[wp-hackers] Making money from GPL plugin development (Was: Advertising on plugin pages)

Peter Westwood peter.westwood at ftwr.co.uk
Sun Mar 1 21:40:03 GMT 2009

Mike raises an important question which I think more sums up what  
Joost wants to know:

"How can a plugin author generate a revenue stream to support his  
efforts that doesn't require him or her to constantly do client- 
focused consulting and instead better target the needs of the general  
plugin user?  If we could come up with a community-acceptable way that  
can generate real income for plugin developers w/o retarding the open- 
source aspects that make the WP community so vibrant and valuable,  
this could benefit most on the hacker's list, no?"

I agree answering this question definitely sounds like a good idea.

In general I think that if you want to make money from open source  
programming in general then you need to accept that the software that  
you write will directly generate very little revenue.

In simplistic terms,  a traditional business relies on the one-off  
revenue from sales to fund development and after-sales support.

On the other hand the open source software businesses model relies on  
giving away the software for free and charging for the after-sales  
support so that people only pay for the support they.

My personal opinions:

  1) Charge people for support - this is the one revenue stream that  
the open source model positively encourages.
  2) Take on paid consulting work for specific plugin development with  
a view to making the plugins written available to all - i.e get  
someone to pay for the work but release it to the community and make  
sure you promote the fact that they made it happen.
  3) Accept donations - This is never going to be guaranteed income -  
think of it more like a bonus scheme.

In short, if you want a continual revenue stream then you need direct  

The only way to avoid requiring direct clients is to work for a  
company which has them!

Peter Westwood
http://blog.ftwr.co.uk | http://westi.wordpress.com
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