WooCommerce is by far the biggest player in the WordPress ecommerce space. It has its own robust economy of premium add-ons both by its creators and an impressive array of third party developers. So much so that it can be easy to catch yourself thinking that every add-on worth having is premium. But like WooCommerce itself (and WordPress of course) quality/usefulness and a $0 price tag are not mutually exclusive. There are plenty of free WooCommerce plugins out there that can enhance your store without requiring you to spend a dime. In this post we’ve rounded up eleven we feel are worth checking out.
1. WooCommerce Multilingual
Off the bat, you should know that expanding the languages your store is available in can increase sales and conversions. The WPML project is fantastic for that, and this plugin will let you make sure that your site reaches absolutely as many people as possible. I think the best part of this plugin is that it not only shows the pages on your site in a new language, but also allows emails that you sent to your customers to be translated, too. That’s good stuff.
You want people to come back to your site. While one-off sales are okay, the real money is with repeat customers. And what better way to get repeat customers than to give them a chance to browse your store and throw whatever they want to remember onto a wishlist? It works for Amazon, so it will work for you, too. Just install the YITH WooCommerce Wishlist plugin and before you know it, conversions and return visitors will be soaring. Plus, the image they use to promote the plugin uses an elegant black dress. I say their word choice is an omen.
If you’re like most shoppers, free stuff gets you to buy more than you’d normally buy. Just the prospect of it being free is too tantalizing to miss. Even more than that, the best way to give something for free is to make sure they keep coming back to your store over and over again. That’s why rewards programs are so popular. With the WooRewards plugin, you can host your own rewards program for free. Just like the wishlist above, if you can get people to come back for any reason, they will most likely buy more stuff. And with something free dangling like a carrot on a stick in front of them, too, it’s a one-two punch that’ll knock ’em out every time.
Remember how one of the most annoying parts of ecommerce is the abandoned cart? Well, that’s not an issue with WooCommerce Direct Checkout. Just install this baby on your site, and you won’t have any abandoned carts anymore. Zero. Zilch. Because you won’t have a cart at all. You can direct your customers directly to checkout with this plugin so that their impulse to buy is streamlined through the process perfectly. It’s totally free to use, but if you want a more robust experience, the developers have a pro upgrade you can opt for.
Just like it says, this plugin puts a cart icon in the menu of your WordPress site. Some themes don’t play well with WooCommerce, but that shouldn’t be a problem with this one installed. Just activate it, and you have a customizable spot in your menu bar that lets your customers keep track of everything they’ve set aside to buy. And if you don’t want it just in the menu bar, you can use a shortcode to render the cart wherever you want — widgets, footers, blogs, anywhere.
If there is one lesson we can learn from the current state of the film industry, it’s that there’s a lot of money to be made outside of the United States. So make sure that your customers know what they’re really paying by using this plugin. When installed, this plugin lets your users see exchange rates for the price you’ve set and their desired currency. No more guessing how many Euros equal how many US Dollars, or how many Ruples equal how many GBP. The free version only supports 2 currencies, but that may be enough if you have a dominant country in addition to your native one.
Running an ecommerce store is fun and games…until it’s not. The worst part about an online business (really, any business) is keeping up with all your paperwork. Thankfully, there is a slew of software out there to make it better for you, and this is one of the top options. With this free WooCommerce plugin, you can generate PDF invoices and packing slips (see why it’s named that now?) quickly and easily so your business keeps moving foward and doesn’t have to slow down while you push around a lot of paper.
PayPal and Stripe may be your go-to payment methods for WooCommerce, but you should absolutely think about Amazon Pay, too. Since roughly everyone in the world shops on Amazon, using this free, official extension will make your store run a bit more smoothly. It lets your users integrate with a payment processor that they are already comfortable with and trust, and you get the same benefits because you’re dealing with a gateway that’s based on one of the biggest infrastructures in the world. The only downside as I see to this (and this is a minor quibble) is that users can’t use rewards points or gift cards for purchases via Amazon Pay. As a consumer, that stinks, but as a vendor, it should be no different than taking PayPal or Stripe.
