How Commercial Plugin Developers Are Using The WordPress Repository

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A few weeks ago I wrote about how you can put together a great readme.txt for the WordPress plugin directory.1 In addition to using a WordPress readme as a tool to help out your users, you can use it to promote your commercial products and services. While commercial theme developers are already promoted on WordPress.org, this promotion isn’t extended to commercial plugin developers. But restrictions often lead to creativity, and developers have had to get a bit creative in figuring out how to monetize the WordPress repository. API keys, complementary plugins and lite versions are just a few of the ways that plugin developers are exploiting the WordPress plugin directory for commercial benefit.

WordPress plugins graphic
(Image: Bowe Frankema2)

What’s Allowed?

Back in 2009, Mark Jaquith posted this3 on the WordPress development blog:

Plugins that merely exist as placeholders for a plugin hosted elsewhere (like a “requirements check” plugin) are out, but “lite” versions, etc are in. The goal is to have the directory be free-to-download plugins. A placeholder for a premium plugin is against that spirit.

He goes on to say:

If your plugin is actually a plugin, not just an advertisement or a placeholder for a plugin hosted elsewhere, you’re fine, as far as this rule is concerned.

Related to this, Matt Mullenweg posted4 on the WordPress.org support forums:

There are plenty of plugins that tie into third-party services, for example Google AdSense, and some of them have no free versions. That’s totally fine as long as the plugin is totally GPL.

I emailed Matt to see if anything has changed since he posted this, and he directed me to WordPress.org’s “Detailed Plugin Guidelines5.”

Briefly, if you’re a commercial plugin developer, here’s what you need to keep in mind if you’re planning to use the repository:

  • The plugin must be GPLv2. (Explicitly state this in your license. If you don’t, it will be assumed that your plugin is GPLv2.)
  • Trialware is not allowed.
  • Upselling is allowed (but not by being annoying or disabling features after a time period).
  • Serviceware is allowed, even for paid services (i.e. a plugin that serves to interface with a third-party service). The service must be doing something substantive, not just providing keys or licenses.
  • No phoning home without the user’s consent. This includes:
    • No unauthorized collection of user data;
    • No remote images or scripts (everything must be part of the plugin);
    • Banners and advertising text should not be included in the plugin;
    • Advertising spam is not allowed.
  • No sending executable code via a third-party system (unless of a service-client model).
  • External links may not be included on the user’s public website.
  • No hijacking the admin page.
  • No sponsored links in the readme.
  • WordPress.org reserves the right to edit the guidelines and to arbitrarily disable or remove a plugin for any reason whatsoever.

Adhering to these guidelines is a delicate balance, and not everyone who tries to monetize the repository is successful at it, as the people behind Plugin Sponsors6 recently found out.

That said, let’s look at some models whereby developers have managed to create synergy between free plugins and paid plugins or services.

The API Key

A car licence plate reading No Spam
No one likes spam. (Image: Thomas Hawk7)

Who’s doing it?

If you’ve installed WordPress, then you’ve met Akismet. Akismet is the anti-spam plugin that comes bundled with WordPress. It’s free for non-commercial use, but if you are using it for a commercial website, then you have to pay for it. The whole Akismet issue pops up every so often in the WordPress blogosphere12. Many people feel that a commercial plugin shouldn’t be bundled13 in WordPress, although I don’t plan to get into that debate here.

Whatever you think of it, providing an API key for a service is a viable way to create a WordPress plugin, host it in the WordPress repository, and yet charge for the service that it provides. Another plugin provider that adopts this model is YoLink14, a search service that offers advanced search functionality for websites. Personal websites (i.e. without advertising) that have fewer than 5,000 monthly visitors per year can use it for free; after that, the pricing varies.

“We’ve found that once a user has ample time to test-drive the plugin on their site, they come to realize its value and upgrade to a paid subscription,” says Joe Pagliocco of YoLink. “We are seeing this most often with commercial sites looking for additional flexibility and indexed pages.”

However, you don’t even have to offer a free version of your service to get a plugin with an API key into the repository. Scribe, a popular service from Copyblogger, is a plugin that integrates with your WordPress website. In order to use Scribe, you have to sign up for an API key, which is a minimum of $17 per month. While the plugin is GPLv2 and free, the service is not. This approach might make some people hate you15, but it is still a viable way to make money from a plugin in the directory.

Pro: You’re able to offer a plugin that provides a service and make money from it.

