Restrict Content Pro + Download Monitor Use Case: Link Downloads to Subscription Plans in WordPress

Your website offers different types of digital products, not all of which are suitable for everyone. For example, beginners may not need advanced content. To meet your customers’ needs, create different subscription levels that offer a mix of products and services. One way to do this is by linking certain downloads to specific subscription plans on WordPress and implementing restrictions.

While a custom-coded solution is flexible, it could be more practical only for some knowledgeable users. WordPress will help you solve the problem with a unique combination of Download Monitor and Restrict Content Pro. It will allow you to link downloads to subscription plans in WordPress and package your downloads into the best-fitting subscription.

Introducing Download Monitor and Restrict Content Pro

The two plugins we will discuss next have unique features that are very powerful when used together. First, let’s discuss the best way to manage the downloads on your WordPress website.

Download Monitor

Download Monitor should be at the top of your shortlist for your WordPress website’s ultimate download and file management.

The Download Monitor plugin.

It’s an essential plugin when it comes to organizing and managing your downloadable files, although it can do much more:

  • It uses the familiar WordPress interface; therefore, you can use Download Monitor similarly to posts and pages.
  • Sets up a mirror or alternative links to downloads to keep uptime high.
  • A complete versioning system, which is only the surface level of the organization Download Manager provides.
  • Use WordPress’ taxonomy system to categorize and tag your downloads.

What’s more, you have several ways to display downloads. For example, there’s a dedicated Download Manager Block. There’s also the ability to sell downloads from your site and expand the plugin’s functionality using the Extension Library.

A premium subscription is the best way to access everything Download Monitor offers.

Restrict Content Pro

Restrict Content Pro is the perfect plugin for limiting access to certain parts of your website, including individual downloads.

The Restrict Content Pro plugin.

It has many features that can help you set up access restrictions throughout your entire website:

  • It is easy to create different membership levels and manage them from WordPress.
  • The plugin has built-in solid content restrictions. For example, you can use user roles, access levels, and membership tiers.
  • You can also create content previews to give users a sneak peek of what they can access with a full subscription.
  • Like Download Monitor, Restrict Content Pro also has an Extension Library, which allows you to integrate third-party solutions into the plugin and create a comprehensive content restriction system within WordPress.

Restrict Content Pro costs $99 annually and gives you full access to all its features. But to follow along with this article, it’s enough to have the free version installed.

We are going to demonstrate how to connect downloads to subscription plans in WordPress using a specific example:

  • Our website will have three subscription options: Starter Pack, Productivity Pack, and Pro Scheduler. Each option is a one-month rolling membership that grants access to scheduling templates.
  • Each membership also includes a corresponding download pack that varies in size depending on the membership level.

For instance, someone with the Starter Pack will be restricted from accessing the files in the Productivity Pack or Pro Scheduler pack. However, a Pro Scheduler subscriber will have access to everything in the other two packs.

It may seem puzzling to set up, but using the plugins Download Monitor and Restrict Content Pro makes it easy to do.

In this article, we will guide you on how to link downloads to subscription plans in WordPress using two plugins, Download Monitor and Restrict Content Pro.

You have to install and activate both plugins and the Download Monitor extension for Restrict Content Pro before uploading files on your site.

1. Add Your Downloads to Your Site

Download Monitor makes it easy to add new downloads to your website. You can access the feature by going to the WordPress dashboard and clicking on Downloads > Add New.

The Downloads > Add New link within WordPress.

The editing screen to add a new file is familiar and uses the native WordPress functionality:

A blank Download Monitor editing screen.

When you have created a title and description for your download, scroll down to the bottom of the screen. You will see the Downloadable Files/Versions section, where you can add a file:

The Downloadable Files/Versions metabox on a Download Monitor editing page.

The most common method of adding a file is using the “Upload File” or “Media Library” buttons. Still, you also have the option to add a custom URL or select a file from your website’s server.

After uploading the file, you can edit its metadata before publishing it. You can also add multiple files for download and then proceed to the Restrict Content Pro settings to manage your membership levels.

2. Create Membership Levels Using Restrict Content Pro

Restrict Content Pro is great for creating membership levels and tiers within WordPress. It is a simple and efficient process.

Go to the WordPress dashboard and click on Restrict > Membership Levels.

