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Ask HN: Selling Wordpress plugins
7 points by JoeCortopassi 1683 days ago | hide | past | web | 10 comments | favorite
Just curious how many of you sell Wordpress plugins, and where you sell yours. Bonus points if you list the name of your plugin, and/or what sort of revenue it brings you

I've been developing on PHP for several years, but I've only learned WordPress about half a year ago. Each time a client wanted something new that didn't already exist in the WordPress "ecosystem", I separated that feature into a new plugin. This way, of course, I could reuse the plugin on other projects. On top of that, I've submitted two of these plugins on a marketplace and, to my surprise, made about 1000 USD in 5 months, without that much additional time invested.

Of course, there are downsides. You have to offer support for those customers that have problems (and there will be a lot of them). When they ask for new features, you have to choose to either deliver or refuse them, each option having its ups and downs. When a new major WordPress version comes along, like 3.5 just did a few days ago, you'll have to make sure your plugins support it, or you'll end up with unhappy existing clients and close to none new ones.

It seems it's common practice for clients that experience problems to give you an admin account on their server (either a simple WordPress account or even FTP/Cpanel access). It sure is faster to troubleshoot this way, but I really believe it's a very dangerous practice and you should be wary about it.

Besides all the customer relationship hassle, you have to make sure your plugin supports (almost) all of the possible scenarios that your customers may be using. Things like compatibility with different themes, different plugins, themes or plugins that do not-so-orthodox things in totally unexpected ways, different version of them, so on and so forth.

Overall, I can say it's an interesting ride but I'm not sure whether it's worth it or not. It really depends on a lot of factors.

P.S. I'll post the marketplace and plugin names upon request. I don't want this to seem as self-advertising. Cheers!

I'll post the marketplace and plugin names upon request. I don't want this to seem as self-advertising.

Consider this a request :).

The marketplace is CodeCanyon.net and the plugins can be found at http://codecanyon.net/user/liviumirea/portfolio . They take a 50% cut, but it may be worth it considering the exposure I received without any marketing whatsoever.

I haven't sold any, but http://codecanyon.net/category/wordpress has a good selection of people who have.

Are you just interested in plugins, or are you curious about people selling themes as well?

Consider the fact that your plugin needs to be under the GNU license.

This means:

Anybody that purchases it can then go ahead and give it out for free or even use it in their own commercial project. The main Wordpress site could also give it out for free as part of their services.

I steer clear of all open source projects (aside from some libraries) when it comes to commercial apps.

There are many, many companies making millions per year selling themes and plugins for WordPress, even those that acknowledge they're GPL licensed. Those that want to make a deal of it put in license terms that while their code is GPL, the other assets necessary to use that code -- such as stylesheets, images and JavaScript files -- are commercially licensed.

Those that don't just don't mention it, like WooThemes. They're one of those millions-a-year businesses. You won't find GPL or any license terms mentioned on their site or during checkout unless seek out their "Terms and Conditions" page yourself -- a link they hide as much as possible -- black text that doesn't look like a link under the logo in the footer, apart from even the other footer links.

In reality, the licensing issue isn't a big deal. There are over 50 million active WordPress installs -- it's a huge market. If you provide an awesome plugin, and you support it, people will pay you for it, even if they could download it off some warez site and you'd have no recourse to go after them.

Is this actually true? Wordpress is GPL, but why would a plugin need to be under GPL, unless it used actual code from Wordpress (not just API calls). Can someone clarify?


Part of this license outlines requirements for derivative works, such as plugins or themes. Derivatives of WordPress code inherit the GPL license. Drupal, which has the same GPL license as WordPress, has an excellent page on licensing as it applies to themes and modules (their word for plugins).

There is some legal grey area regarding what is considered a derivative work, but we feel strongly that plugins and themes are derivative work and thus inherit the GPL license. If you disagree, you might want to consider a non-GPL platform such as Serendipity (BSD license) or Habari (Apache license) instead.

There could still be a service opportunity there. If it's especially easy to use his plugins via his service than there could be a business.

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