In addition to being some of the most popular digital products you can sell online, WordPress plugins often provide much-needed solutions and specialized functionalities for WordPress websites, sometimes enabling and benefiting entire communities of people. But when it comes to selling plugins, a lot of the standard considerations apply: Where can you sell them? What prices should you charge? How do you market them? What about licenses, updates, and support? In this post, we aim to shed some light on some of the best practices!
Category: Plugins & Themes
Steven Henty is the man behind Gravity Flow and also the lead developer at Rocketgenius, the company that makes Gravity Forms. Steven came through big time with very thorough and interesting answers to my questions about what it’s like to build, market and sell such a massive plugin with such an enormous number of practical uses.
WordPress developer Daniel Espinoza took time out of his busy holiday schedule to answer some of my questions about Shop Plugins, his WooCommerce plugin business. In addition to questions about Shop Plugins, Daniel talked a bit about his #BUILDSZN project where he is focusing on building a SaaS company in a limited timeframe.
Mailster, from developer EverPress, gives customers a tool for writing and sending email newsletters while at the same time maintaining their subscriber lists all within their own WordPress installation. Jon Goldberg was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about what goes into supporting a huge plugin such as Mailster and how their decision to sell through CodeCanyon has helped them.
File security is an issue for a lot of digital product developers and online marketers. With Prevent Direct Access, WordPress site owners can restrict access to their files from prying eyes with a wide host of customization options through a simple interface. David Hg, from BWPS, took some time to answer my questions about their plugin. We discuss his background in WordPress, how development of Prevent Direct Access began and the ups and downs that happened with trying to successfully sell and market the plugin.
Holler Box lets you create custom notification boxes that can contain any content you can fit in a standard WordPress post. It also offers options to present a fake chat client or an email signup form that integrates with popular providers like ConvertKit and MailChimp. Each Holler Box you create comes with basic statistics that track views and conversions. Here\’s the story of Holler Box from developer Scott Bolinger.
Charitable is a popular WordPress plugin developed for creating fundraising campaigns. It has a robust feature set that lets you get started quickly and then expand its capabilities through extensions to further meet your fundraising needs. Eric Daams, the co-creator of Charitable, answered my questions about his background in WordPress, the beginnings of the plugin, sponsored development (a new topic here at The Plugin Economy) and his various attempts at finding the right pricing structure to fit Charitable’s customers.
Mark Zahra, from developer RebelCode, answered my questions about the origins of the company and WP RSS Aggregator. We also talk about its development challenges (with a guest appearance from Mark’s co-worker), the plugin’s revenue model and the company’s approach to marketing. This clocks in as one of the longer interviews on the site so I want to thank Mark for taking the time to answer these questions so thoroughly.
Today I’d like to, once and for all, answer a question that I’ve been asked hundreds of times. “Brennan, how should I bill my clients?” Hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, per feature, per project. There seem to be a limitless number of ways to charge your clients. In this post, I’ll overview the pros and cons of each, and end with my recommendations.
We’re talking to Blaz Robar, from JetSloth, who makes Gravity Forms plugins for WordPress designed to help improve the end-user experience and make the mundane tasks of maintaining and editing forms faster and easier. Blaz talks to me about how JetSloth got started (and how they chose that name), how the ideas for all of their plugins came about, building a Gravity Forms-focused business, the ups and downs of their marketing and more. This clocks in as one of the longest interviews here on The Plugin Economy so I want to thank Blaz for taking all of this time to answer my questions so thoroughly.
Gone are the days in which you could wrap a few PHP functions into a WordPress plugin or even quickly convert a PSD file into a generic WordPress theme and successfully sell them as an end product to thousands of site owners. Even though the WordPress’ market share only keeps growing – in today’s market, this does not fly. There’s just too much competition out there for selling WordPress plugins and themes, and the average customer now knows exactly what they’re looking for and is less likely to buy a pig in a poke. Here\’s how to do it right!
Our journey building multilingual websites started in the days when we were doing custom WordPress development. Our projects varied from simple presentation sites with a few pages to complex multilingual setups that needed ongoing development and maintenance. While there were quite a few WordPress multilingual solutions out there, we weren\’t happy with their added complexity and translation workflow (non-visual, out of context, found in multiple places).
