What do we mean by a free WordPress plugin? why is there a free and a premium WordPress plugin out there? What motivates people to write free plugins and why you SHOULD be using free plugins as well as premium plugins.
Free WordPress plugins
The main place to go to find a free WordPress plugin is over at WordPress.org this is where you’ll find a plugin that can do almost anything you need to do. While writing this, the current top five best free WordPress plugins in 2013 are:-
- Jetpack by WordPress.com
Downloaded 4,785,219 times
- WordPress SEO by Yoast
Downloaded 4,323,547 times
- WordPress Importer
Downloaded 4,352,109 times
- Contact Form 7
Downloaded 10,403,128 times
- Google Analytics for WordPress
Downloaded 4,410,291 times
These plugins all do some really good things and hence why they are so popular. They’re the current “trending” plugins that are being downloaded over at WordPress.org.
Why do people write these free plugins? What motivates them? This is tricky to answer as WordPress plugin developers write code for many many reasons.
- WordPress may employ them to write cracking free WordPress plugins
- They may offer services on the back of the plugin (Yoast does this)
- They may just enjoy to code and like their code being Open Source
Take a closer look at the WordPress.org free plugins directory…
24,439 PLUGINS, 439,666,093 DOWNLOADS, AND COUNTING
Wow… that’s a LOT of free WordPress plugins and a lot of free downloads. So… do all of the above plugins fall into one of the three categories above? Yes? No? what do you think?
For over 24,000 plugins to be up for free on the WordPress plugin store there must be something else?… did you vote something else?
Freemium WordPress plugins.
This is my “something” else.. there a lot of “Freemium” plugins out there which give you a “basic” version for free – with the aim to grow a userbase and have people upgrade to the more powerful, better “pro” version where a fee would be charged (sometimes cheap, sometimes expenses).
A couple of close to home examples of “freemium” plugins are the following:-
Pics Mash: An Epic Plugin own development. The basic free version giving simple facemash for wordpress type voting but all the settings, sharing and templates are only in the pro version.
Social Gallery WordPress Plugin: A stormgate special with epic support. The ULTIMATE social lightbox has a free version available to “try before you buy”.
There are lots and lots of other free to premium WordPress plugins. Which leads me on to
Premium WordPress plugins
The final corner to the triangle, plugins that are premium and don’t have a “free” counterpart. Examples are most of the Epic Plugin gallery as well as things like gravity forms or any of the plugins over on CodeCanyon
Why do these plugins exist? Well there’s a market for them.. and developers who spend time making these plugins sometimes cannot afford to just write code because they enjoy it, there’s bills to pay and mouths to feed as well as future projects to fund.
They also exist because they can use techniques and programming quality at a different level, they’re truely awesome and can be worth much much more than the ticket price. The Social Polling plugin and related sidebar plugins can really help any blog post “go viral” as people are shown what poll is voted on and takes you to the article. Try it out on either of the polls on this page to see how it works.