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Trend For 2010 – Paying For Plugins

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December 23rd, 2009
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While paying for plugins is nothing new, I’m predicting that by the end of 2010, there will be a large assortment of plugins for WordPress that will be available for purchase. As we wind down 2009, I’m already beginning to see the trend in action with at least 3 of my 31 installed plugins switching to a paid model. Each person is doing something a little different but the end result is the same. I have to pay to keep using it.

Now I don’t particularly have a problem with plugin authors charging for support or for services around the plugin but I’m seeing the plugin being bundled as part of the purchase. So in a way, you’re not only paying for the plugin, you’re paying for access to support. In most cases, the free plugin becomes dormant and I’m forced to either stick with what works until a version of WordPress is released which breaks the plugin or I pony up the cash to receive upgrades. Shopp, GravityForms and now Ajax Edit Comments each have their own repository server that enables customers to receive upgrades. This is all part of the deal.

I remember a post a year or so ago asking people what would they pay for that they currently did’nt have to. WordPress was one of the things people would pay for if it had a price tag. My question is slightly different. What if every plugin you use on your site requires you to pay money before you get access to upgrades, support, etc? Personally, I don’t mind paying for great work and I can part with my cash for three or five plugins but not for 31.

Not to put down the work of those making a business out of their plugin but something to keep in mind is that as it stands, plugins hosted in the WordPress.org plugin repository contain no price tags. However, some of them do have links, wording, and such to up-sell services or the pro version of the plugin. I don’t have a problem with that as long as the slimmed down version is not crippled to the point where it doesn’t make sense to use the lower end version.

If the authors of the plugins I use on my own site all decided to ditch the free version in favor of a paid model in order to help them make a living, that is their decision to make. However, one of the greatest assets of the WordPress plugin world is that there is an abundant amount of choices for most tasks. Some better than others.

My hope is that the WordPress plugin repository will continue to be free of pay-for plugins. This will insure that I will always have a place to browse an assortment of free alternatives. If the plugin repository were to ever allow commercial plugins to be listed alongside free ones, I’m thinking that the commercial choices would far outweigh the free ones. I really don’t want to go down the road I traveled with Joomla where anytime I wanted to have cool functionality added to my site, I had to pay for it.

Is this a trend you also see in 2010 or do you see something else? Any thoughts on the matter?

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  1. Denis de Bernardy (8 comments.) says:

    This has been a trend since 2005, actually. Back then (and still now) there was Semiologic Pro, which is a plugin bundle. There have also been quite a few coders who released paid-for plugins since then, too.

    • Jeff Chandler (171 comments.) says:

      This may be the case, but I didn’t start noticing until plugins I was using on my own site started switching to a paid model.

      • Atniz (17 comments.) says:

        I guess they need to find a way to make some money at the end. Maybe, this is how the plugin developers attract more financiers to invest in their products.

  2. Bill Robbins (6 comments.) says:

    While there have always been paid plugins, I think Jeff hit the nail on the head that we are at the beginning of a substantial shift in terms of paid plugins. I have no issue with paying for a plugin, but if they all become paid, then that will affect my decision to use some of them. Personally I love Gravity Forms and will continue to support them with my money (and my client’s money), but I can’t do that with all of them.

    What sets commercial plugins apart from commercial themes is that most people only work with a few themes, but at least a dozen plugins. If a theme author charges $70 for their theme, I think that’s fair if it is quality and includes support, but if all of the 20 plugins I use want $30 in order to continue using them, I won’t pony up for that. My guess is that most of us won’t either.

    • bubazoo (213 comments.) says:

      I agree completely with this.

      Its not that I mind paying for a good plugin, but if all 900 of them on the market went paid, we can’t afford that, none of us can.. Another thing depends on rather its a “one-time” fee, or a fee every time a version comes out. I paid $20 for a forum plugin once, actually 3 different times, but I only had to pay $20, I didn’t have to pay $20 every time a new version came out. I would cease using any plugin that required you to pay a monthly or yearly fee of some sort, I don’t care how good it is. I wouldn’t pay $20 a year for wordpress, much of less one of its plugins, so that would definitely change my way of thinking about a plugin. Now a one-time fee? yeah I would do that for a decent plugin that I use often, but otherwise no.

  3. Extreme John (3 comments.) says:

    I would have to agree with you and if that means the quality will go up and the support will go up as well, than count me in as a buyer. I want quality.

  4. Milan Petrovic (31 comments.) says:

    This is very interesting topic, specially from my perspective of a plugin author. I have released many plugins over the past two years, and some of them are very successful (my rating plugin GD Star Rating for instance). But once the plugin gains in popularity, more and more users will need support: bug reports and fixes, new features, general help, integration…

    And if you are author of one plugin, you can even manage to provide support for free. But if you have 5-6 plugins and large number of users, providing quality support (and that include responding to queries in a matter of 2-3 days, helping everyone, fixing bugs adding new features) is impossible. Support will get so overwhelming that you will not have time for a work that actually pays. And that’s why 90% (or maybe even more) WordPress plugins are not supported by the authors or maybe are only partially supported.

    I recently needed help with Headspace2 plugin, and I tried to contact author through forum and issue tracker and I got no response. So, I modified plugin myself, because I can’t wait for months for a problem to be fixed. But, I am developer and I can do that myself. On the other hand 99% of WordPress users are not developers, and they need real support. When it comes to simple plugins, this is no big deal, but many useful plugins are large and you can’t solve things on your own.

    That’s why I decided to stop offering free support, because I don’t have free time for quality support. But I can dedicate most of my time to payed support that will include everything users might need, that will include even nightly releases and many more things. I also added new features to my already free plugins as additional bonus.

    The way I see it is that most quality plugins will go through changes in the next year, and while the plugins may remain free, support will not.

    • Ade (12 comments.) says:

      I think the crucial phrase you wrote is this – “I don’t have free time for quality support”. As a plugin author I understand completely what you are talking about.

    • Jeff Chandler (171 comments.) says:

      I’m no plugin author but I can certainly see where you’re coming from. It seems like a vicious cycle. You come up with a cool plugin, release it to the whole world. Then people need support. You can deal with the support volume for awhile but then it becomes too much. You have to spend all your time supporting instead of improving the code. What is one supposed to do? I’m more of a fan of paying for support than for paying for the actual code in the plugin. If I have to start paying everyone to not only get support but for the plugin itself, I’m going to be running quite a few less plugins.

  5. Brad Potter (3 comments.) says:

    I think Gravity Forms has set the standard for paid plugins. If I pay for another plugin I’ll tend to compare it to Gravity in price, support and upgrades. One site that recently came online appears to be selling plugins AND charging a monthly maintenance/upgrade fee from what I can tell. One thing I won’t do is pay monthly fees that are equivalent to utility bills in price just for a plugin.

    • Bill Robbins (6 comments.) says:

      I agree, I won’t pay monthly fees for a plugin, and several of the plugins from the site you mention actually charge more for each month’s support than the initial plugin purchase. Rocket Genius has set the standard with Gravity Forms.

      • Jon Pearkins says:

        My experience over the last 35 years says that a one-time purchase price for software is a myth. The only honest way to “sell” software is to rent it. You always need new versions just to handle changes in related software, security vulnerabilities, and even what you might call environmental (e.g. – remember the grief that occurred when Daylight Saving Time dates changed a few years back).

        • Bill Robbins (6 comments.) says:

          Paying for updates is not common in our community. The initial theme developers set the stage for that and most continue to operate with that model. If plugin authors would like to change that, they are free to, but it is counter-cultural at the moment. They are also going to need to really evaluate what their product updates should cost. I wouldn’t buy Photoshop for $600 and then pay $750 a month for updates and support.

          • Jon Pearkins says:

            Your Photoshop example is a good one. A friend paid $500 or so for it in the late 1990s, but never did get it to work when she switched to Windows XP a few years later.

            But, the rental scenario I described for what is today a $600 software product, would be no upfront fee and just over $20 a month to rent it.

            In my world, the $750/month you quote would rent you a piece of software running on “Big Iron” that has several thousand users connected to it.

    • Jeff Chandler (171 comments.) says:

      I don’t like the idea of paying monthly. I’d rather pay some sort of flat fee that gives me access to everything. No doubt about it though, GravityForms has a great thing going on but if the ‘majority’ of the plugins find a way to copy their model, I’m not going to be putting out that kind of cash.

      • redwall_hp (40 comments.) says:

        I develop a few plugins, WP125, Tweetable, and GoCodes being the major ones. I’ve pretty much started ignoring the many support emails I get. I just can’t keep up with them anymore.

        I am currently working on “WP125 2.0.,” which will be a much more full-featured ad management solution than the current version. I don’t have my business model worked out fully yet, but I’m thinking about going for a Gravity Forms-like model.

        With WP125 I think I’m in a good position to charge. Most of its users are planning on using it to make money (i.e. sell ads), so I don’t think it’s unfair to charge them something for the convenience.

        I definitely don’t want to charge a monthly fee though. That’s ridiculous for a plugin or theme. A one-time fee that includes support and updates definitely isn’t too much to ask though.

  6. Yohan Perera (3 comments.) says:

    Oh, Gosh would there be a nightmare worse than WordPress becoming a commercial blogging platform. Still there are people out here who cannot afford for that…

  7. Jon Pearkins says:

    Anybody know someone who ISN’T using at least one plug-in? Yes, there are people running WordPress sites without plug-ins. But those same people have at least one WordPress installation with a plug-in.

