New Design, Plugins, Pricing, And Framework

Last week I released Freelancer, our new WordPress Theme Framework. Since then I’ve been hard at work creating a fresh new design for CobaltApps.com using this super minimal professional platform. In addition to the site design I’ve finished up a few new Plugins, and then we’ll get to some pricing tweaks.

First, The Framework

Freelancer is a very minimal, pure theme framework specifically developed for the freelance WordPress developer. It includes a free, lifetime license so that you can use it for as many client sites as you’d like and have the confidence that those sites will have an updated and supported theme foundation for the long haul, with no strings attached. To learn more be sure to check it out at FreelancerFramework.com.

Now For The Plugins

Let’s start with the obvious one. Yes, a new Extender Plugin has been born, and yes it’s called Freelancer Extender. πŸ™‚ Just like the many other framework extending Plugins that we offer, Freelancer Extender provides the Freelancer theme user with a packed toolbox filled with custom coding, templating, and hooked-in content options. So if you’re starting to work with our new framework and need some added functionality then this new Extender Plugin is a no brainer. Also, FE CSS Builder, both the standalone Plugin as well as the one built into Freelancer Extender, includes full Freelancer Framework support, for those needing some initial styling help.

Then there’s the new replacement for Child Themer, called Themer Pro. Yes, I said replacement. I decided that instead of maintaining two very similar tools that do very similar things, I’d just replace the old with the new. It’s a nice upgrade from Child Themer with a bit of a price increase, but don’t worry Child Themer users, I’ve set it up so upgrading to Themer Pro through your “My Account” page is absolutely free! Just upgrade and enjoy. πŸ™‚

Themer Pro is a personal favorite of mine as it really offers the coder all the dev capability you’d find in a common IDE, right there inside your WP Dashboard. And with the new Frontend Dev Tools and the “oh so beautiful” full screen theme editor on the backend, it’s super sweet to work with! Even little refinements like multi-image upload capability make Themer Pro a pretty awesome leap ahead of what Child Themer had to offer. Oh, and I’ve added Astra Theme compatibility to Themer Pro, as per request of several Child Themer users.

Now Let’s Talk Pricing & Subscriptions

I’ve had several great conversations with Cobalt Apps members regarding the common issues of premium WordPress Plugin pricing, licenses, upgrades, renewals, etc… The fact of the matter is that the developers need to be able to run a company that’s bringing in consistent revenue so they can pay themselves for their work. Yet at the same time their most valuable customers, the freelancer WordPress developer, has to be able to efficiently and effectively utilize such tools to turn over an equally sustaining income through their work. So some kind of middle ground needs to be found.

Years ago when I first got into this WP marketplace it was kind of like the wild-wild-west. Devs were slinging one-time purchase products like no other, and freelancers were buying them up like they were going out of style. Pretty soon, however, the devs realized the issue that comes with a growing user base to support and aging products to update, with no recurring payments for their efforts. So the yearly license renewal was born.

Kind of a pain for everyone (except the ecommerce Plugin devs πŸ˜‰ these new and very necessary restrictions forced the freelancer to play along or look for some solid free tools that won’t be abandoned in the near future. I actually found that many WP web developers prefer to pay for their tools to ensure their longevity and to show their appreciation to those who work hard to keep them well-tended to, but at some point we have to find a sweet spot between revenue ensuring price structures and non-distracting or confusing payment plans.

So in light of the above, and based on my own internal conversation from the past months, I’ve decided to make some pretty significant pricing changes. And before I get to the details I’ll simply point out that my main goal here is to simplify, while finding that sweet spot between company growing revenue and value based pricing.