I don’t know what it is about image magnification, but there’s just something that screams a site is professional if you let users zoom in on your products. Installing this plugin makes it a breeze, and your shop will look a ton more professional immediately. You can upgrade to a pro version if you want more customization, but you probably won’t need to.
Everyone loves gift cards. Whether they are getting free money to a favorite shop (yours, obviously) or picking out an easy present on the go that can be given immediately, people adore gift cards. If you have this plugin installed, your customers will have that option, and even if they don’t find the perfect gift for that special someone, that special someone can pick it out for themselves. The downside to the free version of this plugin is that while the gift cards are available to purchase on your site, you have to manually send the codes to the recipient. For smaller shops, that may be a good thing, as you have a bit more granular control, but for later sites, that just isn’t possible to keep up with. Other than that, it’s easy to use and set up, so you should definitely take a look.
To round it all out, let’s give your customers a reward for being so darn amazing. With the Coupon Shortcodes plugin, you can designate anywhere on your site as a location for your customers to get a code and apply it at checkout. While that’s awesome, it’s integration with Coupon Countdown is what really makes it cool — you can do a limited time offer for only specific parts of your site (maybe 404 pages or a sales page).
No matter what kind of store you run, there’s a handful of these free WooCommerce plugins that should probably be installed on your site. Sure, not everything will work for everyone, but even the ones with limited functionality can work as a demo to see if it’s the right fit for your store. Given that all these are free, installing some of them can only gain you sales, right? Happy selling!
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools are one of the most helpful parts of your business. Being able to keep track of your customers, lead generation, contact history, and so much more is essential to running an efficient business. Especially an online one. However, you might not want to use an external platform like HubSpot or ZoHo. If you want to keep things in your own WordPress dashboard, there are a number of options that you can choose from that will keep the money flowing and the customers happy.
1. vCita CRM and Lead Management
We have covered vCita plugins before, and they are pretty impressive. So it shouldn’t be any surprise that their CRM plugin would be, too. A part of their small business management suite, the CRM tools full-featured and robust, letting you take payments, put the onus of starting a conversation on the clients, messaging with them after that, and setting up meetings easily and fluidly, all while tracking their journeys through the process so they can be funneled to the right person on your team.
vCita doesn’t make the simplest software out there, so you may have to put in some time learning how things work and getting the details sorted, but when you do, your WP back-end will be connected to an incredibly powerful platform that won’t disappoint.
WP-CRM is exactly what it sounds like: a CRM for WordPress. Well-named, right? As the plugin page says, “your WP control panel can effectively be used to manage all your customers, vendors, partners, affiliates, etc.” By utilizing the base WordPress user system, the CRM plugin lets you take information that you likely already have and make better use of it than you can by default. You can manage correspondence and messaging, add labels and attributes to them so that you can filter results and find who you need quickly, and much more. If the free plugin on the WP.org repository isn’t enough for you, there are add-ons that you can purchase to expand the functionality of the CRM in your dashboard. And if there’s something you’d like in the system that hasn’t been added, there’s an open GitHub repo. That way, you can contribute to the project yourself.
At their core, Customer Relation Management systems are really fancy contact forms and email systems. They keep track of who you’ve talked to, when, and the general history of their communications with you. UpiCRM takes that base and runs with it. Because there are roughly 14 gazillion contact forms on the WP.org repo, Upi lets them do the heavy lifting. By integrating with pretty much all the major players (“WPforms, Contact Form7, Contact Form 7 DB, Gravity Form, Ninja Forms, CalderaForms, Cforms” and more according to the plugin page), Upi is free to work on the CRM features that matter the most to you: the relationship and lead generation. Honestly, UpiCRM is one of the most fleshed-out CRMs you can have in your WP dashboard. You have analytics, user funneling, hierarchies, tracking, external lead aggregation. As well as team set-up and collaboration, customer lifecycle, and more. And did we mention it’s free? Well, it is. There are zero reasons not to give it a shot now.
