In the last couple years things have changed in the WordPress plugin ecosystem and users need to beware of costly premium plugin subscription renewals. That’s because 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!
Premium Plugins are a Good Thing, at the Right Price
Please don’t misunderstand, I have always been a big proponent of using paid premium plugins on all my custom website projects. I don’t even mind paying reasonable prices for annual subscriptions. Yes, I want my plugins to be maintained and I’m 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.
The only way to fight back against excessive renewal prices is to bail out! The problem is, replacing a plugin can be a serious time suck 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! For example 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 SEO plugin. Obviously Yoast is taking advantage of their customers and does NOT care. In fact, I’m guessing his business is now more directed toward large businesses and enterprise level customers with the budget to afford his overpriced plugins! Also, I no longer recommend the free Yoast SEO plugin because it’s a bloated nag, sometimes problematic, and much of what it offers is unnecessary.
All new sites I’m building now use, RANK MATH! I can even do redirects with the FREE version. Even better, I can easily avoid unnecessary bloat because Rank Math makes it super easy to activate only those features I want. Sure, they also have a paid version and prices are fair, but there’s little reason for it. By the way, I highly suggest avoiding using any plugin to add redirects. Much better to add the code on your server in your htaccess file or whatever file your web hosts uses for redirects.
iThemes WordPress Web Designer’s Toolkit – No More Renewal Discount
We’re not sure of the renewal costs on this one, but the Developers Tool Kit subscription is very costly!
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 I got hit for $700. Sorry iThemes but next time around 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. It can be done 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 is little reason for BackupBuddy. Also, iThemes has stopped development on their themes so you should be switching to a new theme, ASAP! I highly recommend Kadence, Astra or Generate Press!
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 my websites on a regular basis, every 3 months for SEO and annually for design. For a reasonable cost, I offer the same, professional 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 and verify renewal pricing for any plugins. 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 really 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 10 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.