22 Responses

  1. David Peralty
    David Peralty July 18, 2013 at 16:02 | | Reply

    Thank you for including my little article. I have been enjoying the conversation surrounding pricing and hope that it continues. As much as companies like rocketgenius have been around for going on four years, pricing models in WordPress are still new, and the community has changed a great deal over the last half a decade. It is very exciting times in the WordPress world and lots of experimentation is happening.

  2. Phil Derksen
    Phil Derksen July 18, 2013 at 17:34 | | Reply

    Thanks for the detailed post Jean and thanks for mentioning my posts on the subject.

    The type of support offered for premium plugins definitely drives the price, but the value and complexity of the plugin makes for a wide price range as well.

    For example, here are 2 plugins both at 2 different ends of the pricing spectrum:

    http://fooplugins.com/plugins/socialwiggle-pro/ (currently $6 to $26)

    http://crowdfavorite.com/wordpress/ramp/ (currently $249 to $999)

  3. Ben Sibley
    Ben Sibley July 19, 2013 at 19:08 | | Reply

    I’m always a fan of freemium models, but they’re tough to pull off. Charging for a more robust feature set works when done well. For instance, the free version of Seedprod’s Coming Soon Ultimate works great, and I happily upgraded to the PRO version to add the email signup functionality with Mailchimp. Freemium models let your customers build a relationship with you and your product which builds trust.

    That being said, freemium models usually work best when users pay for more quantity of the same features or allow more use of current features, rather than adding new features ie Dropbox. I’ve used products where I have no interest in upgrading to the paid version because the functionality I want is in the free one.

  4. Josh Kohlbach
    Josh Kohlbach July 23, 2013 at 04:31 | | Reply

    Such a timely post. We’ve just finished changing our business model (and pricing) around for ThirstyAffiliates.

    We used to offer 3 tiers based on feature sets augmented from the base plugin via add-ons.

    The new model takes inspiration from the likes of WooCommerce in that we have made the core plugin free and will be supplying “upgrades” by allowing people to buy bolt-on add-on plugins that add key features.

    So far the change has been very positive and I’m much more excited with the near unlimited ability to add features to my plugin without being encumbered by the old pricing model. In short, it was too restrictive and stunted the growth of the plugin.

    I like the “pay for support” idea and appreciate your comments on the various support models people are doing in the community, it makes sense for buyers and authors to have people pay for support access, it’s a non-scalable activity.

    Currently I’m pretty liberal with support though. Officially add-on buyers get 12 months of free email support while ThirstyAffiliates core plugin users can report bugs and whatnot to me via email and the support forums on WP.org. The free users aren’t treated with priority (it’s more when I get to it) unlike the paying customers who get my help and attention straight away.

    I do kind of pride myself on A1 customer support though and it’s something that I think many plugin owners don’t get right. It does wonders for growth and sales because people talk and it almost becomes like a feature of becoming a customer.

    Really enjoying where these discussions on pricing and business models are going in the community lately. It’s making us all think more about the “business” behind the pricing model. Great post Jean.

  5. benjaminefox
    benjaminefox July 25, 2013 at 15:47 | | Reply

    Hey Jean, thanks for your post. Our team over at WPUniversity has been struggling with this question for a few months now.

    Here are the questions we asked to help us determine our model:

    What do we charge for? Is it a license to use our plugin or access features / content? Or maybe we only charge for support?

    Whom do we charge? Are End-Users customers or are they just users? Professionals and Developers expect and need more so do we only charge them?

    How do we ensure our own scalability while providing maximum value to our Customers
    (while still serving our Users http://chrislema.com/customers-and-users/)?

    I can’t say we have all the answers yet but we did settle on a launch model that we think will provide us maximum exposure and our users and customers the highest value. More on that, if anyone’s interested, next week when we announce.

    I’ll close by saying that as a startup following the Lean Model we’ve made quite a few pivots and changes, large and small, over the past few months. We are yet to see any one definitive answer to the question / problem of pricing but we are really excited to finally see it being discussed in the open. Thank you to all the experts that have made this an issue. Without this kind of dialogue, awesome software we all rely on may disappear.

  6. Steven Gliebe (@stevengliebe)
    Steven Gliebe (@stevengliebe) July 25, 2013 at 15:54 | | Reply

    Lifetime updates could be possible, but definitely not lifetime support.

    Renewal for updates is like saying “save money by running an old version.” There is one part of the WordPress community encouraging users to keep WordPress, plugins and themes up-to-date for security reasons while another part is essentially telling users it’s okay to run outdated plugins.

  7. benjaminefox
    benjaminefox July 25, 2013 at 16:01 | | Reply

    I generally don’t like the word “Lifetime”. Who’s lifetime? Mine? The life of the software?

    To your point though Steven, I partially agree. I don’t think dev’s are encouraging users NOT to update, just the opposite actually. However if a developer of a plugin that I use for multiple clients, such as Gravity Forms, goes out of business because we only pay once and they can’t scale, well that would cause a helluva mess for us all.

