One of the burning questions we get asked frequently here at SaleSource, when meeting new WordPress developers is: “how can plugin developers make money?” To answer that – you must first consider that more than a third of the sites on the web are built with WordPress – that’s an enormous number of websites!
That means there’s a huge demand for extending the basic functionality of WordPress by using plugins.
Even though WordPress is an open-source community, developing WordPress products or sharing valuable strategic advice about how to grow a plugin business, has become a real opportunity.
It doesn’t have to be just a side project or hobby anymore. Developers are no longer “ashamed” to make a profit by applying their expertise in the WordPress ecosystem.
Basically, there are 4 main approaches for making money out of plugins:
First, you can create a plugin and then sell it on your own website or through marketplaces like CodeCanyon.
If you’re selling on your own website, you have a lot of creative control and freedom, but it requires you to adopt a “business” mindset, which means building a scalable solution that appeals to a broad audience and implementing marketing strategies to drive traffic to your plugin’s site – otherwise – no one will find your plugin and pay for its premium features.
If you decide to start your own plugin business, it’s important to think not only on functionality but also about things like licensing, support, subscription payments, and user experience.
For reference, commercial plugins can be typically sold between $30 and $300 per year, depending on the niche and the problem your plugin solves.
The second approach can be used after you develop a plugin that starts getting traction because you’ll surely get feature and customization requests. At this point, it’s important to remember that you are, naturally, the number one expert who can customize your plugin – therefore, you can offer customizations at an hourly rate of anywhere from $50 to $300 per hour.
There are many plugin businesses that make a considerable amount of revenue from customization requests like this.
The third approach for making money as a plugin developer is using your development skills to create custom plugins for clients. Many WordPress agencies need developers to create custom solutions or customize existing plugins based on their clients’ needs.
The advantage here is that you build a specific solution in the form of a plugin for a single customer and get paid hourly for your work. You don’t need to think about scaling your business, and you don’t need to be concerned if the plugin will work on other websites or environments except for the client’s website.
Fourth, when you’ve gained enough experience and knowledge, you can also share your expertise by educating others through writing blog posts, filming short videos, or creating an online course that can be priced between $50 to $1,500 per person – If you become popular enough.
If you get a big enough audience, you might attract sponsors and advertisers that will be willing to pay for advertising space on your website. You don’t have to actively develop plugins or run a plugin business to make money – you can make a living out of sharing your knowledge!
To sum it up – plugin development is an essential skillset in the WordPress ecosystem, and there are many ways in which you can make money leveraging these skills.
When users get the functionality they need for their websites, and developers can make a living out of doing something they love – everyone is happy! There are many developers in the industry that, with a few simple strategies, have become very successful and are making large sums of money. So there’s no reason you can’t do the same – just go ahead and dive right in!