Perfex is a premium CRM that comes in at $59 on CodeCanyon. Don’t let that sway you, though. Because in this instance, you certainly do get what you pay for. Invoicing is one of the major highlights of the software, and on top of that, there’s a ticketing system where you can track support issues as well as customer inquiries and communications. Like external CRMs like HubSpot, Perfex can track time so you can bill effectively, track your leads and import them from different places, as well as annotate them and create team-based proposals so you know what stage of the process everyone is on with everything. Surveys, goal tracking, and even internal messaging/memos/announcements can keep your team in-the-know. Additionally, Perfex uses custom fields for the customer data and leads, so you likely already know how to work with these from the moment you install it. With reports and user/staff privileges, if you want an affordable CRM that can compete with the Big Names, check out Perfex.
WP ERP isn’t just a CRM. It’s a full business manager that just happens to include CRM as a core part. The plugin page for WP ERP says the plugin comes with three core parts : HR Management, CRM, and Accounting — with Project Management available through a secondary plugin. If this sounds too good to be true for a free plugin on the WP repository…it is. In the free version of the WP ERP CRM (how’s that for an acronym?), you get contact management and filtering, schedules for users and clients and staff, reports, and various contact groups and life stages of their relationship with you. For some users, those are the major points of why they need a CRM. In the premium versions, of which there are 5 tiers, you can get HubSpot, MailChimp, Salesforce, and WooCommerce syncing, integration with Gravity Forms as well as extras like SMS messaging to customers and clients and so on.
The pricing isn’t absurd, though, because the tiers run from $149 to $1199 per year, and those are very competitive withother CRM platforms. The major elements missing from the free plan for most folks will be external syncing and email campaigns, but if you handle that outside of WP, you will find a lot to love here.
One of the most consistent and high-quality publications around, Smashing Magazine works as kind of the gold standard for WordPress blogs. Or technology blogs. Or really, blogs in general. Long-form content that dives deep into each subject they tackle is a mainstay, and even when they have sponsored posts, the content is held to the same standards as their day-to-day work and covers useful topics that just happen to pertain to the sponsor’s niche. Whether you’re a WordPress designer, developer, user, or some combination of all of those, you need to read Smashing Magazine. Stat.
2. The Pagely Blog
You know who understands WordPress? Managed WordPress hosts. That’s just what Pagely is. But their blog isn’t self-promotion at all — it’s a valued resource covering business skills for professionals using WP to make their livings, designers, and more. Their marketing articles touch on topics that many of the best WordPress blogs don’t, so they hit on pressure points you may not even know you need to be pressed. Even their posts on managed WP hosting aren’t tied specifically to them and can be applied to multiple other hosts. All in all, Pagely’s blog is worth a read.
CodeinWP is, as they put it, a hub for WordPressers. Anyone involved in the pressing of words in any way can find something here. The art of blogging? Check. Business acumen and monetization? Yep. Even productivity tips that can make your WordPressing more…well…productive. They also offer neat downloadables every so often (productivity planners and so on), so they really try to be helpful for their readers. They aren’t just in it for the clicks.
4. Cats Who Code
While the title absolutely can mean cats in the general folks or people way, this site was named after actual kitties. That’s a major point in its favor. That said, they also provide fantastic resources to WPers, and not only in the WordPress sphere. They cover ideas in general web development, too, as well as design trends. All of the topics, generally, can be applied to WordPress. I don’t think a week goes by that I don’t click into a CatsWhoCode article at least once.
Not only are they one of the most trusted security plugins in the WordPress world, they also have one of the best WordPress blogs out there, too. When something blows up (not literally of course, but then again you never know with hackers) regarding WordPress, Sucuri will have a blog about it. You should check in occasionally to make sure you’re up to date on the latest threats (and their fixes) to your workspace and livelihood.
Take everything I said above, but replace Sucuri with Wordfence. (That’s a joke.) You can never be too careful when it comes to website security, and having two go-to publications to stay informed is better than having one.
Designed to be accessible, WPLift has a little bit of everything for the WordPress user. If you need to know about plugins, they probably have a write-up. If you want to see about certain themes, again, it’s probably there. They cover security and general tips and even put together guides so that you can be the best WordPresser around. Some of the most lifehack-style WP uses I know came from something I saw on WPLift at one point or another.
