Episode 157 | How to get started with info products and WordPress plugins

Show Notes


[00:00] Mike: This is Startups for the Rest of Us: Episode 157.

[00:04] Music

[00:10] Welcome to Startups for the Rest of Us, the podcast that helps developers, designers and entrepreneurs be awesome at launching software products, whether you’ve built your first product or you’re just thinking about it. I’m Mike.

[00:18] Dave: And I’m Dave.

[00:20] Mike: And we’re here to share our experiences to help you avoid the same mistakes we’ve made. How are you doing this week, Dave?

[00:24] Dave: I’m doing very well again Mike. Thanks for having me back.

[00:26] Mike: I had mentioned to the listeners several weeks ago that one of the things I was doing for Audit Shark was going out and submitting it to a bunch of different application directories where they do announcements for web based startups and new applications that are out there like beta list and things like that. And a few people had emailed into the show asking whether I would share that list, I already went through and shared it with them.

[00:50] But one of our listeners named Robert Gram who’s been at MicroConf, he went through and he actually created a much bigger list than I had. We’ll link to it in the show notes but if anyone’s interested in taking a look at that, it’s over at whitetailsoftware.com and I said we’ll link it in the show notes. He’s got a list of I think between 40 and 50 different websites that you can go to. But I did want to make sure that I shared that with people.

[01:11] Music

[01:14] Today we’re going to be talking about plug-ins and info products versus SaaS products and primarily about how to get started with a plug-in or an info product and kind of contrasting it to a SaaS application a little bit. When you’re looking at these sorts of things, plug-ins and info products versus SaaS products versus SaaS is really just a tradeoff that you’re making. There’s a lot of different tradeoffs that you’re looking at when you decide to go for an info product or a plug-in and it’s just important to be aware what some of those differences are.

[01:41] The first one is the speed to market. With each of these types of products, the plug-ins and info products, they tend to be fast to market versus a SaaS application which it can take you a long time to get to market. Dave, you’ve got a couple of WordPress plug-ins right?

[01:55] Dave: That’s correct. Yeah. I have AWPCP and business directory plug-in and I also have an info product too about how to buy websites and I would definitely say that compared to the time required to develop a full product even in MVP mode, getting something like an info product out is actually much, much faster especially when it’s an area of expertise that you already have.

[02:18] Mike: So really what you’re saying here is that in terms of the different types of products, there’s a sliding scale where with an info product it can be very, very fast to get to market. and then with a plug-in it will take you a little bit longer. But the with a full blown SaaS application it can take you substantially longer possibly even exponentially longer.

[02:36] Dave: That’s right. Depends on how complex that SaaS product is, if you have something that was as involved as Drip, I mean how long has Rob been developing that? That’s gone on for a long time compared to the fact that he was able to collect a bunch of articles and put them together for start small, stay small and in a comparatively smaller amount of time creates something that he could sell immediately and provide a great deal of value and get customers for.

[03:04] Mike: So another thing to keep in mind is revenue sustainability and with info products and plug-ins you get little to no revenue sustainability and that’s really about monthly recurring income versus a SaaS application where you can get that monthly recurring income occasionally depending on whether you’ve got these annual plans or not, you may have to deal with it on an annual basis. But the idea is you’ve got this recurring income much higher price points to deal with versus the info products and plug-ins. Now what about marketing complexity? I know with your different plug-ins you’ve got a lot of different modules that you sell with those. What are your thoughts on the marketing complexity?

[03:43] Dave: It’s something that would go basically from info product to plug-in to SaaS in terms of from simplest to most complex here. So when you talk about an info product, an info product is very much narrowly focused on a highly defined problem. So that might be something like a guide to web application design or it might be how can I charge more as freelancer? I mean there’s a very specific problem and that one info product is going to provide a very specific answer to it.

[04:13] When you move up the scale to plug-ins, initially that plug-in is probably going to be very focused on something that is more simple. But with my plug-ins for example, the applicability of that particular plug-in depends very much on what kind of site that it’s installed in. So for business directories, somebody might be using it in kind of a yelp capacity where they’re trying to make a site that’s all about ratings. And another one might actually be trying to make yellow pages where it’s actually more important to show locations in directories.

[04:45] So I have different modules that you can add on, one that specifically supports ratings and one that specifically supports maps. So you kind of morph the core product depending on what it is you’re looking to do based on the customer’s target need there. And then you can go up a whole other level beyond than when you get into SaaS applications where you have much more general problems to solve.

