I spend my afternoons and evenings working with startups, and these days many of them are in the WordPress community. It's easier for me that way – there's more natural consolidation and alignment than if my coaching were with other startups and I still spent time writing and using WordPress.
In just about every call I've had in the last two weeks, I've noticed a trend. It's a scary one.
Programmers are Pricing Poorly
I'm the one arguing for higher prices and the folks behind some amazing plugins, themes, and services have under-priced. But they're not under-pricing for the normal reasons like insecurity and lack of self-worth.
They're pricing at ridiculously low prices simply because they don't believe the market can sustain a higher price.
But I beg to differ.
You see, I think this “race to free,” which is what I'm calling the trend for low price demand, will hurt everyone.
It will drive really great entrepreneurs towards other markets. It will drive some products into complex products at higher prices. And it will rob the community of some great products and programmers.
Let's look at three simple but different examples.
Pure Productivity — Gravity Forms
Gravity Forms does a ridiculous amount of things for your site. From contact forms to list building forms, to polls and quizzes, to surveys, to registration systems to post capturing. On a single site, I've seen it replace 20-30 hours of work, easily. Now imagine using it on 10-20 sites in a year. Easy math, incredibly conservative math, would suggest it saves you 5-10 hours a site.
I don't care if you're charging customers $1,000 a site or $10,000 a site. You can do the math on how much it saves you. In fact, in some cases, it's not about saving. It's about empowering. There are some projects you just couldn't take on without Gravity Forms. So why isn't their developer edition more like $400?
If you're worth $50/hour and it saves you 5 hours a site, and you do 10 sites a year – it's saved you $2500 – right?
So let's be honest — at $200/year it's still about half off of what those guys should be charging.
(By the way, some of you are worth way more than $50/hour, do way more than 10 sites a year – you know who you are.)
Customer Training — WP101
It's up to you to calculate your own hourly rate. But let's say you're still wondering about all that and come up with a really conservative number: $40/hour. I know you're worth more. But let's go with that.
You build sites for people. And you know what they do? They call you. They have questions. And the moment you pick up the phone, you lose money. Because you can't earn your regular rate while doing a free support call.
So what should you do?
Send them to wp101.com — that's what you do. In fact, send them to the site before you finish your work — so they can start getting trained in advance.
For $36 they'll train your customer via more than 17 videos. Now seriously — assuming your time is valuable and you're charging well for your projects — wouldn't you pay $50 for someone else to take care of your customer training for an entire year?
I know I would. In fact, it's the reason I'm a customer. So let's be honest — wp101 is selling a year's subscription at 30% off.
Complete Solutions — WP Courseware
A lot of the folks that email me about membership and online training/e-learning solutions want to know about the best approach to take for their unique situation. As they write to me, they tell me about their plans and the products they're creating.
These are often some pretty serious and amazing things people are building.
So you can imagine the shock I might feel when people suggest that buying a plugin that will do 75% of the sites functionality (all in a single plugin) may be too costly — at $47.
Seriously? Do you have any idea what it used to cost to build a solution like what you get from WP Courseware? Thousands of dollars. In fact, when I work with clients to build their learning solutions or membership sites, I still charge thousands of dollars.
You know what I don't do? I don't complain that I can get a Developer license for $127 — for unlimited sites, unlimited upgrades and lifetime support. Are. You. Kidding. Me?
We could go thru the exercise to evaluate your time, the time savings, and all that. But you're likely to tell me that you can get something else for less or for free.
That's just crazy talk. Do me a favor — go get it now for $127 before they come to their senses and start charging $250 for that Developer license, or turn it into a yearly license.
You'll thank me later — trust me, you will.
WordPress Plugin Prices are Too Low
Here's what I know. These prices are all way too low. I set aside a budget of $2000 a year for plugins that help me make money. The last several years I've not spent it. Know why? Because the market keeps pushing these prices down. And the message is wrong because eventually, some folks are just going to look at doing something else.
You may not be in the place to set aside $2000 for tools. But if you aren't — let me ask you some very pointed questions:
- Would you visit a dentist who wasn't using digital x-rays?
- Would you take your car to a mechanic that didn't understand the role of computer chips in cars/diagnostics?
I'm not saying $2000 is a magic number. For me, it's a small portion of profits from a year of consulting. It's truly a tiny amount. For me. But you may need to set aside $500. And grow it over time.
What you can't do, what you shouldn't do, what I don't recommend you do – is complain about the prices of the tools that make you move more quickly and allow you to generate revenue easier and faster. That's just wrong.
Even if you don't run out and spend some money with some amazing plugin developers, like Pippin Williamson and his incredible e-commerce solution, send them an email thanking them for being so generous as to offer such amazing trades of product for such small amounts of cash.
Trust me, they'll love your email.