How to Find WordPress Plugins Outside the Plugin Directory
The exact number of plugins that exist outside the WordPress Plugin Directory is unknown. There are easily more than a thousand, which means that there is a great variety of plugins that you won’t see in the Plugin Directory. These outside plugins can sometimes be difficult to discover. There are some good starting places, though.
Many of the plugins that are not on the Plugin Directory are paid plugins. The official WordPress Plugin Directory allows only free plugins to get listed there. If a plugin is for sale (costs more than a penny), it cannot get listed in the Plugin Directory, so these plugin authors need to find other methods of listing and promoting their products.
Over the past few years, the market for commercial plugins has grown tremendously. It would not be possible to list all the companies that currently offer WordPress plugins, so the following listing is a sampling. It’s a way of introducing you to the world of plugins outside the Plugin Directory.
Each of the following sites offers WordPress plugins:
CodeCanyon: With thousands of plugins, this online marketplace is the paid plugin version of the Plugin Directory. Just as the Plugin Directory contains plugins from a large number of developers, CodeCanyon is actually a collection of plugins from various developers rather than a single company creating plugins.
Gravity Forms: For many WordPress users, Gravity Forms is the plugin to pay for. It is typically the first and last recommendation people give when someone wants to create forms in WordPress.
iThemes: Starting as a theme developer, iThemes branched out into developing plugins as well. The most popular offering is BackupBuddy, a plugin for backing up and restoring your sites.
Shopp: Shopp is a popular plugin that offers a full-featured e-commerce solution that you can integrate into your WordPress site. Essentially, it turns your WordPress site into an online store.
WooThemes: WooThemes is another theme developer that added plugins to their theme offerings. WooCommerce, their e-commerce solution, has created a lot of buzz.
WPMU DEV: WPMU DEV is one of the longest-running commercial plugin shops for WordPress. With over 100 plugins, they have a little of everything.
Although these sites give you a taste of what commercial plugin sites have to offer, having other sources that talk about new and exciting plugins can also be very helpful. Many popular WordPress news sites talk about all things WordPress, including reviews and discussions about specific plugins. Check out the following sites if you want to know more about what plugins are being talked about:
WPBeginner: This site is dedicated to helping new WordPress users get up and running quickly. It also features a very active blog talking about a variety of topics. The site often features posts that talk about how to use plugins to create specific types of solutions for your site.
WPCandy: WPCandy is an all-things-WordPress news site. If there is a buzz on the topic in the WordPress world, you’re likely to find discussions on it here.
WPMU: Run by the Incsub team, the same team behind WPMU DEV, WPMU.org is a very active WordPress news site. It features multiple new blogs posts per day and often has numerous plugin reviews each week. This site is a great place to discover new plugins to try out.
One of the great things about using a community or news site to discover new plugins is that you aren’t alone on deciding on whether to trust a plugin. You can get some outside opinions before you take a chance on a plugin.
If you aren’t finding what you want in the Plugin Directory, don’t know of anyone that offers a solution you are looking for, and aren't seeing anything on community sites, it’s time to go to a trusty search engine, such as Google, and see what it has for you.
A good way to get started is to search for the words wordpress and plugin along with one to a few words describing the feature you want. For instance, if you want a plugin that provides more advanced image gallery features, search for wordpress plugin image gallery.
As long as your search isn’t too specific, you’re likely to get many results. The results will often contain blog posts that either review specific plugins or have a listing of recommended plugins.
There are developers out there who include malware, viruses, and other unwanted executables in their plugin code. Your best bet is to use plugins from the official WordPress Plugin Directory or purchase plugins from a reputable seller.