WordPress Plugins: Free vs. Paid (When to Splurge, and When to Save)

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woman using her laptopLet’s be straightforward, here. With few exceptions, it costs $$ to build an awesome website for your business (an excellent web hosting service, a fantabulous design, and/or a great theme)…actually, WordPress itself is one of the few things that doesn’t cost you a penny.

Which brings us to…plugins. They come in both the free and the paid, or premium, variety.

So should you pay for a plugin, on top of all the other investments you’re making in your website? Or is “free” good enough?

The fast answer is, yes, free plugins are sufficient most of the time. Fop rest of the time, use these guidelines:

To Pay, or Not to Pay?

  • Look for a free plugin, first.price tag If you find a great one that has everything you want, then great – you’re done! But occasionally, you’ll find a plugin that has both a free and a premium version. In that case, if you need the extra features or better support that the paid version offers, then upgrade. But if not, just keep using the free version. A simple example is the Nice Paypal Button plugin – I paid to upgrade, because I wanted to use my own custom button (rather than that tacky yellow Paypal button) – and the free version just didn’t allow for that much customization.
  • If you can’t find a completely free (or free-to-premium) plugin that does what you want, look into straight-up paid plugins. As I mentioned in last week’s post, Code Canyon is a great place to find awesome plugins at reasonable prices.
  • And finally, if you need a high performance plugin, it pays to spring for the best! For example, if you want to turn your site into a membership site, so customers have to pay a monthly fee to access your offerings, a quality plugin like Wish List Member is the way to go.

In my experience, the 80/20 rule applies here – free is sufficient approximately 80% of the time, and the other 20% it may be necessary to spring for a paid plugin.

Think about: 1) how important that particular feature or function is to the performance, appearance, and overall effectiveness of your site; and 2) whether you can obtain it easily from a free plugin, or if it’s worth it to splurge for the extra bells and whistles of a premium plugin.

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About Barbara Austin

As the graphic designer & founder of Sweet Dreamz Design, Barbara loves working with women entrepreneurs to brand their businesses. She shares a variety of small business advice and anecdotes here on the blog. Check back every week for new tips, inspirations, and how-to articles, or subscribe to get regular updates in your inbox each week!

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