So You Want to Sell a Theme or Plugin (WordCamp Atlanta 2013)Presentation Transcript
So You Want to Sell aWordPress Theme or PluginDave DonaldsonCo-founderMax Foundry
Things That Make You Go Hmmm• Going to pose a lot of questions• Hard lessons learned• The goal is to make you think
Things We’ve BuiltThemes PluginsLiftoff MaxLandingVenture MaxSalesMarketeer MaxSqueezeTenenbaum MaxA/BFolio MaxButtonsPanorama MaxButtons Pro MaxInbound MaxGalleria
Things We’ve Actually SoldThemes PluginsLiftoff MaxLandingVenture MaxSalesMarketeer MaxSqueezeTenenbaum MaxA/BFolio MaxButtonsPanorama MaxButtons Pro MaxInbound MaxGalleria
Things We Never ReleasedThemes PluginsLiftoff MaxLandingVenture MaxSalesMarketeer MaxSqueezeTenenbaum MaxA/BFolio MaxButtonsPanorama MaxButtons Pro MaxInbound MaxGalleria
Things We Currently SellThemes PluginsLiftoff MaxLandingVenture MaxSalesMarketeer MaxSqueezeTenenbaum MaxA/BFolio MaxButtonsPanorama MaxButtons Pro MaxInbound MaxGalleria
Congratulations• You can maybe design a bit…• …and can write some code to go with it…• …and you can do it in your parents’ basement.• Sweet! You’re gonna be filthy rich!
THINGS TO KNOW UP FRONT
Things to Know Up Front• Themes: – It’s a commodities market – All about great design – Lots of competition – Extremely hard to stand out from the crowd – Many companies compete on price
Things to Know Up Front• Plugins: – Not quite the commodity that themes are – Only a few plugin-only companies – Much easier to find a niche – A little easier to stand out from the crowd – Need to have the engineering chops
Things to Know Up Front• What people are really buying is support and upgrades• You are always competing with free
YOU’VE BUILT IT, NOW WHAT?
You’ve Built It, Now What?• Building the product only gets you half way there: – Gotta build the website – Gotta setup analytics – Gotta setup e-commerce – Gotta setup forums – Gotta setup Google Apps – Gotta setup email campaigns – Gotta setup Adwords campaign
Support• Don’t bother charging for your product if you aren’t going to offer support• How long will you offer it? 1 year? Forever?• Is it 24/7 or only between certain hours?
Support• Do customers have to activate a license key to get support?• Did you build that into the product?• Don’t underestimate how long this will take to implement and test
Support• Email – Fine to start, but doesn’t scale – Email is already hard to stay on top of – What email address? – Yours or a support alias?
Support• Phone – Maybe for priority (paid) support only? – What number will people call? Your cell? – Google Voice is good for this
Support• Forums – Might be best to go this route first – bbPress is good for this – Or maybe an external service like ZenDesk – Is it publicly available or for paid customers only? – If for paid customers, you’ll need to integrate the forum software with your e-commerce software
Pricing• Try to avoid competing on price• How much will you charge?• Will you use tiered pricing?• What about multisite pricing?• Ask potential customers how much they’d be willing to pay
Pricing• You must consider the costs of supporting your product for a customer who uses it on multiple sites.• Example: each site might use different plugins that cause different conflicts with your plugin. That gets expensive to support.
Marketing• How will you drive traffic to your site? – Email – Social Media – Adwords – SEO – WordPress.org
Marketing• Email – Very important – Can be very effective – Collect email addresses ASAP – Have you ever run an email campaign? – Use MailChimp, Campaign Monitor, etc
Marketing• Social Media – Can help raise visibility – Time your posts properly – Should NOT be your only marketing – If Twitter is your marketing strategy, good luck with that
Marketing• Adwords – Ever run an Adwords campaign? – It’s an art all by itself – And extremely time-consuming – And can get expensive – Know that Google always wants you to spend more money
Marketing• SEO – Takes time for Google to grant you authority – The more quality backlinks the better – Avoid doing scammy things – Identify your major keywords – Use tools like HitTail to help you
Marketing• WordPress.org – Utilize its high search engine ranking – Build a slimmed-down free version and put it into the repo – The free version helps you gain traction – Then upsell your paid version within the free version
Branding• For many people it’s an afterthought• Think about your branding early• Affects all of your marketing
Branding• Max Foundry: – Plugin names intentionally start with “Max” – Plugin websites all look similar, yet different – Same with the plugin logos
Auto Updates• No worries for plugins in the wordpress.org Plugin Repository• Commercial plugins require more work• Critical to customers because they expect it – It’s part of what they paid for
Auto Updates• A couple options: 1. Roll your own – Lots of work, tedious – Code on the internet, Google it 2. Use WP Updates – Makes it very easy – Not free
Auto Updates• WP Updates – 3 easy steps 1. Upload your plugin version 2. Download updater class 3. Add 2 lines of code
Auto Updates• WP Updates – 1 gotcha – Version numbers – 1.10.0 should be more recent than 1.9.2 – But not in WP Updates
Takeaways• It’s a lot more than just building it• Everything takes 2-3x longer than you think it will• It’s hard work
Thanks! Dave Donaldsondave@maxfoundry.com @arcware