For the last few days there is an open discussion on Weblog Tools Collection website about paying for plugins as a trend for 2010. There were a lot of comments and different opinions about the subject, and I will try to go over the subject again.
For a Weblog post and all the comments (includingÂ several I made)Â check out their post:
Trend for 210 – Paying for plugins: http://dv4p.com/hc
So, why should you pay for plugins? Or themes for that matter? For years most of the plugins (with very, very few exceptions) for WordPress were available for free. The same goes for themes, but about year and a half ago that changed, and several designers and developers decided to release so called premium themes and change for them. And during this year they modified their business model to include the GPL for the themes and practically shift focus to support for the themes. And from what I can see, that concept works great and more and more themes are in fact premium themes. And they are, no doubt about it, much, much better from the most free themes (with very few exceptions). Key word in all that is again support, and free themes are basically provided without any support at all (again with very few exceptions).
And, for the past year I use only premium themes, mostly from Woothemes or ElegenatThemes, and this site is made on the base of The Station theme from Woothemes. I don’t mind paying for quality, for fast support, after all all that takes time, and in the end that is not free.
In the past several months we have witnessed the same thing starting with plugins, with few developers started charging for their plugins. With launch of the WPPlugins website we got first payed plugins market. I am not going to talk much about WPPlugins website, but there are many things that are wrong with the way they work and is actually against my idea of how premium plugins should be provided to the end users.
Main reason I decided to start this new Dev4Press and launch several premium plugins is the fact that providing quality support for plugins takes a lot of time, and in the end I don’t have so much free time aside the freelance projects I work on. Â It all started with GD Star Rating, and I really tried to provide as much help as I could with tutorials, documentation forums, and after all that users wanted more. So i tried to help on the individual basis by taking on some minor integration projects. And that was successful, but still idea is to have support that can be widely used. And after a while, I made several more plugins I provided for free, and they also have grown and again support became a problem.
So, I decided to stop with free support. If I can’t provided quality free support, than I will not do it, simple as that. And I expanded some of my plugins with additional features that will available only with Pro versions, even written one new plugin (Pro only), and I plan to dedicate most of my time to making WordPress plugins and provide the best quality support I can. Also, all plugins are available with few different packages that have different prices allowing users to find what is best for them.
And why the payed, or premium support is better solution? Imagine that you are building a site for a client (and you are payed to do it), and you are using a free plugin with free (and very limited) support. And, at one point, this plugin breaks down (no regular updated, or bug fixes). Your whole website is not in problems. You can try to replace it or fix it yourself, but that is not usually that easy. Best way is to contact author of the plugin and ask for support. In most cases even if you get response from the author, it will take maybe even weeks. And what you are going to say to your client: hey, this plugin broke, and I need to wait for the support, so we need to delay website for few weeks. Hell no! You will try to find someone to fix it as soon as possible, and you will pay a lot for that. It would be much cheaper if the plugin has premium support.
Just for fun, contact authors of each of the plugins you are using on your blocks (maybe 30 of them). I am sure than at least half of them will not respond at all. A third will respond after a week or two, and maybe 4-5 will respond sooner. But almost no one will be able to help you exactly when you need help. And that’s why is good to have premium plugins around, and give users a choice to pay for the quality. And labeling pluign as premium doesn’t mean that support will be any better, and that’s something all developers need to work on, to raise the quality and to justify the payments and really help their clients.
What you will get from Dev4Press if you decide to buy our plugins (and soon themese)? Regular updates, nightly builds and quick bug fixing releases, premium support forum, email support (development subscriptions), tutorials (both text and video) and extensive documentation. And on top of that, you will be able to influence the development using suggestions box and follow regularly updated roadmaps for all plugins. And be sure that I will release at least 3 new plugins in 2010, and two of them are already in the planning stages.
So, to summarize, paying for quality support is something that will definitively happen, and next year will be critical for this new business model for our beloved WordPress. Tell me what you think.