The WordPress plugin and theme ecosystem is incredibly competitive. With 50,000+ plugins and themes to date and more added every day, it can be hard to stand out.
To be competitive you need to stay at the top of your game with your how WordPress is evolving, how to grow sales and how to run your business.
To help you beat your competitors we've compiled a growing list of the best articles for growing a plugin and theme business below.
If you're also interested in growing your freelance/agency business or other recurring revenue products/services, we have resource lists for those too.
We add new articles weekly, so remember to mark articles complete after reading them in order to track progress. You must be logged in to mark articles complete. If you don't have an account yet, get a free one here.
How to Use This Resource List
- Below is an very brief excerpt of each article.
- Clicking on an article will take you to an expanded overview of each article that we've manually created.
- At the bottom of the article overview there's a link to the full article
An Inside Look at a Successful WordPress Plugin Business with Pippin WilliamsonPippin Williamson is the founder and CEO of Sandhill Development which is well known for its three premium plugins, Easy Digital Downloads, Affiliate WP and Restrict Content Pro. In this episode, Cath talks with Pippin Williamson about how he got started, how he grew his business, how he has dealt with lulls in motivation… And what’s up with this brewery that he owns! How Beaver Builder Became One of the Most Popular Page Builder Plugins in WordPressBeaver Builder is a page builder solution developed by the three guys (Robby McCullough, Billy Young and Justin Busa). The boys discovered the internet as a career early on in life and came together five years ago to form their first company FastLine Media, from which followed Beaver Builder. This is a fun interview with the 3 guys, discussing the ups and downs of creating a successful business. Pippin's Plugins “Year in Review” PostsPippin runs one of the most successful WordPress plugin businesses and is one of the most earnest, effective and transparent business owners in our WordPress community. If you run (or aspire to run) a WordPress plugin or theme business I highly recommend you read each one of his year in review posts--they're full of excellent insight. How to Monetize a WordPress Plugin: Premium vs. AddOnsWooCommerce, iThemes Exchange and some other of the most successful WordPress companies have managed to build significant businesses with the add-ons monetization model. It’s very tempting just to follow them based on their success. 4 Lessons Learned From Building a Freemium WordPress PluginA while ago, we managed to launch a page builder plugin named Forge. It is a freemium plugin– people can use it for free, and then upgrade with some paid extensions. And the actual challenge of creating Forge was not the plugin itself, but rather promoting it. Here’s what we did. Is WordPress Premium Theme Business Dying?Is everyone getting out of the theme business? In November, 2013 we heard that the theme business at WooThemes was only generating 20% of their revenue. Then, in February, they announced they were stopping the theme subscription club. The Future of Selling WordPress Themes2008 doesn’t seem like very long ago. And yet, so much has changed in the last five or six years – particularly when it comes to WordPress themes. Particularly when it comes to selling WordPress themes. How the WordPress Product Market is ChangingThe WordPress economy is changing, and many businesses are feeling it. The market is maturing, and customers are behaving differently. It’s happening slowly, but I think everyone realizes things are changing. Often this change has been discussed in terms of hosts and agencies, but let’s talk about products. 5 Reasons You Shouldn't Release a Premium WordPress PluginWhen I write “premium WordPress plugins” I’m simply talking about a plugin you charge for. And when I say you’d be wrong, I’m saying that I don’t always believe monetizing the plugin itself is the right course of action. Here are five reasons you shouldn’t release a premium WordPress plugin, and instead give it to the community for free. Are Themes Still a Profitable WordPress Business?Can authors still make money selling WordPress themes? In today's episode, Jonathan Atkinson an Envato Exclusive Author, joins Devin and I to discuss the current state of affairs in the WordPress theme marketplace. Atkinson shares some deep insights into Envato's recent corporate restructuring, impact of multipurpose themes, and progressive competition in the space. How Beaver Builder Became a Top WordPress Page Builder PluginIn this podcast, Troy talks to the developers of Beaver Builder- Robby McCullough, Billy Young and Justin Busa. This is a fun interview with the three guys, discussing the ups and downs of creating a successful business that came about simply from a need to “scratch their own itch”! 