The dangers of pricing in WordPress business models

Tom McFarlin warns against the unsustainable practice of WordPress theme and plugin providers selling lifetime support.

But although the amount of money that the business is making increases over a short time, thereโ€™s not a solid amount of cash flow. That means that eventually, youโ€™re working towards a point where the amount of money coming in is not going to match the amount of money needed to pay the original team and those who offer support.

At this point, there are N-number of people continually asking for support, expecting updates, and so on, but thereโ€™s no money coming in to support that amount of work. That is, the customers have paid a one time fee of $50 for an unlimited amount of service.

Thatโ€™s part of where the problem lies: When you offer unlimited support, youโ€™re not just offering support. Youโ€™re also offering continual updates (because WordPress is under constant development), support for a variety of web hosts (because customers are not one-size-fits all), and youโ€™re placing more demand on the staff of the product rather than on the customer base.

A great conversation on WordPress business models follows in the comments.

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One Comment

  1. After a few years, and a few hundred dollars into my time at CodeCanyon, I’ve observed an implicit rule about support: it stops when the sales drop off.

    My current WP theme cost me $55 and is actively supported, with 30+ new purchasers per week. But if that number begins to drop, I fully expect to be ‘on my own’ and buying a new theme when WordPress 4.0, or the next major revision of WooCommerce breaks everything.

    In that case, I think it’s perfectly fair for the developer to say: don’t upgrade WooCommerce if you want it to keep working.

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