It’s not as though subscription services are a new thing within WordPress. It’s just that they were once relegated to the likes of WordPress hosting companies or maintenance providers who could easily package up their services into a done-for-you monthly solution.
But these days, it seems like other WordPress professionals are getting into the game. And there’s a very good reason for that.
If you’ve ever looked around at your fellow WordPress agencies, designers, or vendors and wondered why the heck everyone is moving to a SaaS or WaaS model, keep reading. You might discover that as-a-service solutions are a smart move for your own business.
Which WordPress Companies Have Become a SaaS or WaaS?
Although WordPress has long been the market leader in terms of content management systems, it’s been slow to address consumer demand for a more user-friendly experience. Gutenberg was a small step in the right direction, but it doesn’t address other pains with the self-hosted CMS.
- Have to find their own web hosting.
- Find and configure a WordPress theme.
- Design a website and fill it with custom content.
- Add the right features and functionality with WordPress plugins.
- Keep WordPress updated, backed up, secured, and optimized for speed.
To make matters worse, costs aren’t really predictable or stable with WordPress.
This is why website builder subscriptions are so attractive. Most of the work is done for users and costs stay the same on a month-to-month basis no matter what.
With the way consumers flock to all kinds of subscription services (e.g. Hubspot, Netflix, Dollar Shave Club), why would WordPress businesses continue to operate strictly as one-off service providers or product sellers?
Consumers want convenience and cost-effectiveness and a one-off solution will not provide either.
These WordPress companies have identified the need and addressed it by moving their businesses in the as-a-service direction:
Lumos Agency is a managed WordPress hosting company. Customers not only get a robust hosting and maintenance plan, they also get access to personalized contact time that make it easy for any WordPress user to deploy a new site in under 5 minutes.
Elegant Themes is a unique use case as it’s always operated under the SaaS business model. That said, this is a great example of how a company can easily evolve over the years as it more clearly identifies its audience’s needs. And Elegant Themes has done this by reshaping its WordPress theme, plugin, and page builder offerings and plans.
As of writing this, Elementor has a very successful monthly subscription service that provides users with support, updates, and other addons for its premium page builder plugin. That said, don’t expect Elementor to stop there. Based on recent changes, we predict a much bigger SaaS shift from Elementor very soon.
Imagify isn’t just a WordPress image compression plugin. It’s an online service that does all the work for its WordPress users. All they need to do is sign up for a plan, connect WordPress to the Imagify API, and let the service handle their images for them.
LaunchMyWP has allowed WordPress to effectively compete with the likes of Wix, Squarespace, and Shopify. It offers customers convenient monthly plans, fast and secure hosted WordPress sites, as well as some really beautiful starter sites (no surprise, considering the company behind them is 7thQueen).
When OptinMonster first entered the WordPress space, it was a simple lead generation plugin, enabling users to create forms for their websites. These days, OptinMonster has become an affordable customer acquisition and lead generation software that empowers users to set up forms and pop-ups, run lead-generating campaigns, enable tracking and targeting, and more.
WebDevStudios is a familiar name amongst WordPress agencies. And while its bread-and-butter is in providing custom web design and development services, it also sells monthly WordPress maintenance and support plans as well as managed hosting through its Maintainn sub-brand.
Weglot is a translation service that plugs into WordPress and enables users to turn their websites into international superstars. Considering all of the work that would otherwise go into translating a website into various languages (not to mention the cost), this was a SaaS that the WordPress community critically needed.
WooCommerce itself is a free WordPress ecommerce plugin. However, many of its extensions are only available through the WooCommerce marketplace and for an annual fee. Users don’t just get a new WooCommerce plugin with the purchase however. They get plugin updates and support, too.
What Do You Gain By Going the aaS Route?
If it feels like every major WordPress company is becoming a SaaS or WaaS, you’re right. They are.
The success of a WordPress business is contingent upon how well it adapts to the changing CMS landscape. Consumers know what’s possible — thanks to the rise of website builders like Wix and WordPress companies that have begun to make the switch — so you can’t afford to drag your feet.
And why would you?
WordPress agencies and web designers benefit because they:
- Stop losing money to web hosts, maintenance providers, do-it-yourself website builders, etc.
- Ensure payments come in at the same time every month or year, without fail.
- Remove scope creep and other profit destroyers that come with serving clients one by one.
- Have happier and more loyal customers because everything is done for them.
- Find it much easier to scale their business when they’re not scrambling to build as many websites as possible.
- Automate a lot of the tedious business stuff like prospecting, onboarding, marketing, etc.
WordPress theme, plugin, and other software vendors benefit because they:
- Don’t have to rely on unpredictable, unstable one-off sales in marketplaces anymore.
- Make more money by offering more than just a product that users have to manage on their own.
- More easily support their products and make sure customers get the most out of them.
- Remove third-party dependencies (like web hosts) that compromise the ability of their themes or plugins to perform on users’ sites.
- Have an easier time building out new features and developing new products since marketing and sales of existing products is no longer out of their hands.
Bottom line: You already have the solution your WordPress users need. Now you need to turn it into a convenient and cost-effective product that makes their lives easier. (And yours, too.)
Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean ditching your current business. It just means evolving your offering — or adding a new one — based on how you can serve your customers best from the cloud.
If you haven’t taken the steps to do so yet, you should be shifting to the aaS business model as soon as possible. And Dollie will enable you to do that.