Licensing and selling a commercial wordpress plugin

This article is really for:

  • WordPress theme and/or plugin developers, or
  • Marketers that outsource theme/plugin development, or
  • PHP programmers, or
  • Programmers that can pretty much code in any language.

If you don’t fit any of the above, you can stop reading now as you’re not really in a position to profit by licensing and selling commercial WordPress plugins or themes – but if you’re interested….

So Why WordPress?

WordPress as a CMS platform completely dominates the web.wordpress_logo

According to the founder Matt Mullenweg, WordPress now powers 18.9% of the web and has 46m downloads, and usage is still rapidly growing

Here’s an article that shows some very surprising statistics about WordPress usage.

Statistics about WordPress usage

  1. 48% of Technorati’s Top 100 Blogs Are Managed With WordPress
  2. 74.6 Million Sites Depend on WordPress
  3. WordPress-Related Keywords Score 37 Million Searches Per Month
  4. 40 Translations of WordPress
  5. 22% of New U.S. Registered Domains Run on WordPress
  6. Gets More Unique Visitors Than Amazon (Us)
  7. Employs Only 229 People
  8. 6 New Posts Every Second
  9. WordPress Developers Charge $50/hr
  10. 29,000 WordPress Plugins and Growing Daily
  11. 98 Versions of WordPress to Date
  12. 46 Million Downloads of
  13. WordPress Is Most Popular With Business Websites
  14. Akismet Is the Most Popular Plugin

WordPress Plugin and Theme Markets

Based on the above stats, there is lots of money being made, and to be made hopefully by you, selling WordPress plugins and/or themes.

The premium WordPress plugin market is extremely strong with a lot of money being made by both single authors as well as large companies such as wpmudev.

Some WordPress plugin markets

The WordPress theme market is just massive, with well known heavy-hitters such as:

  • Theme Forest
  • Elegant Themes
  • Woo Themes
  • Studiopress


Any search for wordpress premium themes shows an obvious very large demand and supply in the commercial theme market.

So how do you cash in on this market?

  • Are you already a theme or plugin developer?
  • Are you a PHP developer?
  • Are you a marketer that outsources plugin/theme development?
  • Do you have a plugin/theme you want to market and make some money from your efforts?


Get This >> You’re really selling licenses, not software

Very import concept to understand about selling any type of software is that you are not really selling software but rather licenses to use that software.

The reason it’s important is because the focus now needs to be on selling and managing software licenses.

This is the shift from being a software creator to one who sells and gets rewarded for his or her efforts by selling in the marketplace.

Setting up a License Manager is the next step

A license manager is online software that is responsible for:

  • Generating licenses for trial users and paying customers
  • Validating existing licenses to deter piracy of your product
  • Customer administration such as email, lost passwords, refunds and site membership functionality.

Before you think ‘Oh No, not more work!’, I’m going to run through some software that makes the shift from developer to plugin/theme marketer a whole lot easier.

CopyProtectSoftware (CPS)

copy protect logo 030913

CPS is license manager software that I developed based on the core license protection systems I have used over the years both for my own products and then for clients.

Most license managers are custom built in-house affairs which can be good, but mostly a headache, with one more thing to maintain.

As well as being a consultant programmer, I’m also an internet marketer, so I am very familiar with WordPress.

The most natural thing then was to create a license manager plugin. In this way you can install the plugin and manage software licenses right through the WordPress admin framework.

I actually have a license manager plugin on that manages licenses for the License Manager!


What the CPS License Manager does

You can quickly setup licenses for products with CPS so that you are up and running.  There are also a lot more ‘bells and whistles’ you can also take advantage of if you want to.

The basics on how to implement CPS licensing

  1. Update your plugin or theme code with a code component supplied by CPS
  2. Encrypt part of your code so that the component is locked to it
  3. Install the license manager plugin on a wordpress site
  4. Configure the license manager so that your plugin or theme can communicate with it, send out emails, provide product downloads, etc…
  5. Market your plugin or theme, and let the license manager do it’s thing.

Here’s some highlights of what CPS does for you

Sell and manage software licenses

Install CPS as a wordpress plugin. Quick and configurable admin screens to manage products, licenses and license generators.

Easy Trial & Full License Config

Create licenses that expire after any period after activation. Licenses can be configured to be valid on 1 or more machines or website domains.

Generate from Paypal IPN

Automate license generation from Paypal instant payment notifications (IPN).Configure Paypal IPN settings. Copy and paste auto generated IPN url when creating Paypal buttons.

Move Prospects & Buyers onto Autoresponder Lists

Add users to an Aweber autoresponder list after they download a trial, and let email sequences sell the full version for you.

Generate Licenses from Download Forms

Pre-made HTML form code can be placed on any site so potential customers can download your software with a trial license you define.

Control License Holder Site Membership

Setup different license generation and site membership configurations. Set WordPress registration to only accept registrations if the user has a valid software license.


Have a look at to get an idea of what the License Manager screens look like.

Step-by-Step Setup Docs & Videos has a members area that contains:

Videos and a PDF manual for the License Manager.

  • Installing & Activating the License Manager
  • License Manager Versions
  • Configuring the License Manager for Your Software
  • Products
  • License Generators
  • Generator Details
  • Email Settings
  • Paypal Settings
  • Creating a Paypal Button
  • Testing IPN Setup
  • Using a 3rd Party Intermediary or Membership System
  • Email Autoresponder Settings
  • Optin Form
  • Licenses
  • Add New License
  • Import Licenses (Pro & Enterprise)
  • View Email
  • Software Protection

There’s also a step-by-step video, and a PDF on how to integrate your plugin or theme.

Basically you:

  • Add the CopyProtectSoftware class folder to your plugin
  • Set your license server URL, your product software code, and the type of validation required
  • Lock your menu setup with a validation call
  • Add an ‘Activation’ screen for your customers to enter their license details
  • Call ‘Deactivate’ in your uninstall method (optional)
  • Encrypt or obfuscate your implementation code (optional)

All the instructional videos are available on youtube, so you can watch them there before buying a license to use CPS if you like.

How Much?

CPS currently comes in 3 versions: Standard $97, Professional $197 and Enterprise $297.

The main difference is how many sites you can install the license manager on at one time, and how many products you want to manage for each install.

The Enterprise version has a license import facility and is more suited to a company type setup.


Where to get it from?


Start selling licenses for your plugin or theme.

I use CPS a lot for both my own products and for client work, and it makes it a whole lot easier and quicker to get a product to market or to meet a client deadline.

Comment here if you have any questions about CPS or commercial plugin and theme licensing.




About the Author John

Leave a Comment:

1 comment
Stefan says January 7, 2017

Hallo John,

i’m interested in the plugin.

Is it possible to use it on the news WordPress version?
Is the communication between an c#-programm an the plugin save?
can i use it also in a c# .net core-programm or visual studio 2017 for mac in c#-programm?

i didn’t fin the standard version for $97 on your website … can you send me the correct link where i can try and buy that?

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