    Point being: if all the decent Plug-Ins are no longer free, everyone will (effectively) be paying to use WordPress. Which flies in the face of the huge wave of adoption of Open Source software over the last few years.

    Having retired after 35 years of supporting software used by local companies, far too often I would see my employers held hostage by software vendors (especially after being acquired by a larger firm) once they were “hooked” on their software products. Once software gets entrenched in an organization, it is very expensive and disruptive to replace it.

    Open Source held the promise of removing the threat of becoming a hostage to ever increasing software prices. But it took a while for Corporate I.T. departments to get used to (1) a more Do-It-Yourself installation (assemble pieces from different sources) and support (user forums instead of telephoning customer service) environment; and (2) a much higher (future) risk of the software being abandoned by its author(s).

    In short: I think widespread charging for Plug-ins will really “damage” WordPress.

    Two possibilities come to mind for the WordPress Project to solve this problem.

    (1) Share with Plug-In Authors, the knowledge and infrastructure used by WordPress to generate the funding to survive financially.

    Or:
    (2) Expand the WordPress Team and effectively “take over” key functionality currently provided by Plug-Ins, either by adding the functionality to the base WordPress product, or by simply offering the Plug-ins as Akismet and Hello Dolly! are now, as WordPress-supplied Plug-ins.

    • Byron (20 comments.) says:

      Joe,

      Your suggestions are good. Your #2 is already in place to a certain extent since WP continually takes plugin functionality into the core, and they are now working on the Canonical plugins idea of adding certain plugins to the standard. I’d love it if they’d add mine and start supporting them for me ;-) Don’t think it will happen, though since I only have a thousand or so users…they’ll be looking for stuff with 10′s of thousands of users.

      That said, I don’t think that all the decent plugins will cost money. Many great plugins are fairly straight forward and don’t require a lot of support.

      The beauty of open source is that once you have the plugin, you have the source code and you can modify it or get somebody else to modify it for you. That effectively breaks the “lock-in” problem that you witnessed with your employer.

      What open source does not guarantee is free support forever. Presumably, you did not spend 35 years supporting software for free. I’m sure you would have liked to be able to afford to do that, but like most plugin developers you had to eat, and you probably liked new gadgets which didn’t come your way for free either.

      How much of a plugin developers time should the community expect him to donate each week for supporting his plugins? 5 hours, 10 hours? That’s Milan’s point, after you’ve built a few complex plugins like his GD Star Ratings (thousands and thousands of lines of code), that’s just not enough time to satisfy the demand. Especially not if he wants to develop other cool and useful plugins.

      The demand for a plugin developer’s free time far exceeds the supply, triggering the most basic law of economics.

      While there are lots of plugin developers out there, there aren’t lots of them tackling the massive computing problems like e-Commerce, Social Networking, Membership, Forms, etc. If they were easy, there’d be lots of choices and they’d all be free! These things take lots of time, and supply and demand are just way out of kilter here.

      I say it in another comment below, but I really like Justin Tadlock’s solution to the support problem. Maybe it’s the right way. I’m open to suggestions.

      Cheers,
      Byron

      • Ricky Buchanan (6 comments.) says:

        I’d love to hear from Justin about how he feels his solution/system is working out from an economic standpoint – I use his themes and just renewed my subscription to his support forums. I’ve always got excellent and timely support on my (usually obtuse) questions there and as a customer it’s perfect.

        Knowing that even if for some reason I can’t afford to keep my subscription updated in the future I can keep using Justin’s themes (and keep getting the upgrades for them) is vital for me. I feel it’s the “missing link” in wpplugin.com’s type of system – in their paradigm if I stop paying I stop getting access to upgrades, and that really stops me from wanting to pay at all because the future is so uncertain. I don’t want to spend lots of time customising and populating data for a plugin and then suddenly be unable to afford to keep using it and (potentially) lose the use of all that data… so instead I don’t buy the damm thing at all and the author loses my sale. Which totally sucks :(

        r

        • Milan Petrovic (31 comments.) says:

          Well, the support is part of the story. It’s important to have access to regular updates. Since I started with premium plugins last week, I offer subscription based licenses. But if you stop paying the subscription, you will still be able to download plugin updates, but with no support. This way, you will get new versions of the plugin even without support.

          This is one of the reasons I don’t like wpplugins.com. Other are ridiculously high monthly update and support prices for some plugins. Also, they accept only PayPal payments, there is no centralized support and update. It’s good to see website dedicated for premium plugins, but WP Plugins is a long, long way from something I would be comfortable using and selling my plugins through.

          • Jeff Chandler (171 comments.) says:

            I like the way you handle things with free upgrades but no support if the subscription runs out. Sounds like a good balance on handling the situation.

  8. Tony Tran (1 comments.) says:

    Then people will not get plugin for free anymore. They must paid for something they need and complete their job ?

  9. Byron (20 comments.) says:

    This meme hearkens back to the recent issue of Premium themes. Which I will not rehash here.

    I agree with Jeff and @Milan above, particularly for complex plugins that become popular, I think the trend will be toward some sort of fees. And the reasons that Milan gave are perfectly ligit. While my plugin hasn’t found the same level of popularity as Milan’s, it fills a certain niche, and supporting it eats up a lot of time, frequently because of issues with themes or other plugins. I built it because I needed the functionality, and with the feature requests and upgrades and support, I’m just now getting around to using it for the purposes I originally built, nearly a year later.

    That said, I have created an add-on plugin to my main plugin that I am charging a fee for people to use. It provides some key functionality for a small group of people, and I don’t have time to support it for every casual user who wants to try it.

    I also have a To-do list plugin (you can see it in action at SugarDo.com) that I haven’t released yet because I don’t have the time to provide free support. So, I’m conflicted as to whether to release on the WP directory with the disclaimer that I don’t support it, or whether to put it on my site for a small fee.

    I’m also considering developing an Answers-like plugin for my site. Same issue here…do I release it on WP and offer no support, or charge a fee for it so that only people who are serious enough to pay for it download it and start asking questions?

    Either way, it’s more of a question of maintaining some sort of balance with the amount of time you give away and the rest of your life (family, friends, jobs, etc) than getting rich. I imagine that is true for many plugin developers.

    I imagine that simple plugins will stay free. But the complex stuff will likely find some sort of fee attached either through support of some other way. Justin Tadlock has shown a pretty effective means of doing this with his Hybrid theme support forum. By limiting his support issues to the people who are willing to pay for it, he can be much more productive in creating new themes and plugins. It also helps that he’s quite talented.

    Time is truly the most valuable resource any of us has. Spend it wisely.

    Cheers,
    Byron

    • scribu (42 comments.) says:

      You could release the plugins and outsorce the support questions to http://wphelpcenter.com – they have an affiliate program for plugin authors (haven’t tried it myself yet).

      • Byron (20 comments.) says:

        Not a bad idea! Thanks for the suggestion. I will really have to consider that.

        • Jeff Chandler (171 comments.) says:

          On top of that, WPQuestions is getting to the point where they are doing the same thing.

          http://wpquestions.com/

          Something else to look into.

          • byron (20 comments.) says:

            Hey Jeff,

            Thanks for the tip…I hadn’t seen them before. WPQuestions looks like an interesting idea. I’m sure there are lots of people who after a couple hours of Googling their problem and not figuring it out will be willing to pay $10 to make it GO AWAY!

            I hope they do well.

            BB

          • WordPress HelpCenter (1 comments.) says:

            There is some difference between us and wpquestions.com. Mainly that we provide the phone line that a user can call into and speak to a theme/plugin developer that very instant.

            That’s not me trying to promote our service over the other though. Both services have their place and we actually watch wpquestions.com to see when we can help users as well.

            As for plugin developers using us to help field their support questions, by all means feel free. Another service that we provide is helping track down bugs for developers. If a user called or emailed us regarding a bug with a plugin, we would try to replicate it, and if successful we contact the developer with a detailed report of how to recreate the bug. We do this even for plugins/developers that don’t have an existing relationship (affiliate code) with us.

            As an example, there are developers that basically respond with an email template whenever they get a bug/feature request. They CC us on the email so we have context of the original users email if they wish to pursue it further. This lightens the developers support load, and (hopefully) means the items that do get escalated to them are high quality reports.

            We’re also willing to handle those one-off customizations when a user requests a feature that wouldn’t really be worth adding to your plugin core. And we give you an affiliate payment for sending it over to us.

    • Jeff Chandler (171 comments.) says:

      Either way, it’s more of a question of maintaining some sort of balance with the amount of time you give away and the rest of your life (family, friends, jobs, etc) than getting rich. I imagine that is true for many plugin developers.

      I think this is the heart of the trend. My hope is that as we get further into the realm of monetization techniques for plugins, the plugin authors and the end users will strike a balance between price, value, and commitment.

  10. Darren (16 comments.) says:

    I’ve been supporting and developing my Organize Series plugin for free now for the past two years and I share much of the same sentiments as Milan and Byron. Since version 2.1 of my plugin I decided that I would continue giving limited support and offer service for custom work and more complex support requests on a paid basis. I’ve done one feature addition to Organize Series this way and my client was even willing to contribute this custom work to the all users of Organize Series! Really cool! People seem okay with that and I remain committed to maintaining the current status of Organize Series (and keeping it working with new WordPress versions).