Mike Stott, one of the developers behind Zero BS CRM, answered my questions about the origins of the plugin, the decision behind the name and what it’s like building what is traditionally a SaaS application as a self-hosted solution. Mike was gracious enough to spend a lot of time on these answers and I wanted to thank him publicly for going the extra mile.
For a variety of possible reasons, if you’re a WordPress plugin or theme owner, you may find yourself in a situation where your product is slowly dying out (or can pretty much be declared dead already). With the number of abandoned plugins and themes, we all know that dying products are a rather common sight in the WordPress ecosystem. If this has happened to your product, or if you fear that someday it might, then read this article, in which I’ll provide you with several salvation options that can help either revive or repurpose your dying product and help it continue to bring value to you and to other people.
Simple Giveaways provides WordPress site owners with a way to grow their mailing list by incentivizing visitors to sign up in exchange for a chance to win a product, discount code or more. Automation gives Simple Giveaways users the ability to have winners chosen and notified without any fuss: everything is handled by the plugin without user intervention. Developer Igor Benić took the time to answer my questions about Simple Giveaways. We discuss the usual topics (development hurdles, marketing and pricing) as well as what he’s learned developing premium WordPress plugins.
Affiliate marketing is a strategy that many bloggers and content marketers rely on as an additional revenue source — or even a major stream of income. Often those conversions depend on how you present information on a given product or service through a blog post, video, podcast or other medium. As a web developer or designer, you have an advantage. The reason is simple. Because you are in a direct, one-to-one working relationship with a client, your influence is much greater when it comes to suggesting products or services for a project you will be delivering.
Developer Jack Arturo, from Very Good Plugins, sat down and broke the record for most thorough answers to my questions since I started this site. Jack talks about the genesis of the idea for Fatal Error Notify, the ups and downs of developing products aimed at developers and his interesting project, ErrorWire, that is meant to help WordPress users prevent plugin errors before they even begin.
Maciej Bis recently joined the Selling WordPress Products group on Facebook where he was introduced as the creator of the WordPress plugin Permalink Manager Pro. This plugin gives you a set of power tools to edit and manipulate permalinks for posts, categories and more.
Bob Senoff, the business man at Max Foundry, answering some of my questions about MaxButtons regarding it’s origin, their target customer, successes with their marketing approach to the plugin and solid advice on how to enter the premium WordPress plugin marketplace.
Can the freemium business model benefit your commercial product in the WordPress ecosystem, i.e. help you sell more premium licenses? This article looks into the 3 most popular business models in the open-source ecosystem and specifically breaks down the arguments for and against the freemium business model in WordPress. Let’s try to understand if freemium is the right business model for your WordPress product!
WordPress developer James Kemp has recently released a plugin aimed at software developers called Simple Feature Requests. With this plugin software developers can collect and manage user feedback about their product. You might remember James as the man behind Iconic where he makes and sells a host of WooCommerce plugins. We spoke with James about Iconic last year and now he’s back to discuss his newest product with us.
In the past few months, I’ve stumbled across multiple online discussions among WordPress plugin and theme developers on how hard it is to win Stripe/Credit-Card Disputes. So much so, that many developers gave up on dealing with them entirely, as they feel it isn’t worth their time. We were in the same boat when we just started Freemius, averaging at about a 4% success rate. Over the years, we managed to develop various and unique techniques that helped us increase our Credit Card Disputes winning success rate by 740% (from 4% to 29.6%), and almost without losing any PayPal Dispute and recovering most of the Chargeback.
Developer Robert Abela took the time to discuss how he became interested in WordPress security, the biggest difficulties that have come up during WP Security Audit Log’s development and some interesting talking points about why his company stopped using Easy Digital Downloads.
The goal for all WordPress plugin and theme businesses should be to provide 5-star customer support. From a marketing perspective, this is one of the best ways to build long-term customer relationships and loyalty. However, it’s not easy keeping every customer in your support queue perfectly happy – there are inevitably frustrations you can’t always resolve right away.
PixelRockstar attempts to solve these problems with a unique plugin that gives you access to a stock photography catalog directly inside of WordPress. Photos are purchased with a simple credit system and all have proper licenses to avoid confusion or legal concerns. Vita Valka, one of the team members behind PixelRockstar, answered my questions about the plugin’s initial creation, challenges the team has run into during development and about the plugin’s unique pricing structure.
