The biggest – and most challenging change – that I made in my online marketing business for 2016 was to remove, with only a few exceptions, non-GPL-licensed WordPress plugins, themes, etc from directly featured promotion by me.
The reason this has been challenging or difficult is that unfortunately, for a long time, my business had created a lot of recommendations for some non-GPL products simply because at that time they were outperforming GPL products.
While there are a few rare exceptions – items that I have not yet managed to extract from actual use of in my own business (my affiliate plugin is a hard one due to the specific features I need) – even these will hopefully be extracted from my business soon.
Every excuse I had to avoid doing this – some of which I still feel were valid at the time – has been removed. Unless, I am a cheapskate or simply out here to only make cash and don’t care what the right thing to do is.
To remove some of them, I’m having to invest in having custom code written. That’s part of business. That’s part of investing in the software you’re using.
Just because a plugin is free does not mean that it is GPL licensed. That’s a common misconception. Additionally, just because a plugin is GPL does not mean its free or that it does not have an affiliate program.
I still have affiliate links for some non-GPL, but I’ve already begun redirecting many of them to their GPL alternatives and I’ll continue that work going forward. (As a long-term affiliate, I manage thousands of links across MANY websites so cleanup will be an ongoing process and may never be fully complete due to lack of access to some articles on external sites but should be MUCH improved!)
GPL is the “heartbeat” and the “lifeblood” of why WordPress exists at all.
Without that type of license (yes, GPL is a type of license), the entire community would not be here today. Don’t let the term scare you! You’ve been familiar with the friendly and generous rules of the license (and your right to modify the code), from the minute you started working with WordPress. (Firefox, Open Office, Audacity, GIMP, Filezilla, Clam AV, and more have a similar, though slightly different, “Open Source” license.)
GPL is just good karma! (And non-GPL… well… that’s how you find bad karma!)
Download your favorite plugin to your computer. Unzip the file. Locate the license.txt file inside of it and open it up. If you do not see that the plugin license references “GNU Public License” for all of the code elements (which does exclude trademark names/logos), then you’re dealing with a sad non-GPL plugin.
Don’t buy sad code! :(
Let’s not mince words. I’m a marketer and my income comes from knowing the hottest, coolest, and most badass stuff that helps YOU grow YOUR business. (And I’m damn good at what I do.)
For the longest time, I was not strict about GPL requirements, in part because there WERE just so many damn COOL plugins coming out with “commercial” licenses (non-GPL) that actually were quite useful to marketers such as myself. It was a painful idea to ask businesses to not use the plugin that would best accomplish their goals.. but, fortunately, the industry has expanded so much that that is rarely an issue!
However, this last year, when I put together my annual AMAZING BIG BLACK FRIDAY / CYBER MONDAY CATALOG post that everyone knows and loves, for the first time it was VERY evident just how strong, healthy, robust and DIVERSE the WordPress GPL plugin market has gotten. 2014 and 2015 saw numerous plugin and theme development teams figure out how to grow their business while still honoring the GPL license which has provided so much for us.
Two or three years ago, you had the free (GPL) plugins and themes but only a limited variety of Premium GPL plugins to compliment them. However, the “commercial” marketers were off and running… to the bank! They made a lot of cool items which were quite useful but unfortunately, they chose not to honor either the law/legal requirements or the community.
You know that’s not the game I like to play. I try not to take part in games where it’s “winner-take-all”.
I don’t like things that TAKE from a community without giving back. (And that’s what non-correctly licensed stuff does. It takes from the robustness and health of the WordPress world and it does not re-enter its code into the world as everyone before them has done.)
GPL licensing doesn’t mean you can’t have Premium paid plugins or themes… but it means that what you’re paying for is the SUPPORT for those plugins/themes. That’s something else that has been sadly missing in the majority (not all, but yes, the majority) of the plugins floating around the list of email marketers promotion cycles today.
Making a choice for GPL plugins – over alternatives – is not only enabling the community to grow but is actively voting for better SUPPORT for things you buy licenses for. (Because most of us have discovered the sour taste of buying a non-GPL item that then is rapidly abandoned by the creator – because it’s not the new hotness – and with non-GPL code we can’t even have our developer patch the code to keep it working.)
There are some marketers – with currently commercial plugins – who are doing most things right EXCEPT with licensing. These people aren’t inherently bad even though they’re currently making a very uneducated and sad choice that hurts the rest of us. These are people that simply need more education, more understand of the benefits of community-first-marketing, and more people like me to STOP promoting their stuff until they do the right thing.
So – don’t be surprised – if you come to me with a WordPress “thingy” to promote and (if it makes use of coding, which excludes trainings/etc) that I ask you… Is it GPL licensed?
Is that plugin GPL licensed?
Is that theme GPL licensed?
(And these are questions you should ask of people selling you stuff!)
If it’s not… then it’s not for my people.
Because my people care about the community.
My people give back to a community they’ve gained so much from (the whole of WordPress!!). My people put community wins ahead of an individual’s win. My people understand that you vote with your wallet and that means supporting plugin/theme authors that are out here correctly producing lots of amazing GPL licensed plugins and themes.
And there ARE lots… at least 85% of the WordPress items that were in my Black Friday post this year (which was a LOT)… were GPL licensed! (In 2016 all of the themes and plugins that get included will be GPL licensed.)
All of your favorite premium plugins are GPL licensed:
Your favorite themes are too! That is including Genesis by StudioPress and more!
Not everyone is hip to be cool!
However, we as a marketing community have a long way to go to bring some other companies on board – and to find alternatives until there are. This includes companies producing products like OptimizePress / Thrive Themes (see Beaver Builder & Site Origin Page Builder & Shortcodes Ultimate), InstaMember (lots of alternatives to this!), Wishlist Member (lots of alternatives to this), Popup Domination (I’m currently in love with Popup Ally Pro!), LeadPlayer/LeadPages, and many many more.
Sure, I have affiliate links for some of these commercial items around for a while yet, so if you want them ask… but I’d be infinitely more appreciative, as would the community, if you’d first consider a GPL licensed plugin/theme instead (many of which also have affiliate programs)!
Fortunately, for almost all of these, there are many robust alternatives in the industry already available. And for those that there are not… when you vote with your wallet (and withhold when necessary), you make sure companies can bring them to the GPL market quicker without having to struggle under the weight of YOUR dollar working against them.
Having trouble finding an alternative to the icky non-GPL licensed item you’re currently feeling stuck with? Let me know and I’ll help you find good alternative solutions! (Dropping a post in the YCDI community is the fastest way to reach me for information based queries like that.
Thank you for being part of this amazing WordPress community!
Thank you for being the type of person who believes that community wins are an important part of community opportunities rather than winner-take-all. (Thank you for being patient with me while I figured out how and when to extract my business from the non-GPL world that it, unfortunately, started in when I didn’t know better and was guided wrongly by some people I trusted.) Thank you for being amazing!
May 2016 be amazing for all of us in the WordPress community!
~ Kim ~
Smart Tech For Smart Marketers