first 12 months. After that, you’ll need to renew your license if you want to continue receiving updates and support.
A personal license sells for $79 and covers one site; a business license costs $129 and is good for up to five sites; and an agency license lists at $279 and supports up to 20 sites. All of this pricing is on the 12-month model described above. They also all come with a 30-day money back guaranteed with no questions asked.