Con: People might hate you for it.

Upgrades And Support Forum

Jigoshop e-commerce plugin
Jigoshop offers a commercial-level e-commerce plugin — for free!

Who’s doing it?

Jigoshop is a free e-commerce plugin, available in the WordPress repository. It includes everything that you need to run an e-commerce website. If you like the plugin (and many people do), then you can pay for premium upgrades18 and support19. Premium upgrades include MailChimp integration, BuddyPress integration and various advanced payment gateways.

I spoke with Dan Thornton at Jigoshop, and he said that they had considered going down the lite/premium route, but because the free version was embraced so quickly, they didn’t want to duplicate their work. By including all of the standard payment gateways in the free version, they made it possible for a small business to get a store up and running and then invest its money in extending the store’s features and functionality, rather than have to pay for all of the bits and pieces up front.

When Jigoshop launched earlier this year, it got a lot of promotion throughout the WordPress community purely because it is a totally free, fully-functioning e-commerce solution. “If we’d gone for a different business model,” says Dan, “we couldn’t have afforded the marketing and advertising to match the recommendations and promotion that we’re grateful to have had from users, designers and developers.”

Pro: Massive community of developers has gathered around Jigoshop, adding their own expertise to the product.

Con: A fully-functional GPL plugin is open to being forked by bigger players on the scene.

The Lite Plugin

Bottles of Diet Coke
Do you like your plugins with less calories? (Image: Niall Kennedy20)

Who’s doing it?

This is probably one of the most common ways to use the repository to up-sell, and it can be a great option for a variety of plugins. Basically, you restrict the features in the free version and offer a paid version for people who want more features. Putting a lite version of a plugin in the repository is fine, provided it is GPL and adheres to the “Detailed Plugin Guidelines.”

WPMU DEV2421, a shop for WordPress plugins, has a number of lite versions of its commercial plugins in the repository. It offers lite versions of its Google Maps, eCommerce, Chat, Wiki and Membership plugins, among others. In theory, these plugins should be adequate for the average WordPress user who wants the given functionality on their website, while the commercial versions are available for those who need even more functionality.

I asked James Farmer, of WPMU DEV, what he holds back for his members. “We started holding back quite a bit,” he says. “Now we hold back very little. It’s really just the extended stuff and extra support, etc, that premium users get.”

With little functionality being held back for members, I asked James why they bother including free plugins in the repository. “I suppose you could say to ‘give back,’” he says. “But really, it’s just about business: if folks get to try our plugins for free (and the WordPress.org repository is the best place to get them to do that), then a proportion of them will be keen on our full offerings… At least that’s the plan.”

Pro: Give back to the community while maintaining your business model.

Con: Have to split your support base across WordPress.org and your own website.

Complementary Plugins

Rows of shoes
Some things just work better in pairs. (Image: Martin Hartland25)

Who’s doing it?

Two new plugins on the WordPress scene are taking a different approach. Developed by OnTheGoSystems27 (the folks behind the popular WPML28), Types29 is a plugin for creating custom post types, while Views30 is a plugin for displaying content. Drupal users will recognize similarities between Views and a certain Drupal module31.

Types is free and can be found in the WordPress repository. Views, on the other hand, is a commercial plugin available through the developer’s website. Types is a fully-functional plugin, and if all you’re interested in is creating custom post types and taxonomies and custom fields, then you might stop there. But Views is used to display the content in complex ways by querying the WordPress database for you. And, of course, the Types readme.txt tells you all about what you can do with Views, to tempt you into grabbing the complementary commercial plugin.

OnTheGoSystems developed Types and Views hand in hand, and it markets them that way, too. Views needs Types to create content, and Types is made better when Views displays it. A synergy between the two fuels the business model. “Types complements Views,” says Amir Helzer, CEO of OnTheGoSystems, “by making it easy to create and manage custom data. Marketing 101 says that when you want to promote your product, you work to turn its complements into commodities. This is what Types does. It makes creating of custom data into a non-issue, so that people can concentrate on its display (via Views).”

Pro: Exploit a ready-made market for your commercial plugin.

Con: The market might decide that it only wants your free plugin.

Offer Commercial Themes

Shopping cart
There’s big business in WordPress e-commerce. (Image: Thristian32)

Who’s doing it?