5 Mistakes That Will Kill Your WordPress Plugin ProfitsWe all know that having a buggy plugin or dropping the ball on support is a quick way to kill off your plugin business, but what other, more subtle mistakes can leave you wondering if you’ll ever make a successful business out of your plugins? Or worse yet, put you onto the maintenance treadmill, leaving you without any time, or energy, to actually create a viable business at all. How to Make More Revenue Selling WordPress Plugins & ThemesIconicWP, a WooCommerce plugin shop, started out selling on Envato but then transitioned to Freemius. After switching to Freemius they doubled their WordPress plugin revenue in under a year. Learn more about how they did it to see if you can apply these lessons to your business. The Right Way to Start a WordPress Theme BusinessWith so many WordPress themes available on the market, it might sound crazy to even try and start a business selling your own. There are super-huge, multi-purpose themes selling $100k worth a week with option panels the size of their revenue charts, others with big passionate communities supporting them, and countless other shops just as successful in their own right. How can you compete? Understanding Who Buys Premium WordPress ThemesTo say the theme marketplace is undergoing a transition is probably an understatement. We’ve seen many shops sell or change focus over the past year. A few have maintained their place in the market or even grown some, but it’s not easy work. Are Freemium Plugins Better than Free Plugins in WordPress?Taking into consideration years prior to 2013 as a reference we can see that on average 50%-60% of “freemium” plugins have been updated in 2015 or 2016. This is a significant difference compared to the findings of previous analysis I did on the WordPress repository. The survival rate after 3 years for the average plugin in the repository is around 10%-20%. We are looking at a 200% improvement. How to Price WordPress PluginsIf you want to thrive in the plugin development business, pricing must be at the forefront of your mind. Along with providing stellar plugin features, it is one of the most important aspects of creating a sustainable long-term business. Get it wrong and you’ll constantly be swimming against the tide. Selling WordPress Plugins & Themes: Should You Go Niche?Back in 2010, a developer could release a mass market WordPress theme or plugin and amass thousands of sales within a few months. In today’s market, that sort of success is exceedingly rare, and so, one of the most important decisions product developers must make is whether to go mass market or target a niche. Should You Put Your Plugin or Theme in the WordPress Repository?Is the WordPress plugin repository worth the hassle? If you’re a relatively experienced WordPress plugin developer, you’ve most likely already asked yourself this question – possibly more than once. If you’re a relatively new WordPress plugin developer, you’re probably asking yourself “Wait … why would I not want my plugin in the repository?!” Both questions are valid. Why the WordPress Plugin Industry is Worth Over $1 BillionI participated in the Prestige Conference in Las Vegas. It was a very memorable experience because I got to meet with businesses thought leaders in the WordPress ecosystem. One of the main panels that I was in, focused on the addressable market of WordPress. Questions like, “How big of an opportunity is WordPress?”, and “How much money can be made from the ecosystem?” were discussed in great length. Interview with WP Migrate DB Pro Founder Brad TouesnardWe speak with Brad Touesnard from Delicious Brains, home of WP Migrate DB. Brad has been through the experience of launching the WP App Store, which included investment from Adii Pienaar at WooThemes and Carl Hancock at Gravity Forms. The WP App Store ultimately failed and Brad has lived to tell the tale. The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Successful WordPress Plugin BusinessYour plugin’s sales aren’t going to just skyrocket on their own, so as a company that’s focused on helping WordPress product developers explode their sales – we decided it was time to publish an action-oriented business book that focuses on the business and entrepreneurial side of developing and selling WordPress plugins. WordPress Plugin Business: Freemium vs. Premium Business ModelsIf you’re new to WordPress plugin development You might be asking yourself whether you should release a limited, free version of your plugin with an option to upgrade, or maybe just charge money for any access to your product. The answer is a familiar one: It depends. Decisions, Decisions… How to Make Money Selling Themes on ThemeForestEnvato’s ThemeForest and CodeCanyon are de-facto the leading marketplaces for WordPress plugins and themes. With a growing community of over 7 million subscribers, both marketplaces sound like a lucrative place to start selling your digital products. Are they right for your WordPress business? How Make a WordPress Plugin from Start to FinishIn this week’s post, we’ll be taking a look at everything we do to create a new product or WordPress plugin. We don’t adhere strictly to any specific software development process, but the method we’re using currently seems to work well.