    However, I am discovering that there are many people who want some extra features or custom work done but are unable (unwilling?) to pay what I charge to do so. I’m considering creating some “add-on” plugins to the core plugin that will bring some of these requested features to Organize Series but charge a nominal fee ($10-$15) for each. This is MUCH cheaper on a per user basis compared to if one person had to pay me to do the custom work. I think this is the best way for me to be able to implement some of these features users are asking for that I don’t have time to do for free.

    So…going forward, I think that (or rather hope that) this is what you’ll start to see more of from the plugin authors who genuinely do love WordPress and want to continue to “give back”. Core plugins will continue to be offered at the WordPress repository but support and/or additional features in add-on plugins will be paid options.

  11. Tony K says:

    It all depends on price. Gravity Forms – straight up pricing. Shopp – ok pricing – but then they nickle and dime you to death with additions that should be standard.

    If I am going to get nickle and dimed to death, I will find a different plugin or pay someone to build one.

  12. Patrick (11 comments.) says:

    Unless it did something extraordinary that I felt my site really, REALLY needed, there’s virtually NO chance at all that I’d pay for a plugin. My blog is running on a premium theme I bought a couple of months ago, and the tech support for it has been nothing short of pathetic. Most of the problems I’ve had I’ve had to figure out how to solve on my own or find forums that discuss issues: their tech support hasn’t provided a single answer to a question that didn’t include an estimate of how much it would cost to “fix” the problem.

    Paying for a theme is one thing: paying for a plugin? To me, that’s too much.

    • Ade (12 comments.) says:

      Why is paying for a plugin “too much”? Do you get a benefit from using the plugin? Does it provide some functionality that WP core doesn’t provide, but your site needs? If so, is it not “worth” something?

      Sorry, I just don’t understand the logic that says it’s ok to pay for a theme but not for a plugin.

      • Patrick (11 comments.) says:

        It took five years of me having a blog before I decided to actually pay for a theme. It wasn’t something I rushed into. Right now, my current theme is operating with 32 active plugins.

        Thirty-two.

        Paying for plugins is, to me, a lot like the notion of paying for news content online: the stuff has been free for far too long to make me embrace the idea of paying for it now.

        I’ve yet to see a plugin that does anything so revolutionary that I’d feel like my blog literally couldn’t live without it. As I said, if it did something EXTRAORDINARY that I felt like I just HAD to have, I might consider it, but even then, there’s a limit to what I’d pay.

        Maybe it’s that the software platform in which the plugin (and theme) functions is itself free that makes me start griping about having to pay for the individual components. It strikes me as getting a car for free but then having to face a charge to have a seat and a steering wheel.

        Call me a cheapskate, but it just seems unreasonable to me.

        • Byron (20 comments.) says:

          As long as there are enough people with enough free time to build these things for free and support them for free, you’re safe. So, you’re probably safe in 95% of the cases of your plugins (maybe all of them), but there might be a few cases where the supply side is just not there.

          • Jeff Chandler (171 comments.) says:

            I was going to ask Patrick what if the functionality he was looking for was only available in a paid option? But you sort of covered that perspective with your comment Byron.

            My hope is that for 25% of the paid plugins out there, there is 75% that are free to use . That’s a nice balance and if the only thing available to me to provide certain functionality comes with a price tag, I’ll definitely be figuring out which cost less. A consultant to do the work for me or to just pay for the plugin.

  13. Palabuzz (2 comments.) says:

    Using those paid plugins has it s advantage over the free ones but I won’t recommend them to those who are just starting out since they are a bit pricey.

    • Jeff Chandler (171 comments.) says:

      Out of curiosity, what are some of the advantages of using a paid plugin versus a competing free one?

      • Atniz (17 comments.) says:

        That would be on the uniqueness and function of the plugin. There are some plugin that does a real good job and it is worth to get it with monthly subscriptions. I have bought 2 plugins so far.

  14. Don Fischer (3 comments.) says:

    From a plugin developer standpoint it seems that the consensus seems to be that free, quality support is extremely hard to provide the more plugins you create and the more popular your plugins become.

    As a plugin developer myself, I agree 100%. I have held back many plugins from WP Repository release, just because I do not have the time to support them. When it come to service and support, I have a philosophy of “provide the type of support and customer service you want to receive yourself.” While I pride myself and my business on doing this, it becomes harder and harder to provide that type of service to the actual paying clients that keep me in business, when you have to provide free support for a plugin that is free for the world.

    Case in point would be a PayPal Promo Code plugin I created several years ago. I threw in on my site for people to download because when I was looking for one, there was none to be found. It is free – but I kept it off the WP repository intentionally because it has a few bugs and is a bit old and clunky – it works fine, I just don’t have the time to develop it further. But lately, with the increased success of some of my other plugins, people are noticing the PayPal one and downloading it more frequently. I get about 10-15 requests a week asking when I will add new features, or “can I make it do this, or that.” If it were a premium plugin, I could make updates or add new features – or the lovely AJAX interface that it really needs. But it is free and I can’t afford to spend the time to do it.

    Even though there are many occasions when a plugin user makes a small donation, it is not nearly enough to “quit the day job” and support the free plugins full time. And, I also think it is extremely tacky to throw a donation button in the users face at every click of the mouse – although I can surely see why some developers do that.

    I think the answer lies more in what the plugin developer is trying to accomplish. If you create a plugin to “help the masses,” then I think charging a small fee would be acceptable in most cases. It helps to offset the cost of maintaining it. If you create a plugin to “help yourself” and charge a super fee for a not so super plugin – or provide a “free” version with every cool feature costing an extra finger or toe – then obviously you’ll make money, but you will lose some of the many WP users that can’t afford that “free” plugin.

    • Jeff Chandler (171 comments.) says:

      I think I’ve written about this on WLTC before but the donation business model for plugin authors is not one to be followed. If one of the reasons the plugin author is developing a plugin is to make money, they should charge outright. Not rely on donations. In this instance, it seems like you wish enough people donated so you could keep working on it without charging anything. But, that isn’t happening nor is it likely to happen. Therefor, you either leave it be for free for someone else to fork or take over or you start charging. Have you put out the call to see if anyone would be interested in taking over where you left off? That seems better than keeping it neglected.

  15. Aaron says:

    I manage HUNDREDS of sites. If a plugin author wanted a fee per site, it would be a deal-breaker.

  16. Andrew (11 comments.) says:

    This is the beginning of the end for WordPress. WordPress is effectively dead as a useful platform.

    Thanks for the memories.

    • Lazy (9 comments.) says:

      i do not think this is the end of WordPress, after all. I payed for Plugins like wp-seo and i am still happy with it and WordPress, of course.

      Sure there will be more Plugins to pay for but i do also think there will be plugins for free as a alternative like 2009 ;)

      Merry Christmas to you all! :)

      Chris

    • Jeff Chandler (171 comments.) says:

      I don’t understand how this trend could be the downfall of being a useful platform. What’s the link between the two?

  17. Konstantin Kovshenin (6 comments.) says:

    Yeah, definitely a trend for 2010, but hey, we’ve all seen what happened to the paid WordPress themes this year, right? People don’t pay for the code written, they pay for the support provided. I’m a coder and I won’t pay a single cent for some plugin I could write myself.

    I used to have around 30 activated plugins on my website, that was back in 2008. Today it’s around 10. Lot’s of code in my functions.php though ;) The plugins come down to the essentials – anti-spam, caching, gallery, etc.

    I even stopped using the All in One SEO pack, which has way too much functionality than needed. I managed to do all the necessary stuff myself with a few lines of code in my header section.

    So yeah, people who don’t have time to figure stuff out themselves will pay for plugin support and customization, but functionality will always remain free of charge (unless Zend start charging for PHP).

    Cheers.

  18. Ricky Buchanan (1 comments.) says:

    I have no problem with paying for useful plugins. I have several paid-for plugins on my sites already, and I’d be happy to buy more – especially for sites for clients. But one trend I’m seeing that really makes me unhappy is that “upgrades and support” are bundled together price-wise.

    One particular plugin I use has both a Pro and a Free version. The difference in features is not huge, but I was thinking I’d buy the Pro version simply because it seemed like the Right Thing To Do to support the author. Once I read the fine print however I pay US$69 to buy the plugin (which I think is fine and fair since I’m using it on 6 different sites) but I need to also take out a US$89/month subscription to have access to upgrades and support. I’ve never needed or asked for support for this plugin and I never anticipate doing so – it’s use is fairly simple and it’s well documented.

    I understand that supporting a plugin is a time-consuming business but there’s no point for me in paying for a plugin that I can’t upgrade, especially at the speed WordPress evolves. I’d only be able to use the plugin for a few months, potentially, before it was too out of sync with WordPress itself to be useful.

    So as a consumer, can we please separate these three things:
    Initial purchase cost
    Upgrade cost
    Support cost
    so that one can purchase the plugin and its upgrades without paying a huge amount of money (and I’m sorry but in my situation US$89/month is a huge amount) for support we don’t want or need?

