The Value of a Joomla Extension

I've given presentations at more than a dozen Joomla World Conferences, Joomla Days, and Joomla User Groups meeting. Those presentations have covered JFBConnect, our social network extension for Joomla, as well as topics like 'Introduction to Joomla Development' and the generic 'Top 10 Must-Have Extensions'. We even had a chapter in the "Joomla! Development - A Beginner's Guide" book on Running a Business Around Joomla Extensions. In all presentations, regardless of topic, the same questions almost always comes up.. and usually in that order:

  • Why does JFBConnect cost $60?
  • Do you have a coupon code?
  • How can you give refunds for an open source extension?

Those are all excellent questions, and it's time to delve a little into our business model, what an extension developer does, what an end-user expects and our philosophy on coupons.

What Do We Actually Do?

We have customers who are profusely thankful for the extensions and services we provide at the price we offer them. We have almost 300 reviews on the Joomla Extension Directory for social network integration with a perfect 100 rating to prove it.

We also have users who are irate that we'd be willing to charge at all.

It's a difficult balancing act because we are creating a GPL, open-source extension. There are other social networking integration extensions available and some, indeed, are free. However, we don't price our products based on what others have or are doing, we base it on what we offer.. and there's a lot more to any extension than code.

Continuous Development

The social networks we integrate with are continuously changing. From evolving APIs, new and removed features, updated Terms of Service and app-creation interfaces that seem to change daily, there is always something new for us to deal with. It's our job to try to make all these changes transparent. We read through changelogs, blogs, bug reports and countless other news bits daily so you don't have to.

If all goes well, we'll have an updated release, documentation or changes to our automatic configuration tool implemented before you even realize something has changed with the social network.

Sometimes, it's hard to see the value in something that 'just works'. However, you'll certainly notice once you try some of the free options you can find.. Either after installation or whenever a social network change happens that breaks things, you'll quickly realize the huge difference between a fix implemented proactively, like we do with JFBConnect, and one coming days (or weeks) later at the leisure of a developer.

Amazing Support

We pride ourselves on our support. If you look at our forums, you'll see over 25,000 responses to user's from our support staff.

That's an average of 10 replies per day, every day, for 7 years. Non-stop.

Yes, we work weekends. And holidays. And birthdays. Of course, that's not counting Private Messages, Contact Us Forums and the many other means that our customers can get in touch with us.

In short, we've seen every issue imaginable on our user's sites and we take the time to help each customer get things going. Most questions get a full resolution in just a few hours, but some problems take days or even weeks to fully flesh out while working with hosting companies, Facebook developer support or any other avenues necessary. Our support staff is always there through it all.

How We Set Our Pricing

All of the above explains what we do to make sure we have happy users. While we'd love to do development and support every day for free, alas, we can't. We have families that like to eat and, because of that, we have to charge for our efforts. We've had different pricing models over the last 7 years, but have settled on a price that works for us, and seemingly for our customers, for the last 3 years. 

  • $60 for a 6-month subscription that includes new releases, as much support as you need and use of our auto-configuration service to help get things up and running quickly.
  • A 30% discount on renewals to active subscriptions.

That discounted price is very important to us. If you keep your subscription active and keep updating JFBConnect, you require less support.

We have the stats to prove it. By keeping your subscription up to date, we charge less because you will require less assistance.

It's that simple. We love seeing customer's renew: they get a sizeable discount and we have more loyal users that keep things working well.

I Want A Coupon!

Sorry, you won't get one here. We have not offered a coupon on our products in over 4 years and don't plan to do so soon. There's not a "Coupon Code" field on our checkout page, so you don't need to go searching RetailMeNot or all the other sites looking for one.

We know, we're in the minority. There are some extensions that have a 20% discount for some not-so-special holiday. A large 'community' extension has 50% discounts almost every month. It's a bit ridiculous in our opinions. As a developer, all you're telling your users is:

  • Our extension isn't worth full price, wait (or search) for a coupon.
  • Or, you paid full price? You'll regret that soon when you see our next newsletter.

It's hard to get off the coupon train as a business owner. We've talked to many other developers and the stats are clear: at full price, they get ~10-20% of their sales. When they issue a coupon, they get a huge influx of customers that can make up 70% or more of their business. It's like a drug.. issue a coupon when sales are down and get an infusion.

We don't abide by that principal though. It's a race to the botton and, if we charged less, something would have to give: development, support or quality would have to go down, and that's simply something we can't allow. We can also confidently say that 100% of our sales are at the same price every other user sees. There's no need to think you're getting a bad deal.

Refunds Should Be Simple

If you're new to GPL business models, it's easy to think that you can't provide a GPL extension. Once a user has your product, there's no way to force them to give it back, uninstall it or anything else.

That's definitely true. But it also misses the point of what we do. If *all* we did was 'make code', a refund could be a problem. If you've read to this point though, you know that development is just a fraction of what we do.. support, staying up to date, keeping our automated configuration tools working take up as much, or more, of our time.

Because of that, if a user isn't happy, we gladly offer refunds! There's a "Request Refund" link at the bottom of every page of our site (when you're logged in) and it's very easy to fill out. In over 7 years, we've never once denied a refund.

It's that simple. If a user wants a refund, they lose a lot more than just the code they already have, they lose access to us, which I consider much more valuable than the code itself. Our knowledge in fixing problems and peace of mind that your site will continue to work even with the changes in each of the social networks is what we sell.. and that's much more than the 2MB file you may think is all you're getting.

That's SourceCoast

That really sums up 8 years of SourceCoast business model philosophy. Think we're crazy? Know where we could do something better? Sound off in the comments below!

Alex Andreae

Alex co-founded SourceCoast Web Development in 2008. Based in sunny Florida, SourceCoast develops extensions for integrating your Joomla powered website with popular social networks. He has spoken at more than a dozen Joomla User Groups and Joomla Days, including the Joomla World Conference in both 2012 and 2013. Topics have included social networking for Joomla, running a business around Joomla extensions, and Joomla development.

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