It seems like everywhere you turn, everybody is trying to hop onto the recurring subscription train. Everybody wants that sweet, sweet monthly income with little-to-no extra work.
There’s your utility providers, like water, gas, and electricity, and it goes on and on, from cable tv, to Netflix, Spotify, Google Drive, Disney+, and more. Everybody from Donald Duck to Mickey Mouse wants you to “set it and forget it”.
For things you really need, like water, this is great. Like, yeah. Nobody can live without water. For your business, maybe that’s the internet or hosting bill. It’s the very lifeblood of an online company. Stop paying, and they “switch off the lights”. An automatic subscription is great for those.
But charging a monthly fee for every…single…thing is becoming an exhausting user experience. There’s a good reason to pause at checkout and really think: “Does my monthly budget really have room for another $5 subscription, just so my website can have a slider?”.
If all you’re selling are “updates and support” for a WordPress plugin, or even worse: a theme, charging for renewals is actually kind-of crazy. There’s almost no reason to require that kind of commitment from your customers.
If your plugin/theme is so complicated that it requires constant-and-ongoing support emails from your customers, I would suggest you consider that your plugin is not well-scoped, not well-thought-out, not well-built, or a combination of all three. With a plugin like that, the chances of you ever turning a profit, subscriptions or not, is unlikely. The chances of someone building a better version of your plugin and putting you out of business is even higher.
When it comes to WordPress, the best compliment you could get is that the user never needed to contact support, and that updates are rarely needed. It means that your product is easy to use, intuitive, and built to last.
That kinda means the the goal of every WordPress plugin should be that recurring subscriptions are not needed.
You might build new features into a new version, and add great new things. That’s all good stuff (unless it’s not). But there’s no reason people need to pay you on a recurring basis to get access to those things. If you’re taking the time to properly build new features, you won’t be cramming half-tested bloat every 2 weeks. Rather, it’ll probably take you a year or more of elegant and intentional building.
If people want your new features, have them pay for a new version in a year, instead of charging them a recurring amount in a false hope that their specific desired feature will magically be the next thing you chose to add to the roadmap.
If your product is water, that’s great. But not everything is water. Not everything is a subscription. Customers are getting wise to it, and it’s time to honestly consider your value to your customers or risk having them abandon their checkouts due to yet-another-subscription.