    Ideally developers would push micro-updates for security fixes and minor compatibility issues to everyone while major updates (like Windows 7 to 8 for example) should only be pushed if your account is paid to date. Of course, that requires additional resources on behalf of the developer and it’s just easier to say “No pay, no updates”.

    1. Steven Gliebe (@stevengliebe)
      Steven Gliebe (@stevengliebe) July 25, 2013 at 16:41 | | Reply

      “Lifetime” really is a lousy, gimmicky term because to some its seems to promise more than what’s actually possible. Most users will know it means the life of the product, though. Nonetheless, I prefer “updates are always free” or something to that effect. Just plain English.

      Micro updates and major updates would be great but difficult to implement. “No pay, no updates” is easier, for sure, but pricing the product higher up front is easy too. I’m coming from a theme background though. People switch themes down the road which means they buy again later. With something like a form plugin, it’s hard to imagine the user switching. Obviously Gravity Forms’ model is working. David Peralty wrote something that really struck me:

      It is likely easier to get 12,000 subscription customers than 70,000 one-time customers”

      It’s just hard for me to reconcile the mixed message regular users might be getting on updates. Of course, if the renewal request states the importance of staying up to date and the user ignores it by not paying, they really are on their own.

      1. benjaminefox
        benjaminefox July 25, 2013 at 16:57 | | Reply

        On side note: As we have this discussion I am renewing my annual subscription to Slide Deck 2. Why? because not only do I love their support, but their updates are often meaningful and the added features are worth it. It’s also only $75/yr to keep the subscription live. Just some food for thought.

        1. Steven Gliebe (@stevengliebe)
          Steven Gliebe (@stevengliebe) July 25, 2013 at 17:19 | | Reply

          All would be well in a world where every customer is as appreciative and informed as you. A personal user might be passing on renewal at this moment. Now possibly thinking it’s fine to run outdated plugins, he might not care so much about keeping his WordPress.org plugins up to date. Several months later he gets hacked and wonders why.

          Purely conjecture, of course. 😉 And obviously not SlideDeck’s responsibility.

          I’m not suggesting that developers who don’t provide free updates are evil, just pointing out that there may be some adverse effects. I can’t think of any other way to establish a substantial recurring revenue stream for a commercial plugin though (themes, yes — hosting; plugins, no).

  8. Steven Gliebe (@stevengliebe)
    Steven Gliebe (@stevengliebe) July 25, 2013 at 16:25 | | Reply

    One other thought relating to theme pricing. Many commercial plugins are priced based on the number of sites, which makes perfect sense. In the theme world, I could only find one full GPL theme shop that prices based on number of sites (are there more?). The idea of providing the same thing to a user of one site as a user of 10 sites is nuts. It means the small fries are subsidizing the big guys.

    I think theme shops have been very inspired by each other’s pricing models. I also think all that full GPL theme hoopla has encouraged the exclusion anything “per site” in pricing. But you can do per site with full GPL themes: a) Ask the user to pay per site b) Deliver updates for only one site c) Provide support for only one site. I think this is a reasonable model.

  9. Christopher Ross
    Christopher Ross October 13, 2013 at 20:38 | | Reply

    As a consultant who routinely buys 20+ plugins a month, I can tell you that they’re almost all underpriced. Developers should be charging significantly more, without question.

    Not to single out any one plugin but WPTouch Pro can strip a week off a development, and adds a host of features that I couldn’t duplicate without significant effort .. for $49 (with updates and support). *** I can’t bring a date to a movie for less than $50 ***, yet I can buy a plugin that’ll increase my billables, decrease my workload, optimize my client experience, and deliver a great experience for that.

    So yes, I buy the developer licenses for better support but I also end up licensing for individual sites because these developers are saving me work, delivering an amazing product, and doing a ton of heavy lifting for me and my clients.

  10. Jason Coleman
    Jason Coleman November 17, 2013 at 17:59 | | Reply

    Thanks for including Paid Memberships Pro in this roundup. I think we represent an interesting business model (free code, paid support/etc) that others could use. I posted steps to reproduce our business model on our blog a while ago, which might be useful: http://www.paidmembershipspro.com/2013/02/the-paid-memberships-pro-business-model-copy-it/

    One point: You say “I definitely think that giving lifetime support and updates with a plugin is unsustainable.” I agree that lifetime support is unsustainable, since you can’t tell how much support someone will need in their “lifetime”. But lifetime updates doesn’t have a per-user cost. If you are making the updates, it doesn’t cost anything (maybe a bit of bandwidth) for one more user to download your update.

    On the other hand, if you aren’t charging for updates, it is harder to get renewals on annual plans/etc. (Most of our support users are good to go after we clear up whatever issue prompted them to sign up for support.) Extra revenue from renewals would be nice and I suppose help to “sustain” our business. We just need to make sure that our pricing on other products makes up for this… or we will need to figure out other reasons for people to renew.

    I love these discussions. Thanks for keeping them going. There really is no one right answer for everyone. Hearing how others have been successful or not and the thinking behind different decisions is useful for people trying to figure out pricing and business models for their own products.

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