    I’ve donated money to most of the authors of plugins I use because it’s the Right Thing to do, I’d be happy to pay for access to premium features, but I really really really can’t afford to pay for expensive and unneeded support … and the end result is that for this particular author they’ve got $0 from me. I know I should still do the Right Thing and donate to the author or purchase the Pro version and just not use it so the person gets some money from me, but I’m so ticked off about the cost of the upgrades that I need to calm down before I can even think of it.

    r

    • Ade (12 comments.) says:

      You’re of a rare breed – someone donating to the authors of the plugins you use. Nice to see. :-)

      Actually, I had a thought to propose a “$5 Plugin Day”. The idea is this: donate $5 to the author of every plugin you use, regardless of its complexity (if it’s installed on your site, it must be there for a reason, after all). This would not be overly burdensome for the majority of site owners, and would provide much needed cash injection (and therefore incentive) for plugin authors.

      Heck! I’m going to do it right now. Paying out $60 for the 12 plugins I use seems entirely reasonable! :-)

      • Ade (12 comments.) says:

        I should have added a disclaimer: I’m a plugin author, so I would benefit too. Doesn’t negate the sentiment though. :-)

        • Patrick (11 comments.) says:

          Just curious, Ade: Do you currently charge for your plugins or do you provide them for free?

          If you charge, do you think that the price is keeping more people from using your work?

          And if your plugins are currently free, why do it? Isn’t providing additional functionality for someone’s site for free encouraging people to get deeper and deeper into the “I’m not willing to pay” side of the argument?

          • Ade (12 comments.) says:

            Patrick,

            No, I don’t charge – though I have considered introducing paid support for one of my plugins. It’s a plugin which requires a little reading and understanding, on the part of the user, in order to get it working “out of the box”. Once it’s setup, it’s the kind of thing one can leave and forget about. The problem is, users often don’t read docs, don’t look at FAQs, can’t be bothered with tutorials etc, so I can end up spending a lot of time online fixing setup issues. I offer a one-off installation and setup service for $25 – which some users take advantage of – but no, I don’t charge for the plugin or the support. To an extent, I don’t mind putting in this free time, but there comes a point (as mentioned by Milan elsewhere in these comments) when it becomes difficult to continue to provide quality support for free.

            Yes, I am sure that I would lose users if I charged. But that’s just plain old market forces at work, which I would have to accept. On the other hand, the income from selling the plugin (or rather the support for it) might allow me to devote even more time to the plugin and produce a better, even more attractive product. Who knows? :-)

            In answer to your third question, I think you raise a good point. To an extent, yes, the mere existance of free stuff does undermine paid models. I guess it depends on what one is being asked to pay for.

            To try to summarise my point of view, I have no problem with people wanting to charge for plugins (the exact nature of the charging is a different subject, and open to debate). I do, however, find the expectation, expressed by a number of commentors here, that having to pay for a plugin is some sort of outrage, rather disheartening – it seems to completely undervalue what we, the users, get from plugins and the efforts of plugin developers.

      • Doug Smith (17 comments.) says:

        Excellent idea. I run several commercial sites on WordPress. The sites make money so it’s only fitting to share with those who helped put food on my table. As soon as the sites were profitable I started reviewing my plugins on a regular basis to send the plugin authors donations.

        And when I do consulting work for businesses, I take the time to explain the open source model and suggest donations to the plugins that have become essential to their business. Most of the people I’ve worked with have seen the value and have been happy to support good plugins.

    • Michael Torbert (8 comments.) says:

      Obviously you’re referring to the pro version of the All in One SEO Pack at wpplugins.com. If you have no need for the pro version, that’s fine, but plenty of people do and have no problem paying for it so that they can get support. Over the years that I’ve been developing this plugin, support requests have been at a ridiculous and unmanageable level. It would take two people working full time to answer all the support questions that come in via email, forums, and phone. 90% of these are people asking the same questions over and over that don’t see that they’re already answered in the documentation or forums. That’s fine, but I should be entitled to be compensated for this, after having spent countless hours supporting it for free.
      Even if a plugin doesn’t receive such an extreme amount of support requests due to it’s high usage, the plugin author is still well within his rights to charge for it however much he wants. To suggest otherwise is absurd.
      As for the pricing, please be fair and reference it accurately. The pro version has been on an opening sale 100% of the time since its launch. It’s currently $39 and at the time of your comment was $15. It has never cost the full price of $69 and $89/month.
      I’m sorry that charging for support ticks you off, but again, if you have no need for it, then just don’t buy it. For the life of me I can’t understand why it would tick you off that other people would need support (and many many many of them do).

      • Milan Petrovic (31 comments.) says:

        I don’t like many aspects of WPPlugins website (not really important for this discussion to go into details), and that’s why I decided to create a website for my premium plugins.

        But, you are absolutely right, many WordPress users need support, because only a very small number of WP users are developers and there are some users that can get around the source code and change and even fix things. But it’s important to have quality support available so that you can help people that are using your plugins. And the thing is, with current grow rate of WordPress and millions of websites using it (not counting WP.com), free full time and quality support is not really an option.

        I also decided to expand some of the plugins with few additional features as a bonus to users that purchase membership, but support is main drive to start Dev4Press.

      • Ricky Buchanan (6 comments.) says:

        Michael,

        You’re within your rights to charge whatever you want for a plugin, for upgrades, and for support. I would not ever want to say you don’t have the right to charge anything you want for anything you create – that’s always the creator’s privilege.

        I am not ticked off at ALL that you’re charging for support. You have an absolute right to charge whatever you want to anybody who needs support (and therefore your time) – especially as you’re telling people up front what the charges are.

        As I tried to say, the part that frustrates me is that paying for the Pro features and paying for support are linked. I would like to be able to buy access to the plugin and upgrades alone, without paying for the support I don’t need and can’t afford. I apologise if I was not sufficiently clear in my original comment.

        As for the price, when I looked the price was indeed US$15 (plus some amount per month which I forget) but the website said the sale was for a very short time so I assumed that the price would revert to the quoted full price at the end of the sale. I agree that this is an assumption, but I don’t think assuming that the standard price quoted on the website is actually the standard price is all that unreasonable. And if the price is going to frequently change, I don’t want to buy a subscription to something when I don’t know what it’s going to actually cost me in the end. If I have no good information about what the standard monthly price actually is, then as a consumer it’s very difficult to make a decision about whether I can afford something.

        I completely 100% support the right of any creator to charge whatever they want for their creation, but feel that I also have the right to (politely) express my opinion of the creator’s choices.

        To be absolutely clear, this is my opinion:
        1. You have a right to charge anything you want, to bundle things any way you want, and to offer or not offer support for anything you want. As long as you make it clear in advance to the customer what services and charges they can expect then no customer can reasonably say you are being unfair.

        2. As a customer, I would really like to see the costs for pro features separated from the costs for support.

        3. You have no obligation to do what I would like, but I also have a right to say (politely) that I would like it.

        I hope this is clearer.

        - Ricky

        • Michael Torbert (8 comments.) says:

          Ricky,

          Thanks for the clarification. That makes a lot more sense. :)

          I was referring to where you said that you specifically would have had to pay $69 + $89/month.

          ” I pay US$69 to buy the plugin (which I think is fine and fair since I’m using it on 6 different sites) but I need to also take out a US$89/month subscription to have access to upgrades and support.”

          If you meant to word it a different way, referring in general to the price, that’s fine, but the way you worded it was that you specifically would have to pay that price, which wasn’t the case.

          “As a customer, I would really like to see the costs for pro features separated from the costs for support.”

          As plugin developers, our hands are tied with the pricing structure. The way it’s set up, we set a price for exactly two things: 1) download price 2) download + subscription (for support and updates) price. I absolutely agree with you, I’m not a big fan of the current structure either, but for now that’s the way they have it. I recommend contacting the wpplugins.com owners if you would like it changed.

  19. Vladimir Prelovac (5 comments.) says:

    Good write Jeff, if a bit harsh on the plugin authors.

    As far as I am concerned premium plugins should have the same treatment as premium themes on WP.org and co-exist along side normal plugins in the same way premium themes do (that means at the moment having a dedicated page listing premium plugin sites).

    The prices of plugins will never be an issues as in every open market, market will dictate the price and too expensive plugins will face cheaper competition or be forced to lower the price to increase the sales.

    WordPress should not run out of free plugins just as it is unlikely that it will run out of free plugins as there are lot of different reasons people are making them, apart for the commercial one.

    The only thing that can be worrying in the beginning is that it actually becomes just a ‘trend’ and everyone starts following it blindly.

    Also plugin authors need to realize that with a price tag begins the commitment in terms of support and upgrades which is no easy feat.

  20. Andy (1 comments.) says:

    Seems to me the spirit of the web is gone. Less and less freeware.

    As one who has a personal site that is part of my hobby, more costly items will prevent me from continuing. It’s not critical for me to have a plugin, they are nice but pay? I will not.

  21. Ali Hussain (7 comments.) says:

    Well, i would say the trend will and has disrupted blogging. More people moving to warez because of this as more than 70% bloggers do either blogging for fun or can’t make money of their blogs to afford the plugins

  22. Milan Petrovic (31 comments.) says:

    Problem is that people think if WordPress is free, than everything around it should be free. For the last year or so, quality themes are premium themes only, and there are hand full of free themes that can measure to the quality of payed. But, still, plugins are in all that taken for granted, and I can’t believe that some people are almost offended by the fact that they may need to pay for some of those plugins.