Get More Customers
How to Win at SEO on the WordPress Plugin RepositoryMany developers in the WordPress community aren’t aware of the power of SEO in WordPress.org directory, but if you think about it, most of the traffic to your plugin’s or theme’s listing is coming from search. So instead of spending days, weeks, months on polishing features (although those are obviously important, too)… you can potentially spend less than a day optimizing your readme.txt file and get a very significant boost in traffic to your listing, which will directly increase your acquisition rate. How to Increase WordPress Plugin 5-Star Reviews by 700%I’ve been working on my WordPress plugin, RatingWidget, for a while. It was clear to me from the beginning that the number of reviews and average rating were playing a crucial part in the success of the plugin. Having said that, it took me over four years to figure out the right formula. Why (& How) to Capture User Emails for WordPress Plugins & ThemesAnyone who has ever built a product for WordPress (plugin or theme) and tried distributing it via the WordPress.org repository knows that user emails are not part of the bargain. You do not have access to this direct way of communicating with the people who are trying out and using your product. So what do you do? How to Sustain Growth after Launching WordPress Plugins & ThemesGetting a plugin to market takes a lot of hard work. But once you’ve crossed that major hurdle for your product and your business, you’ve still got some work to do. From customer support to bug fixes and content updates, there are several ways to keep a product current, relevant, and growing even well after its initial release. 10 Ways To Market Your WordPress ProductAfter you’ve put a lot of time and effort into creating a high-quality WordPress product to sell, you might be tempted to simply put it up for sale and let the money come in as you move to your next project. Unfortunately, that often isn’t an option. Getting sales requires marketing. This article gives you 10 ways to get the word out and get customers. How to Offer Free Trials for Your WordPress Plugins or Themes BusinessWhen you own a WordPress plugin or theme business, the big challenge is getting enough people to pay for it. This is where free trials come in. Free trials come in many forms, but if done right they can boost conversions. This article goes in-depth into all the options, advantages, and considerations, covering everything you need to know about free trials for a WordPress plugin or theme business. How to Sell WordPress Themes & Plugins to Enterprise CustomersMost WordPress professionals serve individuals and small business, but there’s another customer that’s willing to pay you more: Enterprises. If you can earn their trust and meet their needs, you may have what it takes to land your first enterprise customer. How to Build Relationships with WordPress Plugin BuyersDo you sell it via your website with a tool like Freemius? Do you sell it via a marketplace like Envato? Do you offer a freemium version through the WordPress repository? In this interview Vitalii shares his path to success using Freemius. How to Launch a Successful Affiliate Program for WordPress Themes & PluginsWhen your plugin or theme business reaches a certain maturity, inevitably, you start to explore additional revenue streams. One trendy channel is affiliation. Setting up an Affiliate Program can be a powerful, long-term investment that will make you money, power up your SEO, and improve your brand awareness. Alternatively, if planned or executed incorrectly – become a huge waste of time and money, so it's important to do it right.