[05:09] So if you’re talking about something like in Mailchimp it might be as simple as well I just want to collect email addresses and send out blasts to them and then later on it might be well now I need to segment this list and say okay, I want you to send this particular email to this sub segmented list or maybe I want to AB test emails across the list. And I want to try out one version of it to say 10% of my list and I want to try out another version to another 10% and then whichever one did better I want to send that to the remaining 80%. And that’s something that is definitely a much more complex news case than just sort of collecting emails on the first place.

[05:49] Mike: One of the things that you just talked about, it kind of overlaps in feature complexity as well because as you said, something like Mailchimp might have all this different used case scenarios and that goes into the feature complexity. When I was talking about marketing complexity, what I was kind of getting at was that when you’re faced with marketing complexity, it is substantially easier to explain to somebody what you’re offering is if you know exactly what that type of person is going to be. Because if you solve a very, very specific problem, so say you’re solving 2+2 well, the answer’s going to be 4 but you’re trying to explain that to people in a way that they’re going to understand. Versus if you’re trying to explain and you’ve got all these different variables in place, all these different people who might be using the product. Maybe you’ve got designers and developers, managers, things like that.

[06:36] When you’ve got all these different moving parts, it can be very difficult to explain to people what your position is because you don’t necessarily know who’s visiting the site at the time so you have to essentially multiply the full print of your website. You have to talk to different types of people and in different ways and that’s really what I was getting at with the marketing complexity which I think the feature complexity also factors into this. As you get more features, you seem like you just naturally end up with more marketing complexity because of that.

[07:07] Dave: Absolutely. Some of the stuff that you’re talking about, you’re right. I jumped right into the feature complexity thing here and didn’t really talk about that marketing aspect. If you have something that is addressing the needs of various kinds of audiences like I’m thinking of appointment reminder or Patrick McKenzie, he’s got a lot of different kinds of audiences he’s trying to target this thing to, one of which is like medical professionals but you might also do it to massage therapists. Now that’s an entirely different set of keywords he’s got to target different landing pages, different messages, possibly different pain points to make it sound like you really understand their particularly niche.

[07:45] He’s going to have to cater those pages in a very specific way so that the massage therapist feel like yes, I really know that this person gets my problem here. I want to buy their product. That is definitely going to be much harder than if you have a very simple e-product or eBook where you’re saying okay I want to tell you how to raise your prices as a freelancer. That’s a very easy marketing thing by comparison.

[08:07] Mike: And the terminology can very well be different between some of those different fields as well. That also adds to the challenges. So just keep in mind that there’s a lot of these challenges that you’re going to have to deal with depending on how complex the offering is. Something else that factors into is the operational requirements. And by operational requirements I’m really talking about how much it takes for you in terms of your resources and your support cost and things like that to maintain the business operating.

[08:35] So for something like an info product, let’s say that your website goes down. Well, if you have an info product, who does that affect? It doesn’t really affect your customers because they’ve already purchased the product and they have already received it so they don’t have to come to your website. It will affect the people who are coming to your website to buy it but if they can’t get to your website at all, then they’re not quite your customer yet and sure they have a problem with that but the person who that ultimately affects is you.

[09:02] Now with a SaaS application, if you were hosting an application for customer whether it’s infrastructure related or just ancillary to their core business, it can still be a problem for them because you have to make sure that website and that application are up and running at all times. So you have to install monitoring services, you probably want at least a little bit of redundancy. You have to make sure you’re doing backups and all this additional operational things. And that’s in addition to the support burden that you’re going to bear which is going to be medium to very high for a SaaS application and low to medium for an info product or a plug-in of any kind.

[09:37] Dave: Absolutely. There’s definitely a higher stress level when you have a software service application because of that.

[09:44] Mike: Definitely. And as I said before, the one thing that really factors in to that is how tightly integrated into your customer’s business is your product? If it’s quarter operation, if they need your product in order to do business then obviously your support cost and your operational requirements are going to skyrocket. You’re going to have to have a lot more redundancy and a lot more things in place than if it’s just something where they go into your product maybe at the end of the day or once a week or something like that.

[10:14] Dave: Absolutely. Very different, yeah.

[10:16] Mike: So next we’re going to talk about if you’ve taken a look at these tradeoffs. So you’ve decided that you want to go down the road of building a plug-in of some kind. Dave, you’ve got some experience building plug-ins. How would somebody go about learning word press development? Especially where do they get started with that?

[10:33] Dave: Well that’s a great question. First I’d like to say this is not the only type of plug-in that somebody could actually do. There are other ecosystems but I think WordPress is probably one of the most commercially viable and hottest economically that you can really tap into right now. There just seems to be a lot of energy and money in the community as a whole. So it’s probably a good place to focus your time if you’re going to do a plug-in of any kind.

