As a relatively new plugin developer, we thought it imperative to explain why you won’t find out plugins on Envato marketplace (Codecanyon.net). This may come as a surprise to many, and quite a few will see it as a red flag signalling lack of security and/or quality control of code. But the true reason, and the reason many developers are walking away from it, is from several causes including pricing, fees and support. So let’s explain our decision in detail.
We get it. Price matters, but no one wants to work for free, or next to nothing. Little do you know when you’re first developing a pro version of a plugin that the decisions on the pricing of your plugin are out of your hands. It doesn’t matter if it has taken you a year to build, the price decision it one that Envato decide. This is unfair and not a way to run a business as a developer. While we know that the market will predominantly decide the value of a piece of work, there is no ability for a developer to place a price on their time or the uniqueness of the plugin.
This is a big one. Massive in fact. Just like their fees.
It’s not uncommon for people to complain about selling fees on Amazon and ebay. Most of the time the fees for those marketplaces are are under 15%, and you are permitted to sell on your own website and elsewhere without being penalised. Envato is very different.
A new developer will pay up to 37% commission on each sale provided they sell their software nowhere else. Popular sellers pay a much lower rate, but it’s still in excess of 10%. However, should you decide to sell your plugin on your own website or a different marketplace the fee jumps to a flat rate of 55%, regardless of how popular the software is. If you make $100 worth of sales, $55 of those go to Envato. It’s an absolute ripoff
Don’t take this the wrong way, we support our plugins. But Envato push it even further.Imagine selling a plugin for $10 then having to spend 20 or 40 hours supporting one customer. If you work an hourly job you value your own time, or you would work for free. Developers are very much the same. We value our time while also loving to support our own products. Envato place rules and requirements on support as well as refunds on the software listed on their marketplaces. This can become burdensome for developers of all sizes.
Ok, we know. GPLv2. We get it. But a lot of effort goes into developing a plugin or theme. Even Automattic charge for plugins, themes and other services. But how does this tie in with Envato?
There is a growing list of GPL sites offering premium plugins at heavily discounted rates. These are generally distributed without the developer’s consent or knowledge. If you look through some of the more popular plugins on Codecanyon you’ll increasingly see developers asking potential buyers for their purchase code. This is because the GPL sites that distribute the plugins don’t support them, so those who have bought a plugin through the GPL will approach the developer for support without ever paying for the plugin.
This is a huge problem. Envato offer no security for developers to protect their own software, and it’s generally an additional cost to add on. While you could argue that it’s unnecessary and pointless trying to stop people accessing free versions of plugins, by handling the sale directly there’s a much lower chance of it being stolen and then distributed. The service that we use includes a licencing system as part of the service.
Recurring support and billing
As a consumer this might stick in a few peoples craw, but as a developer who has to maintain code and support, this is a fairly big one. On Envato a buyer pays for a lifetime licence of a plugin. The developer then has to provide updates for that plugin for as long as the plugin is active. Many buyers also expect ongoing support well beyond the time that the support expired. This doesn’t create a great experience for either buyer or developer. A more popular way is to offer yearly subscriptions.
With yearly subscriptions, developers are able to offer support to buyers for as long as they continue to buy and renew the plugin licences. The developer also continues to receive payment for the ongoing development and support of their plugin or theme. This is a win win for both buyer and developer. Not only do buyers get access to support, but they also get access to updates, which is an integral, and sometimes critical part of a website.
While we’d love to be able to sell our plugins on Enato, it simply isn’t a viable business model for us to support.