The false economy of Free WordPress plugins… — originally published by Dan Harrison (of

This excellent article was originally posted at, but has since been removed as Dan has moved on to new projects. Dan Harrison has generously given me permission to re-post it here.

The one thing that people love about WordPress and the plugins is that they are free. Sure, they don’t cost any money. But they’re not truly free.

You can ask on the WordPress support forums for some help. Or you could email the developer for some help. You might get some help. But what if you don’t get any help? You’ll probably need to pay for some help from a techie or a developer.

But what does it feel like to be the developer of a free WordPress plugin? Read on to find out more…

From a user’s point of view


Having access to lots of wonderful free plugins, WordPress SEO, Advanced Custom Fields, WP Super Cache, and more, is a massive benefit of using WordPress. The best plugins will save you hours of work and effort.

So, free plugins are useful.

From a developer’s point of view

A while ago, I released WP Portfolio (for showing off a portfolio of your websites). It’s had over 72,000 downloads since release, and took over 120 hours of development. Pretty impressive, but still modest by all accounts compared to WordPress SEO and others.

As a plugin developer, you get the following

  • The odd donation here or there. Currently representing about 0.005% of the total downloads for me personally.
  • Several messages and emails demanding that I change something or fix someone’s website using the plugin (for free) – even if the issue has nothing to do with the plugin.
  • The odd few messages with pure abuse.
  • Messages complaining about my plugin (when, in fact, they were using someone else’s plugin.

A large number of WordPress plugin users expect a developer to help them for free. Despite paying no money for the plugin, and the users are often making money from their website (as a business or affiliate).

Us developers still have a limited amount of time. And we still have to pay our bills. Being taken for granted is a massive demotivated, and therefore reduces the drive we have to keep the plugins updated and current.

So what’s the point of this article…?

This is not meant to be whining email, it’s more about helping you to appreciate the free plugin developers so that they continue to release new plugins and support the existing ones.

How can you appreciate free plugin developers?

  • Send them a message to just say thank you.
  • Give their plugin a 5-star review on
  • Send them a donation, even if it’s just 10 or £5 – to say thanks. The sentiment means a great deal to developers.
  • Purchase their premium version of the plugin (if they offer one)
  • Purchase any Add-Ons they have of the plugin (if they offer any)
  • If you want a new feature, offer to pay for them to add it.

You don’t have to spend money to appreciate a plugin developer. But if you can afford to do so, please consider it.

* Thanks again to Dan Harrison for allowing me to re-publish this article.

2 Comments on “The false economy of Free WordPress plugins… — originally published by Dan Harrison (of

  1. Firstly, thanks for your instagram plugin! As far as I have found it is the only one out there which does what yours does, which is what I need to feed my IG posts into the masonry grid on my website

    However, since updating to 4.1.2 on 21st April it has stopped working and gives this error: ERROR: Could not insert post into the database

    Really hope you have time to find an update solution to make it work again!

  2. Hi Justin, thanks for the great plugin! As a few other users have noticed, the auto-import function no longer works. I even tried adding this plugin (Scheduled Post Trigger) but it didn’t help.