Software Licensing for WordPress Plugins and WordPress Themes

What Is Software Licensing?

The ability to easily manage the activations and different licenses of the premium WordPress plugins or premium WordPress themes that you’re selling. It’s the most efficient (and most common) way of selling software.

When you provide a software license key together with the WordPress plugin or WordPress theme that you are selling you are making it much easier to handle renewals and recurring payments, so that your client can continuously get software updates and support.

For different reasons, it has not been that popular in the WordPress sphere, but thankfully, that is changing. Every day, more and more plugin and theme developers are opting to sell their products with software license keys, rather than just going commando.

A Software Licensing Comparison

There are several popular systems that will enable you to generate and manage software licensing for your premium WordPress products. Here’s a quick comparison between the different capabilities of:

The Freemius software licensing mechanism

The Easy Digital Downloads software licensing mechanism

And the WooCommerce software licensing mechanism

Price Free $199 / year
(for 1 website)
$129 / year
(for 1 website)
REST API
Multi-site licenses
Multiplan licensing
Automatic premium code stripping for wp.org
Ability to block features upon license expiration
Trials Support
Integrated with recurring payments
Price
Free $199 / year
(for 1 website)
$129 / year
(for 1 website)
REST API
Multi-site licenses
Multiplan licensing
Automatic premium code stripping for wp.org
Ability to block features upon license expiration
Trials Support
Integrated with recurring payments

If you’re in the business of making $ from your premium WordPress plugin or theme - you need to be able to manage software licenses.

Here’s How It Works with Freemius:

It’s quite simple, actually. Software licensing with Freemius works out-of-the-box. All you need to do is add some pre-defined logic that will enable Freemius to understand which parts (code blocks) of your WordPress plugin or WordPress theme belong to which of your payment plans. Once you have that logic in place Freemius will automatically use it to determine what product capabilities should be included with each plan and software license key.

Managing Your Customer Software License Keys

Every time a customer purchases your premium WordPress plugin or theme a unique software license key is automatically generated and securely sent to them by Freemius.
As the product owner, you can manage all of your customer licenses from one central place inside your Freemius account, under ‘Licenses’:

Software License Recovery for Customers

Having a software license management system at your disposal can potentially save you a lot of time and effort with paying customers, allowing them to easily recover their purchased license key. All they need to do is enter the email address they have associated with their license purchase and an email with a download link will be sent to them.

WordPress.org Compliance for Your Free Version

Based on the WordPress.org Guidelines you are not allowed to submit a plugin that has premium code in it to the official repository:

“All code hosted by WordPress.org servers must be free and fully-functional. If you want to sell advanced features for a plugin (such as a “pro” version), then you must sell and serve that code from your own site, we will not host it on our servers.”

So, if you want your WordPress plugin or theme to be WordPress.org compliant, Freemius’ software licensing actually makes your life easy - we’ve built a special PHP-Preprocessor that will automatically strip all premium features & files, based on the licensing logic, and will generate a WordPress.org compliant free version, that you can use for distribution on WordPress.org. Simply tell Freemius which premium features you would like to include with your premium versions and you’re ready to push the free plugin or theme version to the official WordPress repository.