Steven Gliebe Launches WordPress Commercial Plugin Directory

More than 38k plugins are available for free on the WordPress plugin directory. While the theme directory has a category for commercial themes, the plugin directory does not.

When Matt Medeiros interviewed Matt Mullenweg earlier this year and asked if the plugin directory could turn into something similar to an app store, Mullenweg replied that the plugin directory will not turn into a market place or an app store and will never host commercial plugins. Outside of CodeCanyon, I’m not aware of any WordPress plugin directory that focuses on commercial plugins.

Introducing Pro Plugin Directory

Steven Gliebe who runs HostingReviews.io and is the founder of Churchthemes.com has launched the Pro Plugin Directory. The site lists commercial plugins from a variety of categories including, forms, performance, and security. Its design is based on a modified child theme of Checkout by ArrayHQ.

Pro Plugin Directory Home Page
Pro Plugin Directory Home Page

Gliebe created the site because he was frustrated that there was no resource for easily locating commercial WordPress plugins.

“Most of the time I do find what I need in the free directory. Sometimes though, I want to see what the commercial options are,” he said.

After asking several members of the community if such a site already exists, he came up empty. “I asked around and found that apparently there is no definitive Pro plugin directory as I suspected, so I thought I’d give it a go. WordPress is 12 years old and it’s beyond time to establish this.”

Monetization Strategy

Maintaining a directory can be hard work and without a way to be paid for the effort involved, interest can disappear quickly. Affiliate links are a natural strategy for the site while another is to sell upgraded listings.

His focus is getting the site established with as many listings as possible. “Right now, my focus is on building up the site and making it useful. If it proves to be successful in that respect then I’m sure there will be a reasonable way to turn a profit and take it to the next level,” Gliebe said.

Scalability

One of the largest obstacles of running a directory is scalability. In the case of Pro Plugin Directory, the submissions come directly from the plugin sellers. The Submission Guidelines have certain requirements to help ensure quality content.

“The original content they submit is in a sense their payment for being listed and gaining exposure. There surely is work to be done but it will not be as heavy as ThemeSorter or similar failed plugin and theme directory endeavors. I basically click approve or reject with the way it’s setup,” Gliebe said.

Search WP Plugin Directory Listing
SearchWP Plugin Directory Listing

How Success will be Measured

Without monetizing the site up front and being a new resource within the community, Gliebe tells the Tavern what metrics he’ll use to measure success.

“Repeat visitors. If I see that people return to the site to find commercial plugin options then I’ll know that it is a go-to resource. I would also like to see search engine results for specific types of plugins return the free plugin directory at position number one and a Pro Plugin Directory category at number two, so that the user has a complete picture of his options readily available.”

The Directory is Useless Without Plugin Submissions

The directory won’t become what Gliebe envisions unless commercial plugin authors submit their plugins. “In order for these things to happen, the directory needs plugins. It needs a very wide selection of commercial WordPress plugins. I need the support of plugin authors above all.”

Although Gliebe is encouraged with the number of plugins already submitted to the site, he needs the directory to be the first thing people think of when searching for a commercial option.

“If it becomes a go-to place for plugin sellers to market their new plugins then it just might work. I figure, if they know about it, why wouldn’t they list their plugins? It’s free, it’s easy, and I’d do it myself before other, harder, marketing tactics.”

Pro Plugin Directory Submission Form
Pro Plugin Directory Submission Form

Does it Stand a Chance?

Creating a commercial plugin directory is not a new idea. Brad Touesnard founded the WordPress App Store which tried to be a commercial plugin directory while making it easier to browse and buy plugins. It didn’t attract the number of eyeballs needed to make the business sustainable and ultimately shut down.

If Gliebe can’t get the support of commercial plugin authors and find a way to get a large number of plugins into the directory within a year, it will likely suffer the same fate.

46 Comments


  1. I would use it if they established an API for plugin developers to handle downloads. If I have to remember auth for a couple of sites to download updates, I’m going to stick with codecanyon instead for paid plugins.

    Take that with a grain of salt though, as I’m pretty much trying to incorporate a sans-paid-plugin philosophy to my site builds. No ability to use package management, no ability to issue PRs to help fix bugs, and no ability to audit code before purchase generally make me avoid paid plugins now.

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    1. I totally agree with this. My number one reason for finding most of my premium plugins on Codecanyon is the relative simplicity of upgrades. If PPD can offer something like that it would be worth using.

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      1. I’m not sure I follow. Plugin upgrades/updates are something that plugin author should provide when purchasing the plugin in their site. PPD is not the place where you purchase plugins. It lists and categorize plugins so they are easier to find.

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    2. This is a directory rather than a marketplace. It is simply a place for users to find plugin sellers to buy from. A very good portion of commercial plugins sellers not on CodeCanyon are using Easy Digital Downloads with the Software Licensing extension which enables one-click updates via the WordPress dashboard.