Not exactly a blog, ManageWP.org (remember, it’s the .org extension, not .net or .com) is an aggregator of the best WordPress articles that have been published recently. Community submitted and voted on, the best articles tend to make their way to the top across all sorts of different categories. ManageWP is a great way to find some of the best WordPress blogs that you’ve never heard of. They may not be the millions-of-hits-per-day blogs all the time, but if you see it here, it’s generally going to have amazing information.
Published by the top-end managed host, WP Engine, Torque pretty much lives up to its slogan: all the word that’s fit to press. If it’s worth talking about, you can bet that Torque has either written about it — or will in the near future. Daily posts from some of the WordPress communities top names make this one a guaranteed bookmark in your browser. Or entry in Feedly or whatever you use.
10. WP Tavern
Free WordPress news. Free podcasts and free commentary. WP Tavern is one of the top news sources for WordPress because they are fast and accurate with what they report. In general, their community is strong and opinionated, and there can be some fantastic discussions in the comments sections. If you want to keep your finger on the beating pulse of our industry, WP Tavern is where to go.
11. The Layout by Flywheel
If you’ve noticed a trend of managed WordPress hosts having great blogs, it’s because they generally do. Not only is it a great way to give back to their community, but it also helps attract people to their products. Flywheel is managed WP hosting aimed at designers, so their blog, The Layout, targets that same demo. Many of their articles are design best practices, tips to enhance the look and function of your WordPress site, and so on. But they also publish general WordPress tips, too, and a lot are on the technical side but broken down so that non-techies and right-brained people can make heads or tails of them.
12. The Yoast SEO Blog
Yoast is arguably the King of the kingdom of WordPress SEO. If Google (or other search engines) does it, Yoast is on top of it, too. And their blog then explains it all to you in understandable language with videos and tutorials and infographics. With various series being published at different times, you might see an advice column one day, a use case the next, and then an explanation of why Yoast works the way it does the day after that. There’s a running joke on my weekly livestream that I can’t go a week without talking about Yoast and their blog, and there’s a good reason for that. It’s just too good not to share. So here’s me talking about Yoast’s blog again, sharing it with you, too.
If you sell things using WordPress, you likely use WooCommerce. If that’s the case, then you should subscribe to the WooCommerce official blog. Not only will you get development updates and know what’s coming so you can prepare your store, they also publish lots of best practices and business tips that have been tested and tend to work really well with the software.
Pretty much the place for WordPress how-tos these days. If you want to know how to do it in a simple, easy-to-understand, step-by-step way, WPBeginner probably has an article on it. Depending on the problem, their recommended solution may be a plugin to get the job done, while others may be a dive into your PHP files. Either way, when you have an issue, WPBeginner is a great place to see if there’s a solution. And if you can’t find it there…well, you may have just broken the internet.
15. WP Mayor
If you can’t trust a blog that has a mascot with a monocle, who can you trust? WP Mayor is one of the best WordPress blogs because it has a little bit of everything for WordPress users. From beginners to advanced users, the team here has something for you. You may find out about a new plugin that makes your life easier or get a tip that increases your ecommerce revenue three-fold. Additionally, they keep a list of WordPress job boards for you, so if you’re looking for a side gig or even a full-time career, you should consider tossing your vote to WP Mayor.
16. WPMU DEV
You may know WPMUDEV for their great set of premium WP plugins, but did you know they also publish one of the best WordPress blogs, too? Problem-solving is kind of their thing, and if it can happen to WordPress, they probably have a solution for it. And not just a hackey, good-enough solution. But a down-in-the-trenches, in-depth, you’re-never-going-to-worry-about-this-again kind of solution. Their writers will walk you through the steps you need for whatever the task is, and when you’re finished, you can’t not have learned something.
While there are a ton of blogs out there focusing on the everyman WordPresser, WPShout is one of the best WordPress blogs aimed at developers. As you can see in the screenshot, they have quick guides for different topics, free courses you can run through, and they are always posting up new articles with goodies that will keep you clicking. Some of the best posts on WPShout are small commentary blogs that provoke thought and enable discussion, then link out to the article that brought up the idea in the first place. This is a great place to discover so much new stuff that you just have to check it out.
