WordPress Plugin License Renewals and the Challenge of Churn

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Written By Rob Howard

2 thoughts on “WordPress Plugin License Renewals and the Challenge of Churn”

  1. I get the idea of WP Wallet and the idea of a centralized place for purchasing plugins or themes, which does exist to a degree already (isn’t that what Envato is? Or Freemius?), but this question feels silly to me:

    “How many of us keep track of every single plugin license we buy?”

    Uh, everyone?

    Maybe it’s just me, but isn’t keeping track of subscriptions you pay for a part of running a business and normal accounting functions? I feel like the author is trying to manufacture a problem where there is none.

    Would it be convenient if all WordPress plugin purchases could be managed on the same website? Maybe. But I’m not sure that would resolve the issue of a developer making the first purchase then canceling the subscription and expecting the client to purchase their own license for subsequent years. If the client is supposed to maintain a license themselves, the solution is just to make them purchase it from day one. Then they can track the subscription through whatever process they track all of their subscriptions.

    Really, if you think about it, most businesses already have a centralized place for tracking all of their SaaS (or WordPress plugin) subscriptions – their accounting software. Categorized appropriately, it would be easy to run a report and see every plugin that you’ve purchased, for how much, and when it renews. If a business doesn’t have that capability set up already, then they have way bigger problems than an expired license key.

    • No, I don’t think anyone can speak for everyone, and no big group ever does anything all the same way.

      I’ve heard versions of this “you must be doing it wrong” / “it’s not a real problem” response many times, and I think it’s not only incorrect, but it also discourages different views from being expressed. (It’s often present in the old “who is a ‘real developer'” drama.)

      But in my experience, EVERYONE IS DOING IT WRONG. 😀

      Think about what “keeping track of X” really means in any business, especially the more hands are involved. Is having an emailed invoice, a billing statement on a bank account, an automated accounting expense item, or a spreadsheet somewhere really the same as knowing “Today/tomorrow/next week license X is going to expire if Y hasn’t yet renewed it — and Y is still alive and the person responsible for this at company Z?”

      If you have reminders set up and someone keeping all this well-updated and monitored, you are accruing a lot of overhead to do what WP-Wallet apparently will do much better.

      So I don’t think Rob was manufacturing a problem. That would be a bad business model for WP Wallet as a solution to a non-problem. 🙂

      As to the possibility of making clients purchase all their licenses from day one, how is that a solution? To make it go well, you’d have to get a site into production, assess all the moving parts, document them, give special attention to the breaky bits and single points of failure (including licenses) and then try to educate the appropriate people on the client’s team about this. Maybe set up an email user or alias on their domain specifically to receive notifications from the site and key sources, like plugin companies they use.

      That’s a lot of (ideally billable) work for you and them. Do they have the people and capacity for it? Today? Tomorrow? Syed and others say you should take their money to make this all go away so only you have to think about it. Or a maintenance company. Or a service like WP Wallet…

      It’s really complicated and client-specific!

      It astonishes me there’s not a clear best practice that’s well known for freelancers, small to mid-sized agencies, and those serving enterprise clients. Everyone does it their own way, but does anyone have a fantastic method?

      Why haven’t commercial WordPress product owners made it easier for all these possible stakeholders in their customer base to understand their product, how and why to renew it, and cater to those who have agency/developer licenses and clients using them?

      Seems like lots of opportunities to do things better / less wrong together. 🙂

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