SocialEngine 4.1 BETA Released with Membership Billing Features

Good news everyone. We’ve finished developing the SE 4.1 BETA – a major update that I know many of you have been awaiting eagerly. SE 4.1 introduces an interesting new way to help you monetize your community. We know that monetizing traffic on niche social websites can take some work, especially with advertising-based methods, so we’ve decided to build in some tools that offer alternatives to those of you who would prefer to monetize your community without (or in addition to) advertising.

The key feature addition in this new version is membership billing, which allows you to charge users for access to your social network. We designed the billing system to accommodate most basic pay-for-access billing models, including options to charge users either a one-time fee or recurring monthly/yearly fees for access. Please keep in mind that this release is a BETA version and a full 4.1.1 version will be released in two weeks. To those of you who are eager to add membership billing or are currently dealing with a bug, we suggest that you upgrade to the 4.1 BETA. We highly suggest that you setup and carefully test your membership billing features on a secondary installation of SE before making the changes live to your actual users. If you’re fine with your current installation and don’t see a need to upgrade immediately, we suggest that you wait until the full 4.1.1 release in two weeks.

By default, payments can be processed through either of the two payment gateways we’ve included: 2checkout and PayPal. We know that some of you would prefer to use alternative gateways, and we are considering adding others in the future, but we decided to stick with just these two for the SE 4.1 release to keep development moving quickly. If neither of these gateways are suitable for your community, you’re welcome to modify the source code to add support for an alternative payment gateway. We’ll considering adding support for other gateways in the future, so if you would like to suggest one, please feel free to post a comment with your suggestion. Those of you who are developing third-party addons for SocialEngine might consider building and selling your own modules that add support for alternative gateways.

If you decide to add membership billing to your community, we suggest you enable payments through 2Checkout first. The 2checkout gateway supports payments from more countries and offers excellent personal service to SE clients – they also give users the option to pay via PayPal if they wish. 2checkout charges a $10.99 monthly account fee, but we’ve partnered with them to waive the first month fee for SocialEngine clients. Visit 2checkout’s SocialEngine page to sign up. To ensure that your first free month with 2checkout (a $10.99 value!), visit www.2checkout.com, click SIGN UP NOW, complete the application, and then enter the promo code se2co11 into the promo code field to take advantage of this special offer today! If you would prefer to use PayPal instead of 2checkout and don’t yet have an account, you can create one at PayPal’s website.

To those of you who want to add membership billing to your community but feel a bit daunted about the process of setting it up, don’t worry – we’ll be publishing a tutorial in our knowledgebase next week with some step-by-step instructions.

Aside from membership billing, SE 4.1 also includes a variety of bug fixes and minor layout improvements throughout the platform. SE clients can download the new release from our client area. We sincerely hope you all have a good experience with the SE 4.1 BETA, and we look forward to releasing SE 4.1.1 in two weeks.

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