Another managed WordPress host putting out amazing content, Kinsta publishes one of the best WordPress blogs. It contains tips on PHP, back-end development, front-end development and design, plugin awareness, marketing, and even ecommerce. Some of the most intriguing content they do, though, is called Kinsta Kingpin, a series of interviews with WordPress professionals like you. While their normal content is superb, there’s something about these interviews that always makes me excited when I see another one posted. I think you’ll feel the same way.
20. Post Status
Not so much a typical blog as a podcast with really good show notes, Post Status is one of those sites that grabs you and won’t let you go. Run by WP pro Brian Krogsgard, PS has become so much more than just a show or a site. Brian has put together a great community with PS, and he has been publishing and working in WordPress long enough that he has insight into the CMS that many of us only dream of having. He also covers topics that other sites tend to back away from, such as WordPress and Blockchain. Definitely worth a look (and a listen, too).
I hesitated to include this one because it is definitely not the typical WordPress blog. But when I was thinking about the best WordPress blogs around, I realized that I check Make WordPress just as often as I do any others out there. You see, make.wordpress.org is the blog where you see what’s going on with WordPress as it happens. You get Gutenberg updates (in their What’s New in Gutenberg? series), team meeting minutes so you can see what was talked about during the latest design team or community building meeting, and that sort of thing. It’s not really a how-to kind of blog, but if you have even a passing interest in the goings-on behind the curtain, Make WordPress Core is going to impress you
With thousands of free and commercial plugins available for your self-hosted WordPress website, its often difficult to know which ones will offer an essential upgrade for your site and which ones just look like they would.
Every website, blog, or e-commerce store is different, each with their own set of specific requirements. This means that there is, unfortunately, no one size fits all list that contains the best plugins for every WordPress website.
Furthermore, in many cases, our websites are our livelihood, and we want to make sure we pick only “the best” plugins available. Often premium and commercial plugins are perceived as being better, simply for the fact that we have to hand over money in exchange for access to them.
However, while there are many good reasons to opt for a commercial or premium plugin – which we’ll get to shortly – stumping up the cash isn’t always necessary. In this article, we will take a look at some well-known premium plugins which you can use on your site for free – albeit with fewer features. This is thanks to their creators making use of the freemium pricing model.
This freemium model means you can test out the user interface, inspect the code, and make use of some of the features, all without paying a penny. In some cases, you might even discover that you don’t need the extra power of the commercial version and the free option will suffice, if not forever, then at least for now.
I’ve attempted to compile a collection of plugins that are more well known for their commercial or premium versions, rather than their freely available counterparts. However, this will be subjective, depending on your knowledge of particular plugins and experience of WordPress. If you know of any other examples our readers might be interested in, at the end of this article you’ll have an opportunity to share them.
The Case For Premium Plugins
Free isn’t always better – image by P and P Studio / shutterstock.com
You’ll be hard pressed to find a commercial WordPress plugin that offers features or functionality that can’t in some way, be added to your site via an alternative extension that is freely available.
For example, VaultPress is a brilliant backup solution for WordPress. However, you can get the job done with a free WordPress backup plugin. OK, the user experience might not be as slick, or you might have to put it a bit more work, but you’ll have saved yourself some cash along the way. So why opt for a premium plugin?
Good question. However, there are many good reasons to choose a premium WordPress plugin over a free one:
Often you do get more features and, therefore, better results from a commercial product
Premium support is typically more responsive than that offered for free plugins
Greater chances of more frequent upgrades and fixes, with less chance of plugin abandonment
You’re potentially funding the development of new products for the future
If you are creating websites for clients or building mission critical sites for your own business, then investing in commercial plugins gives you someone to turn to should a problem arise. As the product is someone’s livelihood, there’s also less chance it will be abandoned due to them moving onto some other project.
There are many reasons to choose a commercial plugin over a comparable freely available option. However, the costs can soon mount up with each new plugin you add to your website.
Shopping for Free Plugins Has it Advantages
But what if I told you that some of the most popular premium plugins have lite versions available that are absolutely free?
Often we only need to use one or two of the premium features and never even look at the rest. Why use a sledgehammer to crack a nut when a lighter, free version will do the trick?
