Diving into Commercial Plugin Development

Matt Gibbs

WordCamp Asheville 2016


You have an idea for a great new plugin, or you built it already


Now what?

Can it sell?

Scratching your own itch

If you're building the plugin to scratch your own itch, then others will likely benefit from a solution too

Is there competition?

Competing products indicate a viable market!


Having no competitors could mean that the problem you're trying to solve has too small a market

Low barrier to entry

If your idea solves a legitimate problem and you feel has the potential to sell, there's not much stopping you!


Developers are extremely fortunate. Unlike most products, no capital is required to create a plugin!

Choosing the business model


The plugin is free, but extra features (add-ons, support, or a separate "pro" version) costs extra



Easy Digital Downloads

WP Job Manager


Paid plugin, with pricing that can vary based on:


  • # of active installs
  • Extra features (e.g. "pro" add-ons)
  • Support response time

Gravity Forms

$39 1 site no add-ons basic support
$99 3 sites basic add-ons basic support
$199 ∞ sites all add-ons priority support

WP Migrate DB Pro

$89 12 sites no add-ons
$199 100 sites all add-ons
$549 500 sites all add-ons
$999 ∞ sites all add-ons


$49 1 sites basic add-ons
$99 3 sites basic add-ons
$199 ∞ sites pro add-ons
$449 ∞ sites pro add-ons, lifetime


$79 3 sites all add-ons
$199 ∞ sites all add-ons



CodeCanyon, MOJO Marketplace


  • [+] Excellent exposure
  • [+] No up-front costs (hosting, etc)
  • [-] Less control over website and pricing
  • [-] Expensive sale fees


  • [+] Full control over your hosting environment
  • [+] Full control over pricing, earn 100% of sales
  • [-] Up-front costs (hosting, WP plugins)
  • [-] No free exposure

EDD - Software Licensing ($82)

EDD - Stripe Payment Gateway ($49)

EDD - PayPal Express ($49)

For a $100 plugin...

On CodeCanyon, you'll earn $36 to $70 per sale

depending on exclusivity & cumulative earnings


If self-hosting, you'll earn $96.80 per sale

assuming a payment processing fee of 2.9% + $0.30

Getting exposure

  • Promoting plugin updates via Twitter
  • Submitting articles to Post Status / WP Tavern
  • Retargeting (Perfect Audience)
  • Email newsletter!

Setting the price

The magic rule is...

"Every plugin has a different value point and is targeted towards different audiences."

Phil Derksen

There is no magic rule

It's OK to experiment with pricing!


Who is your target audience, and what is their time worth?


If you're targeting developers and your plugin saves them 8 hours, it's not unreasonable to charge $199 or more


"So you released your product and people started buying it. Congrats, and welcome to your new job in tech support!"

Josh Pollock

Email support or forums?

In theory, forums allow users to search for existing answers and help one another...

Email FTW

Email is more scalable

Email is easier for customers

Email doesn't suffer from information rot


HelpScout, Zendesk, Groove, Snappy...


Setting up for success

Provide excellent support

Happy customers are one of your best marketing assets


The Help Scout blog has great tips on providing support and dealing with difficult customers

Documentation matters

Developers will your see documentation as a gauge of your plugin's overall quality


Be concise, provide plenty of usage examples


Keep documentation up-to-date

Add screencasts

Screencasts help potential customers to better understand your product


Can help reduce support load


Increases buyer confidence in your product

Thank you!






Diving into Commercial Plugin Development

By logikal16

Diving into Commercial Plugin Development

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