Self proclaimed WordPress rockstar Adriaan Pienaar wrote a good article on WooThemes a few days ago entitled ‘The Cost of Free‘. In the article he discusses the problems that WooThemes, and other premium theme stores, experience from giving away designs for free.
With over 400,000 downloads of their free themes, it just isn’t possible to give support to those who download their free designs, however by not doing so they are potentially alienating thousands of potential customers. This is the ‘Cost’ that Addriaan refers to. It’s something which I can relate to. I released 1 premium design and 3 or 4 free WordPress designs through my last blog Blogging Tips. Without doubt, the vast majority of questions came from people who downloaded the free design.
Whilst I did try and help when I could, I found it counter productive. Those who needed support rarely helped others through the forums when I had resolved their problem and they rarely contributed to the blog with comments either. Therefore there was little value to help them from a business point of view.
This is why I fully support the freemium model. It encourages designers to continue to release top quality designs to the WordPress community for free and those who want support can get it by paying a little extra. I do have sympathy for those who need support and can’t afford it but it simply isn’t viable for most developers to offer this for free. That being said, I think it’s important for WordPress users to help others with problems when they can spare the time.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this issue. Please leave a comment if you have time :)