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

Nathan Rice ncrice at gmail.com
Sun Mar 1 21:50:52 GMT 2009

It's not my intention to start a war here or anything, but I want to address
your 2nd point ... something that bothers me a good deal when it comes to
the "give it away, charge for support" model ...

In the "give it away, charge for support" model, if you write an easy to
use, user friendly program/plugin/theme, you're undercutting your own
Whereas when you charge for the product, and give the support away for free,
then you have a greater incentive to write easy to use code in the first

It would seem that the best way to make the most money is to write a program
that is very useful and in high demand, but make sure that you don't make it
so easy to use that you end up making support unnecessary.  It's almost like
you have to purposefully inferior product in order to get a decent return.

Obviously, this doesn't hold true in your first and third points, nor does
it hold true in the service industry (like WP.com), but in your second
point, I believe this is that particular model's greatest weakness, and is
why it is difficult, if not nearly impossible, to make work. (there's a
reason why Revolution/SudioPress themes are no longer available for free)


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On Sun, Mar 1, 2009 at 4:40 PM, Peter Westwood <peter.westwood at ftwr.co.uk>wrote:

> 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
> clients.
> The only way to avoid requiring direct clients is to work for a company
> which has them!
> westi
> --
> Peter Westwood
> http://blog.ftwr.co.uk | http://westi.wordpress.com
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