As the name suggests, lite plugins are often more lightweight, easier to use, and usually still offer plenty of features to improve your website. They allow you to test the plugin and decide if you do actually need all of the premium features or if its such a good product after all. Marketing efforts are getting better and better each day and it’s easy to get seduced by the latest and greatest new product on the block, even if you don’t need everything it has to offer.
Furthermore, by choosing the lite version of a premium plugin, you often still get access to some of the benefits on offer from purchasing a commercial option, that you wouldn’t otherwise get with a plugin that was only available for free. This can include regular updates and less risk of abandonment.
So here are 10 freely available lite versions of popular commercial WordPress plugins.
10 Lite Versions of Popular Premium WordPress Plugins You Can Use for Free Today
Here is the collection of lite versions of popular or useful premium plugins that you can get started with today for free. You won’t get access to all of the features of the commercial product or the same level of customer support. However, for some users, that might be fine.
If you are happy with what you get, then you’ve always got the option of upgrading to the commercial version down the line and unlocking the premium features and access to the user support, as well as supporting the developing and funding future updates and new products.
Over the last few years, there’s been an explosion in page builder plugins for WordPress, including our very own, recently released Divi Builder. These tools enable users to easily create custom post and page layouts, without any need to edit any code themselves.
Many page builders have drag-and-drop functionality for ease of use. This allows even the most inexperienced users to create stunning page layouts and designs. Where in the past many small business owners would have to hire a professional to add a custom page layout to their website, they can now have a go themselves.
However, when it comes to adding a page builder to your WordPress website, many of the most popular options are commercial products. Thankfully, you can add this functionality to your site for free. One such option for doing so is the lite version of the MotoPress Content Editor.
The pricing of the Content Editor from MotoPress starts at $29 for a single license. However, the lesser-known, free version, MotoPress Content Editor Lite is available from the WordPress Plugin Directory.
If you do decide to use this lightweight page builder, after installation, the default WordPress page editor can be replaced with the MotoPress Content Editor. This is an easy-to-use, front-end drag-and-drop builder. The lite version retains many of the features of the premium plugin and is compatible with all WordPress themes. It’s also fully responsive and includes a library of built-in content elements that allow you to add many useful features to your custom layouts.
In case you are missing a feature or two, the developers offer add-ons that allow you to extend the functionality without paying the full price of the premium plugin. Add-ons include Google Maps Pro, a video slider, and an advanced countdown timer.
If you or your clients aren’t yet paid up members of the Elegant Themes club and don’t have access to the Divi Builder plugin, then the free version of the MotoPress Content Editor is a notable alternative.
A properly implemented pricing table makes it easy for your visitors to compare your different offerings. By giving your price-conscious visitors the opportunity to carry out a comparison on your site, you remove the need for them to go elsewhere in order to check carrying out a price comparison off of their mental pre-purchase checklist.
If you haven’t experimented with pricing tables yet, then you should definitely do so. Offering multiple pricing options, compared against each other in a nicely presented table, can be a great way to raise your rates or increase your prices. You can add extra packages to your portfolio, at higher rates, without running the risk of losing business by withdrawing your current tariffs.
There are a whole host of pricing tables plugins available for WordPress and if you are using the Divi theme or Divi Builder plugin, then you already have a powerful way to add them to your website. However, for everyone else, the Easy Pricing Tables plugin by Fatcat Apps is a great option.
This plugin is incredibly easy to use. Speaking from experience, the claim from the marketing material that you can set up your tables in less than two minutes with just a few mouse clicks, rings true. Pricing options for the premium version of the plugin start from $29 for single website use, with a free 60-day money back guarantee.
With over 20,000 active installs, Easy Pricing Tables Lite isn’t the best-kept secret in the world of WordPress. However, the premium version has been effectively marketed, so much so, that you might not be familiar with the lite version. Although due to its high levels of usage, you will probably be familiar with Easy Pricing Tables from Fat Cat Apps already, without knowing it.
The lite version is a little, how shall we say it, light on features, compared to the premium version. However, it does give you an easy way to add pricing tables to your WordPress website today, albeit with fewer options and functionality than its commercial counterpart.
Unless you’ve lived under a rock for the last few years, you’ll know that membership sites are all the rage at the moment. They’ve even been called the holy grail of online businesses by some. When you consider their potential for generating recurring revenue, it’s not hard to see why.
