To sell independently or to join a plugin marketplace? Ah, but that is the question.
It’s a question that’s stumped many talented WordPress developers over the years, and for good reason: there is no right or wrong answer. Some WordPress developers would do well to sell all the premium plugins they code independently; for others, striking out on their own without the aid of a pre-established marketplace can be a career-killing mistake.
There are pros and cons to both sides of the issue. In this post, I’d like to take a look at reasons why a WordPress developer should sell plugins independent of a marketplace.
1. Set Your Own Prices
As a freelance blogger, I enjoy the fact that I am able to set my own prices for my work. I can charge people what I see fit for each post I write. That freedom is one of the many reasons why many consultants, writers, and yes, WordPress developers go into the freelance market.
But I believe that the same rule of pricing should apply even when you’re not freelancing and instead creating a standardized product for customers.
However, some websites like CodeCanyon (which is the premier marketplace for WordPress plugins) review your product and assign it a price based on what they feel is right. You, the developer, have nothing to do with the pricing process. You can’t change it to test what price brings in the highest amount of revenue either.
Needless to say, when you sell on your own website you set your own prices.
2. Keep 100% Commissions
This is one of the more popular reasons why developers sell plugins independently — they get to keep 100% of the plugin’s sale price (taxes and expenses exempt).
Plugin marketplaces, on the other hand, take a significant share of the moolah — from 70-30% of the total take. Generally, the more copies of your plugin you sell, the higher percentage of the sale price you take home.
Usually, the amount taken by the marketplace is quite fair considering that your product is dialed into an established marketplace that attracts targeted, buying traffic that converts.
Even so, there is always the possibility that the amount you lose to the marketplace exceeds the amount you would lose without its traffic.
3. Manage Affiliates
When you sell a plugin outside of a marketplace, you get to run your own affiliate marketing campaigns and recruit people to sell your product for a percentage commission that you control.
Even though some websites, like the Envato Network, also allow affiliates to promote the plugins you list in the marketplace, you still don’t get to control the affiliate commission rate. Even worse, not all marketplaces have affiliate programs setup.
4. Build a Brand
This last benefit is by far my favorite: by selling plugins on your own website, under your own name, you’re able to build a bigger personal and business brand that will get recognized by others.
Do you think James Farmer, the man behind WPMU Dev, would have the reputation he has today if he had chosen to list all the plugins he developed in some marketplace back when he started? What about Pippin Williamson of Pippin’s Plugins? Mark Forrester of WooThemes?
The truth is, hardly anybody would even recognize those brands today had the developers chosen to sell their coding masterpieces via a third-party network.
I won’t lie to you — driving traffic to your latest plugin by your very own lonesome on a website is ten times more difficult than exploiting the existing traffic base of a plugin marketplace.
But my personal opinion is that if you’re working with WordPress for a living and you have the time in your daily schedule to do marketing, blogging, and plain ol’ traffic generation, go for independent selling. In the long run, the gains in personal branding, name recognition, and yes, even revenue, are worth it.
Do you prefer to sell your plugins independently or with the help of a marketplace? Share you thoughts in the comments below!
Jonathan John is a WordPress enthusiast and freelance blogger. He loves comparing WordPress plugins and themes, sharing the latest Automattic news, and helping non-techies get the most out of the world’s favorite CMS.