In the last couple years things have changed dramatically in the WordPress plugin ecosystem and users need to beware of costly premium plugin subscription renewals. That’s because some plugin developers are raising their prices, sometimes nearly 500% more than the original subscription cost. In some cases those prices are escalating so dramatically small local businesses are being priced right out of the ballpark! I’m sorry, but for some plugin subscriptions I’m beginning to feel like I’ve been robbed!
To be clear, I have always been a big proponent of using paid premium plugins and don’t ever mind paying reasonable prices for annual subscriptions. Yes, I want my plugins to be maintained and I’m more than willing to pay the cost. The thing is, when I purchase a subscription based plugin at one price and then when it’s time to renew, the price goes up double, triple or more, I feel like I’m being taken advantage of. In fact, increasing prices that much is ridiculous and that’s where I draw the line and bail out! Unfortunately, replacing a plugin can be a project all on it’s own, so it’s imperative to have a plan in place before hitting the delete button.
See below two real examples of subscription based WordPress plugins with renewal prices that have skyrocketed. It’s so unfortunate and existing customers are taking BIG financial renewal hits!
Yoast SEO Premium Subscription Increased Over 400%
For example, the Yoast SEO Premium plugin now costs almost 5 times more than it was in 2016! I purchased a license from Yoast that allowed installation on up to 5 sites and the cost was $99! Now, the cost to renew is over $400! Yeah, ain’t that a kick in the pants! Even worse, because we used the plugin for redirects and such, it’s no easy job to delete the plugin and move on to a free solution. With the number of Yoast customers it’s hard to believe the cost of development necessitates the HUGE jump in price!
Alternative Solution to Yoast SEO Premium: Do whatever it takes to switch to a free or less costly SEO plugin. Obviously, Yoast is taking advantage of their existing customers and by their actions, it’s clear they do NOT care. In fact, I’m guessing their business is now more directed toward large businesses and enterprise level customers, with the budget to afford their overpriced plugins! Also, I no longer recommend the free Yoast SEO plugin because it’s bloated, sometimes problematic, and much of what it offers is unnecessary. If you were doing redirects and don’t know how to create redirects without a plugin, the Redirection Plugin is FREE. Combine that one with say, “All In One SEO” and you are all set! You DO NOT need Yoast to keep track of your keywords, internal links or tell you how to write! BTW, there’s another outstanding FREE SEO plugin now available called The SEO Framework. It’s super clean, easy to use and no annoying admin nags.
iThemes WordPress Web Designer’s Toolkit – No More Renewal Discount
We’re not sure of the renewal costs on this one, but we are hearing iThemes customers grumbling in some Slack channels. The word is, renewing customers will no longer get a renewal discount and many are angry and jumping ship. I have been an iThemes toolkit customer for years and in the past my annual renewal cost was discounted 40 to 50%. So, this year instead of paying around $350 it looks like the new renewal cost will be around $700. Sorry iThemes but when it’s time to renew in May you will have one less customer. I’m not saying your product isn’t worth it, but I won’t be able to afford it if the cost is that high. Also, you stopped development on the themes and all your training webinars are now free, which were the two primary reasons I originally purchased your kit anyway.
Alternative Solution to iThemes: This is a tough one because iThemes does offer some outstanding utility based plugins. Unlike the Yoast Premium SEO plugin, the iThemes Web Designers Toolkit won’t be so easy to replace. Still, it is possible and there are other options, but if you have 10 or 20 sites all using their plugins, it’s going to be a job to abandon all their plugins. If using Backup Buddy, I’m hearing good things about the free version of Updraft Plus. Also, the free version of iThemes security works fine. The BEST solution of all is to spend your money on Managed WordPress hosting at Liquid Web. You get iThemes Sync for FREE, as part of your hosting. Your site is backed up every day so there little reason for BackupBuddy. Also, iThemes has stopped development on their themes so if you use one of the iThemes themes, you should be switching to a new theme, ASAP!
Moving Forward With Subscription Based Premium Plugins
Say you’ve found a plugin that solves a problem and it’s just what you need to make your site complete. Before making your purchase check the reviews and make sure the plugin is living up to the hype. Check out the support cases and ask questions. Look at the pricing history. Do your homework and make sure it really is what you think it is. If the current subscription pricing is reasonable I would suggest asking the developers point blank, if they intend to raise renewal prices anytime soon. Most plugin developers offer at least a 25% or 30% discount for renewals. If you can live with your findings, move forward with your purchase.
WordPress Plugin Subscription Bail Out Plan
Anytime I use a plugin, free or otherwise, I always consider what I would do if the plugin is no longer available! If I deleted my premium page builder do I have another good, free page builder option or do I have the skills needed to replace the page builder layouts? This can be a very difficult situation but if you have a plan in place, at least you’ll be ready.
Don’t forget about automatic renewals! I always set advance reminders for each and every paid subscription to see if I want to cancel the auto renewal BEFORE it renews. Be very careful of this one or you’ll find yourself paying an annual subscription for something you no longer want or use.
WordPress Website Audits and Annual Re-Design
I audit all my family websites on a regular basis, every 3 months for SEO and annually for design. For a reasonable cost, I offer the same website audit services to clients. This is a perfect time to check the theme and each plugin. It’s easy enough to check reviews and support to determine if a plugin or theme is being updated and if development is continuing. The minute you smell a rat, it’s time to put your bail out plan into motion.
Final Thoughts About Costly Plugin Subscriptions
WordPress is wonderful and a well developed premium plugin subscription can help make your website something special. As long as the subscription cost continues to be reasonable it’s usually worth it. I’ve been able to reduce the number of plugins to about six for any site I develop. Most are paid, but they work perfectly and rarely do I ever have any problems or errors. However, unless you have an unlimited budget I’d advise using caution and doing your homework. Avoid those developers exhibiting little regard for their loyal, small business customer base and keep learning new skills to limit the number of plugins needed. Do regular website audits and don’t forget to have a solid bail out plan should it become necessary to switch or remove a plugin, especially one that comes with an over priced annual subscription.
I’d love to hear if you have a similar experience with paid plugin subscription prices rising dramatically. Please leave a comment and share so our visitors know which subscriptions they should watch out for.