July 1, 2014 2 replies
Developing a WordPress plugin shop while on the road, with David Hehenberger, founder of Fatcat Apps
David, please introduce yourself…
My name is David Hehenberger. I’m originally from Austria, but I’ve been traveling & living in Asia for 4 years. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam has been my homebase for the almost 2 years.
I’d consider myself a “technical marketer” – I can write code and love working with data-driven marketing approaches such as conversion optimization and SEO. I currently spend most of my time running my WordPress plugin shop, fatcat apps. My first product is called Easy Pricing Tables.
What’s the story behind creating Easy Pricing Tables and can you explain how it works?
Easy Pricing Tables makes it easy to create beautiful, responsive pricing grids – these are very useful if you sell a product with multiple pricing tiers.
It was born by scratching my own itch. I once bought a pricing table plugin on Codecanyon but I didn’t really like it – the design was outdated, the table wasn’t responsive and the user interface was a nightmare. I thought that there had to be a better way.
How’s traction working out so far?
I’m really happy how everything has worked out.
I’ve launched the free version of Easy Pricing Tables about seven months ago and have gotten more than 30,000 downloads so far. Free downloads are on an upwards trajectory.
The free plugin has enough features for the majority of users, but a small amount of power users keeps purchasing Easy Pricing Tables Premium which is great.
What challenges did you face when developing the plugin, and how did you overcome them?
The biggest challenge so far have been WordPress theme and plugin conflicts. For example, every once in a while my plugin’s CSS conflicts with a theme which results in the pricing tables looking messed up.
The good news is that after 7 months on the market, theme and plugin conflicts are becoming exceedingly rare. My plugin is getting more robust with every bugfix.
What are your thoughts going out and selling the plugins alone versus using a marketplace?
So far, the business model of publishing a free basic version in the WordPress.org plugin repository has worked well for me.
I’m wary of marketplaces like CodeCanyon for the following reasons:
– I want full control over every aspect of my business (money back guarantee, marketing site, checkout process, email list).
– A lot of products on marketplaces seem to be of questionable quality (eg. bad code & support).
– There is a lot of price pressure at marketplaces. I am going for the high end of the market and don’t want to participate in a race to the bottom.
Marketplaces don’t integrate with my licensing & automatic update mechanism.
What 3 tips would you give to a someone considering developing a WordPress plugin?
1. Build something people want. I’m sure you have tons of ideas for cool plugins, but make sure you build something that there is actually demand for.
2. Release a free plugin. A free plugin hosted on WordPress.org will make it much easier to get eyeballs on your premium plugin.
3. Make support a priority. I’ve had multiple frustrating support experiences with premium plugins in the past. Try to help your customers as fast as possible – they will love you for it.
Where do you see the WP ecosystem heading in the next year or two?
In the past WordPress was mostly used by bloggers, but now I see more and more businesses using it. Businesses usually have more money to spend, so there will be lots of opportunity in selling themes, plugins and development services.
What’s next for you and Fatcat Apps?
We’ll keep improving Easy Pricing Tables, but at this point, after 10 months of work, it is a pretty mature product. This allows us to spend more time on new projects. For example, we’re currently working on a new WordPress plugin in the email marketing space – I’m hoping to release a first version within the next few weeks.