Freemius Checkout Aims to Take The Hassle Out of Selling and Managing WordPress Products

When it comes to selling commercial WordPress products, it’s common for developers to use a myriad of plugins to handle different aspects of the site. For example, Easy Digital Downloads handles commerce while the Software Licensing add-on addresses license keys. Depending on the complexity and the number of products involved, maintaining and configuring such a site can be a complicated nightmare. A new product called Freemius Checkout aims to remove the complexities associated with selling products on your own.

Freemius Checkout provides just about everything a developer needs to easily sell a plugin or theme. Developers can manage plans, coupons, deployment options, licenses, and much more from the dashboard. You can also create and manage add-ons as well as hook into third-party services using webhooks. Freemius Insights is built-in allowing you to obtain detailed analytics from users.

Freemius Checkout Analytics Dashboard
Freemius Checkout Analytics Dashboard

In order to manage licenses and take full advantage of Checkout, developers need to integrate the Freemius SDK into their plugins or themes. The SDK provides the code necessary for customers to input license keys when upgrading to the premium version. It’s also what connects the product to the Freemius service allowing developers to manage various aspects of it from the dashboard.

Freemius SDK Integration Instructions
Freemius SDK Integration Instructions

Although the SDK is geared towards WordPress integration, the buy button it generates can be placed anywhere you want to sell the product. Developers can control deployment by uploading the product’s zip file to Freemius. Once uploaded, you choose when an update is available to customers by toggling a switch.

Freemius Checkout Deployment
Freemius Checkout Deployment

Vova Feldman, founder of Freemius, says the service is not a marketplace and since payments go through Stripe.js and PayPal Express Checkout, transaction data is not stored on its servers. Freemius Checkout handles the commerce, management, and deployment portions of the plugin requiring developers to focus on marketing efforts.

Freemius Checkout is Too Expensive For Some to Make The Switch

For those looking to make the switch from CodeCanyon and other marketplaces that use revenue sharing models, Freemius takes 10 percent plus 30 cents per sale, which includes the gateway fee.

For some developers, the Freemius revenue sharing model is cost prohibitive to make the switch. Jeff Matson, creator of Notifybot.io, manages his commercial plugin through a combination of Easy Digital Downloads and the Software Licensing extension. Matson explains why selling through Freemius is too expensive for his tastes.

“Freemius Checkout seems to make sense for smaller sellers who are doing a very minimal amount of revenue, but when you get to the higher end of the spectrum, it’s going to get expensive quickly,” Matson said. “With marketplaces like Envato, they are promoting your plugins and themes, so the cut makes sense; but for software licensing alone, you’re going to start dreading that percentage.”

So what would it take to get people like Matson to switch? “I like the idea of a hosted plugin/theme licensing model, but I really think there needs to be alternative solutions in terms of pricing,” Matson said. “A per-install tier like the other products Freemius offers would be nice.”

Two items that are seemingly always in demand are convenience and simplicity. It will be interesting to see how many product developers make the switch or use Freemius Checkout outright to handle the product side of their businesses. There’s much more to Freemius Checkout than what I’ve covered here. To learn more about the service, check out the launch post or sign up for a free account.

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16 Comments


  1. Thanks for the cover @jeffr0. With regards to Jeff Matson’s comment about the pricing, it’s important to mention that we cover the gateway fees, so it’s only 7% rev-share. In addition, we absolutely understand that a plugin/theme developer/business that makes a million bucks a year won’t pay us $70k. Therefore, on high volumes, there’s room for a lower percentage that will make it a win-win offering for both sides.

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    1. That’s starting to look a bit better if you’re covering the payment gateway as well. In terms of volume pricing, that makes much more sense.

      Another concern that I have is the simplicity of moving licenses to and from Freemius. What methods do you have in place for that?

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      1. We have a fully documented REST API you can leverage for migration (http://docs.freemius.apiary.io/). In the future we might built migration tools for common solutions. Though I don’t think that devs who are already have EDD / WooCommerce in place will migrate. Am I missing something?

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    2. I do see the value when you are absorbing the gateway fees AND the licensing infrastructure. How do you get the money to your developer customers though? There will be another 1.9 to 3.4% charge if you are paying the developers via Paypal (if developers are charging customers directly there is one less round of charges).

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      1. Hey Alec, sorry for the late response, didn’t see your comment. Great question! Currently it’s PayPal, but since we are part of PayPal’s startups Blueprint program, there are no extra fees. In parallel, we are working on integration with a payouts provider that offer very-very affordable flat bank wire fees ($1 in US & Canada, $4 in 65 countries, and $10 in the rest of the world).

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  2. The magic little button to place a buy button anywhere (even outside of the WordPress environment) is what is killer here. You could sell your plugin via your site, email marketing (maybe?), forums… wherever. That’s a huge deal.

