Support » Plugin: Video Embed & Thumbnail Generator » Version 5.0 will convert some free features to paid add-ons

  • Plugin Author Kyle Gilman

    (@kylegilman)


    I’ve spent four and a half years working on this plugin and I’ve recently decided that I can’t keep doing it for free. I think the plugin is unique in its power and flexibility. I would like to earn some money in exchange for all the time I’ve put into it and will put into it in the future.

    Today I’m releasing version 4.5 for free as usual. It’s a substantial upgrade that includes a number of new features. I will release minor updates to fix all the bugs I’m sure you’ll find, but this will be the last major release that is completely free of charge.

    I plan to keep a free version of the plugin in the plugin repository, but version 5.0 will likely remove a number of advanced features and make them available as paid add-ons. I haven’t made any decisions on the specific features or what their prices will be, but I think that anything taking advantage of FFMPEG or LIBAV will be a premium feature. Most of the basic features related to embedding and playing videos will remain free. There will be new advanced features as well. I think adding an advertising overlay module will make sense once I start charging. I’m also considering remote encoding options using ssh2_exec for dedicated servers or accessing 3rd party services like Encoding.com.

    I’ve been very active in supporting the plugin on this forum and GitHub, and I’ll continue to support the free version, but I can’t keep up the speed and level of support for free. I will offer support for all premium features as well as paid premium support for the free version.

    This will not happen overnight. I’m just one person. I frequently have full-time jobs that keep me away from development for months at a time. I have a lot of work to do in order to create the infrastructure for premium add-ons and I figure if I’m charging for it I should clean up the code. I’m a much better programmer now than I was in 2011 and there’s a lot of leftover junk from my early work. For those of you who use the advanced features and are morally opposed to paying for things, version 4.5 will still be there for you. Nobody will force you to upgrade and I’m not going to delete the old versions.

    I resisted this move for a long time, but I can’t rely on donations anymore. I have a PayPal donate button on the settings page and a donate link on the plugin repository. As of July 7, 2015, the plugin has been downloaded 278,964 times. There are 30,000+ active installs, and approximately 20,000 of them are running the current release. Out of all those users, over 4.5 years, 44 heroes have voluntarily donated money, totaling approximately $1000. That includes one very generous user who donated $250 and another who donated $100. Most of the 44 heroes gave $10. Those of you who gave large amounts will be remembered when the free version comes out.

    I look forward to hearing your constructive feedback about this plan.

    https://wordpress.org/plugins/video-embed-thumbnail-generator/

Viewing 11 replies - 16 through 26 (of 26 total)
  • Hi Kyle,

    Me again 🙂 I had another thought. Do you have email addresses of those with active updated installs and/or a way to aggregate them? I think if you sent out a letter such as the one above to those active installs explaining that the product may disappear due to your new family responsibilities, if it doesn’t start generating some coin, and making it easy to donate with a secure donate form with $10, $20, $30, and “other” buttons, you may make a year’s salary in a very short time.

    I think the problem may be that if users are using the plugin and it is working, they have no reason to come to this support forum, so your note may be viewed by many less than would be ideal.

    Peace out!

    Plugin Author Kyle Gilman

    (@kylegilman)

    It’s really hard to offer free trials of open source software. Once someone downloads a plugin, it’s almost impossible to prevent them from using it. And there’s not much I could do to stop someone from getting a refund and continuing to use the software. It basically negates the whole point of charging for your work. This is why marketplaces like Envato only offer refunds if you can show that the product is actually broken, not that it just doesn’t meet your needs. I’ve demonstrated for the past 5 years that I am dedicated to making this the best plugin I can, and there will still be a ton of features in the free version. That ought to make it very clear whether it’s worth buying the premium upgrades.

    I don’t have any information about individual users of the plugin. I certainly wouldn’t be happy if the other plugins I use spammed me about their business needs and I wouldn’t do it even if I could. I’ve been notifying users about this change whenever they update the plugin through the WordPress admin interface for the past 5 months and I’ll have more obvious warnings as I get closer to finishing my work (which is really not soon, I want to stress that).