The plugin directory isn’t being used just by commercial plugin developers. If you run a successful commercial theme shop, then it’s perfectly within your power to give away a functional WordPress plugin for free, dedicate a team of developers to it, and then let the money roll in as people look for commercial themes to power your plugin. That’s what WooThemes has done with WooCommerce34.

You can get WooCommerce from the WordPress repository for free; and with more than 30,000 downloads since launch, it’s proving to be a pretty popular e-commerce solution. What it’s really got going for it, though, is the large collection of dedicated e-commerce themes that work with the plugin.

While already successful as a commercial theme shop, WooThemes was keen to test its legs in the freemium waters. E-commerce seems like a perfect fit for it: free core functionality, while charging for design. I asked Adii Pienaar, WooThemes’ founder, what effect WooCommerce has had on its business. He says, “WooCommerce has been quite a diversification for us on two fronts. First, it diversifies our revenue models and allows us to include the freemium model, which means a higher volume of users. Secondly, it has added a whole new class of products to our offering. To that extent, we’ve already seen a bump in our overall revenue, and our WooCommerce-related revenues are already establishing themselves as a firm chunk of that pie.”

To follow this model, Adii suggests that you develop a great core product and then monetize add-ons to that core. Because the core is free, you get high-volume adoption, and you need only monetize a certain percentage of it to be profitable.

Pro: Great way to expand your current market.

Con: Works best if you’re already backed by a strong brand.

Installation And Set-Up Services

A Lego plumber
Everyone needs a bit of help sometimes. (Image: Carol Browne35)

Who’s doing it?

s2Member is powerful membership plugin. In fact, it’s so powerful that a dedicated installation service runs alongside it. Simplicity in a plugin is always a bonus, but out of necessity some plugins end up being seriously complex. That isn’t a bad thing, but it can get confusing for less advanced WordPress users. From my own experience, membership plugins can be extensive and pretty difficult for users to set up.

A great way to monetize a plugin like this is to offer an installation service alongside it. To set up s2Member, you can employ s2Installs37. This is the team of developers behind s2Members, and they can install and set it up for you, as well as provide custom coding to extend the plugin to fit your needs. What better way to set up and extend a plugin than by employing its own developers to do it?

This is a really good model in which everyone can access the plugin for free, while commercial help is available for people who aren’t able to use the plugin to its full extent.

Pro: You are the best person to provide set-up, installation and customization of your plugin, so capitalize on it!

Con: Only works with big plugins. Might not work so well with your Google +1 button.

Is It Really Worth It?

Now that we’ve looked at some of the models, you might be wondering if this is actually worth it. Many commercial plugin developers, including those of popular plugins such as Gravity Forms38, don’t adopt the freemium model and yet are still incredibly successful. In fact, a number of the plugin developers I spoke with said that the amount of traffic they get from the repository is minimal, not to mention other developers who don’t want a whole lot to do with WordPress.org. Some feel that the tightrope that has been set up for commercial plugin developers who want to use the repository is too precarious and not something they want to put effort into. Commercial themes are supported on WordPress.org39, but there is nothing similar for plugin developers. Most of the developers I spoke with felt that a commercial plugin page will probably never appear on WordPress.org.

That said, if you are going down the freemium route, then using the WordPress repository is definitely a viable option, provided that you do actually use GPLv2 and provide some kind of useful service. The WordPress plugin directory will always be the best way to get your product into WordPress’ back end.

Like everything, the WordPress plugin directory has its upsides and downsides, and it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. But in addition to directly promoting your product and services, having a plugin in the repository has a load of indirect benefits:

  • Self-promotion and branding
    You might not be making a living off of your plugin, but you will be making a living off of yourself. A great example of this is Yoast40, which is available for free in the plugin directory; while its developer doesn’t make any money from it directly, his business is built on his SEO expertise.
  • Networking
    Having a plugin in the directory helps you to connect with other people in the WordPress community. People will be like, “Oh, you’re the guy who made that plugin. I love that!” The more popular your plugin, the more people will be interested in you.
  • Custom work
    Offering a plugin means that someone out there might want your plugin to be customized, and they might be willing to pay for it.
  • Job leads and opportunities
    You never know who is looking in the repository. Some big-wig might love your plugin and could be hiring. You could also use it as part of your CV, letting potential employers check out your code before even getting shortlisted.
  • Kudos
    Everyone loves a plugin developer — and if they don’t, they should!
  • Giving back
    Part of being a member of an open-source community is finding a way to give back. After all, we get the software that we build our livelihoods on for free. A free plugin in the directory is a great way to give back, especially if it’s a good one!

