Why I’m not building any new Divi plugins, or adding features to any existing ones.

If you’re reading this because you found me through the various Divi Facebook communities, you probably know that I am/used to be a Divi plugin developer. You may have already purchased one of my plugins and found this link on the Atlantic Wave home page.

When I first started in the WordPress space I built a few custom plugins for the Divi theme and sold them on Elegant Marketplace, the most recent (and probably most popular) one being Rebrand DE.

Rebrand DE was launched in June 2016, over two years ago. Since then I’ve not released any new Divi plugins and I’ve only released one free plugin on WordPress.org, roughly at the end of 2016. I’ve also not added any new major features to any of my existing plugins. So why no new plugins, or plugin features, in almost two years?

1. Money

The first mistake I made when releasing my plugins was not pricing them properly. Take a look at Rebrand DE, it sells for $18 once off, which is great for the consumer, but a bad business model for me as a developer, trying to support the plugins. I probably ended up making about $250 a month from Divi plugin sales, but spent at least 5 times as much on support queries, which meant a net loss for me. 

However the income I was (or wasn’t) receiving from the plugins wasn’t the major problem, the major problem was…

2. Time

Building a plugin empire is a game for those who have a lot of free time on their hands. In the first month I made $1500 on plugin sales, but each month after my sales dropped, until they reached the average of $250 a month income I mentioned earlier. At the same time I was supporting customers who purchased the plugin, as well as trying to fix bugs and add new features to the plugins. So I struggled to find time to market the plugins to new customers, or look at how I could do things like increase the price or implement new features.

Essentially the time I spent on the plugins was cannibalising what I made out of them, as well as my main source of income, custom client work. I had to start making excuses for why I wasnt able to fix bugs as quickly or ship new features. As a husband and father it also meant I was spending more of my time on supporting the plugins and less with my family.

I soon came to a realisation.

Having enough time to fix bugs or ship new features meant I would have to increase the cost of the plugins to accommodate. Because I was not clever enough to launch the plugins with things like yearly license/support renewals this meant upping the price dramatically for any new customers but still supporting the existing customers on the old prices. For whatever reason, this didn’t feel right. It was not fair to ‘punish’ new customers for my mistakes.

So, where does that leave us?

Before WordCamp Europe 2018 I decided that it was time to make a decision about the future of the plugins. I had a chat with the owner of Elegant Marketplace and we agreed that they would take over the bulk of support requests and would only contact me if major bugs occurred that needed fixing. I would take a much smaller cut of the profits, leaving me more time to focus on other things. It also meant that the plugins would be ‘feature frozen’ and any new (or planned) features would not be added going forward. 

“I want feature x in one of your plugins”.

If you are reading this because you clicked on a link from the Atlantic Wave site and you want a specific feature in one of my plugins, then you do have the option of hiring me to build it for you. If you choose this route I’m open to a ‘profit sharing’ option, if you’re willing to let me upgrade the plugin for the public domain (ie to be sold with the new feature on Elegant Marketplace) I’ll build the feature at a 50% discount on my development time.

Basically what it boils  down to is helping to cover the cost of my development time, should any new features be requested to be added to any of the plugins. That way you benefit, as you get the feature you want for half of what it would cost you actually build it, and I benefit from the profit share I make on the plugin sales over time.

I will still fix bugs.

I’m still committed to keeping the plugins up to date, so if you find a bug in any of my Divi plugins, please do email me, let me know and I’ll fix it as soon as possible. 

UPDATE (17/10/2019)

I’ve had reports that a few of the plugins are breaking on newer versions of Divi. This is because the Divi theme has undergone some major breaking changes, that affect third party plugins. If your plugin has stopped working due to these updates, I’m afraid I cannot fix this for free, as it will probably require a major plugin rewrite. If you would like to get the plugin updated, you’re welcome to hire me to do so. I am also open to the ‘profit sharing’ discussed above.






4 responses to “Why I’m not building any new Divi plugins, or adding features to any existing ones.”

  1. mot Avatar

    Sad but true. I’m on the same boat, and don’t know what to do. Leave plugin as is and abandon it (no new updates – only critical by one year) or go full open source and leave it to community.
    Hitting the reality wall is painful. You dream about 10000$ monthly and end with beer tip.

    1. Jonathan Avatar

      I had a similar conundrum, the only added aspect was that going full open source would affect the marketplace, which supported me in my early days. I’ve actually (quietly) released the plugin code publicly anyway, but I had to make a hard call, which turned out to the best for me.

      It’s difficult to let people down, but soul destroying to let yourself down.

  2. James Fosker Avatar

    It an interesting look at the industry but in 2016 that was common pricing strategy for plugins, in fact, I still like the once off payment for the plugin, as my heart is always to serve a community.

    In saying that I totally agree with the problems that come with that pricing method, it’s actually one of my biggest considerations in this last year.

    It is a great business to be in but it has got massive drawbacks that none of knew about before we started selling plugins.

  3. Heidi Caswell Avatar
    Heidi Caswell

    I understand. My oldest son wrote much open source, helped develop node.js in the early days. Maintaining his open source code on GitHub would be a full-time job and then some. People get upset when the code he gave away for free years back isn’t maintained and updated to suit all their needs. He does have some very dedicated friends working on some of his projects because they want to and he gives them credit.

    He still loves open source. At one time several companies donated money so he had time to work on a project, but that only lasts so long. Other companies did not support open source developers but freely use the code.

    He is well paid working for various startups. Time is always a real issue.

    I tell clients that when they use a premium plugin or theme what they are really paying for is support.

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