Exploring Ways to Monetize Free ChatGPT Plugins

Hey everyone,

Like many of you, I’ve been deep in the trenches of ChatGPT plugin development, and the question of monetization has been on my mind a lot lately. I think We all know about the amazing solution for monetization and authentication from PluginLab, especially for those leaning into subscriptions. But for those of us with free plugins, it’s a different story.

I’ve had some success with affiliate links in my plugins, and it’s been a decent way to bring in a bit of income without setting up barriers. But I’ve been wondering: What other methods are out there? I’ve seen some plugins experimenting with traffic exchanges, and it’s got me thinking.

Actually, I’ve been toying with the idea of creating a solution or service specifically geared towards helping with ChatGPT plugin monetization. I’m still in the early stages, and I haven’t built anything concrete yet. But I’m genuinely interested in understanding what we, as developers, really need.

So, if you’ve got some insights, experiences, or even pain points you’d like to share, I’d love to chat. Whether it’s about what’s worked for you, what hasn’t, or what you wish existed in the monetization space, let’s have a conversation. Your input could help shape something that benefits all of us.

Drop a comment below or reach out directly. Looking forward to some enlightening discussions!


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Monetization of Plugins is not currently allowed, there may be some options in the future. Anything currently being used is being done without the knowledge or permission of OpenAI, and may be subject to removal or change.

OpenAI Platform.


You can’t charge people money for your Plugin, but as I understand it doesn’t mean that you can’t monetize your plugin in other ways.

Well, in this instance, the user specifically stated they had “paid for the plugin”, but in general, there has been no official word on other methods to generate revenue from plugins.

Actually, the answer is not that simple. I asked ChatGPT to interpret the question. See the answer below. I believe the point 4 (Technical Feasibility) is the reason why the monetization is “Not at this time.” OpenAI does not have an Apple Store or Google Play style platform yet. That question does warrant a clarification from OpenAI.

Here is one of my use cases. The plugin is an early crisis warning system that predicts the probability of future crises like the 2008 financial meltdown and COVID. Keep in mind both disasters had early clear signs on the Internet. A lot of resources (google-sized) will be required to crawl the Internet in order to support the functionality of the plugin. It would be reasonable to have Terms of Use that requires institutional users to pay for the service, even if the plugin is technically accessible (free) to everyone.

I don’t see why OpenAI, such a benevolent company whose mission is to serve the entire humanity, would go out of their ways to forbid the monetization of the service.

Let me preface this by saying I don’t work for OpenAI, so my opinions are my own.

If you wish to make money from a model OpenAI has created, should you also need to contribute to it’s training? This is an honest question. Yes you have spent time creating a plugin, and that has a value, so as a percentage, what would your contribution to this ecosystem be?

Let’s assume that you charge an hourly rate of $200 and it took you 500 hours to make your plugin, that would be a $100k valuation on your contribution, could be an over or under estimate, but I think it reasonable for the purposes of this thought experiment. Now let’s assume that all the ChatGPT models cost 1 billion to train, no idea if that is accurate but it seems in the right ballpark.

That would mean that your contribution is 100k from 1 billion, expressed as a % that would be %0.01 so a fair payment distribution based on the value of the initial contribution would be for every $1 made by a plugin, OpenAI will get $0.9999 and you get $0.0001.

One of the issues as I see it, is that you are assuming that the very reason people come to use your plugin, i.e. the fact that the AI is so good, is worth nothing and you should be the sole receiver of all the revenue.

Few things: In my opinion, that clause in their docs is referring to our ability to charge customers THROUGH the ChatGPT platform.

You simply cannot argue that OpenAI is unaware or hasn’t given “permission”, when Zapier and most of the other plugins first released require paid subscriptions after you exhaust their free tier.

They also review the plugins. I submitted mine twice, the second time using a third party auth platform that has monetization ɓaked into their OAS manifests that we proxy through.

Regarding the more ideological part:

Youre conflating valuation with overhead costs (also comparing training cost vs personal time invested doesnt track) and with the value of utility.

You can’t discuss “contribution to an ecosystem” as a metric while leaving out that we all pay OpenAI for the ability to develop on their platform AND that every single user utilizing plugins are already paying OpenAI to access plugins.

The notion that fair market distribution of earnings is defined by dev overhead cost, flies in the face of every single existing third- party product system: Does Apple take 99 99999% of app store earnings? Does Sony take the same from Playstation developers? Wordpress? Google with Chrome extensions?

That’s a ridiculous assertion. In your eyes any third party developer inherently believes that the platform they build on is worthless without their contribution?

The reality is that plugin developers contribute to customer acquisition, retention, and most of all we are creating an insane amount of highly-specific training data that OpenAI simply would never have access to otherwise.

Plugin devs aren’t all making fluff either. We help fill in gaps that OpenAI doesn’t have the time or agility to tackle efficiently.

We help actively solve non-trivial problems, as well as passively build the most valuable training dataset on the planet.

Should Youtube or TikTok creators make any money?

But MOST of all… you’re making the assumption that OpenAI is mistakenly leaving money on the table. Don’t you think they’ve ran the numbers on this?

They make more money BECAUSE of plugin developers, whether its off of the customer metrics i mentioned earlier or simply off of the unprecedentedly rich data we all produce.

To be frank, there should be a creator fund.

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I agree that a good plugin has the potential to generate new users, but right now, this second, the plugins are the ones using the base created by OpenAI, that may change in the future when people think “Oh, I need to use XYZ plugin to solve this problem I have” and then proceed to create a pay monthly Plus account in order to use that, and perhaps other, plugins.

This is absolutely an area that will develop and be explored, I wanted to give a counterpoint to the “I should be able to charge for my plugin” narrative.

Hi @bizupserv, have you explored affiliate links for Custom GPT’s? I’m building something similar & would love to chat!

Another option is using an open-source project like this GitHub - Anil-matcha/GPT-Auth: GPT Auth provides a user-friendly solution to quickly setup oauth for your custom GPT and self-host it. and add authentication to your GPT to limit usage

Didnt because im focused on first building my first GPTs, but can’t succeed because even the own build in examples that chatgpt added aren’t working…

I’ve just launched a service to ask users to enter their email before interacting with your GPT: https://nextapi.tools/email-gate

Once they are subscribed to your newsletter you can re-engage them with blog articles (affiliate links), product offers, etc.

I’ve also just launched a service that allows you to build your own decentralized GPT store.

I also learned that GPTs cannot be monetized. But you could create the same thing as a prompt in GPTBlue.ai and then monetize the usage as it is an IP protected prompt like structure. It is the first recurring revenue model for prompts.