March 2, 2020

Removed the free version of the plugin

Ferenc Forgacs @feriforgacs

I launched the free version of Story View back in September and my main goal with it was to reach a wider audience of potential customers. My hypothesis was that it would be much easier to sell the pro license of the plugin to those who already used and liked the free version of it. It looks like I was wrong.

The free version got 60 downloads and with zero upgrades. I didn't send sales emails to those who downloaded the free version of the plugin. There was only one follow up email a week after they made the download. Only one person sent a response to that and it was about a download issue.

The UI of the free version contained several links that pointed to the PRO version of the plugin and I also highlighted what are the features that are only available for PRO users. It seems like that this wasn't enough to convince anyone to make an upgrade.
Maybe the limitations in the free version weren't enough, maybe they didn't want to use it after they give it a try. I don't know.

We'll see what happens now that only the PRO version is available.

  1. 2

    Follow up and let us know how it goes!

  2. 2

    My opinion on free stuff is that you use it to generate leads. If you create something free that is directly relevant to the audience you eventually want to sell something to, it's a good way to show them you can provide value.

    I use free things as lead magnets for my product. My product is a plugin for Adobe Illustrator that quickly exports and sorts logo files. It is $99. There is no free version of my product, but I do give away a tutorial that shows how to export logos quickly from Illustrator (using built-in methods).

    Customers can download that for free and see that I know what I'm talking about. They can also compare that process to what I am offering for a cost.

    I know they are likely interested in my product if they download the tutorial, but I don't have to worry about them getting upset when I suddenly try to charge them because the freebie is an entirely separate offering from the product.

    1. 1

      I had the same intention by providing a free version of the plugin but I'm afraid that the free version was too "powerful" or the PRO features don't worth the price. Or these two together. Or something else I'm not thinking about :D

      I think my target audience is huge (WordPress users) but I'm afraid that most of them are looking for free solutions as the base platform is free as well and there are free alternatives for almost anything. This makes me think that maybe this is not the right space for me if I want to make a living from my products.

  3. 2

    I always used the freemium model for my plugins and it works very well. Clearly it has its downside. When a freemium product doesn't convert it can be for many reasons but it's not a fault of this business model.
    You said "maybe they didn't want to use it after they give it a try. I don't know." You really should investigate it! I use Freemius to get stats about my free users and to understand the reasons of uninstall and get also their emails.
    Said that I also chose to give a try to only-premium model for my latest plugin https://wp-gallery-effects.com However I started from a different need: in my case I wanted to avoid supporting a free plugin, which is a cost I'm not happy to pay.
    I launched the plugin 1 month ago and got only 1 sale, the problem of premium-only is you need to market your product and I'm not good at it :-\ I'm working on SEO but it requires time to work properly.

    1. 1

      I'm sure I didn't do everything right :D as this was the first time I used this business model and I'm also sure it works just fine when you know how to use it properly, I saw lots of great examples.
      You are right that I should find the reason why no one switched to the premium version. The worst-case scenario is nobody will tell anything to me, but that won't make my situation worse.

      1. 2

        Consider a simple but very true fact: people doesn't tell you anything until you asked them for a feedback. Another cool feature of Freemius https://freemius.com is they automatically send an email to users who uninstall a plugin asking why they uninstalled. Few people answer but someone sent me valid feedbacks so I was able to understand some aspect of my plugins that weren't working well.

        1. 1

          Very true.
          I have another product (a Shopify app) where I send an email to the customers right after they install, uninstall the app. No one sent a response yet, but I hope one they somebody will send me some valuable feedback :)
          I'll take a look at Freemius as well as now I'm handling the plugin update, hosting, upgrade process mostly by myself.
          Thank you for your comments.

          1. 2

            I strongly recommend Freemius! They handle the plugin updates plus some useful marketing actions like cart recovery, survey after plugin deactivation, beta programs, trials and many more nice things.

  4. 1

    I had a similiar situation in my project. I had a PRO button everywhere, and no one would even click it (I tracked). I think people don't repect when something is for free and have a PRO version.

    1. 2

      I displayed the "notification" about the pro version where it was reasonable. For example where I made some limitations in the plugin. This means that there were about 5 to 7 different locations where the users of the free version saw it. I didn't want to annoy them but maybe I had to try more ways to convert them to paying customers.

  5. 1

    When something is free, then the users treat you as if they don't own anything and show no interest to build relationship with you.

    1. 2

      Not always true but I admit a lot of users of free products have no respect at all for the product and who made it

    2. 1

      I had to give it a try :D

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