Exactly one year ago today, I announced the public release of Post Promoter Pro, and started my journey of managing a standalone commercial WordPress product. It’s been quite a learning experience. One that’s taught me the value of user feedback, how far I could stretch my development skills, and most importantly, my measurement of success.
It all started with a Tweet
Today is the day! Post Promoter Pro is LIVE! https://t.co/z3UihGGiS0
— Post Promoter Pro (@PostPromoterPro) May 5, 2014
Well kind of, it all started with an idea a friend and I had been discussing. I built a working proof of concept when I realize this could go somewhere. I got his consent to move forward with it as a commercial project and from there, Post Promoter Pro was born. Over a couple weeks, I built what was to become version 1.0. Here’s a few screenshots I posted leading up to the release:
Fast forward 1 Year
Throughout this first year, Post Promoter Pro has gone from supporting Twitter and scheduling up to 6 days of Tweets for a post to, well here’s the list of things added in Year 1:
- Share on Publish
- LinkedIn Support
- Facebook Support
- Featured Image Attachments
- Bit.ly links
- wp.me links
- Open Ended Scheduling for Twitter
- Enhanced actions for schedule view
- Show attached images in schedule view
- Dashboard Widget for upcoming Tweets
- Performance Improvements
- Additional Improvements to allow expanding the platform
- Twitter Card Support
Along side those, I’ve also created a couple smaller plugins to add support for the popular ‘Subtitles’ plugin, as well as one that lets you schedule Tweets not associated with your posts (as a Work In Progress).
So what about the business side of things. This is where that lesson about what I define success as, comes into play.
This is where I tell you that Post Promoter Pro let me quit my job and travel the world with my family and money just rolled in! I’d be lying through my teeth. In the first year, Post Promoter Pro’s revenue hit $1,688. That’s 33 sales in total. Is this what I had hoped for? Of course not. I would have loved for this to be a sizable increase in my income. The simple fact is though, it didn’t and wasn’t. I still consider the overall project a success in that, I’ve built something from the ground up, that sustains itself financially.
In fact the initial purpose of writing the code wasn’t to release a commercial product, but to build something for myself. The early alphas were more of a proof of concept. Some users may even remember the version jump from 1.3 straight to 2.0. Why? I completely rewrote Post Promoter Pro from the ground up to be a more stable, commercial plugin than it initially was intended to be. When it hit me that people were relying on my software to manage their reputation, I knew I had to do better, for them.
Let’s focus on that for a moment. It’s humbling to have someone tell you they are relying on your business to run a portion of their business. In this case, their social media presence. I’ve throughly enjoyed every conversation I’ve had with Post Promoter Pro customers about the things they love (and don’t love) about the product. It’s rewarding to hear how something I built is helping them achieve their goals. I know that you can’t pay bills with warm fuzzies, but let me tell you, it’s worth a lot in my emotional bank account. I’ve determined, that’s why I’m not as upset about the overall earnings as I could be. I feel a real connection to the community of customers I’ve built over the last year.
Many times when seeing products out in the WordPress ecosystem it’s hard not to think, “This plugin/theme must be killing it!”, when in reality, no one except the owner and maybe a few trusted people know for sure. This false reality initially lead me to believe that Post Promoter Pro would just sell without a problem. Clearly I was caught up in the ‘product hype’. In reality it didn’t sell this year as I had hoped, but I think that’s ok. It’s taught me one very important lesson.
It takes more than quality code and a solid idea to grow a successful product.
Over this year I’ve been forced to step out of my comfort zone when it comes to development as well as networking with users and potential customers. I never expected the business of learning to promote my product would be as difficult as it is. The idea that “It just sells itself” is ludicrous. In a competitive space, it’s all about the pitch.
So what’s next…?
This is what I’m most excited about. Where do we go from here? Yeah, even though earnings aren’t great, they pay for the bills it takes to maintain the business, and I get to continue producing a product for my customers (and myself). I’ve been having some great conversations with Jennifer Bourn of BournCreative.com about the product, features, and some of the things she, as a content producer, is looking for. In fact some of the more recent updates you’ve been seeing are a direct result of our conversations at PrestigeConf in Las Vegas back in February. I’ve also been able to get great feedback in my own ‘backyard’ through the Core development and Contributors of Easy Digital Downloads.
The concept of running a business is not a new one, but it is a new one to me personally. I’m enjoying the progress that Post Promoter Pro is making towards being a financially successful product in the space, and appreciate each person that’s helped make it what it is today. Many of the features and enhancements came about because of user feedback, and I don’t suspect that to change. It’s rewarding to be able to get that type of input and execute on someone’s thoughts.
So without further delay, here is to our next year of helping you achieve your goals.