    I appreciate your optimism about users’ willingness to volunteer their money, but the “give me your money or the plugin dies campaign” doesn’t appeal to me. You can only do that once. I’m much more interested in building a longterm business.

    Kyle, please take a lesson from WooThemes and probably many others.

    At a yearly license fee of $99.00 at 50 recurring members would be $4,950… I hope you could anticipate at least say 200 active members/license holders and be able to do abou $19k a year to maintain it.. no idea if thats not really enough or what but I would highly suggest you do a yearly license fee.

    Your plugin is super niche, there’s been a lot of people who downloaded it yes but I don’t think it would be considered a “huge” plugin in regards to how many people will actually need to continue using it over years… like myself, but if I’m going to use it indefinitely then I don’t see problem paying for a yearly license… as you said you’ll still have the free version, anyone who needs the premium and cant afford $99 for an entire year of updates etc, probably will not actually be around to need to renew their license anyways…

    Don’t sell yourself short, make the initial costs reasonable for everyone, aka $99… but then if they’re using it a year later then they should likely be making some money too… and can afford to renew… if not then thats too bad for them, open source and wordpress and all this free stuff is incredible… but your plugin is niche, its complex… also a yearly license fee assures that IF sales begin to die off and not continue to come in, that you’ll have the renew fees from members each year coming in, to help you with continual income for continual support…

    Also, please make a manual user option to select the quality of the video they want to play… like YouTube… i use that feature on YouTube constantly depending on my current situation, and since your plugin already generates multiple resolutions and such, that this kind of option would be great, and not being a programmer, I feel like it wouldn’t be that complicated 🙂

    One more thing, you posted this 9 months ago, any kind of update on your progress with this? would love to hear.

    Thanks!

    Plugin Author Kyle Gilman

    (@kylegilman)

    Adding a manual user option to select the quality of the video they want to play was in fact so easy I did it in October 2014 for the Video.js player. The WordPress Default player will have that button in the next release, which I’m hoping to finish very soon. And JW Player 6 has always had it in some form.

    As for the premium payment option, I had a baby in the fall and that pushed back this whole project quite a bit. I’m still developing and adding new features, but there’s a lot of work I need to do in order to make the plugin ready for modularization and I haven’t even started. A yearly subscription is clearly the way to go if things ever settle down enough for me to complete this project, but I wouldn’t expect anything to happen until at least August. I still don’t anticipate earning enough money to make the increased expectations from paying customers worthwhile, but I hope to be surprised.

    In the meantime, if you are eager to give me money there’s still nothing stopping you from donating it now. I will not forget the heroes who donated once the premium version is available.

    I read about the resolution selection after I posted this, then sent you an email cause its either not working or I’m missing something.

    Congratulations on making a baby human 😀 (hang in there!:)

    Its definitely not super easy to know if it would work, but with all the video stuff getting huge to this day, I feel like it should… a fully compatible self hosted wp video solution… I’ve been waiting for that, its either one thing or another with any solution like, not able to mask the media file urls with signed urls that expire or some other issue… all these “CMS’s” which are meant for video sites charge $699 or a couple hundred a month…

    yikes sorry im ranting.

    I’m helping my friend (again) try and do his website, at the moment he’s broke and im broker but he’ll have some money in a couple months, sadly neither could donate still :-/ can’t launch the site cause im stuck with no budget and not enough compatible parts, membership, gateways, file protection… only solutions available is running 2 wp sites separately which i cant stand or paying money no one has 🙂

    ranting again..

    Sorry im a cheap broken ass right now..

    Thanks

    Kyle, I strongly disagree with miketopher. I am not sure if you want to work on plugin that is used by 200 people and also the argument “yes, many people downloded the plugin but I still think it is super niche” is just stupid.