    Props to Vova and his team for continuing to push the envelope by building tools to democratize the WordPress economy.

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      1. Yea and how is it that we both had big launches this week but didn’t coordinate better? Sigh.

        It’s probably my fault for telling you we were launching May 1st and then spending most of May running in circles and ironing out wrinkles.

        Congrats. I really do hope this (and Insights) brings you success while opening doors for plugin developers.

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  3. So not only a service that spies on the sites it is installed on, but also spies on all my transactions, and when it is down I am just going to lose who knows how much revenue because only then I will start to even look into how to make my own shop….. and whatever plugins I wrote will not work with updates from whatever solution I will select because the code is not in them and I will need to start finding a way to notify client which will probably be upset with me.

    I truly don’t get the value proposition here. You need to be extremely small to even take such an unneeded risk.

    yes it can take time to understand how EDD software licensing works, but it probably takes more time to design your “store” site.

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    1. Hi Mark, are you using Google Analytics on your site? My guess is yes. There’s a reason why you don’t build/set-up your own analytics solution even though GA is a service – it’s time consuming and it’s not your core business & expertise. We are not in the espionage business and our business model is rev-share (we don’t monetize the data). I understand that it’s not a solution for everyone, and happily there are alternative self-hosted solutions you can use (EDD / Woo).

      Happy to set up a Skype to dig deeper, get your feedback and address your concerns. My email is vova@freemius.com, always happy to chat with fellow passionate devs like you.

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      1. Yes, things that are not your core business, should be a candidate to being outsourced. Selling and earning money is usually a core business of a plugin/theme developer. You have to depend on something like paypal to be able to get money, but even this is not without its failings and the people that could not get their money out of paypal will testify about it, but paypal is an unavoidable evil for small companies.

        I think you are right in identifying needs with both the products but your solution is off. While the value of privacy for the analysts is a fuzzy thing, lets ignore it, but for the shops you want a market place commission (apple is reducing now the commission for the app store to 15%) without actually supplying a market place.

        I think both you and your potential users would be better served by a service that sets up a droplet on digital ocean or a node on linode with all the required infrastructure. Yes this way you are not going to get rich, but right now you attract people that just don’t want to risk any money at all and you are betting that this kind of people will make successful businesses. If they will, one of the first things they will do is to leave you.

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      2. @mark you are right, money is essential component for a business. Therefore, you must take in count the set up, development & maintenance hours as part of the equation.

        Same as you don’t develop your own gateway to save the 3% commission from Stripe.

        We invested thousands of dev hours into the service and it comes with a LOT of value. Just one example, EU VAT support.

        If developer will choose to move from Freemius in a certain stage – we won’t stay on the way. In fact we’ll be proud that we helped a developer to grow enough that they can build their own solution.

        Most WordPress developers are not tech savvy like you, they don’t want to handle with droplets or any sys-admin related headache ? Most devs just want to focus on building amazing plugin/theme features, and Freemius is here to handle the rest.

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  4. Second thought, now that code is actually pushed from there, it is just such a prime target for hackers I don’t see any reason why anyone should be trusting them before they disclose their security measures and who is auditing their code and security practices.

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    1. Mark does provide a few good points here. If Freemium Checkout got huge, and got compromised, every developer on there is in a world of hurt.

      @vova I believe your intentions are pure, but this is the same sort of thing that tanked Stream 2.0. People simply don’t want their data in unknown hands. Sure, we give our information to people like Google or Amazon regularly, but you don’t quite have the reputation, nor size that they do.

      I do think it’s a solid idea, and I’m considering the idea of testing it myself, but it’s going to be a bit of a tough sell.

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      1. @Jeff to support automatic updates, you’ll have to host the plugin on your own repo or using a service. Trust me buddy, hosting it on your WordPress (e.g. via EDD) is x20 less secure. Not because the WordPress e-commerce solutions are not secure, but because you’ll have 20 plugins and themes, most of them written by self taught developers without any sufficient security knowledge. And the sole reason the community trust them is because they are listed on WP.org (2 people review ~50 plugins a day, not really secure). So yes, we’ll probably be more interesting target for attacks, but we are by far more qualified to fight those. Just the fact that our backend code is proprietary makes it 10 times harder to find vulnerabilities. Also, we use AWS S3 secure links, that makes it harder for attackers.

        Bottom line, it’s easier to hack your WordPress install then our service.

        Yes, we (still) don’t have Google’s or Amazon’s credibility in the WP community. If you can’t take the risk of hosting using a service, services like Freemius are simply not for you.

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      2. You do realize that you basically claim that all wordpress developers are crap except for you? This is quite a high bar you put for yourself

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