28 Comments

  1. M

    Wonderful post Rebecca and thank you for all the tips you are giving us. I’m bookmarking this.

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  2. Garikai Dzoma

    Wow! I am blown back this is great advice, perhaps the simplest well written advice I have written. Thank you for the nuggets and brevity especially since you could have written a long winded bestseller on the topic like some people. As a person who is just starting in business myself I find the help invaluable.

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  3. Ernest

    Thank you for the heads up and its always a pleasure and great privilege to learn from someone who has been there, done that before. Much appreciated.

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  4. Anon_for_good_reasons

    Great advice in general but…

    People will steal your work and your products. You’ll find your premium digital products sitting for download on forums and it will break your heart.

    Are these products GPL licensed? Because if I buy a premium theme and decide to give it away to people for free, that’s not stealing… stealing is illegal and theft. When I buy a GPL licensed product, I can resell it if I like, and if you think it is stealing then it shows a misunderstanding of the license you are using.

    Of course I understand the debate around this, but that is the GPL and WordPress is built around that, as such perhaps you could have phrased things better?

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    • Zi Yang

      There was a discussion on this post from last week.

      It’s perfectly legal, just unethical. There’s a reason the WP community (and a lot of developers) don’t like sites that share “premium” GPL themes for free without building upon the original work.

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    • Michael Visser

      Anon_for_good_reasons, when I find some of my Plugins being pimped out on nulled sites I too feel heartbroken, you’re correct though that it’s not stealing.

      I add in a referrer detector to offer a support discount to traffic coming from nulled communities to turn that frown upside down. ;)

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    • Rebecca Gill

      When the store first launched the products were not GPL, so my feelings of stealing the product were 100% legit.

      I only switched us to GPL in later years, which by that time, the posting of themes had pretty much stopped.

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  5. Tung

    I’m not sure whether the store featured here sold 100% GPL license products so the following is a only a general comment.

    ***

    Feeling that people stole your product is valid. You brought an idea to life, didn’t give it away for free, but somehow it ends up free for downloads anyway. It makes sense. However, you forget. Before distributing your products, you had to agree to GPL freedoms.

    I made the same mistake earlier in my career. From a designer’s perspective, I felt people were “stealing” my ideas and products. In reality, they weren’t. By releasing my ideas under GPL, I voluntarily gave the ok.

    Many people in the WordPress business jump in head first because it’s popular and bankable, without consciously deciding to support the GPL license. We all have to ask ourselves. Am I supporting open source & making money OR am I just trying to make money? If the latter then it’s simple. Don’t be in the GPL business.

    I read the Tavern now and again, but rarely comment (maybe once a year, if that) because of the drama. This time, I feel like I have to say something to change people’s attitudes because after ten years in the WordPress business, I still have friends who send me GPL products to play with, but some reason they feel the need to remind me, “You didn’t get this script from me. OK?”

    That fear of public disapproval is totally unnecessary and I believe it stifles innovation. For a specific example, the theme business operates under this layer of supposed “originality”. Nobody wants to step on each other’s toes, even if the original product was free and 100% GPL (including CSS parts).

    That’s B.S. Stop trying to reinvent the wheels to preserve someone else’s “originality”. You’re wasting people’s time AND your own. Take the original code, improve it, then push it back out to the world. Someone else will do the same to your improvements. That’s how we all get to the next level simultaneously instead of one person at a time.

    If you run a WordPress/GPL business with the attitude of ignoring “thieves” then you’re in the wrong business.

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  6. Daniel Rubio

    Great read. I really appreciated the FAQs, SEO and Social times suck points the most. Makes me think I need to do better in the SEO department and wonder if I should start building a FAQs page.

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  7. Henry @fotoeins

    Thanks for writing this post, Rebecca. I learned a number of tips which I think will work broadly. Having worked previously on the service side for the academic community, setting aside ample resources and generous time to develop a comprehensive FAQ is worth its weight in gold and avoids future bad mojo for both service provider and clients.

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  8. Rick Rottman

    I’m the author of an eCommerce plugin hosted on the WordPress repository. It’s specific to the First Data Payeezy credit card gateway. I also sell a premium plugin that adds functionality to the basic plugin. Frankly, it’s functionality most users don’t want or need.

    I sell the premium plugin under GPL 3. What I’m really selling is my expertise. What I’m selling is not code, but premium access to me. When someone buys my premium plugin, they get my personal cell phone number and email address.

    If someone wants to give my premium plugin away for free, they’re more than welcome to do so. There’s nothing unethical about it. I just won’t provide free support.

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  9. Dumitru Brinzan

    Many forget that WordPress became so popular and so quickly at least partially because of the numerous people that started creating premium WordPress themes that were not GPL and promoted the platform heavily.
    If WordPress was stuck (like other CMSs) with 10 free themes like Kubrick – it would be a niche product right now that not many people would know about.

    In the end most end users don’t care about the license.
    They see shiny. They want shiny. They pay some money and get the shiny. They have no interest in sharing, torrenting and other stuff.

    Now when WordPress is number 1 – people tend to forget and give credit to the “pioneers”, if you can call theme developers that.
    Sure, many developers earned (and still do) a lot of money out of this – but still, don’t forget the people that popularized it.

    P.S. I think it is wrong and somewhat condescending to claim that GPL completely negates the concept of morality and wherever something is ethical or not. Using a stolen credit card (which results in a chargeback + penalty for the author) to buy a GPL product and then sharing it on blackhat forums – there’s nothing ethical about that.

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    • Rebecca Gill

      I love that you gave that example at the end, because that was a situation I had to deal with. Stolen credit from a Grandma in Iowa to get our theme pack and then distribute on black hat forums.

      Don’t mess with the grannies!

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    • Rick Rottman

      Using a stolen credit card (which results in a chargeback + penalty for the author) to buy a GPL product and then sharing it on blackhat forums – there’s nothing ethical about that.

      Who said anything about using a stolen credit card?

      There’s nothing wrong, immoral, unethical, or dishonest about sharing software released under the GPL. The right to do so is specifically spelled out clearly in the licence. Sharing GPL licensed software is not blackhat. There’s nothing blackhat about it. It’s how WordPress works.

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