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The Capitalist in the Co-Op: The Art & Science of the Premium WordPress Business


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The Art & Science of "Premium"
Experience level: Intermediate(+)
Session Description: Lessons from the road making a successful & popular premium WordPress plugin. We will share the strategies we employed to be profitable and the mistakes we made while learning. The best advice I have: Be as agile with your business model as you are with your code.

* The Product: Identifying a winner?
* Bootstraping: How do I keep cost low?
* Marketing: Sell your own or join a marketplace?
* Freemium, Premium or Subscription: How do you price your product?
* Roadmap: Which features do you build?
* Support: How do you keep people happy?
* Addons & APIs: How do you leverage success?

Published in: Business, Technology

The Capitalist in the Co-Op: The Art & Science of the Premium WordPress Business

  1. 1. The Capitalist in The Co-Op The Art & Science of Premium in the WordPress Open-Source Community@justlikeair #wcsea
  2. 2. A WordPress PoweredPowered WordPress CompanyHi, I’m Shane & I run a company.  
  3. 3. AN EVENTSFRAMEWORKTO HELP YOUKICK ASS(and a lot of awesome free plugins)
  4. 4. A COUPLE OF OUR FRIENDS (some people call them clients)
  5. 5. WORDPRESS PREMIUM BUSINESS CALLS FORA NIMBLE APPROACH1.  The Wild West2.  The Marketplace Debate3.  Going Solo4.  Platforms & Solutions5.  Code Is Support6.  Conclusion
  6. 6. WELCOME TO THE WILDwest Welcome to the wild WEST
  7. 7. Figure outTHE WHY The ONLY reason to be in business is to have the life youdream of. Make sure that you have a solid vision for where you want to go. Then pick your business model.
  8. 8. Why Pay in a World of Free?“ (Paraphrased) I Would Pay Money for A Plugin I Could Trust.Scott Berkun: “WordPress in 2020” (WordCamp SF 2010) from 27:00 – 32:00
  10. 10. WORDPRESS.ORG IS A GIFT Test your Ideas & Build a Market for “FREE”
  12. 12. How I Made 80k With a Single Plugin“ (Paraphrased) With growing plugin popularity, one thing was inevitable – increased support and feature requests. This was just one out of 20 free plugins I’d developed, so the amount of day-to-day work responding to users was ridiculous, greatly exceeding my free time. Author: Vladimir Prelovac Date: March 8, 2012
  13. 13. ONE WORDFREEMIUMAdoption rates for FREE WordPress themes & products ishuge and when converted into paying customers seem to outstrip club / private sales. (via
  14. 14. Code CanyonWe Joined a Marketplace & ECP Became their #1 Grossing Plugin You need recurring revenue Fast. Easy. Powerful.
  15. 15. THE MARKETPLACE DEBATEWelcome to the wild west
  16. 16. ADAVANTAGES OF A MARKETPLACE•  Drive customers & sales.•  Provide the e-commerce engine.•  Fastest way to get started.•  Low barrier to entry.•  Awesome venue for low cost / value products.•  Unified location for buyers.
  17. 17. TRADEOFFS OF A MARKETPLACE•  Lose a cut of traffic you personally drive.•  No control of the user relationship.•  Business model is often pre-defined.•  Lack of transparency into visitor stats.•  No support for licensed managed auto-upgrade.•  Expose your fans to your competitors.
  18. 18. Can You MakeREAL MONEY?
  19. 19. TheEnvato Marketplace Envato Marketplaces 8,700 products. 45 with no sales Pretty much everyone makes money 215 grossed $75,000+ 50 passed $200,0000 12 broke $500,0000 2 new Millionaires
  20. 20. Revenue via Code Canyon 2010/2011 We released 5 Products on Code Canyon about the same time and one had a free .org version with a genuine following. Guess which one? According to PressTrends, the most adopted premium themes have free lite versions available. drove 22.4% of all visitors to this month
