What We Learned About The Market For Commercial WordPress Plugins


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Over the last two weeks we ran a survey about commercial WordPress plugins. As promised, we are sharing the data that was about the market in general that will be useful to everyone. I have some general conclusions to share and have a link to the data itself (no personal information) at the bottom if this post.

I hope this data is useful to others who are in this market, or looking to enter it. Starting a business and maturing it requires data. It is my hope that this data may be useful to others who are evaluating their own position in the market place.

In addition, I know that business research isn’t easy to do. At times, I have had struggled to find the information I need to inform my own decisions or educate potential investors or partners from outside of our community. I’d like to encourage others to share what data they have generated, so that we can all benefit from it and grow the WordPress ecosystem together.

The experience of running the survey was really useful, especially for what it told us about our own products. I’ll be covering some of that, and a lot on why you should run your own survey in a upcoming article for Torque.

What We Learned

Paid Support For Plugins On WordPress.org

This question was “Would You Pay For Support For A Free Plugin?” Obviously all WordPress plugins are free, as they inherit the GPL. But what I meant and explained in the question description was paid support for a no-cost plugin in the WordPress repository.

Paid support for Caldera Forms is something we are considering, so this was interesting to us. Since WordPress.org creates an expectation of free support, I am worried about push back on this. The question was asked on a scale of one to ten. The range slider field did go to eleven, because I couldn’t resist the joke.

The average response was 5.56. Given that the slider defaulted to 5, I’m not sure what to make of that, but it is not encouraging.

How Many and Who Pays

We asked approximately how many plugins people bought a year, with ranges of 1-5, 5-10, 10-20 or more than 20. The most common answer was 5-10.

That’s encouraging. Given that plugin purchases can be $15-$200, it sounds like people are buying a lot of plugins.

We also asked who pays for the plugins, if they pass the price onto their clients, or if they pay. The data isn’t too clear here, but it seems like most people pay instead of making their clients pay. That matches up with what people generally to tell me when I ask.

That’s also counter to what Syed Balkhi suggested in a recent post. He said that developers letting their clients use their licenses, instead of having them buy their own — through an affiliate link — was leaving money on the table. Also, it is an issue with maintainability in terms of updates and support.

Syed’s point makes sense. I especially like it as a someone who sells plugins. But, I also understand the odd part of telling someone their site will costs $5000 plus they have to buy a list of plugins. Getting some one to pay you is hard enough, getting them to throw in for parts, which you already have is hard. I get that.


We also asked “What Is Your Biggest Challenge Using WordPress Plugins?” This is not qualitative data, so it’s hard to say for sure what we learned. Honestly, I was fishing for attractive qualities to use to describe our plugins and ideas for problems to solve in new products.

There is a lot of good stuff in the results. I encourage any one working on marketing copy for a WordPress product to read through.

Seems like overall, people are most concerned about compatibility issues, performance, support and documentation. None of that is shocking, but it’s also very correct. It’s encouraging actually that people are asking for those things, not over-stuff, do it all feature sets. Someone else should ask the same question of customers of commercial themes and see if they really want 12 sliders.

What Lessons Can You Draw?

I hope my interpretation was useful to you. The public data is in a public Google Sheet. If you have a different take on the data, leave a comment and lets discuss.

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