About twenty months ago, while sitting on a couch in Auckland, New Zealand, my team and I flipped the switch to enable automatic renewals for AffiliateWP. Two months later we did the same thing for Easy Digital Downloads and Restrict Content Pro. This was a move that we had been working towards for nearly a year and it’s one that we believed would fundamentally change the position of the company over the next one to two years. Now that it has been twenty months, maybe we can answer the question: were we right? Did it make a significant impact for us or was it all futile hopes?
On December 14, 2016, my team and I pushed a significant change to our Easy Digital Downloads products: we increased the price on all extensions by 50-250%. Yes, you read that right: up to a 250% price increase on certain plugins. This change was done for a number of reasons, which I will get into shortly, and has resulted in a very interesting last three months. Since I have always been very open with my company’s financials, I would like to now share some reflections on the change that we made and to also share some of the aftermath of the change.
Page builders are everywhere and new ones are popping up every month. I have always had a strong dislike for page builder plugins as they frequently cause compatibility problems with other plugins. To ensure I wasn’t unjustly biased, I decided to review as many page builders as I could manage to determine if they are really all that bad.
Four and a half years ago, I released Restrict Content Pro on Code Canyon.net. It was not my first big plugin, nor even the second, but it was the first one that I developed a more intimate relationship with. I heavily relied on the plugin for my own site and thus had a greater commitment to it than the large plugins that came before. For the first two years, the plugin thrived. I updated it constantly and continued to push it further and further. In 2014, however, I began to lose touch with the plugin as my other two big projects, Easy Digital Downloads and AffiliateWP, dominated more and more of my time.
I continued to let Restrict Content Pro dwindle for nearly two years before making a decision. I had several options. I could let it die a slow, drawn out death, I could sell it, or I could work to bring it back to life and let it kick ass again.
Step back in time two, three, four, or even 10 years and take a look at the development decisions you made then. What do you notice about them? Unless you are a one-in-a-million statistic, you probably look at those past decisions and say to yourself what was I thinking?! Why did I do it that way?! Welcome to the real world of actual development.
Four years ago, I started out on a journey to build an eCommerce plugin for myself so that I could sell a few of the plugins I was building. A plugin to sell plugins, how meta. As with most of the projects I choose to dedicate my time and energy to, Easy Digital Downloads was built for me by me but in such a way that others could make use of it if they wished. Today, Easy Digital Downloads is installed on over 50,000 websites, has reached nearly one million downloads, and has grown to a sustainable business that supports the livelihood of an ever-growing team comprised of full time employees and active contractors.
I love side projects. They are what wake me up at night with excitement; they are what causes light bulbs to flash on inside my brain while walking my dog; they are what motivate me when all other motivation is lost; they are the distraction from my worries; they are a fundamental part of who I am as a developer; and they are an integral part to the success of so many of this world’s greatest developers and business owners.
Since early child hood, I have always been a do-it-myself individual. It is an attitude I attribute largely to the way my father raised me and my brother. The three of us were always working around the farm making repairs and handling new construction. We did our own plumbing, electrical work, mowing, cleaning, car maintenance, and everything else. My family was reasonably well off financially so we could have hired plumbers, electricians, mechanics, etc, if something needed built or repaired, but that just was not in our nature.
It is a common practice in all realms of business to think of your competitors as enemies. They are, after all, the ones stealing your customers and revenue. Right? While there is certainly nuggets of truth in this, I firmly believe that viewing competitors as enemies and being frustrated with how they “take your customers” is one…