One year ago today, I announced the launch of my commercial plugin for managing affiliate programs in WordPress, AffiliateWP. Today, that plugin is one year old, so I’d like to take a few minutes to look back over the last 365 days and examine how the project has performed, grown, and changed over time.
Of all the commercial plugins I have worked on, AffiliateWP was different in one major way: it was not a solo project from the beginning. Until the last year or two, I have started most of my projects by myself and only brought other people into the project once it was fully off the ground and doing well. AffiliateWP was the first project that began with another person actively involved from the very beginning.
I approached Andrew Munro about collaborating on the project in the early part of 2014, and he agreed. Having previously worked with Andrew extensively on Easy Digital Downloads, I was completely confident in his ability to help excel the project beyond what I could on my own. Now a year later, it’s very clear that I was right to involve Andrew from the start because the project has far exceeded my expectations.
AffiliateWP was different since the beginning from some of my other plugins in another way too. It was the first commercial plugin that I put on a public GitHub repository, meaning the entire source code is out there in the open for anyone to view, use, and contribute to. Initially it was an experiment (one I was not sure was going to succeed) but now it is simply the way I build commercial plugins. Having AffiliateWP 100% open source has been an awesome experience, and it is a decision that I believe has greatly benefited the plugin and the customers of the plugin.
With AffiliateWP being on a public GitHub repository, it has been possible for more than 30 individuals to contribute improvements to the plugin. That gives me great piece of mind for the future of the plugin, for when more people are actively involved, and it is easy for new individuals to become involved, the security and sustainability of an open source project becomes exponentially greater.
Since releasing version 1.0 on April 9, 2014, AffiliateWP has had 30 minor point releases and 5 major releases. Today marks the release of version 1.6, which introduces several new integrations with popular eCommerce, membership, and form builder plugins, along with numerous other new features and bug fixes. Check out the 1.6 release post for complete details on the release.
Now let us talk dollars.
Having successfully built two major plugins that surpassed $100,000 annual earnings, I was confident that AffiliateWP would do the same. What I did not expect, however, was just how quickly that would become a reality.
In 2014 between April 9 and December 31st, AffiliateWP generated $119,700.50 in gross revenue. Unlike Restrict Content Pro and Easy Digital Downloads, which both took several years to reach $100k in annual revenue, AffiliateWP hit that mark in its first nine months. The graph below shows the actual sales growth for the plugin during 2014.
I am thrilled with the growth that AffiliateWP has seen, but more than that, I’m sincerely grateful. There are no delusions in my mind who is largely responsible for the success of this project. While I wrote the majority of the code that powers AffiliateWP, the project wouldn’t be anywhere nearly as successful if not for the phenomenal work of Andrew Munro. The site is entirely his genius and I take no credit in its production. Just as Andrew was instrumental in the amazing redesign of this site (which boosted revenue by more than 30%), Andrew took 100% creative control over the AffiliateWP site and turned it into something awesome. Without his expertise, I sincerely doubt AffiliateWP would have seen more than $20,000 in revenue for the entire year.
What’s important about these numbers? Some would say they’re important because it has been financially rewarding for us; some would say it gives credence to the platform; and some would say they’re important because it hints at the bigger possibilities for the future. For myself, it’s a combination of all of these views and one more far more important one.
The financial success of AffiliateWP allows us to change the lives of others. Through the success of AffiliateWP, we have been able to bring on two active contributors for customer support, Rami and Lisa (with more joining soon), we have contributed to the substantial growth of numerous companies, such as this one, we have paid more than $10,000 to affiliate partners, and we have helped to create a large number of custom development projects for our consultants through AffiliateWP customers that want custom functionality. Some of those projects have been in the thousands of dollars.The financial success of AffiliateWP allows us to change the lives of others Click To Tweet
I sincerely believe that we can measure the quality of our own lives by how much we can improve the lives of others, and AffiliateWP is helping us do exactly that.
The rest of this year will be a fun, exciting journey.