[10:59] But when you get started, there’s tons and tons of tutorials and examples and how to write a WordPress plug-in that have been written at this point that just Goggleing something like how do I write a WordPress plug-in is probably going to get you a million results right off the bat. Starting from that, you can then go to the WordPress codex, codex at wordpress.org and get the basics of what are the things in the WordPress API that are important? How do I actually apply the calls in the API into my plug-in here? What are some architectural considerations that I need to have for a plug-in? And then going with that, you can also look at WordPress best practices, that’s another great thing you can Google for. You could spend easily two weeks on just two activities right there.

[11:49] Mike: That’s a good number to know too. Roughly two weeks for just that. I mean how long would it take you start to finish if you – let’s say I started today. How long would it take me to be able to get the basic knowledge to create just a very simple plug-in?

[12:02] Dave: Obviously that’s going to vary quite a bit on the person who is writing that plug-in. If you have somebody who’s a senior developer coming from a background that allows you to understand PHP very rapidly, so if you’ve been doing C, C++ Java Python and Ruby to a lesser extent or just PHP directly, you can understand the syntax very quickly then you’re going to be able to be productive quite fast.

[12:28] If you’re not as technical, if you’re not as facile on one of those languages right there, it might take you a little bit longer and that’s going to be very much dependent on your learning style. If I were to say how long would it take a senior developer who knew these things in advance to actually come up to speed on the WordPress API and be able to write some very basic stuff in a plug-in, I would say you can do that in under two weeks.

[12:53] Mike: Okay. So when you’re talking about going to look in through these API’s and best practices and the wordpress.org repository, there’s also additional information you can get from those places, not just the technical side of things, but you can also find some underserved niches and abandoned plug-ins there as well right?

[13:11] Dave: Yeah. In fact several people have asked me I’d like to do a WordPress plug-in. You did these particularly WordPress plug-ins for classifieds and business directories. How can I find something that I can serve as well? And one thing that found is that by going and just researching wordpress.org you’d go in there and type a search on something that you might be interested in or something that you might think okay, well if I was building a WordPress site and I wanted to add an events manager or I wanted to add classifieds or a business directory or I wanted to be able to manage RSS feeds, these are just things I’m pulling off the top of my head.

[13:51] But that sort of stuff you can find out what plug-ins exist in there and taking a look at those, you could see well when was the last time it was updated? Is the support forum something that looks like people are posting but the authors aren’t really responding? If you look at this plug-in and there’s a lot of people that are posting on the support forum, that indicates that there’s certainly some level of popularity for it but depending on how the author is responding maybe that plug-in is not doing a good job of supporting it.

[14:17] So you can go through the WordPress repository there to actually find some good ideas and then once you got an idea there, another possibility is that you could actually bootstrap your plug-in development by actually forking an existing plug-in on wordpress.org since everything that goes into wordpress.org is under GPL version 2 licensing, you are actually allowed to grab somebody’s source code lock, stock and barrel and start from scratch on that particular plug-in if you wanted to. There are pluses and minuses to that and you might incur the wrath of the author doing so. But in some cases I know for example there’s competitor to business directory. The guy actually started his directory plug-in using an older kind of abandoned listing plug-in for an address book. So that’s certainly a viable way to go about it as well.

[15:07] Mike: Now you mentioned that everything that goes up on wordpress.org is covered by the GPL. I mean how can you go about building a business? Are there specific business models that you can put together for this plug-ins? It wouldn’t seem like you can sell your WordPress plug-ins directly from there but you could have three plug-ins that lead to premium module or something along those lines. What other sorts of business models could people be looking at or entertain as possibilities for WordPress plug-ins that they’re creating?

[15:36] Dave: Well, turns out there’s four that I can think of that are viable business models. Now like you said, wordpress.org, they’re very strict about you can’t sell anything through there. In fact if you directly have a link on there that isn’t something like a donate, it tends to frown on that. But they’re okay if you like point to a site that says okay, here’s the professional version of the plug-in on so and so site and you can buy it there. But you know, you kind of have to keep it sort of moderated I guess is the way to put it.

[16:08] But the four business models that I know of from other plug-ins are things like premium offering, so you have the free plug-in in the repository and then off on an external site you offer a pro upgrade. So the plug-in that I can think of does this as the Pinterest pin it plug-in by Phil Dirkson. Another one would be the premium add on model and that’s exactly what my business directory does. So you get the core plug-in in wordpress.org and then you can buy add-ons to it, it’s not really an upgrade to the core plug-in so much as it is just things that enhance the functionality to it and then there’s a number of things that you can add on to it.