  21. 21. GET ACCESS TO YOURUSERS* Validate legitimate buyers to control support costs. * Gather genuine feedback to drive development. * Selling to your raving fans requires find them. Newsletter Signup | Support Forum Signup | Social Media
  22. 22. A Single Purchase Does Not Entitle A Lifetime of Servitude FINDYou need recurring revenue WAYS TO GET RECURRING REVENUETO: Code Canyon “AdiosSydney, Australia Amigos” (thanks for all the fish)
  23. 23. GOING SOLOto the wild west Welcome & SELLING DIRECT
  24. 24. WHAT DO YOU NEED?•  Design and implement a store.•  Define the financial model.•  Member management and migrate user base.•  Integrate an auto-update engine into products.•  Integrate commerce with the support forum.•  Create an email list / newsletter.•  Develop affiliate support.
  25. 25. Plugin Update Engine (Darren Ethier) Update Engine (Brandon Dove)’ve heard of others but nothing I could hunt down) Welcome to theSolutions Auto-Update wild west
  26. 26. You Don’t Need A TraditionalMARKETING PLAN When You Launch
  27. 27. Banner Ads: #FAIL Ads YouMarketing Plan: Banner need recurring revenueThe very best return we saw converted $350 of sales for $700 spent on ads.
  28. 28. ADWORDSHave Not YET Converted Profitably We focused on high volume (expensive) topic relevant searches like “WordPress Events Calendar”. Definitely worth experimenting more, so we are…
  29. 29. Niche recurringPages?Pages Landing LandingMarketing Plan: Niche revenue You need Create a host of very focused landing pages and point long-tail ad words.
  30. 30. DRIVE SALES WITHAFFILIATES So we heard from a lot of shops. We are almost done setting up a private partner-only program.
  31. 31. A / needA/B Your Key Pages B Test Testing revenue You recurringDid making the business license button GREEN increase higher value conversions?
  32. 32. Downloads VS Active Installs The Events Calendar 212k 153rd All in One Event Calendar 152k 195th Event Espresso 50k 215th Ajax Event Calendar 86k 341st Calendar 307k 443rd My Calendar 155k 1.3krd WP Calendar 52k 1.7kth Events Calendar 458k 4.3krd Provided by PressTrends.IO StudyMetrics revenue Your Metrics You need recurringGood data is the difference between making a profit and massive failure.
  33. 33. FIND A Find a PROPOSITION BEYOND CODE VALUE Value PropositionPeople will steal your shit, and even resell it. And they can thanks to GPL.
  34. 34. Raising Our Base PricesHad No Impact on Sales From $30 > $40 > $50. We haven’t found our sweet spot yet?
  35. 35. Since 2.0, our PRO plugin revenue has come from:66% Personal 22% Business 12% Developer Create MultipleBuying Options Buying Options Create Multiple revenue You need recurringHelp developers with a solution that allows them to easily use your product on many client sites.
  36. 36. GoingYou need recurringCall Financially Solo Was the Right revenue Going Indy Was the RIGHT Call FinanciallyOur biggest month at code canyon grossed us $4,795. Our biggest month indy was $21,390.
  37. 37. Welcome to & SOLUTIONSPLATFORMS the wild west
  38. 38. Time to Go Beyond A Plugin / Theme BUILD A PLATFORM Extend functionality, reach & profits with add-ons. Provide a way for people to contribute rather than compete.
  39. 39. Gravity FormsNeed need recurring Upgrade. You More POWER? revenue
  40. 40. WooCommerce WooCommerce Launched & It IsYou need recurring revenue Kicking Ass Financially (and you can share it with them)
  41. 41. Modern Tribe So far2 New Add-ons This Month = 148 Additional Orders You need recurring revenue
  42. 42. LOOK FOR MULTIPLE STREAMSIncome Multiple Streams of OF INCOME
