You thought of a grand idea for a WordPress plugin, had it developed, used it on your WP site, it works flawlessly, now you want to sell it. What are your options to sell this plugin?
There are lots of different ways you can market and sell your WordPress plugin. Each method has its own set of pros and cons. So you really want to explore all the options that are available to you and then choose the option that suits best for your situation.
How to Market a WordPress plugin
Let’s go through some scenarios for selling your WordPress plugin to the masses.
1) Add Your WP Plugin to an Existing Marketplace
To start with, for a lazy, or temporary, or complimentary solution, you can find an existing marketplace that will allow you to include your plugin.
I’m not referring to a general “digital download” marketplace like PayLoadz, but a site that already sells WordPress plugins, themes, etc. CodeCanyon.net comes to mind.
This is a great way to get started, but understand that you are giving a big cut away to the company. If you sell exclusively on their site they will take less. But the moment you start selling elsewhere (like on your own site), which I highly recommend you do, then you get less of a cut if you keep the product in the CodeCanyon market place.
Be sure to understand their terms completely before considering them for an avenue for selling your plugin.
2) Sell in a Blog Post Using Hosted E-Commerce Solution
Another way to sell the script is by selling within a blog post of a niche related site using a hosted E-Commerce solution. This is just one step away from lazy bones.
You see, with the CodeCanyon suggestion, you don’t have to worry about the technology used to securely deliver the content after purchase. When you start selling on your own, you do.
Fortunately, it’s not too hard.
While the interface is brutal, e-Junkie allows you to sell digital downloads from your site for a monthly recurring price. Another solution you can look at is FoxyCart.
You add your digital product and it keeps it secure for you and handles all the transactions. You can tie it to your PayPal account for payments, and e-Junkie provides a private, expiring link to the customer to download his or her goods.
E-junkie also has an affiliate program, but I don’t recommend you get married to such a thing. You’ll probably be moving along shortly.
3) Launch Your Own Portal/Site
Having your own dedicated web site to sell your stuff is a decent idea. I recommend WordPress for simplicity. Using the WordPress platform on your site and using a WordPress e-commerce plugin to handle the selling side of things is a really good way to approach this.
I’ve actually went back and forth a couple times between selling from a blog post, and selling from my own site.
The best method between the two is: selling from a dedicated site.
The caveat? There’s a little more work involved.
However, this option allow you to have a site that looks and functions just the way you want it. Also, this method helps you build your own brand over time.
With your own site, you’ll want to have the following:
- An online and bundled manual. The bundled manual can be text and PDF. The online version of course would be HTML with screenshots and screencasts.
- Detailed pages or posts with a description for the product.
- Online demos on separate pages.
- Screen shots should be also included.
Consider what the plugin sales pages have on CodeCanyon and Tips & Tricks HQ, and aim for the best, of what you discover, putting yourself in the buyers shoes.
Plugin Selling Checklist
Put together Plugin Description, Manual, Demos and Screenshots
Regardless of where and how you sell the plugin, you will need four key items.
1) Description – come up with an “elevator” description for your product. Basically think of a quick quick description that sums up what your product does.
Now come up with a benefits list. Sprinkle in some features and round it out for a nice description. Get good at describing it very succinctly, semi-thoroughly, and thoroughly, as you will be using descriptions for all of your marketing.
Come up with a features checklist as well.
2) Manual – You should have a quick text version manual written up with the steps needed to install and use your plugin.
Also, create a rich document with screen shots to enhance the step by step textual instructions. Convert it to PDF and HTML.
And, for all major steps, do screencasts. Show the installation and basic usage in separate videos (if applicable).
Try Screencast-o-matic, which is one of the coolest tools I have discovered so far this year. It’s cheap and feature rich. It’s worth much more than they charge. Don’t tell them that though 🙂
3) Demos – you probably just need one quick demo for usage. This is best done in HTML, but a video could help there too. Essentially, try to explain what the plugin does as best you can.
4) Screenshots – I know that we’ve put together some screenshots for tutorials, but this is more for how the bad boy looks. If you have settings panels for use, screenshot them. Any screen that is viewed that is unique to your plugin during standard setup and use should be screenshotted.
Screen Capture (by Google) is a really good tool to capture screenshots from your Chrome browser. It’s free, and extends Chrome browser, and has some cool features. I like it. It makes PNGs by default.
What Else Would You Need?
You’ll probably want:
1) A system to deliver the content securely (many digital auto-delivery eCommerce plugins exist for WordPress). There are few wordpress e-commerce plugins out there to help you with this. Pick one with good support so you don’t get stuck down the path.
I’ve used the S2Member plugin for this. You can either force the person to become a member to gain access, or give them temp access to a hidden download page with their purchase. The latter is probably better in most cases, in terms of less steps for the user, and less that can go wrong.
WP eStore was written for digital content delivery. It has stepped up beyond that but that’s where its origin is and it handles that aspect flawlessly.
2) A system to capture emails to be used in an autoresponder or mailing list.
Both s2Member and WP eStore include the capability for customers to sign up to a list during checkout. There are APIs that “talk to” MailChimp, AWeber, etc.
3) A support system. Maybe a ticketing system or integrated forum. You could use the bbPress forum plugin.
4) A blog with posts dedicated to each and every feature, demos, usage examples, news, and so on. This part would need ongoing content.
5) Affiliate system. WordPress Affiliate Platform works seamlessly with WP eStore as it was written by the same developer.
6) Miscellaneous – Perhaps include an updates page, a page detailing the compatibilities and known issues, a page to reach out to translators for Internationalization, different licensing options, testimonials, FAQ page, example sites etc.
With all that said, I will say that it does require some work to put everything together just the way you want it. If you have the passion and resources, self-hosted I think, is the way to go.
Bonus Suggestions for Plugin Sellers
A couple other suggestions that I have for the would-be WordPress plugin seller.
1) I suggest having two other products/versions created.
I tell you this from experience that this is a good idea. And if you’re thinking it will cost 3x as much, it really shouldn’t, not if your developer is honest.
I actually created the earliest versions of my plugins myself. And I made the two extra versions and it took maybe an hour. Your developer shouldn’t charge a lot (depending on the complexity).
a) Make a free version. For this you want to create a version of the plugin that has some cool functionality. Allow your visitors to use the free version.
b) Make a PHP version if you can. A WordPress plugin is written in PHP. In most cases, it doesn’t take much to include a PHP version of the plugin within the script. I bundle my PHP and WP versions together at no extra charge. And really, only one extra file needed to be added.
But of course, that meant extra manuals, etc. but it was still a simple, valuable feature-add.
2) Consider, in the future, making the plugin available for Drupal and Joomla! folks perhaps.
If you don’t have a plugin but have a good idea for one, hire a developer if you have the money. Just make sure there is a demand. In most cases, if the product would satisfy your needs, others will want it as well. But, there is a way to quickly estimate a wider need.
You want to know your competition before starting anyway so see what is out there that is similar. What freebies are available in the WP plugin repository or on the web? Are there lots of searches looking for these plugins? Google’s AdWords Keyword Tool can help you with the research.
Best of luck to you!
About the Author: This post was written by Keith Lock who is an author of Tips and Tricks HQ.