    I am running a firm, that does internet marketing for the largest internationals, including IBM, Microsoft and the other names. We have produced thousands of videos over the years and I can tell you that finding good media player is pain in the… We have checked each of them, there is no perfect solution and there is a number of almost acceptable players.

    For internet marketers and mostly anyone who runs a web the video player is MAJOR thing and it will only grow. No sane marketer would use YouToube for that.

    My recommendation is not to go with subscription. Only the best and solid services can afford that. You can do that when you are in the flowplayer league. You should start nice and slow because you can loose users in a second and the possibility to get them back is slim. I believe your first step should be something like USD19,- for premium version that would have much better statistics or connection to google analytics plus quiality switching. Maybe even more, just look around. The use should be unlimited. Than you can grow from that in the future. There is quite a thick wall between free and paid. Just be carefull.

    Good plugin, btw,
    Regards,
    Pavel.

    Plugin Author Kyle Gilman

    (@kylegilman)

    Hi Pavel, I agree that this isn’t a niche product, but that’s not really important to me. I’m very happy in my profession as a television editor and this has turned in to a time-sucking hobby. If charging more than $20/yr for the encoding options I’m currently offering for free means I lose 90% of my users, that would make me so happy. The whole point of this is to thin the herd. I am not going to offer a one-time $20 charge for all features of this plugin. You don’t sell open source software, you sell access to upgrades and support. The basic features of the plugin will remain free, but there will be a handful of modules that require yearly fees of various amounts depending on their complexity. Right now I think the lowest premium level will be in the $5/yr range and the highest will be $50/yr, but that might change as I figure out what those features are.

    If you’re not getting Google Analytics event tracking for play starts and complete views when you use the plugin, please open a new topic on this forum and I’ll try to get to the bottom of it. I don’t have any use for statistics myself so I don’t pay much attention to those aspects of the plugin and Google is always changing things.

    Hey Kyle,

    I understand your point – you are busy man and need to limit the support time. Still, the narrower the audience the greater the risks. If you limit the number of users, you will be wulnerable to movement in the market – someone new or better pricing of competitive products and you are gone. I can not imagine a business model similar to yours where it is good to have less users. My suggestions is have as many of them as possible and limit the support to heavy payment. This exists, the users usually help one each other in the forums and some will buy the support from you.

    Regards,
    Pavel.

    And also, we would never use a any solution that is used by hundreds. We almost never go below 20000, never below 100000. 200 is joke.

    This plugin is niche, its not “a player” there are tons of AMAZING players out there, but not one that Encodes to multiple formats and resolutions, not one that automatically selects best resolution along with manual resolution selection for someone experiencing a slow connection, not one that lets you generate and then select a thumbnail… all this functionality does exist but its not compiled in to a plugin such as this… It does exist as a service, which that service hosts the videos… thus jacking the price as they’ll charge for bandwidth and space…

    This plugin here takes several niche functionality and needs, and brings it in to one… a yearly fee is absolutely needed, especially if he charged ONLY up to $50 a year, thats less than $5 a month, if you’re using such a plugin and are not making enough money to justify less than $5 a month you’ll most likely end up dropping whatever you’re doing anyone in a year, most hobbies cost more than $5 a month.

    Maybe he can offer premiums to developers or something for an upfront one time cost so they can use the plugin on their clients sites and not have to incorporate a recurring cost, but again an upfront larger fee… essentially a couple years or so paid in full… just a thought.

    People offering stuff for free are awesome, but they’re also human… and will eventually lose interest when it begins to take too much time, incentive is part of life… our own brains will not do shit unless it thinks it needs to, so its important to show our brains what needs to be done etc, weird analogy but its part of nature 🙂

    I encourage a yearly fee, $50 a year is a steal… if Kyle thinks he’d be able to get enough customers to justify just $50 a year per, that’d be sick.

    I really do hope though we could get video url signing to protect videos as much as possible, easily… self hosted and all… 😀

    Is this plugin work with MH Magazine theme?

Viewing 11 replies - 16 through 26 (of 26 total)
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