Of course, it’s not all happiness and sparkles. There are some aspects to having a plugin in the repository that put some developers off:

  • Double the support
    If you offer support on your own website, too, then you’ll have to keep on top of two support forums.
  • Unreasonable support expectations
    It’s sad, but some WordPress users feel that developers who give their plugins away for free should be at the beck and call of users. This leads to flaming in forums, hostile emails, angry tweets and the occasional midnight phone call.
  • Keeping up with WordPress
    WordPress has a fast development cycle, with around two to three major releases a year (along with security updates and the like). Maintaining a plugin can become quite a chore, as is apparent from all of the orphaned plugins in the repository.
  • #17 in the “Detailed Plugin Guidelines”
    This states that WordPress.org can revise the guidelines and arbitrarily disable or remove plugins whenever it feels like it. This arbitrariness does put people off.

A Commercial Plugin Shop?

It has long been fabled that Automattic might create some sort of WordPress app store where commercial plugin developers can sell their plugins to users straight from the WordPress dashboard. This will likely remain a fable, with no whisper from Automattic that anything of the sort is planned. Of course, there are places where you can purchase commercial WordPress plugins, such as WPPlugins4541 and Code Canyon4642, but neither of these has the advantage of delivering plugins directly from the WordPress dashboard.

PlugPress43 tried a different approach. It created an “app store” plugin that WordPress users could install from the WordPress directory and then use to browse commercial plugins and themes. It uploaded the plugin to the WordPress repository and announced that it was live, and then the plugin was removed.

Although Google indexes PlugPress as being in the WordPress repository, the link is now dead

It’s a pretty clear signal that this type of store plugin won’t be allowed in the WordPress repository.

Amir Helzer (who we met earlier) has another approach. He posted a few months ago44 on the WPML blog about an alternative repository for commercial plugins and themes. His premise is similar to the approach taken in the Linux world. Every theme and plugin author can become their own repository. So Theme Forest could have a repository, as could Mojo Themes, as could whoever else. A central plugin would enable WordPress users to select commercial sources from which to search for themes or plugins. This would essentially make commercial plugins available in the dashboard and enable people to easily upgrade. It’s a novel idea, but given PlugPress’ swift exit from the repository, you won’t be seeing this in the WordPress directory anytime soon.

Conclusion

I firmly believe that placing restrictions on something spurs greater creativity, and the models above demonstrate how commercial plugin developers are thinking outside the box to use a directory that is essentially for free plugins. If it were simply a matter of a WordPress app store, then all of us would be in danger of buying plugins that aren’t very good (Apple’s App Store, anyone?). Plugin developers think creatively, which can only be a good thing for end users. Astute plugin developers will always find ways to use the WordPress plugin repository to promote their products, and I hope that their plugins are the better for it.

Developers are undoubtedly creating synergy between their commercial products and the repository in other ways. If you know of any, we’d love to hear about them in the comments!

Further Resources

(al)

Footnotes

  1. 1 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2011/11/23/improve-wordpress-plugins-readme-txt/
  2. 2 http://community.presscrew.com/
  3. 3 http://wpdevel.wordpress.com/2009/08/31/agenda-for-20090903-dev-chat-discus/
  4. 4 http://wordpress.org/support/topic/plugin-that-integrates-with-a-must-pay-for-service
  5. 5 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/about/guidelines/
  6. 6 http://pluginsponsors.com/
  7. 7 http://www.flickr.com/photos/51035555243@N01/362270357/
  8. 8 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/akismet/
  9. 9 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/scribe/
  10. 10 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/yolink-search/
  11. 11 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/anti-splog/
  12. 12 http://www.wptavern.com/is-akismet-still-free
  13. 13
  14. 14 http://www.yolink.com/yolink/
  15. 15
  16. 16 http://jigoshop.com/
  17. 17 http://getshopped.org/
  18. 18 http://jigoshop.com/product-category/extensions/
  19. 19 http://jigoshop.com/support/
  20. 20 http://www.flickr.com/photos/niallkennedy/505176492/
  21. 21 http://premium.wpmudev.org/
  22. 22 http://eventespresso.com/
  23. 23 http://cart66.com/
  24. 24 http://premium.wpmudev.org/
  25. 25 http://www.flickr.com/photos/martin_hartland/347033446/
  26. 26 http://wp-types.com/
  27. 27 http://www.onthegosystems.com/
  28. 28 http://wpml.org
  29. 29 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/types/
  30. 30 http://wp-types.com/home/views-create-elegant-displays-for-your-content/
  31. 31 http://drupal.org/project/views
  32. 32 http://www.flickr.com/photos/thristian/4778865993/
  33. 33 http://www.woothemes.com/
  34. 34 http://www.woothemes.com/woocommerce/
  35. 35 http://www.flickr.com/photos/carolbrowne/3444237986/in/photostream/
  36. 36 http://www.s2member.com/
  37. 37 http://www.s2installs.com/
  38. 38 http://www.gravityforms.com/
  39. 39 http://wordpress.org/extend/themes/commercial/
  40. 40 http://yoast.com/
  41. 41 http://wpplugins.com
  42. 42 http://codecanyon.net/
  43. 43 http://plugpress.com
  44. 44
  45. 45 http://wpplugins.com
  46. 46 http://codecanyon.net/
  47. 47 http://www.wptavern.com/plugin-repository-and-commercial-plugins
  48. 48 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2011/11/23/improve-wordpress-plugins-readme-txt/

