Do You Have to Pay for WordPress Plugins (Beginner’s Guide)

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Written By Chirag Dude

When running a profitable website or online store, flexibility is the name of the game. And in the e-commerce arena, WordPress remains in high demand thanks to its robust and adaptable features. However, no CMS is an island, and it’s hard to talk about the advantages of this particular host without acknowledging the impact of WordPress plugins.

For a start, WordPress is known for being highly accessible and open-source, and therefore perfect for small-scale businesses and digital startups. However, accessibility is only part of why it’s such a popular platform. Aside from being cost-effective, it is the perfect one-stop-shop for a range of lucrative online endeavors thanks to its compatibility of plugins.

But if you’re reading this, you’re probably already aware of that. In fact, you’ll have realized that there is no shortage of plugins to choose from, including those that come with a price tag. But making the right choice is essential, which is what we’ll be discussing today.

Choosing The “Right” Plugins For WordPress

For developers and site owners, plugins are meant to serve as useful tools. But for the server, they can be a burden on performance. So, they need to be somewhat indispensable to the website itself. For CMS users, hundreds of thousands of compatible, and supposedly useful, plugins exist, with more being developed on a regular basis.

Clearly, not all of these plugins are going to be equally good enough to be a burden on your server. So, how does one separate the digital wheat from the virtual chaff here?

Bolstering Your E-Commerce Arsenal

If a plugin actually advances your e-commerce goals, it’s probably worth your time and money. If not, look elsewhere, if you need to look at all. Mostly, online stores would benefit from plugins like SEO enhancers, security boosters, or checkout managers for WooCommerce. So, these are some choices worth starting with. 

The Art of Plugin Selection

Of course, assuming that a plugin fulfills certain needs and is available for seemingly no cost doesn’t make it the best option. You need to make sure that your plugin of choice won’t actively hamper your website’s performance and user experience.

It shouldn’t make things difficult for your shoppers or have issues with compatibility. To be on the safe side, there is the option to consult user reviews and ratings to determine whether a particular WooCommerce plugin is any good.

However, these are not always the most foolproof way to make what might be an influential decision for your store. You need a more concrete promise of good behavior from your tool, which brings us to the main point behind this piece.

Banking On Free Vs Paid Plugins

To reiterate, the reason why WordPress is so popular among small businesses is that it’s a financially sound investment. You don’t need to spend much money to build a fairly decent and high-converting website.

Of course, for that very reason, free WordPress plugins seem to be fairly popular among this particular demographic. And that’s for good reason. 

The Allure of Free Plugins

If anything, many plugins can perfectly fulfill some essential e-commerce goals at no added cost. They have a knack for drastically improving the capabilities of your WordPress store, from improving the aesthetics to overhauling store management. And if you’re a WordPress beginner, that seems like a fairly unmissable deal.

In fact, you might even be thinking that it’s too good of a deal to be true. Alas, that is where we’re a little bit obligated to burst your bubble.

The Bad News

Engaging in e-commerce through WordPress can be a high-stakes gamble, and you need to weigh the costs and returns of each little decision. And on that note, while free plugins have their benefits, most of them also have some limitations that simply outweigh these supposed perks.

For instance, it’s not uncommon for plugins that come at no apparent cost to require frequent updates. Plus, in the bigger picture of the highly competitive online market, their scope tends to be fairly limited. Even if they work perfectly, the help they provide might prevent you from catching up if your competitors are using more robust tools.

And those are just the passive disadvantages. In an iron twist, there are also ways in which “free” plugins can end up costing you. Sometimes, outdated tools might pose a security risk to your store. Other times, they offer limited customization and poor customer service, which can take a toll on your sales and overall site ranking.

Why Investing in Quality Plugins Is Important

Logically, if someone is charging you for a service, they’re more likely to go out of their way to make sure that your investment is worth it. With plugins for WordPress and other CMS platforms, that rings especially true.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a digital novice or a seasoned online salesman. If your goal is to be taken seriously as an online business, you need premium-grade, top-shelf plugins courtesy of experienced and skilled developers. They’ll undoubtedly cost you a pretty penny, but the benefits they offer underline just how valuable this investment can be.

  1. Regular Updates

If you’re downloading a particular plugin from WordPress, you’ll have noticed that any tool that hasn’t been updated recently will come with an explicit warning about that fact. And rightly so. Premium plugins tend to enjoy regular updates, which promise reliable security, smooth performance, and low maintenance.

  1. Dedicated Customer Support

Even premium solutions experience hiccups from time to time. But that’s usually nothing that a little customer support cannot fix. And with paid plugins, you’ll find that a 24/7 help desk which accepts queries and offers timely assistance is the norm. With time being of the essence in e-commerce, that is a crucial feature.

  1. Advanced Functionality

Free plugins tend to be a little one-note in their action. But with premium options, the core function is just the tip of the iceberg. You’ll also gain access to some nifty features that will help you elevate your store and sales, like analytics, added security, SEO-friendly features, and compatibility with other tools and gateways, to name a few.

Concerns Regarding Paid Plugins

On paper, it seems that paid plugins are the clear winner in the e-commerce game. But realistically, whatever a paywall has on the other side doesn’t change the fact that it’s still a paywall. Small-scale stores might not be able to drum up funding for these plugins, some of which charge handsome fees by the month.

And even if they can, there can still be an inherent hesitation in making an outright investment. And in fairness, that’s not exactly a sour grapes scenario. While paid plugins have their benefits, there is no complete guarantee that they won’t experience the same pitfalls as their free counterparts.

And some plugins might be available on sale, but that’s not always the case on WordPress. So, why commit to something financially without insurance against these problems? You’re running an online store, after all. As we established earlier, customer reviews are a good starting point for weighing your options, but they don’t always cut it.

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“Freemium WooCommerce Plugins” – The Best of Both Worlds

The mark of any shrewd service provider is to find some middle ground for its clients. And what better way to combine the respective benefits of free and premium plugins than a hybrid pricing model?

To be fair, free trials are nothing new. But even they’ll ask for your financial information before you can enjoy their perks. And if you’re not satisfied, it’s up to you to cancel your subscription. Now, we’re not saying that’s bad in any way, but it’s ludicrous to deny that not everyone wants to engage in all this.

With freemium plugins for WordPress and WooCommerce, you can choose the limited, free version, or the costlier but more glamorous premium version.

Benefits of Freemium Plugins

Let’s say you’re in the market for a reliable checkout manager for WooCommerce. A freemium plugin would be available for free with some basic features, like manipulating fields and improving your virtual checkout register.

While test-driving this tool, you can enjoy some simple advantages. There, depending on whether the plugin is secure and useful enough, you can either keep the free version at no further charge, or scale up to the premium version.

This level of freedom is what makes this approach to pricing plugins pretty much ideal. By now, it’s pretty much the norm for developers to go for the freemium model. Of course, with such choices, you are likely to find that even the pricing comes in tiers.

That way, you can gradually pay as you go and find a premium plugin solution that aligns with your e-commerce objectives.

Also Read: Best Woocommerce Theme For WordPress

Conclusion: Invest Wisely

In the realm of WordPress plugins, not every good thing comes at a price, but strategic investments definitely have their benefits. Still, this doesn’t mean that you have to pay exorbitant fees for unreliable plugins.

The perfect options are out there. You just have to weigh your needs against the possible costs, and make an informed pick. It might take some test runs, but ultimately, your buyers will thank you for your dedication and astute decision-making.

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