Creating a membership site, or adding this component to your existing website gives you another way to monetize your content. However, whether you decide to charge a fee for access to your members only area or not, a membership plugin can be an effective way to better connect, interact with, and stay in touch with your audience.
However, there’s a lot to consider when setting up a membership site. There’s also many features that are required if a plugin is to fulfill the needs of all the different groups of users building this type of site. Therefore, the tools that give you the ability to add membership functionally to your site tend to be feature rich, and in turn, quite expensive.
This is something that can be an issue when you are just starting out. Especially when you don’t have any paying members yet, or even know if there is a market for your product.
So to help you overcome this potential barrier to adding a membership element to your website, I’d like to introduce the lite version of the Users Ultra Membership plugin.
The lite version of User Ultra isn’t clearly mentioned on the website of the commercial version of the plugin, so you probably won’t be aware of it. However, it’s well worth checking out as it’s packed with features and has a positive rating of 4.6 stars out of 5.
With the ability to charge and collect one-off and recurring membership fees with the lite version of this plugin, plus the highly rated user support offered via the WordPress Plugin Directory, this could be a great way to start your membership site.
Try this leading responsive galleries plugin for free
If you’re a photographer, designer, or artist, or you just love photos, you will probably want a gallery plugin for your WordPress website. There are thousands of plugins of this type on the market and the choice is mind-boggling. A good gallery plugin should be fast loading, simple to use, and of course fully mobile responsive.
Envira Gallery plugin is one of the most popular premium plugins in this category and it’s a great tool for adding galleries to a WordPress website. However, it’s not a cheap option and you’ll need to pay $99 per year to gain access to all of its features and customer support.
Thankfully, the developers do also offer a lite version. You would be forgiven for not knowing about this option, though, considering it’s not mentioned on the plugin website. However, it can be freely downloaded from the WordPress Plugin Directory.
The lite version is definitely a stripped down plugin. You only get access to one pre-installed theme for styling your galleries, for example. However, you do get to check out the user interface and see how quickly you can create and publish photo galleries on your website, before making a decision on whether you want to pay the premium prices for the extra features.
While WordPress gives you the ability to communicate with your readers via the comments area of your site, if you want to get more interactive with your audience, then the option of installing a live chat plugin is well worth considering.
Whether you are selling a product or service and want to answer questions to help close more sales, or you just want to know more about your visitors, adding a live chat tool to your website makes sense. In fact, studies have even shown that having a live chat option on your website can increase conversions by over 40%.
One way to add live chat to your WordPress website is to make use of the Chat plugin from WPMU Dev. Packed with features and fully customizable, it’s a great plugin. However, it can feel a bit overwhelming when all you’re really after is a simple chat box, especially at the price of $19 a month.
Thankfully, they’ve also created a free, slimmer version that can add a live chat box to the corner of any WordPress website. With the free version, you can still customize the colors and the size of your chat window, as well as choose which posts and pages to display it on.
If you want to experiment with live chat on your WordPress website, then the well received and free version of Chat is ready when you are.
The default search functionality of WordPress should be good enough for small websites with only a handful pages. However, once you start accumulating a large amount of content, such as blog posts, videos, landing pages, and attachments, it’s often not quite powerful enough to deliver the best results.
One of those options is the Ajax Search plugin and its one of the most popular search plugins around. Like it says on the tin, it’s Ajax powered. This means it works dynamically without the need to refresh the page as you type. It’s also super fast and comes with a price tag of $26.
However, there is a free version available and if you’re not running a full-fledged online empire, it will probably be sufficient for your search needs.
Ajax Search Lite comes jam-packed with features. This means you can search within posts, pages, and custom post types. The plugin fully integrates with Google Analytics to give you an insight to what your users are actually searching for. Keyword suggestions and Google autocomplete can be enabled and it also displays featured images in the results for a better user experience.
The search plugin space is certainly competitive. However, Ajax Search Lite is a free and easy way to upgrade the way your visitors look for content on your site.
