Few days ago I posted the 100th article of my website. Since the 1st one, a lot of different types of content have been written: tutorials, reviews, in-depth articles, files download pages, creation showcase…
A long way has been made since I am developing this website. It is now time to go to the next level !
I recently made two add-ons for a Badgeos, an award system plugin for WordPress, and I was wondering… why not sell them ? They required a lot of time investment, (several weeks, and they are still in maintenance period), they involved various skills (HTML, CSS, PHP, jQuery, WordPress API), they answer features requests of a product that is run by a company (the main product itself is free and open source, the support is free, but the other add-ons are not), and the product value is pretty high: they can bulk actions that would literally take hours to make with native functions, which means that they can open the plugin to new scenarios. Oh yes, and also, like everyone else, I have to pay the bills, and as exciting as it is, sharing content for free doesn’t always allow that. 😛
Making a first WordPress plugin was already a challenge, but making premiums plugins is a different thing. Despite the fact that you must be absolutely sure of the quality of your product, you to take into account some technical aspect which are:
- Having a platform to sell the product
- Having a platform to allow license checking
- Having a platform which can push the updates to users (no, I won’t be part of these premium WordPress plugin provider who force you to go to their website to download each new updates)
- Having a platform to allow product support
To do this, there is several solutions, but they are not adapted to all circumstances, so it needed a bit of research. So, you can:
- Hosting the plugin on a marketplace (such as Envato). The downside of this is that money is taken on your purchases. So you have to make higher prices for your product, but it may become to expensive for your public.
- Hosting the plugin updates on a dedicated platform (such as WP-Updates). It is quite handy, but it lacks product support possibility, and it is expensive for non-full-time developers (something like 50$/year). Plus, it just delivers updates, it is not a place to sell your product.
- Integrating all the necessary modules (payment, support, licensing…) on a website.
After envisaging all scenarios, I came up with the idea that for an occasional WordPress developers, it may be better to host the solution rather than using third party services. I choose to use the great Easy Digital Download which have an add-on for Licensing. Good thing, I can sell other types of content with it.
I already created this year a website with e-commerce functionalities for a friend (it is not very active for the moment, so I will showcase it in a later article), so I knew it was possible to integrate such modules on my website, but it required some precautions, especially from a security point of view:
- Define users roles and capabilities
- Set login in Frond and prevent access to Back-end
- Open website to user registration
- Adding ways to prevent unwanted user registrations
- Integrate the e-commerce module with payment gateway (the payment is externalize on PayPal for security and simplicity)
- Integrate the License validation module
- Create the products pages layout (custom widgets), but also their archives pages (categories, types etc…)
- Integrate support pages module
- Add logged user only pages (such as the Customer Area, a hub to all members restricted pages, such as the payment history, the download product page etc…)
- Integrate license checking inside the plugins I want to sell
- Integrate auto-update functionalities inside the plugin
Even considering the integration work it needed, extending my website capabilities still appeared like the more flexible solution. The technical challenge seems possible, and because it is on my own website, it is a nice showcase of my WordPress skills, beyond the two premium plugins I want to sell, and beyond the other websites I run.
A couple of weeks after, my website is now ready to have customers and to sell digital products ! 🙂
I plan to sell WordPress premium plugins in a first time (actually, there are already online), but why not also sounds packs, custom ReaScripts, courses, or any kind of digital files and services ? The possibilities are countless !
This e-commerce project can be a great way to develop my professional activities, and I will learn a lot new things thanks to it (I already did). We’ll see how it evolves.
Of course, I’ll still share content for free (artistic creations or other files), and PayPal donations will still be the way to support my work, and will still be very very appreciated (my products are a bit specific to make a living from it and I won’t expect anyone to buy files they don’t need). 😛
Do you want me to sell a special product ? Leave a comment below, and I’ll evaluate your request. I have a business to run now ! 🙂