Should You Let Clients Use Your Plugin Licenses? (Is It Even Allowed?)

You might be sharing a license with your clients, thinking that everything is fine. And while this could be the case, you could also be in direct violation of the software terms and conditions.

There are cases when it’s allowed, but also cases where it’s strictly forbidden in the terms agreement.

It’s essential to find whether you can let your clients use your plugin licenses before you get into any serious issues. We’ve been working with thousands of agencies and clients and we’ve experienced all scenarios with sharing licenses.

In this post, you’ll discover whether you should let clients use your plugin licenses – and how to stay out of trouble.

Can You Legally Share Licenses With a Client?

Every plugin is different and there is no definite answer, that’s why we always recommend checking the software’s terms and conditions.

In our experience, there’s nothing wrong with using your license with clients.

In fact, there are types of licenses that encourage you to do so, such as developer or agency licenses (more on the types of licenses later in the article). But, every plugin is different, so make sure you check each plugin’s specific licensing terms.

There are two scenarios which can happen when designing a website for a client. 

We’ll go over each of them, so you know how to act in each of these scenarios to avoid any potential issues with keeping to the terms of a license agreement. 

If Your Client Signs up For a Care Plan

This is the best possible scenario, and one which you should encourage your clients to pursue. This is because if you get a client on retainer with a care plan, you can increase your agency’s profits and provide them with the support and licenses they need.

There’s no issue with sharing your licenses with clients in this scenario since you’re the one managing the website and manipulating the themes or plugins you pay for.

If Your Client Does NOT Sign up For a Care Plan

In this scenario, you’re no longer involved with your client after the website has been completed and delivered – the website project is done and you go your separate ways.

In this scenario, there’s no reason to let them use the licenses that you pay/paid for.

Why Is It Beneficial To Pay For Clients’ Licenses?

You might also wonder why not just let your clients pay for everything – so you don’t have to check any license terms or go through this tedious process?

However, we definitely recommend you, as an agency, pay for licenses, and here’s why.

No Time Wasted On Delays

You want to finish projects as soon as possible, so you can move on to the next ones and keep the revenue flowing. The biggest ‘time waster’ is waiting for clients to respond to your message and requests – client-related causes of delay led to an average of 23% of time added to projects in 2022.

If you have to wait for your clients to pay for licenses, this can cause a huge delay in project completion.

Either they might not buy the license right away, or you might need to convince them that the license is really necessary and worth it. Not to mention if an issue occurs, it can take days or even weeks for a client to resolve it.

Easier To Get Clients Into Maintenance Plans

If you pay for the licenses yourself, it’s certainly in the client’s interest to opt for a maintenance plan. 

This is because you, as an agency, usually have either a lifetime or developer license, so you don’t have to pay for each client’s license separately – you just pay a fixed fee. This means clients can benefit from the additional software, features, or services at no additional cost, increasing the value for money of a maintenance plan.

If a client needs to pay $500 for all of the licenses (and possibly on an annual basis), it’s wiser to just hop on your maintenance plan for $600 where they can benefit directly from the licenses, but also your support.

Developer or Lifetime Licenses for Premium Plugins?

As mentioned earlier, lifetime or developer licenses usually let you work on an unlimited number of projects. This means that instead of 5 clients paying $500 each, you can achieve the same result by paying just $1000 in total.

That’s a huge difference, and can be a compelling reason for clients to work with you (since you can offer your services at a much better price than could be achieved even partially in-house).

What If You Unboard A Client?

You might be wondering what if you part ways with a client – should you remove the licenses (and the plugins/themes possibly), and what will happen to their website then?

We’ve experienced three scenarios with licenses when unboarding clients.

You Completely Stop Working With Them

If you part ways with your client after the project has been completed, we recommend manually removing a license before handover. You don’t have to worry about their website no longer being functional.

The most likely outcome is that they won’t receive updates for the plugin/theme/tool.

Another way you can handle this situation is to be upfront with a client and let them know beforehand that you’ll be removing their license.

This is an approach that Adam Silver, WordPress trainer and educator, recommends.

  • “When I offer ongoing support, I include the use of my dev tools. If that biz relationship ends, then they have 30 days to replace.” 

Although unlikely, it is possible that in this scenario, there might be a situation where a client will try to prevent you from removing the license. For instance, they might revoke your access to their website before you have any chance to remove a license.

If this happens, we definitely recommend contacting the company providing your license straight away to explain the issue.

You Can Put Them On a Care Plan

This is a scenario we mentioned earlier in the article.

If a client wishes to part ways with you, then it makes sense to suggest that they switch to a maintenance plan, and to explain the benefits. This can be as simple as pointing out that they would be paying the same or a similar amount for a license alone, compared with if they benefited from your agency’s licenses, and got a full maintenance plan included.

You Pay For the Licenses & Pass the Cost + Percentage to the Client 

In some cases, there won’t be a developer or lifetime license option, and either you or your client will have to pay for the license used on the client’s site. If this is the case, you can pay for the license yourself, and then include the cost of the license in the final invoice.

Many clients don’t want to be burdened with paying for multiple licenses, and would much rather pay one invoice from you – as it’s more convenient, even if it means that they’ll be paying slightly more than it would if they did it themselves.

The Best Licenses for Agencies

There are often many different types of license offered by developers of plugins, themes, and page builder tools. Some of these types of licenses tend to be more useful than others – especially for agencies.

Any of the following types of license are especially useful for web agencies.

Multisite License

A multisite license allows you to use the licensed tool on multiple websites at the same time. When choosing this type of license, you should consider:

  • The usage limit. There’s often a limit on the number of websites you can use the product on.
  • Cost-effectiveness. Multisite licenses can be more cost-effective than purchasing separate licenses for each domain.
  • Updates and support. Multisite licenses typically include access to updates and support for all the licensed domains. But you should always verify this, since each product can be different.
multisite license example

Of course, some tools can also offer unlimited licenses, so there is no usage limit. This is definitely more beneficial.

Developer License

Developer licenses are designed for developers, agencies, or anyone who creates websites or applications for clients. This license type allows you to use a tool, theme, or plugin on multiple client projects. 

developer license example

When using this type of license, it’s critical you read the specified license terms.

Many developer licenses are non-transferable, so the license holder is the only one allowed to use the product for client projects. Clients themselves would need their own licenses if they wanted to use the product on their own site. 

Lifetime Access License

Lifetime access licenses grant you full access to the tool, theme, or plugin. You usually have to pay a one-time fee, which then allows you to use the tool, theme, or plugin with minimal restrictions, including:

  • Unlimited usage duration
  • No renewals required
  • No usage limit

However, not all lifetime access licenses are transferable, in which case, the license holder is the only one allowed to use the product. Also, while lifetime access licenses provide the holder with indefinite access, they may not grant the right to redistribute the tools.

lifetime license example

Conclusion – Are You Using Your Licenses With Clients Correctly?

Sharing licenses with clients doesn’t have to be restricted. However, it’s always a good idea to check the terms and conditions of each tool you use.

To learn more tips and tricks for your agency and clients, check out these resources:

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