[16:47] There are some where the plug-in itself is actually sort of gateway to a SaaS product. So HitTail is a great example of this where there’s a WordPress plug-in that goes on to your site that actually does your keyword tracking and then that feeds that data back to HitTail and then HitTail will give you further suggestions based on what that WordPress plug-in is collecting. So it’s not so much that the plug-in itself is making revenue but it’s enhancing an external SaaS site to basically give you another channel of customers.

[17:16] And then the fourth model is where people actually offer paid support for the plug-in. So you get it, you download it for free from wordpress.org but the level of the plug-in might be complex enough that you really need some help in actually setting it up, configuring it, maybe skinning it, that sort of activity is paid for directly on a site. Gravity forms is an example of a plug-in that does that.

[17:42] Mike: So we’ve talked a little bit about some of the different tradeoffs. We’ve talked about how to learn and how to do WordPress plug-in development and a little bit about where to get some ideas and some of the business models that you can put behind those ideas. Most that we’ve talked about so far relates directly to WordPress and plug-in development. The other side of it is info products and people might be wondering where do I get an idea for an info product that would be marketable. I think this is where a lot of people really underestimate their own capabilities. Anyone with a career as a professional developer has something that they can teach somebody and charge for. Pretty much everybody and I can almost guarantee that.

[18:19] For example you Dave, you could easily put together a book on WordPress development. You don’t have to be an expert and that’s the part where I think that people kind of struggle with is like oh, I’m not an expert. The fact is you don’t have to be an expert in order to teach people what you know. Typically if you’ve been working in a particular field or a particular area, you tend to have a lot more knowledge than the average developer about whatever that specific field is. What other sorts of examples can you think of?

[18:48] Dave: Oh, well there’s two great examples of guys that I met at MicroConf. There’s Nathan Barry, he’s got a couple of different eBooks out there that I’m aware of. One is a book on app design and another one is about a web design guide. Clearly these are both areas of expertise of Nathan’s that he’s acquired as a developer over the years and he just simply took the time to write it down and share his knowledge and experience.

[19:14] Same thing with Brandon Dunn and his freelancer’s business guide. It’s basically a guide that solves a very specific problem that freelancers commonly have and that is how much did I charge for what it is I do and if I’m charging already, how can I raise y rates to get better income out of my livelihood? And these questions are things that all freelancers have and certainly Brandon himself struggled directly with but he just took the time to write it down, think about it very thoroughly. I think he spoke with a number of freelancers to get additional input from outside of his own spear of influence and he created this great product that is selling quite well based on his experience.

[19:53] And he certainly wasn’t an expert on it before he started that guide. I spoke with him about it. He knew a little bit about it from his own experience but mostly it was about him being willing to research it and come up with something that he could teach to others in a clear and concise manner, that’s what made it a valuable product.

[20:11] Mike: So that’s one of the ways that you could do it. Another way you can do it is to just find something that you think is interesting and you want to learn about and want to be able to share that information. So for example one of the things that I have an interest in from years and years ago is robotics and partially because I’ve done assembly language programming and done hardware and software interface and I’ve always found it kind of fascinating. But that might be something where if I decided that in the future oh, I kind of want to learn a little bit more about this and maybe build an information product or an eBook about how to do it, maybe I’d put together something on how to interface with the raspberry pie or something like that.

[20:46] And I think something like that would probably do reasonably well and their chances are really good because somebody else has already done something similar and if you haven’t, just look around, feel free to rip off that idea. If you have the inclination and the interest, you can definitely learn enough about a particular topic that you can share that information and charge for it.

[21:08] Dave: I’ve seen the same sort of thing that sort of plays over and over again as like the beginner’s guide to whatever or how I learned X in Y days. There’s lots of people that have gone out that say how I figured out Ruby for the first time or how I went and learn robotics from scratch not knowing anything about electronics. Those sorts of guides seem to be very popular. So even if you didn’t know something, you could write a guide that was kind of following that theme on a subject that you’re interested in and then approach it as a complete novice and basically record your experience along the way with the intent of making an info product out of it.

[21:46] Mike: Yeah and again, this isn’t about pitching or positioning yourself as an expert in the field. It’s really about positioning yourself as somebody who is capable of teaching other people. And as long as you have a message that you can put together that’s clear and people can easily understand it, people are going to be willing to pay for it. And that leads to another point which is when people are looking around for information on the internet, you’re sure they can go and find free information all over the place.

