Premium Wordpress Plugin Best Practices

Hey all,

Was wondering if anyone here knows of some good resources for creating and marketing a premium Wordpress plugin. I’m trying to get a quicker win than a full blown SaaS product, and have a concept that I think might work well as a plugin. As I understand it, the general outline is:

  1. Create basic version of plugin, push to Wordpress repository
  2. Create “Pro” version based feedback from free version, or implement obvious premium features
  3. Create marketing site with payments button for “Pro” version, linked up from the free plugin description page.
  4. Profit

Any resources that dig deeper into this process, or is it pretty much just as outlined above?

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You’ll want input from @bradt if he has anything to share.

I may have a few blog posts to share later when I can dig them up (currently on mobile).

I told the story about how I gathered feedback on the free version of WP Migrate DB to determine if it was worth pursuing a pro version in a talk I gave last year. It also shows how I built my launch list.

I did cheat a little since my free plugin had been in the repo for 4 years already (I had scratched my own itch and released it) and already had some momentum.

I think the trickiest part of this is tackling the right problem. I would recommend finding a free plugin that has lots of momentum but isn’t done very well. Then talk to the people who use that plugin and see if they’re interested in paying for a better solution. If it’s mostly developers using the plugin, then it’s likely they’ll be willing to pay a reasonable price for a better solution and require little support. If it’s mostly bloggers and DIYers, they are likely to be price sensitive and require a lot of support.

A recent example of this is Envira Gallery from Thomas Griffin, which is a much better alternative to the very popular NextGen Gallery.

If you’re working on this on your own, I would also recommend finding a mentor. Preferably someone who is already running a plugin business that can give you advice on launching, features, pricing, etc, help guide you along, and help quell your doubts.

+1 for what @bradt said. Every word.

Abandoned plugins are a gold mine for customer development information if you dig hard enough.

Thanks for the advice everyone. Going to be spending some quality time with the plugin listings and see what I can find out.

In case you’re still looking… I wrote a post on finding WordPress plugin ideas a couple weeks ago that might be useful:

4 1/2 Ways to Find WordPress Plugin Ideas

I look forward to seeing what you settle on building. :smile:


Thanks, you actually have some very clever techniques there that I wouldn’t have thought of myself. I shall give them each a try. :smile:

Here’s a quick link to Brandi’s excellent, “Search by rating and popularity technique”:

(That’s frickin gold, BTW, @NicheDiver!)

As a side note, I’ve been pining for a MailChimp plugin to use on WP that looks great and is quick to integrate. The MC plugin officially supported by MC, ahem, sucks rocks. It’s on the bottom of that list.

Need an idea? There you go!

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Ha! Looks like you just taught me something as well… Until seeing it as a parameter in your link, I didn’t notice they offered a way to “order by” AND a way “sort by.”

I’m going to choose to believe that “sort by” option wasn’t there when I published that article. :blush: Feel free to post your link in a comment over there as well. It’s a great shortcut.