GFChart is the first WordPress plugin I’ve posted about here that is an extension for Gravity Forms. This plugin lets you take all of the information you collect from Gravity Form submissions through your site and present the data in a visual way for your visitors or yourself. Ben Ramsden, the owner of GFChart, answered my questions about how he found himself selling a WordPress plugin as a non-developer, what it is like to build a product dependent on Gravity Forms for success and some really interesting discussion about how he prices his plugin.
Unlike with hardware or consumer products, people who purchase your WordPress software product don’t actually have to go back to your store and physically return it to get a refund. For digital WordPress products, it’s usually a simple email or a click of a button to ask for a refund, involving no extra cost for neither the customer nor the seller. Offering a refund policy has it’s cons to it as well, but ultimately, it helps reduce friction, making the decision to go ahead and purchase a license much easier.
I have been part of several WordPress projects for clients over the years that involved major switches in themes and plugins. Sweeping replacements like that can often lead to broken content that needs to be fixed by hand or carefully corrected with search and replace procedures on the database. These situations frequently include shortcodes inside of post content that are no longer functional and need to be removed. Mohamed Abd Elhalim experienced the same problems while he was developing WordPress themes so he decided to build an easy-to-use plugin that would automatically remove broken shortcodes from his sites. His plugin, Shortcode Cleaner, is a simple solution for cleaning broken WordPress content.
Developer Derek Ashauer was kind enough to take time to talk to me about his WordPress plugin called Sunshine Photo Cart. With Sunshine Photo Cart, professional photographers can easily add client proofing galleries and photo cart options on their websites.
Meta Box is simple on the surface: it lets WordPress users and developers quickly construct custom meta boxes and fields. There are other plugins on the market that do the same thing but Meta Box is interesting to me because of its large install base, variety of premium extensions and it’s Vietnamese developer. Tran Ngoc Tuan Anh, from Hanoi, is the man behind Meta Box and he was very kind enough to sit down and answer my questions about his successful plugin. We talk about pricing in bundles, how his customers help inform him on matters ranging from pricing to which extension he should build next and more.
Before Koen Reus, the developer of the Post to Google My Business plugin, contacted me I didn’t know much about the My Business service at all. Koen was nice enough to explain what Google My Business is as well as discuss how he got started building a WordPress plugin that integrates with it, the pitfalls he ran into during that process and what he is doing to market and sell a premium version of the plugin to customers.
Heroic FAQs, the latest plugin release from the folks over at HeroThemes, offers simple but powerful management for frequently answered questions. While the concept of an FAQ page is almost as old as the web itself, with Heroic FAQs the time involved in setting one up is diminished greatly which leaves you with more time to work on your product and less time handling support. Chris Mooney was willing to answer my questions about the creation of Heroic FAQs.
Iconic offers quite a few plugins designed to improve WooCommerce-powered store fronts. The founder of Iconic, James Kemp, answered my questions about how he got started building WooCommerce plugins, what his switch away from Envato’s CodeCanyon was like and the hazards (and advantages) of building a plugin business reliant on a third-party product.
WordPress seems like a natural fit for people looking to build out knowledge bases and documentation for their projects, clients or reference materials. GD Knowledge Base Pro makes that process even easier by offering a suite of features and tools that lets you construct a knowledge base fit to exactly meet your needs and requirements. Milan Petrovic, from Dev4Press, was kind enough to take some time explaining how his plugin came to be.
Recently, ThemeFusion hit the $25 million mark in sales on Envato’s Themeforest marketplace. This is a massive milestone for any company and one that needs to be celebrated. ThemeFusion is the team behind Avada, which has amassed over 450,000 sales and 21,000 5-star reviews on Themeforest, remaining the best-selling WordPress theme for 6 straight years – an incredible feat. Here\’s an interview with them.
Szabi Kisded is the developer of YouLive which is a plugin to help video content creators integrate their broadcasts into their WordPress sites. Szabi talks about how they got their start with WordPress, the decision to sell the plugin through CodeCanyon and general advice on developing and promoting WordPress plugins.
Rich Tabor is taking CoBlocks and his other work to GoDaddy, where he’ll continue to development experiences for using WordPress with Gutenberg. Following the acquisition, Rich Tabor is transitioning to a new role now as Senior Product Manager of WordPress Experience with GoDaddy. In the past three years, Rich founded a digital agency, launched a popular PhotoShop resource site, and started ThemeBeans, a successful WordPress theme shop.