    I recently made a calculation of the time I invested in GD Star Rating plugin. This plugin now has over 30.000 lines of code. For development I have spent approximately 5 months (5 days a week, 8 hour a day). And almost the same time I invested in developing support website, forum, documentation, tutorials. And plugin is free. Now, I decided to provide only payed support for this plugin (plugin remains free), and I am now a bad guy because of that?

    I have other 4 plugins that have expanded pro versions, with payed support, and I will provide the best support I can, and will help anyone that is willing to recognize that help and pay for it, and that will include forum, tutorials, code examples, videos and even email support. But all that takes time, and that needs to be payed for. And you still are free to use free versions, because they are very usable and for most users are enough.

    I would like that WordPress.org recognizes premium plugin authors the same way they did for themes. Maybe that will help all of us willing to provide top quality support, but for a fair fee.

    • gestroud says:

      “I would like that WordPress.org recognizes premium plugin authors the same way they did for themes.”

      I’d like to see that also – a trustworthy, centralized location for users to search for reputable premium plugins.

  23. Tim stone (3 comments.) says:

    It’s most likely that the market will make the final decision on this. Does the pay for plugins model actually work? Nobody really knows. Will free alternatives pop up to compete with plugins that you pay for? Most likely. Will a black market develop for pirated pay plugins? You bet. Under the GPL, the source MUST be included, and it seems unlikely that even pay plugins will be able to protect their source. Any developer will be able to cripple the kill switch in those plugins, and turn around and bootleg it for a fraction of the price.

    The points being made about software vendors who lowball their software and then jack you on the support costs is very pertinent. This happens all the time, and it leads to deep resentment on the part of the payers. In many ways, it resembles a racket. The whole scene is exactly what open source is intended to prevent, and in the end, I think the GPL will serve its purpose and those who try to abuse users with their plugins for pay will find themselves out in the cold.

    That said, I do understand that users who have paid absolutely nothing can be incredibly shrill in their demands that you suspend your life and fix the problem that you gave them with your software… etc. etc. They can be terribly self-centered, and in the end it’s those kind of users that inundate a good plugin’s author with requests for time. I think most plugin authors would be just fine giving their software away. But they’re not ok giving their time away. It’s the burden of non-technical users that we should be working to relieve. The inclusion of one-click upgrade, search and install, and all those nice features of WordPress that are the two-edged sword. They have both driven its adoption and enabled users who know nothing about websites to overwhelm plugin authors.

  24. Frank Lucas says:

    Perhaps the theme and plugins libraries should establish a policy about commercial themes and plugins. There are a number of topics that should be addressed. What does the commercial theme/plugin author guarantee about WordPress upgrade compatibility? Are all charges stated up-front?

    Take themes, for example. I know that some authors offer very nice themes. They also offer support for a fee. But the “free” theme for which they offer paid-support, won’t look as advertised in the description and screen capture until one goes “under the hood” to make manual changes. The author is saying, I’ve made this difficult to use until you pay me. Not exactly in the WordPress spirit.

    Considering the state of our ‘economy’, it’s likely that theme/plugin authors will start charging just because they have no other form of livelihood. When those authors post their work in extend, there should be policies that require disclosure.

  25. Morten Pula (2 comments.) says:

    I would have nothing against having to pay for a plugin, and also for a support, but not as a package, if plugins are cheap lets say a few dollars, i would keep all the 30 plugins i currently use but if the plugin developers come up with prices like 20 or 30 dollar for a plugin including support i would definitely consider getting rid of it.

    PS: I noticed that most of the plugin developers only accept donation by Paypal, be aware in lots of countries it is a struggle to open a paypal account, so maybe you could get more donation if you would offer credit card payments also.

    • joecr (20 comments.) says:

      For the paypal if the person receiving payment has their account configured they can receive credit card payments through paypal so you don’t have to have a paypal account.

      • Morten Pula (2 comments.) says:

        @joecr

        I am aware of that, but I had several occasions where this was not the case.

        Anyway if it gets a common standard that we have to pay for plugins I guess all kind of payment option are going to be available.

  26. Doug Smith (17 comments.) says:

    I’m surprised no one has brought up the GPL yet. Don’t WordPress plugins have to fall under the GPL? (Matt says yes: http://ma.tt/2009/10/matt-qa-wordpress-gpl/)

    GPL allows charging for a plugin and I’m fine with that. I also don’t mind paying for good support, and as I said previously, I donate to plugin authors because they help put food on my table. So I’m not coming at this from a perspective of being unwilling to recognize hard work and to help pay for it.

    However, some plugins for sale attempt to limit use and distribution. For example, GravityForms has been brought up here as a good example of fair pricing and good support. Yet they charge one price for single use and higher pricing for use on multiple sites or for developers. Doesn’t that limit in distribution fly in the face of GPL?

    We often end up with hassles because some of these plugins work around the normal system to impose their restrictions. For example, many cannot take advantage of being hosted on wordpress.org/extend and the automatic update process. Others are broken up into multiple feature packs. But that all just brings more pain to the end user.

    My preference is that plugin authors work within the framework that assures the freedoms the GPL affords us all. Maybe they can offer really excellent support and customizations for a fee or farm it out to wphelpcenter.com where they can still profit from it. Or maybe they could encourage donations adding up to a certain amount to fund a feature. There are creative ways to be supported by your work while maintaining the spirit of WordPress, the GPL, and the community surrounding them.

    • Carl Hancock says:

      Gravity Forms does not limit usage. We limit support and automatic upgrades. When you purchase a single support license we provide support and automatic upgrades for one site. A developer license provides yu with support and upgrades for all of your sites.

      Our license has nothing to do with distribution. It is only
      about support and access to the automatic upgrade functionality that uses our servers and bandwidth.

      I apologize for any typos… posting via my iPhone.

      • Doug Smith (17 comments.) says:

        Thanks for clearing that up.

        I see now that the license and feature table does specifically list automatic upgrades and online support with the number of sites it is licensed for. The headings at the top of each column also say “Support License”. At first glance I had thought that was a purchase license.

        I happily stand corrected. :-)

    • Brad Potter (3 comments.) says:

      I believe those are “Support” licenses so I think you can install the plugin at multiple sites but you only receive “support” for one install assuming you buy the single site license. Perhaps GF can correct me if I’m wrong. I think that model falls within the GPL guidelines.

    • Barry (5 comments.) says:

      “I’m surprised no one has brought up the GPL yet.”

      Mainly because a lot of us are sick of having the same discussions with people who don’t understand it, and those who insist on bringing up its non-existent “spirit”.

  27. Anthony Galli (1 comments.) says:

    Plugins with high quality maintenance and that are very popular may turn to paid, but “normal” plugins I think would be bad.

    But I’d pay for good documentation and professional support, quickly fixing bugs I found, etc.

    And of course, I’d pay if I needed some special feature and author would implement it for me!

  28. Brad Potter (3 comments.) says:

    As usual the market will be the main determining factor on whether or not a plugin will sell. If real value is offered, then people like myself will pay for additional upgrades and support provided the price is right.

    Plugin authors just have to realize that there is an upper limit to what people will pay and try to achieve a reasonable balance. Matt has said the average WordPress user has 5 plugins installed. Some people like the author of this post have many more. If average WordPress users had to pay $200 – $300 in monthly support and upgrades fees for their top 5 plugins not to mention the original plugin purchase price, that might deter them from using the platform at all.

    • Milan Petrovic (31 comments.) says:

      Overall, very few plugins will not be free. For most plugins you really don’t need support because they are easy to use and simple. But on the other hand it’s really bad if plugin author decides to ask a lot of money for support. It will take some time for both developers and customers to find common ground and set fair prices.

      That’s why the WordPress.org needs to recognizes all developers that make premium plugins. These plugin all must comply with GPL as free plugins does, and this way customer will have a choice all in one place, all under some control from WordPress.org and that will at least partially ensure realistic prices. You can always pay any developer to help you with any plugin, but who is better to help you than actual author of the plugin.

      We definitively need a market or at least a portal for premium plugins.

      • Carl Hancock says:

        There is a plugin site that lets any plugin developer sell their plugins. They are also GPL only plugins. They act as a plugin marketplace.

        http://www.wpplugins.com

        It is run by the guys at Incsub who also run wpmu.org, edublogs and the blogs.mu site.

  29. Dan Cole (5 comments.) says:

    How are canonical (group) plugins going to factor into this? It seams to me that WordPress.org wants to support small teams of developers working on quality plugins.

    Is WordPress going to end up having three types of plugins? The first group being canonical plugins, which will be few in number, cover what people want most, and be developed by volunteers for free. The second group being paid plugins, which will have paid support, be high in quality for the most part, and cover a wider range of some-what demanded needs. Then the last group be free plugins that are developed by a single author, which will be like most of plugins currently in the WordPress.org repository.

    I don’t think people should over react to the idea that people (plugin developers in this case) should get paid for working. However, a single version of software does lose it’s value fairly fast over time. Maybe WordPress.org or some other site should start a non-profit group that hires developers and sells plugins, it would be an additional way develop quality plugins.

    • Carl Hancock says:

      I think that the folks at WordPress.org who are promoting the canonical plugins need to be very careful that they don’t disrupt the community.

      As it is right now the WordPress community is what it is because of the theme and plugin developers that create great plugins and themes for the WordPress platform. Without these plugins and themes WordPress would not have experienced the growth that it has.

      If they squeeze out theme developers by making non-canonical plugins second class citizens in the WordPress community… you are going to developers quit developing for WordPress.