So let’s first talk about what I’ve gotten rid of…

  • No more multi-level license structures and pricing. Just one license per product, for one price, allowing unlimited downloads, uploads & activations, as well as product-specific support, all within the subscription period.
  • No more upgrades (other than the Child Themer upgrade mentioned above as well as an upgrade path to Cobalt All Access). Because there are no more license tiers there is no more need to wonder if you need to upgrade to a higher license limit, or just how to do this in the first place.
  • No more renewal discounts to decipher. Yes, I’m removing the renewal discounts for all our products, but I’ve also reduced many of the prices to help balance this out a bit. But the point here is ultimately to move more toward that goal of simplicity, both for me as the developer and for you as the user of our tools. (Note that this change has not yet taken place, allowing you to renew now and get locked into the 40% yearly discount through the new subscription model I’ve implemented. I’ll talk more about this in a bit.)
  • No more Extender Bundle. I’ve decided that Cobalt All Access is sufficient and have reduced its price to the Extender Bundle price anyway. This also means that those who currently have the Extender Bundle you can go ahead and upgrade to Cobalt All Access for free! πŸ™‚
  • No more manual renewing each year. Well, at least not by necessity. If you prefer to do it that way you can, you’ll just have to cancel your subscription when you renew each time, but I’ve now put in place an auto-renewal, subscription based model that means that anytime you purchase or renew you’ll either be creating a new subscription (if it’s a new purchase or you previous canceled your subscription) or extending your current one. So, for example, if you buy or renew Cobalt All Access you’ll be able to be done with messing with manually renewing all your Cobalt Apps product licenses. It’s now all done for you automatically.

Now for the additions…

  • Just one: The subscription pricing model mentioned above. Just an automated solution to simplify Cobalt Apps pricing.

Clearly my goal was to remove and not add to our pricing model. And I truly believe that this will be better for most, though I know we can’t please everyone. But to accommodate current members I’ve decided to hold off on removing the 40% off renewal discount for the next two weeks. Coupled with the fact that all current and future purchases and renewals will be done so through subscriptions, you can now lock into that 40% off renewal discount by purchasing a new product or renewing a current one.

The way the subscriptions work is that whatever the pricing structure is at the time of purchase, that’s the pricing structure that remains until you cancel your subscription. So as long as you keep your subscription active that 40% off renewal discount remains in effect for you. Also note that even if your license has 364 days left on it, renewing it now (through your “My Account” page) will only ADD to it, not restart it. So that 364 days would become 1 year AND 364 days.

So Just To Be Clear…

In two weeks I’ll be removing the current 40% off renewal discount. So if you want to lock into this and still be able to take advantage of this each year, now is the time to purchase or renew. And as long as your subscription remains active you will receive 40% off auto-renewals for those products that were either purchased or renewed over the next two weeks.

So What About My “Single Site” Or “Up To 3 Sites” License?

Removing both the “Single Site” and “Up To 3 Sites” license option from each product that offered them should result in all such licenses changing over to an “Unlimited Sites” license automatically. So no one should end up with a license that has less activation than before this change, but of course if you find this to be the case just let me know and I’ll be sure to fix this for you right away.

Moving Forward…

I’m really excited to get these big changes behind me so I can get back to the core of what I enjoy doing like making our products better, providing helpful tutorials, and interacting with members. And if you have any questions about any of these changes don’t hesitate to ask.

21 comments on “New Design, Plugins, Pricing, And Framework”

  1. Great idea Eric! I really like what you decided to do with the plugins. And I like the pricing structure as well. Hey, you need to make money as much as we need to make money. And subscription based pricing is just here to stay. Making the licenses unlimited is a big step forward, and I don’t think anyone can argue with that. I may need some help upgrading, as I just went to my account and it looked the same, didn’t see the upgrade, maybe I was just looking in the wrong place.

    Next point. I really like the look of the new design, it is very clean. I have to ask you, are you using the freelancer them, or GeneratePress? I ask because of the back-to-top arrow is similar to GP. Also it seems you were able to remain your theme to %20COBART-APPS. I curious to how you did that.

    Looking forward to upgrading my products and good luck going forward.

    –Rob

    1. Hey Rob,

      I appreciate the feedback! πŸ™‚

      Regarding upgrading, I did see that your Genesis Extender license was still showing a 3 site limit for some reason, so I fixed that by setting it to unlimited. I checked other such licenses for other members and didn’t run into any others that didn’t have the unlimited specification, but I’m sure a few others will pop up that I’ll need to manually set to unlimited.

      Regarding upgrading to Themer Pro, just click “View Licenses” in your My Account page and then “View Upgrades” and you should see a “0.00” dollar upgrade to Themer Pro.

      Regarding the site redesign, I actually used Freelancer. It’s funny because I did actually reference the GP site to see how Tom styled his “to-top” button since I had remembers thinking it looked nice and minimal, but the actual button is just a little custom JS code and some simple styling. I did it all using Themer Pro. πŸ™‚

    2. Oh, and the way that I named the theme “Cobalt Apps” and the theme folder cobalt-apps was by creating it through Themer Pro. You just fill out the provided form, click “Create Child Theme”, and Themer Pro does the rest! πŸ™‚

      1. Hey Eric, question about the child theme name. I am using the GeneratePress theme and just created a child theme using Themer Pro. When I check the name of the theme in the browser, it still shows GeneratePress as the child theme name. Do you know of any way to override this? I have asked Tom Osborne about this before, and really didn’t get a good answer. He said I could rename the parent theme folder, but then the theme would not update. I know with the Genesis Framework, and their child themes, they will show the new theme name. Not sure why GeneratePress does not work this way. Do you have any ideas on this? Have you run across this before?

