Even this is incorrect. Building stuff on the web can, in fact, be completely free to you. But only with traditional tools. All the tools are free and there are plenty of ancillary services that have incredibly generous free tiers. Get your code on and get going.
Bubble – on the other hand – is actually kind of a premium product. It’s not a great value in terms of hosting, compute power, storage, etc. for money. But what you get (even in the free tier) is a really cool integrated environment that’s magically multi-user (even in free), has a no- / low-code programming interface (with more than its share of quirks and limitations, mind you) and makes a lot of the BS that goes into getting a site/app up and running just go away.
Bubble is about trading money for time. If you’re going to build an app on Bubble that you want or NEED to bootstrap, you’re going to have to figure out how to cover the small-ish costs. To take full advantage of Bubble and to learn every part of it, you do need to be on a paid plan (any paid plan, even the hobby one).
So how can you make $14 US a month? Wash a few cars, mow a few lawns, help a few befuddled oldsters learn to “use the computer”, work retail or food service a few more hours a week?
If you are sitting there saying, “Well, I don’t know how to find people near me that need their cars washed or their lawns mowed or need help with ‘the computer’, or how to get a part-time retail or food service job?”… Well, WTF do you think is going to happen if you get some snazzy app up and running that you want to charge money for? You think customers are just going to show up and give you money? It does not work that way.
I don’t know what paid plugins you want access to, but let me tell you that you are not missing much. There are very few that provide decent value for money. Many of them are just plain silly. Bubble is just getting to the level of sophistication and awareness and audience that might (let me re-emphasize “might”) make it worthwhile to offer plugins of any sophistication.
With a thing like Calendar Grid Pro, that’s a plugin that I was building for myself, anyway. But there’s a lot of experience and value locked up in there and releasing it as a paid plugin is a way to possibly defray some of the costs of my time investment in building GRUPZ.com.
So, you see, things like CGP are my version of mowing a few lawns, washing a few cars, etc.
And yeah, it costs money. It’s most of the logic that powers the most important parts of my commercial app. If you DM’ed me and said, “Oh hai man, I’d like to learn how how you built GRUPZ and how you do such-and-such with dates, or how does the calendar even display blocked dates (since there’s no easy way to iterate over things in Bubble)?.. Could I get some coaching and education from you?” I’d say, “Well, here’s the thing. It’d take me several hours to teach you all of that stuff. My consulting rate is over $100/hour. It’s, like, way more time and cost effective to just subscribe to Calendar Grid Pro unless you really have a burning need and desire to become a calendar nerd.”
That’s Software as a Service, right? It’s amazing value for money. And, anyway, I’ve documented most of what I know about the technical side of all of this here in the forums, so you can learn all of that cash-free, just by taking some time to read and apply what I’ve written.