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Siobhan McKeown is a big fan of words, and of WordPress, which works out pretty well since she runs Words for WP, the only copywriting service dedicated to WordPress service providers. You can find her on her personal blog, twitter and occasionally hanging out on G+.

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  1. 1

    Very interesting article. I’ve built a plugin called FoxyShop which falls under the Serviceware heading. It connects to FoxyCart, a third-party shopping service, and I’ve found that there’s a lot of business to be gained by giving the plugin away and then supporting other developers and clients with customization and install support. I think that providing really good customer support is key. Getting back to people immediately has been a huge help in promoting the plugin and has generated a lot of support. I’ve been surprised by the number of people who DO send in donations. Even taking 5 minutes and writing some code for someone who is struggling with a concept has made a huge difference.

    • 2

      I personally believe the “completely free plugin but my time cost’s money” approach is better than all of the ones listed here.

      All the plugins listed here are a very obvious “This plugin was developed with profits in mind. Please buy me dinner. KayThanxBai.”

      Justin Tadlock does this perfectly for his themes. If you watch the way he develops and released his themes, it’s obvious that he creates them as a hobby rather than for profits. He just charges for the additional time that you require for support. While Justin does develop themes and they are slightly different than plugins the approach is best for plugins too.

  2. 3

    What about placing a small checkbox inside plugin’s admin section with “Support the developer by placing a link in the footer”. The checkbox should be unchecked by default, and upon checking, it should place a simple, no keywords rich anchor link in the footer (using wp_footer()) hook.

    Is this allowed?

    • 4

      This works, but the incoming links you’ll get can hardly justify any significant development effort.

    • 5

      This is definitely possible, but then you’re relying on people bothering to read all of the settings correctly, and then you’re relying on their goodwill to do it.

      And as Amir says, the incoming links don’t really justify the development work that you’ve put in.

      • 6

        But it’s a backlink in the footer. It’s useful for SEO. It’ not link exchange, so Google will not penalize it.

        And if 1000 users have my plugin, and 10 activate the footer link, I think it’s worth it.

        And I do plugins because I love to, and I don’t need to justify the development work.

    • 7

      You should certainly leave it unchecked by default. I know of some less scrupulous plug-ins who use this method, but leave it checked by default. I’d be interested to know whether having checked by default is in breach of the WordPress’ rules…

      Also, does ‘phoning home’ include displaying the latest posts from the plug-in’s blog?

      • 8

        Rules are pretty clear about that: it must be uncheck by default and you cannot do things for your own benefit without asking clearly the user.

        Phoning home is NOT ok if it’s done without user consent. If your plugin connects to your service and it’s clear (like a Mailchimp plugin would connect to mailchimp website), it’s not considered as “phoning home”.

      • 9

        Also, does ‘phoning home’ include displaying the latest posts from the plug-in’s blog?

        Some plugins do this using a Dashboard widget which reads their blog’s RSS feed. This is fine, as long as it can be turned off normally (like all dashboard widgets can) and doesn’t “take-over” the main interfaces.