      That is way I dislike the idea of labeling these community developed plugins with some sort of tag such as canonical or core. Just give it a name. Once you label it… average users are going to have the perception that they must be the best and if your plugin isn’t canonical than something must be wrong with it.

      • Milan Petrovic (31 comments.) says:

        Carl, you are absolutely right. WordPress core team developers and Auttomatic need to focus in making WordPress and not meddle in everything. WordPress is far from perfect, and there are many things that need to be done like better post/taxonomies managment (current one is good only for small websites). It’s better for community to leave both themes and plugins to independent developers.

        Discriminating plugins with canonical label is very, very wrong and will divide the community on this making it harder for most users to get what they need. And what will guarantee that these canonical plugins will be any good (or better than other non-canonical).

        There are many other platforms beside WordPress, and any good developer can choose something else to make plugins/themes for.

  30. joecr (20 comments.) says:

    I’m working on a plugin for someone I know currently I plan on releasing it to the extend & put a notice there indicating that all support is paid. I have enough on my plate as it is without giving support for free.

    Not sure how I will implement paid support yet, but I will figure something out.

  31. Zhu (3 comments.) says:

    I think it is worth pointing out that not everybody has a blog or a website that makes money, either by choice or because well, not everybody can monetize blogs successfully.

    So I don’t see “regular” bloggers paying for plugins. They already pay for hosting, for domain names etc. spend time blogging, giving advices for free and don’t get anything back.

    Now, as a semi-professional blogger (I do sell my pictures), I’d pay for plugins related to my “shop”. I.e. good checkout plugin, ehshops, galleries etc.

    I wouldn’t pay for day-to-day blogging plugins because I doubt I will be able to afford it.

    Paid support makes more sense to me though. I perfectly understand developers’ time is valuable!

  32. Stephanie (11 comments.) says:

    For me, I only have 6 plugins – and two of them, I wrote for myself. If the other four became paid plugins, I’d have to seriously consider how much they wanted and how important they are to me – perhaps only Akismet would be the one I’d be willing to pay for. The others are a luxury that I could manage without.

    To be fair, I’m a coder and wouldn’t stress too much about creating whatever I needed. As for my own plugins, I don’t mind sharing them for free but with zero support – I’m much too busy with work to be able to support anything else, so anything I provide for free is strictly unsupported.

    As for WordPress itself – If it ever became commercial-only, I’d consider paying for it too, if the price wasn’t outrageous – I’d pay for the software and/or upgrades.

    Cheers!

  33. Carl Hancock says:

    I think one point to be made here is that free plugins aren’t going anywhere. Not ANY plugin is fit to be a commercial product. Free plugins aren’t going to cease to exist because commercial plugins are available.

    If you don’t want to pay for a commercial plugin, don’t. There are plenty of free options.

    Just don’t expect those free options to 1) always provide any sort of support when things go wrong or you have a question or 2) always release updates to fix bugs and/or maintain compatibility with updates to WordPress.

    The repository is littered with old plugins which are no longer maintained and users who have become reliant on them and are now handcuffed to older versions of WordPress because of it.

  34. Aaron says:

    How about standardizing on a colophon page on WP sites to give credit to theme and plugin authors.

    See http://www.wolframscience.com/.....irstview=1

    Theme designer: Up to 3 linked names
    Plugins:
    All in One SEO Pack V 1.6.10 | By Michael Torbert | plugin site
    Contact Form 7 V 2.0.7 | By Takayuki Miyoshi | plugin site
    Google XML Sitemaps V 3.2.2 | By Arne Brachhold | plugin site
    etc.

    Maybe add a $ to the left of all the plugin names for plugins the site owner has given to. Register plugins like akismet so that site developers can prove they contribute SOMETHING to the developers of plugins/themes they use.

    Create a standardized colophon icon to appear in a footer instead of sticking a theme/plugin brand all over a site on every page.

  35. Rick@Rickety (10 comments.) says:

    My first reaction is to say that I wouldn’t pay for a plugin. I don’t use that many and some of the ones I have installed are fairly simple. That said, I didn’t think I would ever pay for a WordPress theme but I eventually did.

    • Fernando Alvirez (1 comments.) says:

      Exactly what I was thinking too: at first you think about never paying for a plug-in untill eventually you do.

      There is another new tendency: providers offering nice blog possibilities that are included when signing up. No hassle, all included. Take one.com as an example. About 20 themes included as well as support. Eventually, such companies will win, especially with the inexperienced bloggers like myself.

  36. Michael McNamara (1 comments.) says:

    I would tend to agree with many folks here that I would be comfortable paying a *small* fee to use a few important plug-ins but not every plug-in I use as that would just not be cost effective for me. I would look at the value provided and leverage the cost along with the possible ‘do-it-yourself’ solution.

    Let’s just take Ajax Edit Comments as an example provided by the author… that’s $50/yearly?!? I bought FRAPS a few years ago at around $37 and it provides lifetime support and upgrades.

    If confronted with a scenario where I can’t justify the cost I might weigh the possibility of picking up the editor and starting to code my own solution which would then end up as competition to the commercial offerings. In my opinion any WordPress plug-ins need to be aggressively priced to encourage adoption and discourage the development of competing solutions. If every WordPress plug-in was say $5 to purchase that would still be a lot of money for some of us but it might make us think twice about developing a competing plug-in.

    Cheers!

  37. Kevin Flahaut (1 comments.) says:

    It’s interesting to read through the comments from the self proclaimed “cheapskates”, those who claim “This is the beginning of the end for WordPress” and even the most laughable one in my opinion, “Seems to me the spirit of the web is gone. Less and less freeware.”

    I guess I missed the intro to web class the day they talked about everything online being free. Sure, that’s a great part of the web, those people that care enough to share their time and hard work so we don’t have to do it, but too many people have become spoiled to this concept and expect that it should always be this way.

    I would venture that most of the commenters here use WordPress and various plugins in someway to make money. Hell yeah! Me too. I like money. So, sometimes you have to spend money to make money right? What’s the issue then? If you’re using/reselling the paid themes and plugins for client work, then pass the charges on to them. I can guarantee you that almost all of them cost a lot less to purchase than what it would cost to write them yourselves.

    I too see the trend going towards more paid solutions and honestly, I’m glad to see it happen. Yes, I’m a paid plugin developer but I’m also a consumer as well. If another paid plugin does the job well, is priced right and offers enhanced functionality and support.. Bam, money on the table…done. It’s really a no-brainer. If a free plugin fits the bill, that’s awesome too. I love those and yes, I DO donate to most of the plugin developers.. especially for those plugins that I find myself using over and over. That’s just good form if you ask me.

    So, if you don’t believe in paying for premium themes of plugins, just don’t pay for them. Nobody’s forcing the paid options on you. Those of us that recognize the value in the paid solutions will be happy to spend a few dollars on them. Like Carl said, free plugins aren’t going anywhere and are a good fit for a lot of projects. In the end, you still get what you pay for.

  38. DouglasVB (9 comments.) says:

    I hope this trend doesn’t come to any of the plugins I rely on. When I look at what I use, I could probably do without most of them. All I have is a little blog with some photos and a few samples of my work. I don’t want to have to pay a bunch of money to continue using it. While it’s fine for plugin authors to charge companies and people who make money off of their websites, it will turn me off in a major way if they ask me to pay. Such a move might even force me to learn how to write PHP so I can keep the old free versions running.

    Plugin authors: Keep a meaningful, feature-rich version free for the personal users.

  39. paul (2 comments.) says:

    If most plugins become commercial, I suppose the user base will fall and people will look to cheaper alternatives

  40. Milan Petrovic (31 comments.) says:

    I am really amazed that many people are outraged by us developers who decided to charge for some (and only some) of our plugins and our time to provide support. The point is that only a fraction of plugins will not be free, and for most of the users of WordPress free plugins will be enough. That’s why I provide both free and payed versions of each plugin. But there are many user that build websites for clients, and for them support is essential and payment not a problem since they are payed for the work.

    Also, if you use 20-30 plugins try this: email or post on the forum for each plugin author you use and ask them support related question, report a bug. Than wait for their response. At least half of them will not respond. One or two will respond within 2 days, and the rest will respond much later. So, you are building site for a client, and you are stuck with a plugin. What will you do? Tell the client that plugin author will respond in few weeks, and that project needs to be put on hold? Hell no, you will contract someone to fix the problem (and pay a lot for that). But, if you use premium plugin with support you will solve the problem very quickly because you pay for it. And it will cost you much, much, much less than contracting developer for help. This is the fact people.

    There is no need to panic about premium plugins, most plugins will remain free. And for many plugins support will remain free. This is no end of web or WordPress, this will make WordPress stronger, to be able to rely on developers that will build more and more high quality plugins to expand it further.

  41. arena says:

    Could be interesting !

    My most successful plugin has been downloaded 80 000 times.

    1 $ for each download would have given me much more that what i got in donations

  42. Miroslav Glavic (27 comments.) says:

    I am going to put it very bluntly:

    Why would I pay for a plugin to do xyz when I can find at least 20 other plugins to do xyz?

    • Carl Hancock says:

      Why buy a BMW when I can buy a scooter?

      Why eat filet mignon when I can have a hamburger?

      Why buy a house when I can live in a box?

      Sometimes if you want quality, reliability and performance you need to pay for it.

