Sell Your WordPress Plugin Business
My recent interview with Brant Calder led me to start thinking about the various marketplaces and sites that would help you find a new owner for your WordPress plugin.
For a lot of WordPress developers, building and selling a plugin is a long term game that can sometimes be a slow march towards success. Unfortunately, success doesn’t always find everyone and there comes a point when an exit strategy is the best way to not only rid yourself of an unsatisfying project but also try and get some kind of return on your investments of both money and time.
On the flip side of that sad story, many WordPress developers have built very successful businesses around their plugins but eventually seek a change. Selling your plugin business at the height of its prosperity is a great way to get a sizeable influx of income while at the same time keeping your project alive in new hands.
I’ve put together a list of sites that you can use to try and find new ownership for your WordPress plugin. These sites range from the very small, perfectly suited for tiny plugins, to very large marketplaces geared towards businesses with proven track records looking for big purchase prices.
SideProjectors is a user-submitted collection of programming projects. Some of these are listed just for bragging purposes, others are seeking cofounders or help with their development and the rest are openly for sale to whomever is interested.
Anyone can sign up for an account at SideProjectors and started adding their work to the constantly growing list of projects. Creating an account is free and you can post as many projects as you want. It’s up to you to explicitly say whether or not you are seeking buyers for your project at the time you post it to the site. You can include a description, screenshots and revenue details. After your project has been added to SideProjectors it will be added to the front page, included in the site wide search and maybe even mentioned in the site’s regularly sent newsletter.
When a visitor views your listing they will be able to contact you directly to see about purchasing your plugin. SideProjectors does not function as a middle man in any transactions. This means you save money on fees and extra charges but it also opens you up to some level of risk. It’s recommended you use an escrow service to complete any sales.
SideProjectors caters to projects of all sizes and prices so it’s hard to say if this site is right for your particular WordPress plugin. Since it costs nothing to post it probably doesn’t hurt to at least give it a try and see what results come from it. You can learn more about the selling process at SideProjectors by reading their seller’s guide.
I originally came across Transferslot when it made its debut appearance on Product Hunt. It received a lot of buzz that day but the activity on the site seems to have slowed down a lot since then. It’s target audience seems to be, based on the currently listed sites for sale, people with low budgets interested in newer projects without a lot of history. So keep that in mind when considering listing your WordPress plugin for sale here.
Transferslot assumes your plugin has already been posted at Product Hunt in the past. They ask you to submit a screenshot, a brief description and some basic statistics about your product: revenue, Product Hunt upvotes, price and status of the project.
The site charges $25 to list your project for sale. I still think it might be worth a shot to list your WordPress plugin for sale on the site though as residual traffic from Product Hunt will get your sale in front of some eyes.
Empire Flippers is the first site on this list that I would consider best for really serious, very successful WordPress plugins to be listed for sale. There is a large team behind Empire Flippers and they have helped broker the sale of a lot of large websites and applications since opening their business.
There is a great rundown available of what it takes to sell your site with Empire Flippers. The main selling point they offer is getting your plugin in front of a huge amount of potential buyers. Of course, to get in front of those buyers you’ll have to get your business vetted. That will cost you $297 at the time of this post but that fee is refunded if you get rejected.
If your WordPress plugin is sold to a new owner then Empire Flippers is going to take 15% of the sale price which is pretty steep. They also require six months of exclusivity when listing your business with them which really limits your selling opportunities but Empire Flippers argues it is worth that risk because of their track record of success.
If your plugin isn’t making a lot of money I wouldn’t even bother contacting Empire Flippers for help selling your business. There are still plenty of alternatives out there for plugins with smaller financial success to find buyers. On the other hand, if your WordPress plugin business is hugely successful and is generating a lot of revenue I think Empire Flippers is one of the better options for finding a new owner for your product.
I would describe Bidhype best as a simple Flippa clone in terms of its features. Listings include a screenshot, description and a collection of analytics data. Sites are listed with either an asking price or through a bid system. It costs $29 at minimum to get your listing added to the site and you can upgrade that listing for higher fees. Relisting a failed sale is free. Payment can be handled between buyer and seller on their own or using Bidhype’s escrow service (with a 7% fee).
Bidhype is the newest marketplace on this list which means if you act now you’ll be well positioned but the traffic might not be as high as you would like. Discoverability might also be a problem as the number of listings grows. Bidhype currently only offers a basic listings search and doesn’t categorize the businesses for sale in any meaningful way.
[Update: Devin Walker, from WordImpress, informs me FE International has gotten out of the WordPress plugin game entirely because of a lack of demand from buyers. So there’s a bit of a harsh reality check for all of us.]
The second of our big time selling methods, FE International, is probably the most popular brokerage firm for getting your online business successfully sold. The one big catch is you better be bringing in serious money with your WordPress plugin if you think you have any kind of chance of FE International helping you sell it off. They focus on sales in the five to seven figure range. This is not the destination for weekend side projects or dying plugins with no revenue.
FE International provides a lot of resources for learning about what it takes to sell your online business with them so I won’t rehash all of it here. Just know that their approach is very professional, provides you with access to legitimate buyers with real budgets and they have a history of completing successful, private deals with business of all types. FE International gets paid when you do so listing with them, assuming you make it through the vetting process, is free.
This is the go to route for anyone selling their highly successful WordPress plugin business. The web is full of stories of people who have had great success using FE International to sell their online stores, web applications and more so it’s ideal for large premium WordPress plugins as well.
Latona’s offers a broker service with a more hands on approach. They provide free business evaluations and promise to walk you through the process of selling your WordPress plugin business and making sure you understand all of the options in front of you.
There are currently a few WordPress-related business for sale on Latona’s listings. Unfortunately, you can’t view any of their listings without creating an account which is either a negative because it limits the possible audience or a positive because it automatically eliminates tire kickers and time wasters. I could see both sides of that argument.
There’s no mention anywhere what Latona’s cut is for each sale but rest assured it’s not zero considering the prices for some of the existing businesses they have listed. This is definitely an option for a high end business and a good alternative to FE International.
I wanted to finish this look at ways to sell your WordPress plugin to a new owner with my personal favorite: Flippa. This website marketplace has been around for a very, very long time and its quite the melting pot of websites, businesses and products for sale.
There are two ways to list your WordPress plugin business for sale on Flippa: auction or classified listing. The auction format comes with a listing fee ranging from $19 to $29 depending on the age of your site. In an auction, you determine the starting bid price, the auction reserve and a potential “buy it now” price to end the sale early. Classified listings usually contain a single purchase price or a means to contact the seller to negotiate. Successful sales come with corresponding fees paid to Flippa based on the payment service used to conclude the deal.
Some words of warning about Flippa before you jump right in. It can be a haven for scumbags and cheaters. One of the best parts about Flippa is the massive audience it provides but with that comes an increased number of people who will waste your time, or worse, try and rip you off. Many sales on Flippa end with a successful buyer but fall apart during the resolution of the sale as people suddenly don’t have the money they promised or the means to finish the purchase.
Even though Flippa doesn’t have the most sterling reputation amongst everyone it does provide a very good system for listing your WordPress plugin for sale. The listings include key information, a widely used comment system and plenty of automated search tools that allows buyers to see your sales quickly. It is probably the most user-friendly site mentioned in this post.
I think those are six totally viable options (since we’re excluding FE International now) for selling your WordPress plugin outright to a new owner.
Let me know if you have other suggestions for places to sell your WordPress plugin business. I’m also constantly on the look out for WordPress plugin developers willing to have their plugins featured on a post here at The Plugin Economy so reach out and I’ll get in touch.
Originally published at theplugineconomy.com on September 14, 2017.