Halp! I think my free version is too good!

Hey guys

I’m in a dilemma that I think would be interesting to discuss in here.

I’m selling a WordPress plugin that has a free and a paid version. Conversion rates from free -> pro are very low. Most customers using the pro version bought it directly and wasn’t using the free version before. This leads me to think that my free version is simply too good. Or at least that my pro version needs more killer features. I would say that abt. 20% of paying customers upgraded from the free version. 80% started out with the pro version.

The users of the free version seems to really like it, so that’s not the reason they aren’t upgrading. It must be something about the features.

My dilemma is: Do I make the free version worse or should I come up with a new killer feature for the paid version? The problem is that the free version solves a very large portion of the pain-point, so the incentive to upgrade is probably not big enough, except if you explicitly need the pro features.

I’ve been debating killing the free version. I’ve decided not to for now, because it gives me a lot of feedback/bug reports and also a converting customer once in a while. I’m going to split test my landing page without the free version and see what happens.

Has anyone been in a similar situation? It’s a hard nut to crack for me.

(my website is https://wppusher.com)

I’d recommend grandfathering your current free users in (don’t degrade their features) and going forward, reduce the usefulness of the free version without totally neutering it. This is not same as “making it worse”.

Hi Peter,

This statement is the key above, I think. Have you asked your customers what they want in a pro version of your plugin? It’s possible the answer is nothing, in which case, you may need to rethink the monetization in a different way (for example, provide priority support to those who pay for X months of it). But if your premium version simply doesn’t have what the customers need, you just need to make it more compelling to them.

I’d start having conversations with your users directly, that’s going to yield the best results here. Guessing will only leave you frustrated and in the dark. When I spoke with users during support interactions for AWPCP and Business Directory, I always got really great information about how they used it, what they felt was missing, and how I could improve their sites by adding certain features, premium or otherwise.

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So keep free version as it is and only add new features to pro is what you’re saying, right?

I think that’s a very valid piece of advice!

Yesterday, I sent out an email asking what people needed in the product. I got really great feedback that is very actionable. I think I’ll do the same thing again very soon, but ask more specifically about the pro version.

Cool plugin! Do you have any ideas of what functionality to remove? Seems like there isn’t much you could remove in a straight forward way.

Almost wonder whether this product would lend itself reasonably well to an advertising model. Since people probably go in to use it relatively frequently whenever they want to install (or update?) a plugin or theme.

Assuming that you have other wordpress plugins that you sell in addition to this, maybe you just drop some ads in for those other premium plugins?

And agree with @daverodenbaugh that discussions with customers will probably be your best bet.

Hey, thanks for input!

I don’t think ads is the greatest idea for my product. User base is not large enough that I think it’s worth it… I think I just need to make pro more tempting. Maybe by adding some limits to the free version. Or by adding even better things to pro. It’s a bit difficult for me. I don’t have other plugins at the moment.

And yeah. I definitely need to talk more with my existing users! It’s a great idea :smile:

GREAT plugin. I’m going to give it a test drive this weekend. There is a huge market for this I would think among Wordpress developers.

A few ideas… I think for sure your free version is way too lenient. I’d recommend changing your free tier to have unlimited public repos (because open source), and a small number (or none) of private repos. Generally, private repos are for commercial projects. Sure a regular person might have one or two private repos, but certainly not “unlimited”. Are you collecting data on the number & type of repos? You can probably find a good spot to draw the line.

The tougher part is how to do your pricing for the different paid versions. You could do some variation on # of private repos available or maybe how many sites the paid version can be installed on.

I agree that you should talk to your users about new features. Some of them can go in the free version, some will go in paid. Also reach out to communities like the AdvancedWP facebook group ( https://www.facebook.com/groups/advancedwp/ ) which is full of WordPress devs. They opened a slack group a few days ago as well.

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Hey! Thanks for your input. It’s really great.

Your ideas about limiting the amount of private repos is great I think. It’s similar to GitHub, so it’s easy for people to understand.

Shoot me an e-mail (peter@wppusher.com) after you’ve tried the plugin! Would love to hear your thoughts!

Or no private repos? After all, if the person is happy to pay Github for a private repo, they should be happy to pay you? Just a thought…


Yeah I agree. No private repos in the free version. If they can pay Github, they can pay you.

Nice plugin idea. I don’t need it for myself but I can see how that would be useful.


Only problem is that many WordPress devs use Bitbucket only because of the free private repos… So I’m not sure how to approach it.

This! This was my first thought when I seen “Unlimited themes & plugins, Unlimited repositories” in the free tier.


One repository only, and only a public one.

Now, this proposed change assumes there is a number of free users that “abuse” the product by using it for many repositories, and that by restricting them in this right you’d move them into a paid tier.

That assumption can be validated, can’t it? Can you collect statistics on the usage? Do you have a “call home” functionality in the plugin? If not, you should add it and then you can make the decision based on numbers.

Otherwise it could turn out that the free users only use the plugin for one repo anyway, and the needle won’t move.

The division is not “free-paid” repo, but “public-private”. Your free tier should allow public repos, but not private.

We assume that private repo correlate with commercial purposes (even if the repo wasn’t paid for), so the privacy itself is a good indicator.


Spot on @rfctr as always! Thank you. Phoning home is not a bad idea. It’s not an option for plugins in the .org repository, but since they removed my plugin, I guess I could maybe do it to some extend - also regarding licenses etc.

Thank you so much guys for all this great advice!

Definitely this. Measure and see what your usage is. How many sites is it installed on, how many repos, github/bitbucket/selfhosted, private/public.

You have a couple of ways to tackle this (after seeing your usage patterns :smile:).

  • Allow a single private repo. This is great for people who just have a private project, or are kicking the tires to test it.
  • Keep the free version for public only, and have a teeny-tiny “semi-pro” version for a small amount that unlocks a private repo

I think the key is to remember that they are getting a value from that private repo, so deploying that code in an automated way has value too. I still maintain that the majority of private repos (free on bitbucket or paid on github) are for commercial use. Even if not, their privacy has a cost as well.

To avoid making all the current folks angry that they don’t have access to all of their private repos anymore, make sure you get them a chance to get grandfathered in.

I’ll definitely let you know. I’ve bookmarked some time over the weekend to test it out. Personally, it would solve some workflow issues for me on certain projects.

Great ideas!! Semi pro is a good idea. Maybe it would make sense if my “personal” license was limited to a reasonable amount of private repos maybe.

Also, I think I’ll have to look up what “grandfathering” means soon :smile:

Thank you guys!

HA! Grandfathered means: “a provision in which an old rule continues to apply to some existing situations while a new rule will apply to all future cases”

In your case, all the existing users who have unlimited repos will continue to have unlimited repos even after you change the plans/tiers.

It makes sense. Thank you! :smile:

Oh yeah, sorry - I think that’s a term used primary in North America.

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