        –Rob

        1. Which part says “GeneratePress”? The stylesheet link? Or the code inside the stylesheet? Or somewhere else? I know that with GeneratePress they have the main styles coming from the framework and then the child styles are simply an extra “custom” stylesheet. So the main stylesheet will still have the GP name on it. Whereas with frameworks like Genesis and Freelancer the Child Theme provides the entire stylesheet, so you don’t end up seeing that extra stylesheet with the framework/parent theme name on it.

          1. Hey Eric, this makes perfect sense about the style sheet. The Generate Press child theme is pretty empty and follows the same practice as the relationship between the wordpress parent and child theme in the WordPress codex.

            I used themer pro and created a child theme of your Freelancer framework theme. I followed your instructions to create it, but when I use the chrome extension, WPSniffer, it is still showing the FREELANCER name as the theme name. Not sure if I am doing something different then what you did when you created your child theme.

            Thanks, Rob

            1. I just tested out WPSniffer and it appears to just grab the active theme folder for it’s information. So if you create a new Child Theme and name the folder and theme name something unique it should detect THAT information and not the parent theme framework info. But without the site URL it’s hard to say for sure.

  2. Nice clean new design. Fitting with the general CobaltApps style of the last years, yet refined a bit further.

    Interesting developments also on the pricing structure and such. And as usual you opt for the reasonable path instead of the ‘how to make the most money out of my customers’ route. My company has the same philosophy so for me it only proves we made the right decision to go with your products at the time.

    However I’d like to add my 2 cents with regards to your description of Dynamik users. I know for sure that my company isn’t the only one that has opted for DWB as a development tool (the forum is a prime indication of that). It strikes a nice balance between being able to quickly set up new designs via the included options and then further refining them with all the custom possibilities.

    I wouldn’t by any means shove it into the DIY and ‘weekend warriors’ section. This tool is used often in professional environments.

    So by all means be sure to change the description text to reflect this, because you’re cutting yourself, and this wonderful tool, short with the current text.

    Best regards,
    Arno

    1. Hey Arno,

      Thanks for the feedback! I’m glad to hear there are other like-minded business people out there who strive to find that balance between consistent revenue and simple pricing structures. πŸ™‚

      I agree with your assessment regarding the DWB sales copy. I just changed it, or at least what I believe you were referring to. Let me know if I missed something and where exactly it is if I did.

  3. You “simply point out that my main goal here is to simplify” but I am not more confused than when I started. I wandered off because it got too complicated, and now with all the “simplification” I’ve ended up more confuserated than ever.

      1. That’s kind of you Eric, but don’t worry about me. I’ll figure it out in the end, by asking more specific questions. Right now, having forgotten much of the territory, it’s hard to fathom how the land lies, what extends which and which belongs to what, etc. I guess its because I am a ‘visual’ type person. I need to see a graphic or at a least a table showing the frameworks, themes, extenders, plugins, prices etc, and the relationships between them. Got any crayons left?

        1. Yeah, I hear you. Maybe once this all settles I can provide more of a visualization of all the products, their themes that they support, which work with what, and so on.

          1. Hi Eric, Yes I am a little confused also with all the products and changes and I too will try and work it out but perhaps a short video explaining each product and where it fits in may be a good idea. Just a suggestion.

            From a Catalyst/DWB user over a number of years I have really appreciated the products you build. Thank you for the great products.

            1. I’m actually going to create some screencasts shortly to clarify the products a but further. And thanks for the kind words. πŸ™‚

    1. Yes, I’m having a hard time getting my head around this as well. Maybe it’s the elaborate narrative style explanation, combined with the fact that English is not my native language. But after reading the email I got I was very confused, and after reading this blog post I am only somewhat less confused. Maybe you can sum up the changes in a scheme with old and new situations?

