While I remain committed to the open source foundation of WordPress, I do prefer to make a living plying my trade as a developer of quality software that fulfils a need of people willing to pay for it.

I have developed a plugin for use by mainly business users of WordPress, i.e. cases of people using blogs to market their business, or trying to use WordPress as a CMS as well. I would like to 'sell' a 'pro' version this plugin, while still having a base version freely available. I would also like to avoid asking someone to pay for something they don't feel they have to, like charging a bloated distribution fee or something.

I am considering that users of the pro version must be registered members, with a registration fee, and an online registration check when starting the plugin. What other options are available here?


Inspired by Zweiblumen's mention of SAAS, I have envisaged a model where the freely available, no registration, code is more of a skeleton which access the business logic and data through a web service. What do readers think of that?

2 Answers 2


The way I see it you have two options

Paid for plugin

The idea of charging for the Pro version as you describe is a good one. We use a couple of paid for plugins. They tend to be reasonably priced when compared to the cost of setting up and running a website and work well. It's also nice to know we can customise the plugin if needs be as the files are on server (although I am not sure if this is "good practice").

Software As A Service - SAAS

The other option would be to actually offer it as SAAS, ie as a hosted service based around Wordpress using this plugin. I am thinking of your standard "sign up for XXX dollars" and you receive a hosted version of Wordpress. I suppose a little like Wordpress.com. As long you target audience aren't other developers, they will love the idea of not needing to install or manage anything and pay extra for this.

  • ZweiBlumen, wow would you suggest I do the'Paid for plugin', which is more the direction I want to go in? Using an API key as suggested by @phantom.omaga below? BTW, we are also envisaging offering the SAAS model, but later.
    – ProfK
    Dec 4, 2011 at 11:08
  • @profk i too say you should go for a paid one with a API key to keep it secure so that your plugin may not be used in black and the free version will also help you get more customers as its kind of a good advertisement Dec 4, 2011 at 13:51
  • You could link the API to one (or multiple - depending on licence purchased) domain name. This might then give the user one year's "free" upgrades. The exact details of "securing" the API key, I wouldn't be sure about, but I guess you would store a list of api keys against domain names on the validating server.
    – user10617
    Dec 4, 2011 at 21:13

you can modify your plugin such that once you enter a api key (which a user will be issued once it purchases the pro vision) it activates the pro features other wise the user gets free ones only and have the plugin hosted on wordpress.org with api key thing running on your e-commerce website


you can keep the two plugins separate free hosted on wordpress.org and the pro self hosted like http://www.wpdownloadmanager.com/

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