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The main UpStream plugin is free. However, we do charge money for UpStream extensions, and we use recurring subscriptions.

Some people ask why we do this:

  • “Why not charge a one-time fee?”
  • “Why not offer lifetime licenses?”
  • “Why not sell UpStream for $5 forever like the apps on my phone?”

This post is our attempt to answer those questions.


Reason #1. Quality and predictability

We want to make UpStream even more useful for you. We want to:

  • Give you better features.
  • Have your products ready for each new WordPress version on the day it’s released.
  • Answer 100% of your support tickets within 3 hours.
  • Get close to 100% customer satisfaction.

But, to make that happen, UpStream needs more developers and a bigger support team. To hire extra staff, UpStream’s business model needs to be more predictable.

How can you hire more developers if you can’t predict your revenue in 2 or 3 months time? Recurring subscriptions are the only way to be able to accurately predict your revenue.

One-off and lifetime fees provide us with no predictability. We would always be nervous about the next month and we’d be unable invest in the future.


Reason #2. Keep our staff

Our team loves working on UpStream, but they have families to feed, kids to support, and mortgages to pay.

Our team is based in the USA and South America. We haven’t offshored development to places where we can pay developers a few hundred dollars per month.

Without a solid revenue base, our team would be smart to leave and go work for a company that can offer them a predictable income. This is not a hobby for us. We take UpStream seriously.


Reason #3. Continuous development

WordPress plugin development is not a one-off task.

Plugin require continuous maintenance and development. Our team needs to upgrade the code for every new WordPress version, even the minor ones. We are also constantly updating them to work with other WordPress plugins, to fix bugs, and to meet the changing needs of third-party services.


Reason #4. Support the free product

Here at UpStream, we provide a free version on WordPress.org and we actively provide support for it. That’s only possible because of the support of subscribers.

Each support ticket costs us an average of $12. So every free user who asks for support is an additional expense. We can only bear that cost because of our subscribers.


Reason #5. Grow in a competitive market

It’s not easy to build a strong and sustainable business.

That’s true whether your business is in construction, retail, food, farming, or any other industry.

It’s definitely not easy to build a strong and sustainable business in WordPress. The platform is over 10 years old and the user-base is active, but not growing as fast as it once was. The marketplace is also hyper-competitive. There are many options in every WordPress niche, including project management.

With subscriptions, we have a solid base of loyal customer to help us compete and grow.


What about Envato / CodeCanyon?

Yes, it’s true that some big marketplace sites do require their plugin developers to offer lifetime license.

The truth is that this model is broken. The developers on these sites can not afford to produce high-quality, long-lasting software.

If you buy “lifetime” products from these sites, don’t expect to be getting updates and support next year. Many developers end up abandoning their “lifetime” products. Many quit these sites and take the same approach we have here at UpStream.

Here are the abbreviated thoughts of the Visual Composer team. They used to be one the most popular products on Envato / CodeCanyon, but they came to realize that lifetime licenses were unsustainable:

Our plugin was complex and didn’t fit the lifetime license model. It was rich in features. This meant much higher development costs that could only be sustained with a yearly license model. The yearly license model also allowed us to keep in touch with our users and offer them high-quality support.


There are many more stories like this:


What if I think the price is too high? What if I don’t like recurring subscriptions?

That’s understandable. Some customers customers have told us that before. That’s why we wrote this article.

If you don’t like recurring subscriptions, you can continue using UpStream without a subscription. You can continue using the subscriptions even after your subscription expires.

We also promise to treat you fairly. We’re upfront about that fact that we use recurring subscriptions, and always give refunds if you forget to cancel a renewal.

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