  43. 43. We’ve made more $$ referring Eventbrite new customers than in Eventbrite referralplugin sales so far (launched May 2012). ONE e≠ort. TWO pay days!
  44. 44. Start Selling SOLUTIONSTo Capitalize on Your Platform
  45. 45. Happy TablesTheme Shop -> Niche SaaSYou need recurring revenue
  46. 46. ManageWPFree You need recurring revenueSaaS Repo >> Premium Plugins >> Utility
  47. 47. Keep Your Goals ClearAND YOUR TACTICS NIMBLE Be as agile with your business model as you are with your code. After all, it is the Wild West. Use metrics to drive decisions.
  48. 48. CODE IS SUPPORTWelcome to the wild west
  49. 49. Long-Term Revenue is Driven bySUPPORT
  50. 50. QUIT TRYING TO BUILD BADASS UNICORNS Users Want Stability Users want stability far more than they want the killer feature
  51. 51. How I usually feel when Iread other people’s code.
  52. 52. Great Support Starts with Great Code•  Document, document, document!•  Lots of people will read your code, please be organized and indent.•  Unit tests are your friend.•  Separate branches for feature and bug releases.•  Plan hooks & filters early.•  Internationalize properly.•  Get your code reviewed for security vulnerabilities.•  Think backwards compatible.•  Run ALL the validators
  53. 53. SUPPORT WILL BE YOUR BIGGEST EXPENSE40% of our costs this year came from talking tocustomers & QA. That does not include a single bugfix or line of code.“Support takes up about 80-90% of my time andthat is with a second person helping” Brandon,owner of Epic Era, one of Theme Forest’s TopSellers.
  54. 54. MakeMakeSupport Public & Searchable Your Support Searchable You need recurring revenue It is a key marketing strategy & will save you a ton of time.
  55. 55. Use VIDEOUserecurring revenue You need+ TEXT Documentation Video + Text Every shop I have talked to has specifically mentioned this!
  56. 56. Hey  Big  Buddy,   We  Hear  You.  That’s  frustra@ng.  We’ll  take   a  quick  look  at  your  site  in  the  morning  and  When  I  turn  on  your   get  you  an  answer  tomorrow  aDernoon.  plugin  my  sidebar  breaks?!?  Help!   SetYou need recurring revenue Expectations & Reply Quickly Use Video + Text
  57. 57. You Can BeSay your are You Can Be Right Profitable or sorry You need recurring revenueApologize when you screw up. And when they screw up. It can’t hurt and creates a ton of good will.
  58. 58. Be Transparent recurringLoyal Community Be to Build a revenue You need transparant Make your customers see you as another human being on a mutual adventure.
  59. 59. CultivateYOUR BRAND The experience that people have interacting with your company goes far beyond your product and it lasts a VERY LONG TIME. Make it a good one.
  61. 61. This is not a fadWordPress runs14.7% of the top 1 Millionranked sites & 49% of the top 100 blogs on theInternet and shows no sign of slowing. This is ahuge market and it demands stability.
  62. 62. Jack be nimbleWho knows what will happen tomorrow to alterthe playing field. Expect change and you will bepleasantly surprised.
  63. 63. Set them up to winProvide the information, support and consistency your userswill need to succeed fabulously.
  64. 64. Act like a businessPlan Scope, Budget & Timeline
  65. 65. Use the communityThe great power of open source is available to your business.
  66. 66. And in the famous words of Bobby McFerrinDon’t Worry, Be Happy
  67. 67. Shane Pearlman, CEO Modern Tribe @justlikeair
  68. 68. THANK YOU SO MUCH Peter, Reid & Rob (Modern Tribe)" Joachim Kudish (Automattic)" JR Farr (Mojo themes)" George Ortiz (" Brandon Jones (Make Design)" Dan Cameron (Group Buying Site)" Daniel Dvorkin (WPML)" Adii Pienaar (Woo Themes)"Collis Ta’eed (Theme Forest / Code Canyon)