      I am also a bit confused by the naming and expanding range of products. Words like tool, toolkit, framework, extender, builder, platform are all used for expansions to other products. It’s a bit much too comprehend. Some related questions:
      – Why is Dynamik Website Builder not called Genesis Website Builder?
      – What is Themer Pro, compared to the Extender products? I’m not a coder, so that’s probably the reason I don’t understand what this is and does, but I would like to understand at least what it used for. Can you in 1 or 2 sentences explain what it is?
      – Why are there more and more Extender plugins, instead of just one general one, usable for all the frameworks you support?

      Other questions:
      – Does the new pricing/license structure have an effect on ‘unlimited time’ licenses? I have two old licenses valid till 2032.
      – What happens with the above unlimited licenses if I buy the All Access license? Will they remain unlimited and separated from the All Acess license, or will I have to renew each year?
      – If I buy the All Access license now with 40% discount, will that discount stay if I renew each year? Or is the discount only valid for single licenses?

      Thanks!

      Jurgen

      1. I’m actually going to create a new blog post to address some of these common questions, but I’ll go ahead and address them here as well:

        – Why is Dynamik Website Builder not called Genesis Website Builder?

        Because it was based off of a Child Theme of our previous theme framework called “Catalyst”, and add the time all our customers recognized it as Dynamik, so calling it anything other than something that included that name would have been confusing during that transition.

        – What is Themer Pro, compared to the Extender products? I’m not a coder, so that’s probably the reason I don’t understand what this is and does, but I would like to understand at least what it used for. Can you in 1 or 2 sentences explain what it is?

        Themer Pro is a Plugin that provides you with the ability to quickly and easily create and edit Child Themes for your favorite theme frameworks. So the two main features are the Child Theme Creator tool that provides you with a form to fill out and then it will take that info and use it to create a new Child Theme folder and files, adjusted based on the info you provided. Then Themer Pro provides a extensive file editor tool for your Child Theme so you can really dig into the code through your WP Dashboard, and not have to mess with FTP and an external code edtitor. It also provides a Child Themer Image Manager tool and some really useful front-end Dev Tools for tweaking your styles and even playing with HTML changes.

        – Why are there more and more Extender plugins, instead of just one general one, usable for all the frameworks you support?

        That may be something I do at some point, but the main reason it’s this way right now is because not only do some of the Extender Plugins have different features, like Genesis Extender that houses the EZ Static Homepage and other odds and ends, but also keeping things working well based on the active framework, the action hooks associated with that framework, specific dependencies for that framework, and even whether or not the site is on a multi-site network or not, make individual Plugins more feasible at this point. If I were doing it all over again, and starting from scratch, I may go that rout, but that’s just how it evolved and for now that’s just the best way to keep each version properly framework focused.

        Other questions:
        – Does the new pricing/license structure have an effect on β€˜unlimited time’ licenses? I have two old licenses valid till 2032.

        Only if you were to upgrade those licenses to All Access. If you don’t do anything to those licenses then they’d remain the way they are. But if you upgrade them to All Access to take advantage of the upgrade discount (based on the going price of the product you’re upgrading from) then that license will be converted into a yearly subscription license to All Access.

        – What happens with the above unlimited licenses if I buy the All Access license? Will they remain unlimited and separated from the All Acess license, or will I have to renew each year?

        See above answer.

        – If I buy the All Access license now with 40% discount, will that discount stay if I renew each year? Or is the discount only valid for single licenses?

        If you buy All Access before we remove the 40% renewal discount, then as long as you don’t cancel your All Access subscription, then that 40% discount will remain in effect year after year.

  4. Hi.
    I have Dynamik 3 site licence. Renewed it on 22 August 2017 to end on 21 August 2018. Just took the advice above to renew it now to lock into the discount .
    I have paid another year and it says it will start on 2nd October 2017 and end on 1st October 2018. It has not done what I believe you said it would above, add the year to the existing year?
    What to do next?
    Thankyou

    Bill

    1. Hey Bill,

      It may appear to not have worked as it should, extending the license by an extra year, but it actually did. It’s just that our 3rd party ecommerce software works in such a way as to keep the renewal subscription period separate from the actual license period. So if you renew today your license will auto-renew a year from today. But if you’re license is set to expire 6 months after that, for example, then it will remain active until the actual license period expires, 6 months later.

      They explain this in greater detail on their docs page, right under the FAQ’s section:

      http://docs.easydigitaldownloads.com/article/1155-recurring-payments—software-licensing-integration

      I know this is can seem counterintuitive, but I’m sure they have a perfectly good reason for doing it this way, likely based on the way PayPal and Stripe create subscriptions.

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