33k Downloads In 7 Months – How To Build A Successful WordPress Plugin

Over the last couple of months I’ve transitioned away from consulting to running a WordPress plugin business.

What has been fundamental to this success was getting traction with my free plugin, Easy Pricing Tables. As of time of writing Easy Pricing Tables has gotten 33,000 free downloads in its 7 months since launch.

ept-download-stats

Easy Pricing Tables Download Stats

In this post I’ll boil down why Easy Pricing Tables has been successful – I came up with four plugin success principles:

1. Build something people want

It is infinitely easier to fulfill existing demand or solve an existing pain point than to create demand for something new.

Rob Walling calls these “Aspirin businesses” – your customer has a clear pain that they’re proactively looking to solve, for example: “I need a pricing table for my WordPress site”.

Easy Pricing Tables in action

Easy Pricing Tables in action

You’ll then put your product in front of people that are actively trying to solve this pain point. Search engines are a common channel. The following search engines drive most of my plugin downloads:

Other possible search engines for other types of businesses could be:

  • Amazon
  • YouTube
  • Code Canyon
  • Shopify App Store
  • iTunes Store

How to verify demand?

Before building Easy Pricing Tables I’ve verified that a good number of people want to use WordPress pricing table plugins.

My initial research spreadsheet

My initial research spreadsheet

2. Scratch your own itch

The reason I built Easy Pricing Tables is that I wasn’t satisfied with the existing pricing table plugins on the market.

Scratching my own itch made it easy to make product decisions. For example, being a user of my own product helped me decide what kind of customization options (color pickers, etc…) I should include.

It also kept me motivated to push through in times of uncertainty because I really cared about solving this problem. (Pippin Williamson wrote a whole post on this topic here.)

However, keep in mind that no plan survives first contact with customers, so it’s still very important to listen to customers(I’ve got a lot of feedback once I launched my MVP).

3. Focus on Useability + Design

“Design is a defensible competitive advantage.” – @jonmyers

As its name implies, Easy Pricing Tables is fairly easy to use. Useability and good design can be a competitive advantage in an environment such as the WordPress plugin directory where some other products have horrendous user interfaces.

While my plugin’s user interface still has lots of room for improvement, I firmly believe that ease of use was one of the biggest things that made my plugin successful.

A big reason LeadPages has been growing so fast is that it is super easy to use, even though Unbounce has been arround for longer and has more features.

Also, pricing tables are very visual, so having a clean & modern design made my plugin stand out – some of my competitors pricing tables look like they were designed back in 2004.

4. Generate Revenue

I love the free software movement and I’m incredibly thankfully to anyone contributing, but at the end of the day I had to figure out a way to generate revenue from this plugin as I ended up spending lots of time on it. This turned out to be pretty easy – I’ve simply built “Easy Pricing Tables Premium” including four additional table designs and a bunch of features that free users requested. Sales started rolling in right after I’ve included a small ad in Easy Pricing Tables Free.

While lots of users are happy with the free plugin, a small amount of power users keeps upgrading to my premium plugin which in turn allows me to keep working on my plugin – a clear win-win for everyone.

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There was a lot more involved in building a great plugin, but at its core these were the four main factors in my success. A lot of these principles apply to many types of businesses, not just WP plugins.

Resources

If you’re interested in building WordPress plugins, check out the following resources:

What about you?

What about you – what were important success factors in your business? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below, no matter if you make WordPress plugins or run any other kind of business.

3 Comments

Tristan King says:

Awesome job David 🙂

Great article David!

This is a very accurate explanation of solid principles. WordPress is such a powerful solution and the ability to plug directly in from other services is irreplaceable.

I handle business development at http://instapage.com and I wanted to extend a full version of our software to you to test drive. I think you’re going to be stoked.
Instapage is similar to LP, but instead of being stuck with static templates that every other customer is using we allow you to fully customize your landing page so that it fits your exact campaign specifically, not generally.

WordPress and email integrations are also totally free on all plans as well as automatic A/B testing – which is the root point; LP has these features, but only on the $67 plan and above.
Shoot me an email or a tweet if you’re interested! Im going to check out more of your blog its really good stuff. :grinning:
Kieran Daniels @kierankyle
http://instapage.com

Bert says:

Hello there! This post could not bee written much better!
Going through this article reminds me of my preious roommate!
He always kept preaching ablut this. I’ll forward this post to him.
Prettty sure he’ll have a very good read.
I appreciate yoou foor sharing!

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