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    1. Thanks, a good chunk rolled in since Jeff posted this, which I’m grateful for! Hopefully that’s the beginning of a snowball.

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  2. It seems from the submissions page that anybody can submit any type of plugin they like. Is that right? If so, what’s to stop people from submitting badly coded, low-quality plugins?

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    1. It’s not practical to judge the code of every plugin. Since this is not a marketplace where plugins are sold, that won’t be done. Anybody is free to submit as long as they meet the guidelines. The customer can make a quality judgement themselves. There is a reviews feature so I am hoping that will be put to good use. Primarily, though, this is a discovery tool.

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      1. P.s. Best of luck Steven. :)

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  3. An excellent idea. Good luck with the project Steven! I’ll hopefully be submitting some plugins myself in the near future.

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  4. So this is supposed to be a directory for commercial plugins, and yet you cannot submit plugins that are not 100% GPL. This seems like an unnecessary restriction.

    js.

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    1. This is for two reasons:

      1. To support the directory’s credibility

      2. The plugins and themes I personally tend to like best happen to be 100% GPL. I don’t know if there is a correlation between quality and willingness to comply with the WordPress Foundation’s opinion, but I suspect there is.

      With that said, this might change depending on what feedback a get. Does anybody else have thoughts on whether a 100% GPL requirement would be a good or a bad thing?

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      1. Using a 100% GPL or GPL-compatible license should be a standard for any WP directory or marketplace. If I were running it, it’s not even a question I’d pose. I’d rather my directory completely fail than to allow people in who violate, if not the license itself, the principles of our open-source community.

        Realistically, I think a 100% GPL license is a good thing. I, and I’m sure many others, would promote such a place.

        At the same time, I don’t think any of this has any bearing on the success of the directory.

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      2. There are literally thousands of themes now that are 100% GPL compatible. I’m not sure I can think of any ‘advantages’ to not complying with the GPL license.

        Unless you are trying to obfuscate code then anyone can purchase the theme and look through the source code anyway.

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      3. I totally agree. A business using split GPL licensing doesn’t gain an advantage. I think some people worry needlessly about piracy but that happens anyway, and it’s not important. It’s also very feasible to ask people to pay per site to limit updates and support in order to keep costs in check.

        It seems actually that you gain more from going 100% GPL compatible.

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      4. Thanks Justin for your feedback. It really goes a long way to helping me decide what to do and I am certainly leaning towards keeping the strict licensing guidelines I have.

        It may have bearing on the success of the directory. 100% GPL compatible does have its perks as far as getting support from influencers. I mean, this blog itself is owned by Matt Mullenweg and I appreciate the coverage.

        Speaking practically.

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    1. Thanks for the heads up. The host is looking into the issue. Not the best timing but hopefully they’ll solve it soon enough.

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  5. Congrats for the project Steven, it’s beautifully presented and sorted by topic. Hope you can fullfill the gaps and be sustainable over time. It’s good for the WP ecosystem.
    Best regards

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  6. Very much needed and beautifully presented too! Good luck!

    Just one question: the sticking-point for me with many paid plugins is that they don’t offer a lite (free) version with which I can test out the core code. (In fact, I’ve only ever purchased plugins which have offered a cut-down, free version that I’ve been able to test first.) Will you be encouraging all those who list their plugins with you to do that?

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    1. I’m not encouraging them to offer a lite version but many do. I’m listing plugins that are paid only, freemium / Pro upgrade and those using an extension model — anything with a paid element.

      For paid only plugins, many offer a money back guarantee. Now that is something I am a huge fan of and is worth encouraging.

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    1. Tidy Repo is asking for help. Maybe some cooperation and combined forces in this area would come to a sustainable result.

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  7. Just what I was looking for. More plugins to buy that will end up unsupported when sales don’t go through the roof or the developer finds something else to fill his day. Excellent!

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    1. It doesn’t sound like you’ve had a very good experience with your plugin providers.

      I don’t think any of the commercial plugins I’ve paid for have been abandoned. A lot of the free ones I’ve used have been. There’s even less incentive to keep developing when you’re paid nothing.

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      1. I was speaking to responsibility rather than incentive.

        Whether it’s a commercial plug-in or theme, or a freebie, I ante up, because I’m a proponent of pay-to-play and I appreciate the effort regardless. The only difference to me is that when I get something for free, I give from the heart, while when I pay for something, I give from my wallet and I expect the developer to take some responsibility because the transaction mandates it.

        I am amazed and angry when Envato will have a developer promote something for 6 months and then just abandon it, and then allow that same developer to promote another product. That makes people reticent to purchase from anyone without “numbers”, and those numbers don’t always tell you which is the better product, just which one has sold more. It works similarly in the repository, where great freebies get shunned for the ones with a big following.

