I enjoy talking about building premium plugins and presented about it last year. I love talking to developers about their ideas and brainstorming with them. After building a product the next logical question is:
I’ve built a plugin, now where should I sell it?
Most developers are very good at charging forward to building code and making a quality product. When it comes to sales and marketing we are much more hesitant.
Where is the best place to sell WordPress plugins?
The quick and useless answer to this question is: “Sell it where your customers can find it!” This doesn’t help since it’s a non-answer, but it does point out the two things to consider when deciding where to sell your plugin:
- Targeted traffic
Targeted traffic means that you can get people to your site, but this isn’t a vanity number. We’re talking about the ability to get people with the intention to spend money on plugins to view your product. Sellability means that you have the ability to conduct the transaction of taking money in exchange for a digital product. I’m going to cover three different places to sell plugins and rate them on these two criteria. Note: If you want to take on the challenge of building your own marketplace, Chris Lema has a good overview of selling other people’s products and WooThemes has a Product Vendors plugin.
The two largest marketplaces for WordPress plugins are Code Canyon and Mojo Code. (If you know of any others please leave a comment!) I’ve sold plugins on Mojo, but haven’t yet on Code Canyon. It’s easy to open an account and become a seller on both sites. Each marketplace will review, and approve your product before selling.
This is where large marketplaces excel. Their job is to market and draw customers so your products could be put in front of thousands of targeted customers within minutes of going live. This is also one of the drawbacks since your product will be one of many that are offered. Ever walk through a busy street market? Remember the noise and chaos? Yeah, it’s like that.
The marketplaces will handle accepting money and delivering your product. For this they do take a percentage of the sale. Percentage of revenue is shared when you sign up and depends on exclusivity of the product (if you’re selling it elsewhere) and your volume of sales. Expect to have access to the sales revenue on a monthly basis after you’ve passed a certain threshold. I like the marketplace model and several successful plugin developers have started in large marketplaces. It’s a great place to get products in front of customers and get used to the cycle of sale-support-upgrade. The two biggest drawbacks are 1) the prices are low and you can’t set them yourself and 2) the mechanism to provide support is not robust.
Aside from the larger marketplaces there are smaller niche marketplaces that exist. Normally these marketplaces are targeted toward plugins related to a single platform plugin. Pippin Williamson allows 3rd party plugins for Easy Digital Downloads in his marketplace. WooThemes has 3rd party plugins selling on their site, although they are not currently accepting new developers.
The traffic for these marketplaces might be lower than the big boys, but the traffic will tend to be much more targeted and valuable. If you’re selling an add-on to a product on the product’s main site that is the best place to be. You’ll gain instant rapport by being alined with the plugin developer and you will be able to protect your market share since the plugin author probably own’t let two of the same kind of plugins sell on the site to reduce confusion.
Transactions work juts like they do on the marketplaces. You’ll agree to a revenue split with the site owner and a timeframe of payment – usually monthly. I like niche marketplaces because of the the targeted traffic. Also, working with the site owner is usually a one-to-one relationship and a lot more friendly than working with a big company.
Your own store
The third place to sell your plugins is on your own site. Grab a new domain or use your current domain with a “Shop” page. Add in a payment gateway and you’re all set. An example of separate sites is Thomas Griffin’s professional site and separate site for his Soliloquy product. Soliloquy also has add-ons available. In the middle is Andrew Norcross who has an agency site that has a store in addition to a product-centric site for Design Palette Pro. On the other hand Carrie Dills has a professional site, and uses a shop subdomain to sell her themes. Either of these approaches works fine and you’ll need to decide the best course of action for you. Decide if you want to keep the branding of your current business, and also consider that you may want to sell the plugins in the future.
You may look at the first two examples and say “I don’t want to share my revenue with anyone!” That’s all fine and dandy, but remember that when you sell on your own site getting people to your site is now your problem. There isn’t a marketing team nor a content strategist working unless you’ve paid them. And if you’re a brand new site it’s going to take Dr. Google time to notice you.
With the advent of plugins like WooCommerce and Easy Digital Downloads selling digital products on your own site is very simple. Add in a Stripe gateway and you can have a site up and running in literally minutes. Along with sales you’ll need to be able to handle refunds and payment issues as well as support. You get 100% of the pie, but you also get 100% of the responsibility.
Another interesting platform you can choose is Freemius. It’s a middle ground between a marketplace and selling on your own site.
Freemius takes care of payments, subscriptions, billing, and EU VAT just like a marketplace (you don’t even have to set up a gateway). You can use it to sell your plugins from any website using their Buy Button JS snippet. It focuses on selling WordPress plugins and themes, and if you go for the freemium model, Freemius comes with proprietary technology to upsell and sell the premium version directly from within the WP Admin dashboard which makes the upgrade experience very user-friendly (and increases conversion).
Now, go sell!
There are three options to consider when you are thinking about the best place to sell plugins: big marketplaces, niche marketplaces, and your own site. Consider traffic and sellability when making your decision, and remember if it’s not working out on one you can easily switch to another. Best of luck and happy selling!