After creating plugins and themes commercially for a little over a year, we have learnt that there is a limit to what can be done for “FREE”. When you consider that the largest corporations on the planet are for profit, we must accept that productivity increases when financial growth is a benefit.
Lets think this over. If you are consuming a product or service, it means someone invested time and resources. If you received that product for free, those individuals producing the product spent time without compensation. With 24 hours in a day, there is a finite amount of time in the day. Hmm, lets also for a second consider, that the vast majority of people on the planet have financial obligations.
Ok, so we have outlined some simple facts that everyone can relate to. So simple; However, very few bother to connect the dots. If plugin makers have bills and no one is contributing to them, then there must be a limit to what can be produced for free.
NO LONGER SUPPORTED
A great example in 2015 is a plugin called revision control. Thousands of customers liked it according to their wordpress.org installation number. We definitely used it regularly on various projects. Two things stand out with a plugin like this 1) Its unrealistic to think there would be a paid addon to this product that anyone would buy and 2) It has extreamly low reviews for the amount of installs. We can assume that there were very low if any donations made to this developer. This example shows a plugin maker who failed to consider the future and customers who failed to support the plugin maker.
Another great example is an abandoned wordpress plugin called cubepoints. It was and still is, a fairly popular plugin. Its a case of being around early in the wordpress world without many competitors to overshadow it. Its also coded in a way which has allowed it to survive several wordpress upgrades without breaking your website or the plugins functionality. It did have some minor admin related issues that we know most customers ignored
FALL FROM GRACE
Continuing with the Cubepoints example, as the plugin declined, it had pariah who would even post in its wordpress.org reviews section, urging users to switch. These posters were often from competing products, focused on stealing away customers. With its minor issues increasing as wordpress continued to evolve, less and less people took the plugin to setup the plugin. Alas, all of those seo backlinks from being an early wordpress solution were not doing enough to keep it afloat.
You would think there must have been a support structure and impressive feature list to keep it afloat for so long. To some extent you would be right. With over 15 FREE addon modules and countless other paid ones, this was a very supported product with lots of applications. However, the support was lacking in its final years. First the website would not work at all, then the owners put up a static donation page. That would be the first time our team ever saw any requests for money from this team.
Its a real shame. Up until early 2015, we had a customer beg us to use our patched version of the plugin, to build them a custom gamification solution. They literally loved the feature set so much, that the existing competitors could not compete. At the time of writing this, Cubepoints still hasn’t been updated since November of 2012
KEEP PLUGINS ALIVE
The point of this post is obviously that revenue keeps plugins alive. When planning on incorporating a plugin into your website, you should seriously consider how this product makes money. WordPress.org makes money via wordpress.com, affilaites, and other projects. The plugins are independent and should be considered as separate to the company that owns wordpress.org.
On BeProSoftware.com, we have our internal equation for what amount of free makes sense to keep our for profit business running. In today’s world, you must be willing to give away something for free or be prepared to pay for marketing that brings in the type of traffic freemium marketing can. Its hard to do just one type of marketing and be successful in todays conjested wordpress plugin market. With that said, its clear that BeProSoftware.com is setup to sell wordpress development services and products.
You will also notice that we have launched BePro Points with its woocommerce addon. These products replace our outgoing gamiification solutions and replaces them with a more robust codebase. With BePro Points, we have built on top of the great foundation provided by cubepoints. BePro Points is made for today’s wordpress with the support of the BePro Software Suite and Team. If you are looking for a wordpress gamification solution, we can support you with our new solutions.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Well for one, you don’t need to spend money. A simple positive review can go a long way towards keeping a plugin maker engaged and encouraging other users to jump on board. In a freemium model, there is an expectation that a percentage of users will be willing to upgrade to a paid product. Your review can help to increase the number that the percentage represents
When willing to give money, a small donation (e.g. $5-10) can be a major motivator. With the thousands of downloads some plugins get, could you imagine if even 5% of those people donated? In many cases, it would negate the need for a premium product.
Ofcourse, we here at BeProSoftware.com, love to see sales. We offer subscriptions, services and products. We even sell products for $1. Our point is to provide users with lots of ways to hire us or compensate us. In all cases, we expect you to receive something for your investment in our growth. We initially grew because of sales of WooCube and today because of our BePro Software Suite of products. We never forget that BeProSoftware.com exist today because of the purchases from our customers like you
What have we learnt today? Well, we have covered a lot. We talked about hard lessons learnt, attaching your living to a product you don’t create. Its important to gauge a wordpress products likelihood for success in the long term before attaching your business needs to it. One of the major indicators that a product will have long term success is its revenue generating model. We have proven in this article, that products without a revenue model, often come to an untimely end (no matter how good).