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.
The upward trend shown in the graph has continued in that same direction, surpassing more than $20,000 per month in gross revenue. By the end of the year, I expect to see $30,000 or more per month.
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.
[bctt tweet=”The financial success of AffiliateWP allows us to change the lives of others”]
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.
11 thoughts so far
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I remember the first time I visited this site after the redesign and how much more fun it was to dive into the reading, that I instantly got the paid subscription 😉
Well done Andrew, I hope to see AffiliateWP growing this year not just financially, but also in terms of many new features, as its still lacks plenty that I consider mandatory in an affiliate software.
Hey Thomas! I would love to hear your feedback on the specific features you feel it is lacking.
There will always be features that certain users want, and sometimes it can be challenging to get every feature built, but one of the best places to start is by discussing it. If you let me know what you think is missing, we will be more than happy to consider them.
Thanks Thomas! 🙂
Happy birthday and nice job! I have seen you grow and I can say is totally deserved.
Congratulations!! AffiliateWP does so much for small businesses on WordPress, and I think that’s where I find a lot of the “goodness” that I derive from WordPress, too. Here’s to many, many more!
Congratulations, that’s so refreshing to see such a success story in the WordPress world (where so many people find it indecent to speak of money – or so it seems).
I’m also impressed by your decision of leaving your code on the repository and on GitHub. This seems so obvious that it should be that way (Php cannot be obfuscated and WordPress plugins are GPL if I am not mistaken). But still, you are the first I know of who are not hiding their commercial plugin behind an authentication barrier.
I don’t know if you are considering updating your plugins directly from GitHub. If yes, feel free to check out this: https://github.com/franceimage/wp-alt-repositories
Well done Brother!
I commented some days ago but my comment is not appearing. Maybe is awaiting moderation?
Pippin, do you think a model like AWP will work for EDD? What are de benefits of that model in comparison to EED fremium model?
Hmm, not seeing you in spam or pending.
Could it work? Yes, absolutely. It would be more challenging though, I think.
One of the reasons the add-on model works well for EDD (and similar plugins) is that there is a huge number of add-ons to offer. Hundreds.
AffiliateWP does not (and likely will not ever) have hundreds of add-ons, so it is much better suited to the model we use.
I have always been intrigued by whether EDD would work out well as a commercial-only plugin, but it’s not a change that we can make now, for obvious reasons 🙂
Kudos to you, guys. You really did a great job, and this plugin is awesome.
I was wondering…. to what extend do you think your reputation helped you in this quick success? I mean, you are very well known in the WP world, you earned a great reputation thanks to plugins like EDD and CRP. When I see your name next to a plugin, it’s just a green light for me.
What I mean is… do you think AW would have had that much success if it would have been coded by an unknown developer? I mean the same exact plugin, same strategy, even same Andrew… everything but you?
That’s a question I’ve considered numerous times. It’s hard to say for sure, but I think there are two parts to it.
First, yes, the reputation of this site and my team has absolutely helped make AffiliateWP successful within the WordPress community. We have been able to attract the attention of a large subset of the WordPress developer / builder community, and that I suspect has a lot to do with reputation.
Second, we have been able to successfully reach beyond the developer / builder community and attract the attention of a much wider audience, and most of this audience would probably not be considered part of the development / builder community. These are the people building sites on WordPress not because they love WordPress but because it is simply a tool to get the job done.
The second set of our audience is actually substantially larger than the first and it comes from organic traffic (especially search engines) and affiliates. Setting up relationships with eCommerce and membership shops has been important for the success of the product. WooThemes, for example, is a large affiliate for us and sends us a significant amount of traffic thanks to a listing on WooThemes.com.
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