Apologies for my slow replies… I am traveling this week.
re: I am using the Bulk Category Import tool. It simply isn’t working for me and I can’t figure out why.
You mentioned you tried importing one of the examples, which one? Did you trying importing it as is without opening or altering it? I just tested each again to make sure something has not broken and they all imported.
When you import, do they upload successfully? You can tell because you’ll get a mapping step. If you get the mapping step, after mapping do you see a progress bar and then a complete message?
RE: I was first displaying the page with the connections shortcode – and nothing was displaying. I tried using the categories shortcode again with nothing displaying. When I created one listing in a category, that listing appeared. I want empty categories to appear, but they’re not.
What exact shortodes have you tried, including options. Could you also attach a screenshot of the Categories admin page and the Manage admin page.
RE: most importantly, does the plug-in support accepting payments for customer listings?
Sorry, no Connections does not accept payments for listings. I do not plan on adding such features. I recommend you use a membership plugin like Restrict Content Pro to manage membership payments and renewals. This greatly increases your ability to monetize your site where a directory is just one benefit of the user’s membership. There are other directory plugins which do integrate payments, but then you lock yourself into only being able to monetize your directory making it very difficult to expand member benefits.