Running Your Business
How to Price WordPress Add-Ons & ExtensionsPricing is tough - I know I say that a lot. When you're pricing WordPress extensions or addons (dependent products), it's even harder. What I want to do is highlight a challenge that comes from selling dependent products. WordPress Plugin & Theme Developers: Raise Your Prices!Here’s what I know. These prices are all way too low. I set aside a budget of $2000 a year for plugins that help me make money. The last several years I’ve not spent it. Know why? Because the market keeps pushing these prices down. And the message is wrong, because eventually some folks are just going to look at doing something else. The Big Business of Small WordPress PluginsEveryone loves a good “how to make seven figures in software sales” story, but not every business owner desires to claim that headline. If there’s one trend, it’s that we don’t need world domination as a driving force to grow our business. How to Manage License Renewal for Premium Themes: Automatic vs. Manual RenewalsWe initially offered lifetime support and updates. All was well for a couple of years, but eventually questions about sustainability started: if you purchased a WordPress theme once for $60, is it a fair deal to both parties to offer unlimited support requests and significant updates for years to come? As popular themes started receiving huge updates years after their original release, questions about sustainability started arising. Selling WordPress Plugins Directly vs. on CodeCanyon ComparedIf you’re a WordPress plugin developer who is trying to make a living from selling plugins – you may have heard of CodeCanyon and want to know if you can make enough to support your living through this marketplace. I’ve been keeping people up to date on progress via my transparency reports. However, I’ve not done a direct comparison of plugins sales vs CodeCanyon… until now. Should You Sell Premium WordPress Themes on ThemeForest?Have you ever created a premium WordPress theme? If so, a big consideration is where to sell it. You could sell it yourself or you could post it to one of the existing theme marketplaces. Here's we'll help you evaluate whether ThemeForest, the largest WordPress theme marketplace, is right for your premium WordPress theme business. How to Manage WordPress Plugin & Theme Renewal DiscountsAre renewal discounts right for your WordPress theme or plugin business? Learn the ins and outs, and dos and don’ts, of renewal discounts for WordPress themes and plugins to make an informed decision on whether to offer these types of deals to your own customers. A $2,000 Pricing Lesson for WordPress Plugins & ThemesA few months ago, I decided to challenge our plugin’s pricing and try the “WordPress way” by removing the monthly subscription. Keeping only the annual and lifetime billing cycles. We ran this pricing experiment for one week and saw a drastic fall in new customers. “Drastic” is an understatement – we lost 54% in our customer acquisition rate. How to Offer Lifetime WordPress Plugin & Theme LicensesMy perception of a lifetime license is very different than the lifetime license WP Rocket or many of the other WordPress plugin businesses are offering. I was actually very surprised, even in shock, learning how much money WordPress plugin developers are leaving on the table with their so-called, “lifetime license”. How Automatic License Renewals for Premium WordPress Plugins & Themes Increases Revenue (20 months of data)About twenty months ago, while sitting on a couch in Auckland, New Zealand, my team and I flipped the switch to enable automatic renewals for AffiliateWP. Two months later we did the same thing for Easy Digital Downloads and Restrict Content Pro. This was a move that we had been working towards for nearly a year and it's one that we believed would fundamentally change the position of the company over the next one to two years. Now that it has been twenty months, maybe we can answer the question: were we right? Did it make a significant impact for us or was it all futile hopes? Increasing Prices 50% – 250% in a WordPress Plugin Business: Reasons & ReflectionsOn December 14, 2016, my team and I pushed a significant change to our Easy Digital Downloads products: we increased the price on all extensions by 50-250%. Yes, you read that right: up to a 250% price increase on certain plugins. This change was done for a number of reasons, which I will get into shortly, and has resulted in a very interesting last three months. Since I have always been very open with my company's financials, I would like to now share some reflections on the change that we made and to also share some of the aftermath of the change. How to Run a Successful WordPress Plugin & Theme BusinessCo-founder of MotoPress, Alexander Mat, shares his company’s biggest challenges in today’s saturated and Guten-stirred WordPress products’ market. MotoPress has been a successful WordPress business creating sustainable plugins & themes for small & midsize businesses, so it is interesting to get Alex’s take.
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