      There is nothing wrong with free plugins, just like there is nothing wrong with paid plugins. It’s all in one suits your needs.

      • Tim stone (3 comments.) says:

        The premise that a paid plugin is by definition orders of magnitude better (e.g. BMW vs. scooter) than a free one is tempting to believe, but that’s not necessarily the case. The industry is rife with software that’s expensive and at best only marginally better (if not worse) than free alternatives. The statement could easily be turned to say “Why buy a scooter when I can have a BMW?” The answer might be “Because I want to drive the narrow back streets of Rome.” If a plugin does exactly what I need, and it carries a cost that is approximately equivalent to the value I’m going to get from the plugin, then it’s worth it, whether or not it’s a BMW or a scooter.

        What I find being neglected in this whole discussion (which is intensely interesting, BTW) is that when money gets involved, lots of other things do too. Legalities, warranties, value-based pricing, competitive pressures, etc. And as some of the largest companies in the world have painfully discovered, it’s very difficult for paid software to compete with free alternatives. If I pay $1 for a piece of software, I have to believe I’m getting $1 in value from it or it’s not worth it. When I pay $0 for a piece of software, if I get -any- value from it, it’s worth it, unless it’s so terrible that it costs me something else (time, site availability, etc.).

        Again, it boils down to consideration for the plugin developer, which is sorely lacking. If I pay $0 for a piece of software, then it’s silly of me to expect the developer to even take the time to read an email from me, let alone respond to it or change the software at my request. But unfortunately, that’s the exact situation that develops over and over again in communities where stuff is free. So how to avoid that situation? Free plugin developers should clearly state that they do not support the plugin, and will likely not respond to queries about it. They should take very careful consideration before responding to queries about their software. When they do, they establish an expectation that the behavior will continue, ad infinitum if necessary. That expectation will often lead them to a place where they’ve been consumed by their own creation. Heartless? Only from the perspective of abusive users.

        • Carl Hancock says:

          My example was extreme, but it was to get a point across. Some people like free plugins and some people have no problem paying for a plugin if the performance and support meets their expectations.

          We have a commercial plugin and it is very successful. Our customers love it and we love providing them with a high quality plugin paired with reliable support and ongoing updates.

          If we had released our plugin free it would have been a completly different ball game. We wouldn’t be able to provide any support, it’s just too time consuming, nor would we be able to release updates as regularly as we do. The plugin would not be what it is today.

          Is our product for your hobbyist or someone who blogs casually or for fun? Certainly not. By all means, there are always free options available. Although we do have people like that as customers who still appreciate the time and effort that goes into our product.

          The people who really appreciate what we do are those that make a living with their web site or those that build sites for clients. We provide them with a product that they can rely on and support they can turn to when they have a problem or question.

          If someone doesn’t see the value in that, even if it’s something that isn’t for them, then i’m not sure what more can be said.

          • Tim stone (3 comments.) says:

            That’s exactly it, Carl. You’ve managed your resources by establishing a price point that constrains the demands for your time, and rewards you with appropriate value for that time. When it’s a win-win, pay models work. For the “I want free stuff” world, which is the vast majority of WordPress users, they shouldn’t expect any more resources from the developer than what they’ve paid for.

  43. xxxevilgrinxxx says:

    My question would be, what exactly are you getting when you pay for a plugin?

    I’ve never had a problem donating to plugins that regularly update, that regularly offer support. Perhaps there would be more incentive to plugin developers to maintain and support plugins if there was more money behind it? Or would you end up with a glut of really spectacularly crappy plugins and shoddy service by people that see plugins as the next way to make a quick buck? I wish there was a way to see plugin authors see some cash from their work without it turning into a free for all.

  44. Brad Hart (2 comments.) says:

    If the question is what plugins would I pay for and the answer is none of them. First off, if developers decided to move paid versions of plugins I use, I would either continue to use the free version available now or move a different free version. There are in almost every case half a dozen good free plugins that compete with each other and I can’t see them all going to paid only version. If they did all go to a paid version I would continue to use the free version released under the public license. If it quit working in a new version of wordpress I would either not upgrade or I would simply rewrite the plugin to make it comply with the newest version of wordpress. That last option is not difficult and something I have done a number of times before out of necessity.

    I’m not taking this stance because I’m cheap. I take it out of my own sense of economic value. A fair number of plugins these days stick links into your blog, and as often as not without asking you. Secondly, most of those same developers have bucket loads of advertising on their sites when you visit. Last, but not least almost every time I have registered a plugin I start getting new email spam. I don’t mind developers using any or all of these tactics to make money as I have a choice in how they are implemented, but I sure the hell am not going to pay for a plugin and still have pull this sort of crap. If you think they won’t, I have a nice piece of virtual ocean front real estate to sell you.

  45. Barry (5 comments.) says:

    I think a lot of people are seeing the word “plugin” and thinking of those small pieces of code that add a small bit of functionality to your blog, the type of thing you can easily have 20-30 of installed at one time.

    However, I’m pretty sure when developers mention plugins they would like to charge for, they are talking about large complex plugins that add serious functionality to your site, such as advanced forms, shopping carts, classifieds, real estate, subscription / membership systems. These take a long time to develop, bug fix and keep running with the latest versions of WordPress. The support and development for these takes a considerable amount of time, and to think that time isn’t worth anything is beyond a joke.

    A lot of plugins will remain free. A lot of plugin developers will release free plugins because they want to get a bit of code / functionality out there. But when you are ready to start taking your site seriously and rely on it for some income, then you can’t expect free to be there for you when you need it.

  46. AnupRaj (3 comments.) says:

    This is Interesting Topic and may be it will not end up without debates.

    I definitely support the Idea that if possible, plugin authors have right to make money. We can debate “How?”.

    WordPress is an Open Source Project that’s why WP Plugins will remain to be free. Paying for Plugin will help far than the Donations but this is against the concept of Open Source. Plugin Authors can definitely charge for the support.

    We have to consider that Microsoft is also supporting some Open Source these days.

  47. Hedley says:

    I have paid for plugins in the past, when it is required, and am not necessarily opposed to doing so in future, as long as the price is relatively low. Sellers should not be expecting to become Bill Gates.

    My biggest objection to paying is that, in most cases, I can’t try it first to ensure that it works with my (or my client’s) particular configuration. Essentially, I frequently end up making a donation to the author even though it does not do what I need and I end up abandoning it for another solution.

    • bubazoo (213 comments.) says:

      This is a good point too Hedley, if a plugin author charges for a plugin for additional support, good, but Hedley has a good point, in that, nobody is going to pay for anything they can’t try first to see if it works on their particular configuration. I agree that it would suck big time, to pay for a plugin that ends up not working on their particular server configuration. or, they have purchased the plugin to find out they never use the plugin enough in the first place.

      I personally don’t have a problem with paying for any decent plugin, but I’ve really yet to see any plugin on the market that is worth paying for. I mean, the majority of the new ones coming out are of no use to me at all, like the banner AD type plugins, who needs more of those? I mean, anyone can code a banner ad into a theme, why would anyone pay money for a zillion different plugins like that? or form plugins, there are enough of those on the market, free or non-free. Now if someone came up with a unique idea that nobody else has come up with before, and charged a fee for that, and its something I use, then yeah sure I’ll be glad to pay for it, but its just the fact that most aren’t like that, thats the problem.

  48. letheos says:

    I completely agree with this post. The current trend of pay plugins does not, at least in my experience, guaranties about the quality of the plugin. On our main site, out of a total of 32 plugins we use 3 paid plugins while we’ve made some donations to 3 others that we consider useful and well executed. If it would be possible I would ask our money back for the 3 paid plugins that are absolutely nonsense but marketed as giving a significant SEO boost. I managed though to get our money back on another expensive plugin when I discovered that we had to pay further for any kind of support, other than a short readme file.

    I’m totally against this trend and invite users to stay away from paid plugins

    • Carl Hancock says:

      Our product is a paid plugin and we provide a high level of support, it does exactly as advertised and we are continually improving it and adding features.

      You would be hard pressed to find anyone that isn’t satisfied with our product. Our users love what we do, so for you to make a blanket statement that you think users should stay away from paid plugins… I take exception to that.

      While it is a shame that you have not received your moneys worth with the plugins you have purchased, i’m not surprised that you were “taken” by plugins that promised “a significant SEO boost” because frankly… good content is the biggest SEO boost you can have and a plugin isn’t going to provide that.

      You need to be careful with who you purchase plugins from. Chances are if it’s a plugin advertised as providing some sort of “SEO boost” they are really just selling snake oil.

      There is no guarantee of quality in WordPress plugins or themes just like there is no guarantee of quality in ANYTHING you buy on a day to day basis. You need to make informed buying decisions and deal with reputable companies.

  49. Carl Hancock says:

    There seems to be a strong sense of entitlement in a lot of these comments.

    The fact that people here expect and demand all WordPress plugins to be free is an insult to both the developers who develop high quality paid developers AND an insult to the developers who produce free plugins.

    Be grateful that so many wonderful free plugins exist, but do not assume and demand that everything be free.

    Be grateful that so many great developers allow you to share in their work by releasing them for free.

    Be grateful for what the great WordPress community has provided for you.

    Remember… you aren’t entitled to anything.

    • Don Fischer (3 comments.) says:

      Amen to that! I agree completely with Carl.