The Restrict > Membership Levels link within WordPress.

It will bring you to a screen where you can create new membership levels for your website. The fields are easy to fill out, and the Restrict Content Pro documentation has complete information on each section’s meaning if you need assistance.

After you have created your levels, you can view them easily on the Membership Levels screen.

The Membership Levels screen within WordPress showing three membership tiers.

At this point, you can begin to display these tiers to users and link downloads to them afterward.

3. Add access rules with Download Monitor – Advanced Access Manager

Advanced Access Manager is an extension that enables you to set advanced restrictions on your downloads, both individually and globally. With this extension, you can create access rules that are based on a combination of roles, users, and IP addresses. This allows you to create a highly customized access system for your downloads.

In our case, we will use the extension to limit users to their own plans. To do so, go to each download and click on edit. Scroll down to the rules section and click on Add a rule button.

Now in our situation, we have three main packs (Starter, Productivity, and Pro Scheduler packs). Naturally, the rules should reflect the following conditions:

  • The Starter pack – can only have access to the Starter files.
  • The Productivity pack – can have access to the Productivity files, as well as the Starter files.
  • The Pro Scheduler pack – can have access to the Pro Scheduler files, Productivity files, and Starter files.

There will be an extra rule added so that if anyone else that doesn’t have an active plan tries to click on the link, they won’t be able to download it.

In the example above, the download is unavailable for users subscribed under the Starter pack. Only Productivity Pack and Pro Scheduler can get the file.

For more info on Advanced Access Manager, make sure to visit our documentation.

After you have established the rules for each pack, it’s time to create a pricing table on a page and link it to the registration page.

A pricing table is a common way of showing your subscription or membership levels. There are many ways to do this in WordPress.

The easiest way is to add the pricing table section from the Block Editor. This can be used with WooCommerce stores, Restrict Content Pro installations, and many other platforms. You can find it by searching for it in the same way you would for a Block.

Adding a pricing table section to a WordPress page within the Block Editor.

From here, you can make changes to the content, adjust the color scheme, and more:

Editing a pricing table within the WordPress Block Editor.

The buttons for each level should allow the users to purchase the desired plans, so you will need to add the URL for your registration page. Restrict Content Pro automatically creates this page for you when you activate the plugin.

To find this URL, go to the page and copy it from the front end. Then, paste it into the link field for each pricing table option.

Adding the link to the Registration page for each membership tier within the WordPress Block Editor.

There’s one more step you should take to help restricted users understand why they might not be able to access a download.

5. Create and Set a ‘No Access’ Page Within WordPress

The final step is to create a “No Access” page. This is the page that a user will see if they do not have a valid subscription or membership. The process is easy. Start creating a new WordPress page by going to Pages > Add New.

The Pages > Add New link within WordPress.

Next, give your page a clear and descriptive title, add some content to explain why the user sees this page, and add the [dlm_no_access] shortcode. You can also use this page to point users to your pricing page, where they can enroll in a membership plan.

Adding a No Access shortcode to a WordPress page.

The final step is to set the “No Access” page in Download Monitor. To do this, go to the WordPress dashboard, click on Downloads > Settings > Advanced tab, then select your created page from the “No Access Page” drop-down menu.

Choosing a No Access page from a WordPress drop-down menu.

Once you save your changes, all of the elements you need to link downloads to subscription plans in WordPress will be in place.


Restricting access to your files is an effective way to monetize them. One way to do this is by linking downloads to subscription plans in WordPress. It allows you to create a system where users can only access paid downloads.

Creating such a system manually can be time-consuming and require effort, but using a combination of Download Monitor and Restrict Content Pro is a convenient alternative. It provides a complete solution for managing downloads and restricting Content within WordPress without needing technical expertise or coding.

Additionally, Download Monitor comes with a 14-day money-back guarantee on all purchases.

Tom Rankin
Tom Rankin

Tom Rankin is a quality content writer for WordPress, tech, and small businesses.

When he's not putting fingers to keyboard, he can be found taking photographs, writing music, playing computer games, and talking in the third-person.

Join over 20,000+

Subscribe to learn more about growing a digital business online.

Start Protecting your WordPress Downloads

Protect, sell and track downloads on Wordpress... What are you waiting for?