There are over 60,000 listings in the WordPress plugin repository. And while all are free to use, many offer commercial upgrades. These “pro” versions usually include more robust features and technical support.
Free plugins can be quite useful. But inevitably, you’ll run into a scenario where upgrading makes sense. This is particularly relevant when your website relies on a specific plugin for eCommerce or other advanced functionality.
The decision to put down your (or your client’s) hard-earned money isn’t always easy, though. Both pricing terms and licensing can vary. It seems like each plugin author has a different strategy.
And then there’s the quality of the added features and support. Will they be worth the cost? And will the plugin stick around for the long term?
Indeed, there can be a lot of uncertainty. But not to worry – you’ve come to the right place! Here’s how you can determine if a commercial WordPress plugin is a good deal.
Do the Price and Terms Fit In Your Budget?
So many plugins, and so many pricing structures. WordPress plugins run the gamut from one-time purchases to yearly subscriptions. That’s fair enough – but things can get complicated in a hurry.
For example, there can be several tiers to choose from. The general rule of thumb is that the more expensive the tier, the more features you get.
The number of site licenses offered also varies. Depending on the plugin, the cheapest tier may allow for use on a single site. And while some have unlimited site licenses, others place strict limits – even on their most expensive plans.
And if the plugin requires yearly renewals, that’s also a consideration. The cost adds up over time. Thus, you’ll want to think about your long-term plans for the software.
Most plugins will continue to work if you decline to renew. However, you’ll lose access to updates and support. Therefore, keeping an unlicensed plugin installed is not recommended.
The biggest factors here will be cost and value. If the plugin provides enough value (monetary or perceptual), then there is a good reason to make the purchase.
Do You Need the Pro Features?
Features are often the biggest reason to upgrade to a pro version. And WordPress plugin authors have become adept at showing you what you’re missing.
Sometimes you’ll see grayed-out items in the settings panel. Or those ubiquitous ads in the WordPress dashboard. It’s good marketing in that it creates the temptation to spend money.
Still, you’ll want to think about how useful those extra features are. Will they add anything valuable to your website?
For instance, let’s consider a form builder plugin. Perhaps the free version makes it easy to create a simple contact form. But the pro version includes several extra field types.
If you can envision using those extra fields, an upgrade can be easily justified. They could help you capture more relevant data from users – not to mention improving ease of use. In that case, the power and flexibility make the cost worthwhile.
On the other hand, what if you aren’t going to use those pro features? Sticking with the free version may be your best move.
How Important Is the Plugin’s Future?
Cost and features are important factors. But if a plugin acts as a key cog in your website, so does longevity.
That’s as good as any reason to purchase a commercial plugin. After all, software developers need to earn a living. Providing financial support for the product is a great way to help.
Your money will help to fund future updates. That could include new features, but also security and bug fixes. They’re vital to ensuring that the plugin stays competitive and compatible.
Then there’s the subject of technical support. This can be a huge burden for solo developers and small shops. Sales revenue can be used to improve service and potentially hire staff.
Most of all, purchasing a plugin license lets its developer know that you value its product. That’s crucial, as a lack of user interest can often lead to a plugin’s demise. The more it sells, the better chance it has for long-term survival.
This doesn’t mean that you should ignore cost or features. Rather, it’s a prompt to think about what a particular plugin means to you. Helping to keep it alive might be a good enough reason to stretch your budget.
Are You Ready To Go Pro?
Unless you have very deep pockets, it’s important to carefully consider what you buy. Determining whether a commercial WordPress plugin is a wise investment is part of that responsibility.
Admittedly, it’s easy to go overboard. I can attest to that, as I’ve made more than my share of impulse purchases. Thus, a few plugins are sitting around on my hard drive collecting virtual dust.
And make no mistake about it – supporting WordPress plugin authors makes a difference. Every sale goes to keeping their business afloat.
But it’s also a good idea to look at how that software fits into your plans. It needs to be affordable and have features that add value to your website. If you’re a freelancer, you might also consider the potential for using it on multiple websites.
With so many plugins to choose from, it’s unlikely that anyone can afford to buy them all. Therefore, it’s all about finding what’s most important to you.