Soliloquy Lite the free slider plugin for WordPress
Sliders are everywhere. It seems like every website you visit nowadays features a shiny slider in the header, but not everybody thinks they’re great. In fact, sliders have earned a rather bad reputation among web designers and marketers, who say that they slow down your site, negatively affect usability, and are bad for search engine optimization (SEO). That doesn’t have to be true, though, not if you use them correctly and choose a great slider plugin like Soliloquy.
While there are many WordPress slider plugins out there, one of the most downloaded options, Soliloquy, is not only incredibly fast but also fully SEO optimized. This means you can enjoy your slideshow in its full glory, without worrying about performance and SEO. With the basic version starting at $19 for use on a single website, and with prices going up to $99 for the full featured version, Soliloquy isn’t cheap.
Thankfully, the good people at Soliloquy have also created a free lite version that still retains some of its awesome features.
Soliloquy Lite is fully responsive and allows swiping on touch screens. Creating a slider is a piece of cake, simply drag and drop the images you want to use into your slider, change their order, and edit them. This allows you to edit the meta data for each image in your slider, including alt tags and image titles. This can help overcome some of the SEO objects against sliders.
Despite being one of the most important pages on any website, the Contact page often gets neglected. A nice looking contact form that’s aligned with your website’s general look and feel is a great way to let your potential clients and customers reach out while also adding a professional touch to your site.
Countless form plugins let you generate virtually any type of form you can think of and Formidable Forms is one option that has a great reputation. At $47 for a single license it doesn’t come cheap, but if you only need a relatively simple form, the free version will be more than capable.
The Formidable Forms marketing material claims you can create a beautiful contact form in just two minutes, either by applying one of the pre-designed templates or using the drag-and-drop builder.
The free version lets you pick from 7 different field types: simple text, email, URL, radio, dropdown, checkbox and paragraph text; more than enough to create a professional form. Security is taken seriously at Formidable, and equally so in the free version, with reCAPTCHA and Akismet integration to make sure you don’t get spammed.
If you want a tried and tested way to add custom forms to your website for free, Formidable Forms is a great choice.
Social Media is hard. Yet, every business owner will know by now that you simply have to do it. Thankfully, there’s a whole bunch of tools available to us to help lessen the load.
Tweet Wheel by NerdCow is a relatively newly released Twitter plugin. Despite only racking up a few sales and activate installs, it’s received some very popular reviews and feedback from those who’ve used it so far.
Tweet Wheel isn’t your standard social sharing plugin, though. Instead, it’s a tool that will automatically share your posts on Twitter. After authorizing Tweet Wheel to use your Twitter account, you can create a custom posting schedule, corresponding with when you think your target audience will be online to see your tweets.
Your content is automatically added to the Tweet Wheel queue, before being shared at the next scheduled opportunity. You are free to manage your queue how you wish, including manually adding and removing items, as well as ensuring anything that’s already been shared is added back into the queue for further promotion on Twitter at a later date.
One useful feature of Tweet Wheel is its looping abilities. When enabled, your tweets will be slightly amended and then re-posted again. This can avoid them becoming repetitive when you are sharing items multiple times.
If you want to automate the promotion of your content on Twitter, while also ensuring your site has a constant presence on this popular social network, then the free version of Tweet Wheel is more than up to the task.
One of the most used features of any website is the navigation or menu bar, which is usually found at the top of the site. The menu enables your visitors to find their way around your website, making it an essential feature. Every decent WordPress theme has a way to display menus, and while most work fine, they often just look, well, a little bit boring.
If you want to upgrade the menu of your website, without changing themes, then the Suppamenu plugin can help you out. The premium version of this plugin has achieved a good number of sales on the Code Canyon marketplace, where it can be yours for just $17.
However, if you are on a tight budget, or are just not sure if a mega menu is right for you, you can try the well equipped lite version for free. The free version allows you to create an unlimited number of menus for your site, each with their own style and appearance.
Suppamenu is multi-language ready and fully responsive to ensure that your menus can be enjoyed on any device.
And there we have it, 10 completely free lite versions of popular commercial plugins that you might not even know existed.
Instead of forking out for a premium plugin, why not give the free versions a try first. More often than not, they are packed with nearly as many features as the commercial versions and may well be totally sufficient for your needs. Either that, or it turns out it’s not the right choice for your project after all.