Paid online training is a hot area for generating income these days. Edivently is a new plugin that turns any WordPress installation into a simple learning management system for building and selling online courses. Martin Shiderov, the creator of Edivently, was nice enough to answer my questions about starting his plugin (including picking the unique name), the challenges of building such a complete learning management system and his thoughts on using Envato to handle his sales.
In my mind, Advanced Custom Fields is one of the most versatile and useful plugins for developers of WordPress. It’s a must install for practically every WordPress powered client job I’ve ever done. Aaron Rutley, and his business partner Ben Pearson, obviously feel the same way. They have built their own freemium plugin, called ACF Theme Code, that automatically generates code snippets for you based on your Advanced Custom Fields settings.
Maarten Behr and his colleagues have built a pretty incredible platform for building smart forms and surveys that they call Tripetto. Originally released as an SDK for multiple development environments, Tripetto is now available as a standalone plugin for WordPress that lets users build logic heavy forms, surveys and a whole lot more with an easy to use visual editor.
Kanban for WordPress is a communication and collaboration plugin to help individuals and teams stay organized as they work. The kanban method is very popular with software developers but it’s also suitable for content creators, marketers and any other type of person looking to improve their workflow and productivity. Corey Maass, the man behind Kanban for WordPress, was kind enough to answer some of my questions I had about the plugin. We discuss his background in SaaS, the demo system he uses for the plugin and his switch from an extension model to a simple single Pro plugin to generate revenue.
Simple Giveaways is my first \”serious\” endeavor. It\’s a pretty simple product that collects email addresses and then uses an algorithm to select a winner for the giveaway, all while building up a solid subscriber list. It is used by many different industries.
I’m sure a lot of WordPress site owners and maintainers are unaware of the inherit security risks involved with the SVG file format. Daryll Doyle knows and he’s created a freemium plugin built on a custom library that sanitizes SVG files for WordPress. Daryll answered some of my questions about WP SVG, it’s free version and the sanitization library he wrote that powers the whole thing.
Gamification is a popular method to increase user engagement, improve learning and build better organization inside of software products. It’s become very common with websites centered around education, personal fitness and other individual tracking applications. GamiPress brings the utility of gamification to any WordPress website. Website owners can setup a handful of points, achievements and ranks for their site that users can earn through whatever means the site operator sees fit. Ruben Garcia Canto, from Tsunoa, has taken the time to answer my questions about how they started building WordPress plugins, the early stages of GamiPress’ development and their marketing and pricing techniques for the product.
One of the leading causes of concern with most WordPress users is security. Any WordPress freelancer can tell you stories about hacked sites, vulnerable plugins and more that have caused problems for their clients. Akshat Choudhary saw the same problems as well so he decided to build a product to help address these issues. He was willing to answer my questions about MalCare, his WordPress security solution, including the hardest parts of its development, how he decided on his pricing structure and more.
Tevya Washburn started his professional career as a history grad turned web designer (a path I can personally relate to somewhat as a failed history major turned computer science diploma owner). He eventually found himself running an online reputation management plugin called Starfish Reviews that has proven to be quite successful. That story and more feature’s in Tevya’s interview below.
This guide is written for individuals and organizations who have decided to build an Ecosystem Plugin. You’ve decided to build an Ecosystem Plugin. Awesome. The timing is great and I’m excited to see what you build. I’ve written this guide to provide you with a framework for you and your team as you plan and execute on the work.
Building your own Multi-Purpose theme from scratch can be a very tough project to take on. Getting it approved on ThemeForest? That’s a whole other layer of challenges that you’ll need to tackle. In this guest post, I’m going to share my entire experience of submitting a theme to ThemeForest’s marketplace.
If you do a quick search for “under construction” on the WordPress.org directory you’re going to find Web Factory ltd’s insanely popular, and smartly named, Under Construction Page plugin right at the top of the list. Under Construction Page is one of those rare plugins you find that advertises itself as simple and without fuss and then truly delivers on the promise. Once you install the plugin you are presented with a simple to use interface that let’s you built a custom under construction front end for your WordPress site without writing a single line of code.
Imtiaz Rayhan has developed a WordPress plugin focused on improving conversions for website owners involved in affiliate marketing. His plugin, WP Coupons and Deals, is built to make adding affiliate coupons to your site as simple as possible while also helping to improve your conversion rates. Imtiaz talks to us about how he became involved with WordPress, built WP Coupons and Deals and more.