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. 🙂 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. 🙂

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 😉 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! 🙂
  • 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.