Freemium isn’t the Same as Free

Freemium isn’t the Same as Free

WPsitecare is releasing a new WordPress product, CookBook Plugin, for food bloggers who post recipes. Solid. There isn’t many good options for this in WordPress and the only way to keep something professional and polished is to either dog food the theme or plugin yourself to “fund” the development  or to charge outright.

Cookbook is at $49 and WP Site Care plans to launch the product with a 100% commercial business model. Sullivan said the decision not to go the freemium route will be key for the long-term stability of supporting the plugin.

WPsitecare is sidestepping the freemium model so many other plugins choose. Easy Digital Downloads follows this model with a smorgasbord of paid add ons. EDD is hugely successful but it has nothing to do with the base plugin being “free”. WordPress is OSS and all too often users assume they can get it all for free. This is a fallacy doomed for failure.

Freemium isn’t the same as free. There is a great book, Free: The Future of a Radical Price, about working “Free” into businesses and products and I highly recommend you read it. You don’t have to give away something for nothing. You can “sell” a product in exchange for something besides cash money.

If you throw up a plugin on WordPress .org repository and are not generating leads for opportunities to sell elsewhere, then, of course you will not sustain the support that .org will avalanche you.

It’s been stated that people who pay less or nothing will be the most problematic of users. Support time is costly. Unless you already have a large support system, maybe from another product, reduce support cost as much as possible for a new WordPress product to survive. Cutting off free support is the way to go. DO NOT cut off contact. You want all users able to contact you. You want to connect to as many potential customers as possible.

You can still do freemium and not offer support to those users. After all, a user who gains your product via free methods is not your customer, they are a window shopper. Not everyone makes impulse purchases.

You can however use those non-customer users to your advantage. Either as beta testers or word-of-mouth generators. You should never give away without getting something in return if you want your product to succeed. You are running a business not a charity.

Back to CookBook plugin, as WPsitecare stated they are not giving away the plugin but they will pay “Free” in other ways to gain new customers. A method to acquire new customers is to gain their trust. The best way to do that is through blogging. Blogging is just one method to market products. CookBook Plugin can blog “Recipe Blogging” until their fingers bleed and it will drive new customers to their product. The blogging will be the “Free”.

There are more options than freemium or paid. You can do freemium with no support, paid with blogging as a trust generator. You can do freemium AND blogging. I’m not sure anyone has done a study if freemium to cast a wide net will gain more paid customers over not offering a free version but “spending” through blogging or other marketing efforts.

One thing to note: if you are building a product that has a marketplace of paid add-ons then going freemium can be a best method. Create a base core plugin and then up-sell. People actually prefer to shop when there are items to choose from. This doesn’t mean you have to give everything to the “Free” users even if they expect it.

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