  3. 10

    This is a great topic. As a plugin developer myself I have found that the public repository is a great place to try out new things. Our slideshow plugin began as a very simple, no-frills slideshow (which it turns out was exactly what people wanted) and we added features based on requests in the WP forum over time. It eventually became clear that there was demand for a “Pro” version of this plugin as well. So we slowed down development of the free version (it is still quite functional and gets maintenance updates) and focused development on the paid version of the plugin. We have a small link on the WP Repository page mentioning the Pro version as well as a link in the plugin admin panel. It’s been a great source of traffic for us.

    I think our plugin strategy will follow this same model in the future. Put out a basic “proof of concept” plugin for free, and then if it finds an audience, build an enhanced version for power users. We have a few other free plugins which are dying to get “Pro” versions, and I don’t see why this couldn’t work with themes as well.

    Dalton

    • 11

      That’s a really good point, and something I didn’t talk about in my article. The plugin repo is definitely a great testing ground for things that you may go on to develop commercially. I guess the downside is that if you have people who use your plugin for a long time, who make suggestions and perhaps even submit bugs, then you may end up leaving those people feeling aggrieved that they’ve supported your plugin and now the developer has gone commercial.

      I think the approach that you’ve taken, i.e. leaving a free version in the repo with a link to the Pro version is a good compromise.

  4. 12

    We can attest to the plugin repository’s strength as a showcase for our own freemium plugin, Wysija Newsletters.

    In just 3 weeks, we get an average of 100 downloads daily. Not bad for a start. More efficient than any SEO campaign.

    Showcasing our plugin in 30 million+ website’s admin interfaces isn’t the only reason we went for the freemium model. We feel we needed to give back to the community. That’s important for us who benefit(ed) from free plugins.

    But the tide does seem to be turning right now. For example, even Yoast (famous for his awesome free plugins) is working on upcoming premium features. The GPL license says it clearly after all: “When we speak of free software, we are referring to freedom, not price.”

    As for the repository, Automattic shouldn’t make it a store. At least not yet…

  5. 13

    “Jaquith” — No “c”. :-)

  6. 15

    Great informative post.Keep good working.Thank you.

  7. 16

    That is a great article.

    You asked a really good question here: Why is there a list of commercial themes websites and not for commercial plugins websites ? That would be a great addition to the WP repository.

    (FYI, I am the founder of PlugPress)

    I think it’s sad for the WordPress community that they can’t have the choice. PlugPress was about “giving the choice” whether website owners would want free or premium products. I also took time to review the guidelines to make sure PlugPress was respecting everything… and it did.

    That said, we did not anticipate the fact they would edit the guidelines to block our plugin (adding the “point of clarification” sentence in guideline #6 just after they banned the plugin). Don’t get me wrong: it’s their site, they can do want they want. But does it really serve the community and people who want premium products to have professional support (for example) ?

    Honestly, it’s a debate I did not think I would have to do given the fact that WordPress states it’s all about freedom.

  8. 17

    You mentioned the risk that someone forks the code of a plugin.
    Well, what’s stopping me from for instance taking the Gravity Forms plugin, simply fork it, add a tad here and there and offer it at no cost? After all, it’s GPL, no?
    And what’s with “holding back” functionality and making it available for $$$ (I’m not talking service here!), isn’t that governed by GPL and not permitted?
    (While generally charging for the “download” certainly is)

    • 18

      Actually, nothing is holding you back from doing that. Under the GPL, you can take GravityForms, leave it as is, repackage it and even resell it at a cost or redistribute it for free. That’s why your options when it comes to commercial plugins is generally around an API key or some type of paid support barrier.

  9. 19

    Gerben van Dijk / Gport

    January 16, 2012 1:01 am

    Great article, just what I needed :) I’m working on a plugin, called Magic Gallery, and a free version is coming out soon that will also have the option for a paid upgrade. Useful to see what I can and can’t do :)

  10. 20

    That was a good read.

    • 21

      I’ve enabled this and used your sgntites (even though there is a newer version than this available now) and have adjusted my Home Title / Home Description etc and hit update but my title is still what is was before. Any advise?In case it makes any difference I am using a Mac, with MAMP.Thanks

  11. 22

    “Plugins that merely exist as placeholders for a plugin hosted elsewhere (like a “requirements check” plugin) are out, but “lite” versions, etc are in. The goal is to have the directory be free-to-download plugins. A placeholder for a premium plugin is against that spirit.”

    These words are excellent…

    thank u for the wonderful information

  12. 23

    Great list of commercial plugins for e-commerce here.

