Between support costs, website maintenance, and development time, managing a WordPress plugin can be expensive. Despite the costs associated with maintaining Pods, it’s remained free of charge since the day it was created. In September 2011, Pods lead developer, Scott Kingsley Clark, created a Kickstarter campaign asking for $1,500 to help fund Pods 2.0 development. By the time it ended, he received $4,177 with 91 backers.
According to Clark, sponsorship money from Automattic and donations from users are just enough to keep the support team going with little left over to put towards website and plugin development. In what may be a first for a WordPress plugin, Clark has launched a “Friends of Pods” funding campaign that works similar to public television.
There are four tiers to choose ranging from $5-$300 per month. Each tier has perks and benefits including, shirts, stickers, tweets, and placement on the Pods website. You can also donate a one time amount or become a pillar sponsor. Those who donate $25 a month or more are eligible to choose rewards every six months, which are provided by reward partners.
The funding will be used to decrease private development of Pods and focus more on Pods core, related plugins, and integrations. It will also free up time to work on Pods 3.0 and improve its documentation. “Through Friends of Pods, we will grow both in terms of improving the code and strengthening our community. We also plan on adding “Pods Development Partners” to the Friends of Pods site soon as well as other cool tools to help our friends grow with Pods,” Clark said.
It’s unclear whether this model will work, but it gives Clark and his team an opportunity to receive recurring income without charging for Pods. If the experiment is successful, it would give plugin developers another option to earn recurring income while keeping their plugins free.