A few months after launching a WordPress plugin
It’s been about 3 months since launching Kanban for WordPress. Here are some of the experiences I’ve had.
I lucked onto Kanban as a niche, as there were no boards in the WordPress plugin repo. If you’re looking for a place to start in WordPress plugins, I’d say look at existing SaaS apps, and find one that interests you that doesn’t exist for WordPress.
I first asked for beta testers in the Advanced WordPress group on Facebook. I’d never used Facebook groups, but that’s where WordPress folks seem to hang out. They don’t allow requests for beta testing without a link to a working demo or repo, so my post was taken down after a couple hours. But in those two hours I got nearly 100 beta testers. So either I’d struck a nerve, or there are just that many people on the AWP group, or both.
Developing a WordPress plugin locally, especially with add-ons, is messy. Testing is even messier, with different versions of PHP and WordPress, plugin conflicts, all database scenarios, etc. Symlinks are your friend.
Developing a WordPress plugin and putting it out there is interesting. There are few “right ways” to do things in WordPress, it’s a platform that offers an unbelievable amount of freedom, but it’s run by extremely opinionated developers (some legitimately good, some just opinionated). No matter how I wrote my code, someone quickly pointed out how wrong it was. I used to be critical of plugin code. Now I see that if it works, it’s good enough.
Which drives the point home that there are two distinct user groups in the WordPress world – developers and users. I’m sure they overlap, but if you have a choice, serve the users. They just need a working solution. Developers care how the sausage is made.
Getting a plugin into the repo was relatively painless, but there are a lot of little things to consider. You could write code and put it in the repo (assuming you’re comfortable with SVN. That might be the barrier to entry, in lieu of an annual developer license or something). But most large plugins are also hosted on Github. I have an 8 step process to push each release.
Just getting my plugin into the repo resulted in over 500 installs. That’s not mind blowing, but it’s pretty amazing given I’ve done zero marketing. My other take away from this is people are randomly searching the repo for plugins. I would guess instead of actually writing blog posts 🙂
Since launching I’ve received a few dozen feature request and feedback emails. I’ve been shocked by how demanding, rude, blunt, and/or angry WordPress users are. People have angrily threatened to stop using my free plugin, if I didn’t add or change something. Of course as soon as I responded nicely, most of them were very nice, and some are now even evangelists.
My first paid add-ons came out mid-January. The code becomes so much more complicated, even if you don’t handle auto-updating yourself. I had no idea when it made sense to add filters and actions to the core, until I started building add-ons. It was (and is) really hard to figure out which features to add first. I’m working on a leaderboard, so people can vote and tell me.
Most comments about my pricing have been that my add-ons are priced too high (currently $25 and $50), and I’ve only had a couple sales. A high percentage of people say they’ll only buy a bundle of all add-ons.
I’ve just released a bundle, and will announce it Monday. I’m working on the next most requested add-on (multiple boards on one install), and a timeline of what I’ll build after that. I’m talking to other developers to partner with, so we can move faster. I’m also trying to decide what kind of marketing to do…