    I was wondering if there is a script, plugin, or widget that allows us to sell articles on the Internet like dailyarticle.com and constant-content.com do? They display a summary ( which might be our usual product description) and then a part of the article as an “image” instead of “text” to protect from possible copy-paste or ripoff?

  13. 24

    Fascinating article there – it’s something I’m looking into with my plugins. I’ve decided to go through the “Lite” option (it’s fairly obvious why – the “Lite” option is a proof of concept, and the “Premium” is features that have been requested that aren’t where I necessarily wanted to go with the plugin).

    Am I right in thinking you can specify in the readme.txt where you are providing support, or even if you are not providing support/paid support? I know it requires reading and not everybody comprehends, but it could funnel support requests into one channel or another?

  14. 25

    I am creating a plugin that bridges this gap. The user installs it, then they can upload their plugins to it and host paid and free plugins. It uses PayPal as the payment gateway and has a transactions page. It utilizes the PayPal sandbox for testing. It also follows the domain/extend/plugins/ address much like WordPress. Once the code is finalized I will give away the first 5 for beta testing while figuring out my pricing model. You can have a look at http://www.landry.me/extend/plugins/sell-my-plugin/

  15. 26

    I must say that I do enjoy the WordPress platform and our own plugin launched this last week as a shopping cart for WordPress. Immediately we found that it is a fine line between existing on a free platform and offering our hard work for money.

    We ended up launching our system as a ‘lite’ version so that users could use the shopping system, and even place an order, but it would be a manual one, paid users would have payment gateways.

    It’s actually kind of a hassle and really more of a burden for users to try and understand what methods most software are using; is it a lite version, is it a api key situation, is it limited. Customers seem to have to hunt around, rather than having a straight forward answer and product. I wish I could simply post it as a paid premium plugin and customers would benefit from the information.

    I really must say I like the idea of having a premium paid section for plugins or add-ons into WordPress. +1 vote for it, but I understand the intention of the repository too.

  16. 27

    Thanks for the great post. I have a question though. Is it ok to have a copyright in the plugin that says: “This plugins has been creted by YZ” when YZ is linking to the plugin developer website?

  17. 28

    I can’t stop expressing my feelings here with few points. First, I created a free unique plugin recently. Complete Google SEO Scan. It took time and energy. Now, I get download rates like this: 157, 49, 63 for 3 days.
    Before submission I thought it is quality only, but afterwards I read it is also promotion. I can’t belive that I have to promote even my free plugin. After all headaches if a developer takes some exposer, then it is not wrong.
    With little amount of money it is impossible to sustain in wp community commercially. Anybody can see how many free plugins get wasted. Some of them are really great, still wasted. As not many pepole downloaded it, developer gets fustrated. It is a clear case of demand and supply imbalance.
    Lastly, what I see is there is 27k plugins and 1.8k themes. In a community of some millions those numbers are very less than 1 % even. Pepole talk of givig back. I surely agree but less than 1 % people is giving back and more than 99 % are taking only. Now, that’s cool if you think from wordpress brand value. But please also think from those 1 % people also. They are only giving back. How you will ensure contribution of a larger number of people?
    I am not the one who got muddered by this free plugin development stuff. But I see many getting very less feedback. Logically, companies are exploiting it, because they have money and options. But don’t say it is commercial plugin developers.

  18. 29

    I’m late to the discussion but what the heck ;-) it’s all long tail anyway

    I loved this article. I developed a WP plugin a few years ago with the help of a developer I found on Elance. I paid real money for a developer to create something I dreamed of making to contribute to the WP community I was a part of with my own site and as a developer for customers. It was a great accolade to have and I watched excitidedly as I reached over 16,000 downloads without any marketing or advertising, and it was in an already crowded category. It even bumped by Google PR from 4 to 5 for a bit of time which was an added bonus.

    I’m researching now because I will be putting up another Lite plugin and this time I’d like to sell a premium version for somewhere between $2 and $10. I like the idea of using an API as that can reduce the chance of copying but I’m not 100% sure of the technical viability as the “premium” version isn’t so much a service as it is a few lines of code different from the free version. If anyone has any thoughts on that, I’d love to hear them.

    Can anyone suggest any API-related articles? Can anyone also suggest any Code Canyon articles that discuss the pros and cons and possibly share some real experience insight from using CC or similar?

    Thanks to all.

    Cheers,
    Richard

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