      You would not expect an electrician you don’t know to come to your house and re-wire it for free – unless it was for some charitable cause – why would you expect a programmer’s services to be any different? They are providing a needed service. If it is doesn’t fit your price – go elsewhere or shop around. Most of the time you end up right where you started – or pay more for the same job.

      You can get the wire, the switches and the outlets and re-wire your house yourself – and, sure it may be fine. But if you want to know that your house isn’t going to burn down in the middle of the night, you get someone who knows what they are doing and can provide the right service and support that fits your needs – for the price you are willing to pay. If that is ‘FREE’ then you should expect to get exactly what you pay for.

      I don’t think any one person here said that we should have ALL premium plugins – it is more a question of “what is the trend”. Some people are getting so worked up thinking they will have to pay for every plugin they have. As long as WordPress remains Open Source, there will ALWAYS be free plugins and themes that provide enough services to the masses. And those that DO provide a premium product SHOULD be paid for their time and service – it is the nature of business.

    • Milan Petrovic (31 comments.) says:

      I completely agree with Carl. And after all these comments, many people are still missing the point that all things considered, only small number of plugins will turn to premium plugins with premium support.

      I am very much surprised than many people think that they are entitled to get all plugins for free, just because WordPress is free. Open Source is term that is misused in this case. If the code for a plugin is free that doesn’t mean that you get support and help for free.

      Let’s hope that the quality premium support we provide to will prove to WordPress community that is much cheaper to pay for support and get help from developers than to pay to some random developer who will charge much more for the services.

    • letheos says:

      Since WP is open source then all the DERIVATIVE WORK should also be OPEN SOURCE. Nobody forces anybody to create WP Plugins, but once you do you must follow the ethics of the community. If you consider as an insult to ask for free plugins then you shouldn’t be here.

      How could you characterize a developer who uses the WP community as a test-bed to market ideas and products and even to beta test and troubleshoot his code and when this becomes mature starts selling it as a paid service?

      Again, I invite people to stay away from paid plugins.

      • Milan Petrovic (31 comments.) says:

        And it is. All my plugins (even the premium plugins) are released under the same GPL license as WordPress. I just don’t provide support for free.

        And also, I have made many free plugins that will remain free. So you think that I don’t contribute to a WordPress community? Problem is that when a plugin is releases first, it’s used by few people, and it’s not a problem to help them. But my GD Star Rating plugin (released as free, and remains free), over the past year and half has grown and is used on over 30.000 blogs. Tell me, how can I provide a support to even a 10% of these blogs? For free? If people were willing to make donations in the first place I maybe would be providing support for free, but since donations are pretty much dead, and that’s something all developers can confirm, there is no other way. WordPress is used on milions of websites, and that number will grow each year. And there are few thousand plugin developers making plugins. We can’t service the whole community for free.

        I am not going to make any more excuses for the way I work. I intend to provide the best support there is, but it’s not going to be free. If you don’t like it, and you think that my work should be unpaid, than don’t purchase my services. Time will tell how was right.

        • AnupRaj (3 comments.) says:

          Milan, WordPress Plugins will remain free but how about keeping some phrases like “for support you have to pay ‘N’ amount to pay … ” somewhere in your plugin options or at the page where users/visitors generally hits for support.

          • Milan Petrovic (31 comments.) says:

            Ever since I started with new Dev4Press, I have added links for premium support to all plugins. I will also include further info to let people know that the support is not free. And all landing pages on my website for all plugins are clearly showing everything you need about getting support.

      • Barry (5 comments.) says:

        Wow, I can’t even begin to mention how many things are wrong with that comment.

        I think you need to go away and read the GPL, then look at the license that the paid plugins are operating under. Then spend some time thinking and come back and apologise to a lot of plugin developers.

        “If you consider as an insult to ask for free plugins then you shouldn’t be here”

        I consider it an insult that you think my time, energy and skill is worth zero to you so I invite you to stay away from my plugins (free and paid).

        • letheos says:

          I feel you man. You’re genius but nobody has seems to bother. Aren’t you the guy behind the various promised plugins at Clearskys? Do you actually have a finished plugin or you’re just building sites to collect e-mails?. But you’re right man, time is precious, at least mine. So bye-bye, I ‘m not going to continue this.

          P.S. None of you “plugin developer” guys replied to any of my points above. Milan, I’m not talking about support.

          • Milan Petrovic (31 comments.) says:

            I can’t talk for all developers, but as I said, my most successful plugin was free, is free and will always remain free. So your point about using community as test ground don’t apply. The fact that I decided to offer only premium support for this plugin is beside the point and I already explained that.

            As for my other plugins, they all exists as free also. But, for users who decide to purchase support for these other plugins, I have prepared expanded versions of these plugins with some new features.

          • Carl Hancock says:

            I didn’t see any points made to respond to.

            I can’t speak for the other plugin developers but we didn’t “beta” test our plugin with the community before hand. It was developed in private and was released to the public as a commercial product when it was ready to be released.

            See my post below. You seriously need to read up on the GNU GPL’s position on selling GPL software. It isn’t unethical and isn’t taking advantage of the community.

            http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/selling.html

            I’ll take my advice on the GNU GPL organization itself rather than a random commenter on a blog.

          • Barry (5 comments.) says:

            I’ve got a lot of plugins out there actually, but you have to pay for them. I pulled all of my free plugins when idiots started demanding more and more of my time for free.

            clearskys shut down over 3 months ago for pretty much the same reason.

            The only reason people will stop developing free plugins will be if the entitlement monkeys keep demanding more and more from the developers for zero return. So keep it up.

      • Carl Hancock says:

        Were you aware that WordPress is released under the GNU General Public License?

        Here is an article that may interest you that outlines the GNU GPL’s philosophy on selling open source software:

        http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/selling.html

        There is a misconception that the “FREE” in OPEN SOURCE FREE SOFTWARE refers to price. That is 100% wrong. It refers to the freedoms that the license conveys to the user. It has nothing to do with price.

        Read that article. It’s the official stance of the GNU GPL on selling open source software. They are the authority on what is and isn’t ethical with software released under the GPL… not you.

        • Don Fischer (3 comments.) says:

          Carl – Great Point!!I was just about to point that out myself – I was just looking for an appropriate link.

          People are always quoting what you can or can’t do under the GNU/GPL “FREE” Software License, and it is my bet that those are the same people that have never actually read through the entire thing even once. Reminds me of those Bible quoting fanatics that use only 1 or 2 passages as the definitive of their existence. That is all they know and they fit it neatly into every scenario – even if they have to trim the corners to make it fit.

        • Fernando Alvirez (1 comments.) says:

          Good remark Carl. Too many of us interpret that as such without thinking about the matter.

  50. Bart (3 comments.) says:

    Very interesting conversation going on here, I’m a WordPress developer and over the years I’ve built a lot of private plugins… for myself and for my clients.

    I’m at a point where I”m now looking to start publishing some of these plugins and writing some more advanced plugins that WP really needs. What I’ve noticed is that there is a lot of plugins out there that do focus on small set of features but bigger plugins like event managers don’t really exist… there is a couple but not enough to force good competition and well rounded plugin development to a level where a larger company can easily use those plugins for their needs….

    This comes back to developers not having enough time to really build extended plugins for free…

    Now I’m leaning towards a yearly subscription model when releasing plugins that take a long time to develop, save time for the end user and are typically used for more commercial websites… the price I’m thinking of is somewhere in the $24+ / y point.

    Now some people have said they might pay $5 or not even a $1 for a plugin here… I want to really point something out there… I run my own company and we charge $75/hr minimum so in order to allocate my time to developing a plugin it has to be worthwhile for the developers to justive focusing their time on plugin development. You cannot expect developers to justify spending 5-10 hours a week on building new features for free or even measly one time fee of $5 for a plugin… any decent developer is busy and it just does not make financial sense to do this…

    Personally I think that any serious / business websites out there won’t have an issue spending up to 1k a year paying for plugins so they can focus on their business… personal sites I’m sure won’t but then again you might not need the pro versions of plugins or extended support etc…

    I just wanted to put an actual $ amount on developers time and to note that if they weren’t spending their free time developing plugins they would be focusing on billing $ to their clients which in the end… most people are in it for the $

    thoughts?

    • Milan Petrovic (31 comments.) says:

      Well, the price should take into consideration not only plugin, but support also. I think that support is even more important for WP plugins when you release premium plugin. In my opinion ~$24 dollars for plugin, as a one time payment is small amount if you plan to offer support for it. When support is in question, you need some subscription/membership based model.

      • AnupRaj (3 comments.) says:

        You are right

      • Bart (3 comments.) says:

        And that’s why I’m looking at only subscrioption models… $24 a year… the recurring fee I think works because you will have to make sure the plugin works with future versions of WP and to give ongoing support… otherwise you would have to charge much more as a one time fee.

      • Bart (3 comments.) says:

        And that’s why I’m looking at only subscription models… $24 a year… the recurring fee I think works because you will have to make sure the plugin works with future versions of WP and to give ongoing support… otherwise you would have to charge much more as a one time fee.

  51. mario says:

    What I don’t understand is most people will pay for a theme which are not difficult to make especially if you’re building from a common framework which is what most of these theme clubs do. Coding a good plugin is more difficult than a theme. To look at it another way, it’s easy to switch themes. It’s not so easy to switch out a good plugin.



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