        I wish you the best – and perhaps in a few years I’ll come around and take a look. Odds are you won’t be there though. Either because you’ve moved on to another toy, or because there are just too many like me out there. Hope I’m wrong.

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      2. Envato is kind of a special case Bob. You tend to get what you pay for, and I’m sure you can see how their model has tended to work. Whether you are buy plugins at Code Canyon or (preferably) anywhere else, take a look at the developer — who are they, what are their creds, what’s their track record, and what are their future goals? Do they even have a personal site or organized company?

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      3. Yeah, I tried to figure out where that link comes from in Gravatar or WP.com a few times in the past. Finally dug it out today in the WP.com profile settings.

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      4. Track records for their profile don’t have anything to do with track records for any particular theme. A typical response from a developer has been:

        “Hi Bob,
        It’s simply a matter of low sales so we retired the theme. There’s no known security issues with the theme, so not to worry.”

        That particular theme ran for 7 months before retirement, as he calls it. And he has other successful themes, so upon research, you would say he’s credible. Is that a symptom of the platform? Perhaps. Envato shouldn’t let a developer just “drop” a product. The product should be noted as being retired and then supported for another year, so those who were duped into purchasing it, have time to replace it. Otherwise, it’s just a scam and Envato has become a breeding ground for scammers.

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      5. I would never say he’s credible without knowing who he is. I meant you should look at their record and identity outside Envato. When it comes to themes, I would definitely avoid TF with a very few exceptions. You are looking for quality and commitment in the wrong place. And if you assumed you had a contractual right to a year or more of support, you should read the actual terms defining what you get when you buy a theme or plugin. You’re not being scammed; you’re expecting more than you should.

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      6. Similar to Dan, I wouldn’t buy a plugin from Envato unless it was made by someone whom I trust. To be honest, I can think of only one author off the top of my head that I wouldn’t hesitate to buy from on that marketplace.

        What Envato needs to do is charge renewal for continued access to updates. Revenue will give authors more reason to maintain and improve old plugins. No item is going to be a hot seller forever. It’s just a bad model and unfortunately they’ll be charging for support soon, but not updates — a huge mistake because what most people need ongoing is updates, not support. It takes time and therefore costs money to maintain a plugin.

        Outside of that ecosystem, most plugin developers are charging for ongoing updates and support (thank you Easy Digital Downloads). They also seem to me more likely to focus on a few significant projects (or just one) instead of many smaller hit or miss deals like I am seeing on CodeCanyon. The shops outside of CodeCanyon are more likely real businesses, not just a listing on a marketplace.

        I appreciate your well wishes and agree that “Odds are you won’t be there though”. That’s true of every project and every business. Not trying means not succeeding, so I try and while most of my projects have failed, I have been successful at making a living from the ones that have succeeded. You’re motivating me so thank you for that and I hope you will visit Pro Plugin Directory in a couple years. I’m playing the game to win.

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      7. @Steven Gliebe,

        This is why it’s so important for developers to offer a free, “lite” version. If everyone were to take your advice, there would be no chance for a new developer to gain a reputation, and thus to have his/her plugins purchased by careful users like Bob and me.

        I know you favor a 30-day money back guarantee, but that just doesn’t cut it. If I don’t know the developer, I’m certainly not going to trust such a “guarantee”. And such a restrictive time period makes it difficult to test the plugin anyway unless building sites is the only thing you do for a living.

        But a developer who offers a lite version gives me a chance to test their work in the manner that suits me best. I have purchased two plugins from CodeCanyon, both of whose developers offered a free version that I could use as I wished, and I am extremely happy with both purchases.

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      8. @KTS915 What advice do you mean?

        I’m a fan of the freemium model. It’s great way both to market a plugin and to gain the trust of users before they buy. I’m also for a money back guarantee. These are both good things to offer.

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      9. @Steven Gliebe,

        You wrote: “Similar to Dan, I wouldn’t buy a plugin from Envato unless it was made by someone whom I trust.”

        How does a new developer build up such trust?

        Certainly, having trust in the developer is one way of making a decision, but it’s the code that actually does stuff on my site. So I much prefer to trust the code, and I can do that only if I can test it first.

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      10. Thank you, that’s very true. It’s great to be able to test the code somehow without risking your money. You can test an incomplete copy forever with freemium or the full copy for a period of time with a money back guarantee. Surely the safest thing for the most careful users is both. It is unfortunate that some providers offer neither.

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  8. Steven: I love the idea and the fact that you built it. Everyone always wants to wait around for a success before joining in. I have often asked myself why WordPress promotes commercial themes and not plugins, so I can’t be the only one. BTW…I found a very cool plugin that I had no idea existed, sitting in your directory, so thanks!

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    1. Thanks Alex for the encouragement. I’ve been delighted too at the submission of plugins I had no idea existed. There are some really innovative solutions out there waiting to be discovered.

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