Yesterday, Stephen Ou posted a really interesting question on Forrst about the pricing of his upcoming add-on, ArtsyEditor for WordPress. Having experience in add-on development and sales before, I thought I’d spend the time to write up a proper reply. The following is essentially my answer, with a few bits changed. View the original answer here.
I’ve got a fair bit of experience with selling add-ons to CMSes, and, as I’m sure you know, pricing them is a very hard decision to make. Pricing can make or break a business model. Be that as it may, it’s important to remember that if you get it wrong first time, it’s not the end of the world. Pricing is one of those things that you can always change, and that’s a right you should be able to reserve as the creator of a product.
Pricing also needs to be fine-tuned. If you’re not selling enough, try lowering the price slightly, and if you’re selling lots, try raising it. You don’t have to stick to a price. If you believe you’ve created a good product, you’re allowed to be paid a decent price for it. If you’re happy with the price, and it’s what you actually believe it’s worth, your customers will be too.
As for what to actually price it at, it’s very dependant on your audience. My add-ons are for ExpressionEngine and MojoMotor; both commercial platforms. ExpressionEngine users are more than happy to pay a decent amount for a good add-on that saves them time. Likewise, MojoMotor users are happy to pay for an add-on if it is vital to them.
I charge less for my MojoMotor add-on, MojoBlog, than my ExpressionEngine add-on, Taggable, simply because of the cost of each system. The former is inexpensive - $50 - so I charge $15 for my add-on. It’s not a real investment and $15 is easy to throw away on an add-on. I’m luck that I’ve been able to write a fantastic tool for MojoMotor that so many people need, so it sells a very fair number of licenses.
My ExpressionEngine add-ons goes for slightly more, $29, because ExpressionEngine costs that much more. EE add-ons can be even more expensive: some range up to the over $100 mark. A standard license for ExpressionEngine is $199, and many users see this as an investment. Therefore, they’re willing to pay slightly more for add-ons so that they get a good quality product and great support when things go wrong.
Since Artsy Editor is for WordPress, a free and open source platform, you’re going to struggle charging a lot for it. While a few have made successful business from WordPress add-on development (WooThemes comes to mind), the WP community just aren’t used to paying for add-ons.
Also, since they see WP as a platform that they are investing themselves - and, importantly, their time - into, you just can’t charge a per-site license fee. It will have to be re-usable. A one-off fee for unlimited uses.
As for the fee itself, I suggest something around the $20 area, potentially $19. You’re allowing for unlimited uses after all, and you deserve to be remunerated for your time, energy and skill. The $20 is above the “Fuck it, I’ll buy it” price point where you’ll have many sales but very little support and passion surrounding your product, but not so high that you can’t attract the hobbyists and small-timers that the WordPress community is so famous for.
Artsy looks like it’s going to be a fantastic product and I can’t wait to try it out. It’s always good to see more people getting into the add-on space.
For those of you who are already in this space, how do you go about pricing your add-ons?