[22:15] I mean if you want to start a business for example, there’s tons and tons of free information out there but there are still people who go out and buy books on how to build a company and how to build a startup and why did they do that? And it’s because that information is complied in a way that is easy for them to consume and has theoretically been have a lot of people look at it and provide feedback and get it to a quality level that’s acceptable for general consumption. Don’t be afraid to put a price on any sort of info product that you’ve put together.

[22:43] Dave: So speaking of pieces and info product I want to share an idea that Nathan Barry actually did and it was part of his talk at MicroConf. He has essentially one product and that’s his various eBooks. But in addition to the eBook, he added on additional let’s call them value services here. So he’s got the eBook itself and then he’s also got an audio version of the eBook and then he’s also got product videos that go with it and some additional resources and instead of just offering the eBook by itself, he’s offered the things at various priced tiers.

[23:21] So you’ve got sort of the value driven eBook for just the people that want the bare bones and then somebody wants a little bit more, they get the eBook with the audio and some screen cast that go along with that. And then for somebody who wants sort like the Grandpre package, they get the audio book, the eBook, the screen cast and all the additional resources that go along with that and they’ve got this great set of price points where you can really actually increase the overall value of what it is you’re offering. So even if you started with an info product, you can actually increase the value as you’re going along by finding ways to create these value adds to it.

[24:01] Mike: Another way to do that is through a simple licensing trick and I think that Patrick McKenzie was the first one that I saw to do this but I know that Nathan Barry does this as well. But essentially it’s charging more for the same products for a slightly different license that allows them to distribute the products within their company. So with Patrick McKenzie, he has an email course where I think he doubled the price if you want to download it and put it on an internal company server and share it with the people in the company. Otherwise you just get like a single license for one person. It’s almost like buying multiple copies of the book for everybody in the company.

[24:38] Well, with that other license you can download the stuff, host it on an internal company server and then anybody in the company can view it. All it is a simple please use this license if you’re going to save it to an internal server and make it freely available for everybody in the company. So that’s definitely another way that you can drive the price point up without doing a heck of a lot of extra work. So let’s talk about how do you go about delivering these types of products? What sorts of methods have you used in the past to distribute like your WordPress plug-ins and your book for example.

[25:21] Dave: Well for me, obviously being a WordPress guy, WordPress was sort of a natural fit for the sites that that I’m actually distributing them on. So I have WordPress based sites that I use WordPress plug-ins that are shopping carts and digital download managers and even in the case of my website buyers guide, there as PDF delivery plug-in on there that I added to that. And then I also added on affiliate programs to those as well. So those are all things that are managed through WordPress plug-ins. You drop them in, configure it a little bit, throw a theme on it and you’ve got yourself kind of a website in a box sort of minimal effort. But that’s certainly not the only thing that you can do. What are some things that you’ve actually done or seen other people do Mike?

[25:56] Mike: For my Altiris training site, I have it integrated into Wistia and I’m just taking credit cards and sending them through stripe. And then once they’ve paid for it, then they get access to the rest of the site and they can view the videos. But other things that I’ve seen people use are Gumroad for example, e-junkie is another one. And then fetchapp and pulley are two others that are similar in that they basically allow you to take your content. You upload it and they will handle a lot of the front end shopping cart so that you don’t have to. And then some of them are monthly fees, some of them just charge you for hosting files or they’ll take a percentage of the sales.

[26:35] So there’s a lot of different services out there that will do it for you if you don’t want to go down the road of setting up your own WordPress site or integrating into stripe. Gumroad is one that I’ve heard a lot more and more lately. But again, there’s a lot of different options out there for people.

[26:48] Dave: Sure, you can also publish it on amazon.com directly if you wanted to. I know a few people that have tried that route as well.

[26:55] Mike: Yeah. I forgot about that. Amazon has their own digital publishing services. So if you wanted to go the route of actually having a physical book, they have an on demand print service that you can use. There’s other publishers other than Amazon that have an on demand model as well.

[27:11] Dave: Right.

[27:12] Mike: I think the last thing we want to talk about today is what source of limitations are you placing on yourself by going down the road of an info product or plug-in?

[27:21] Dave: Well, I think the one thing that is the most limiting of going either those routes is that because you are not going to a recurring revenue model right away that you’re constantly in this I’ve got to keep selling it mode. So you’re always going out there every month starting from scratch and having to dig up customers again. Sometimes in some cases you can resell some things to your customers but it’s not like everybody that was a customer last month can be sold to again this month. So that can be kind of grind and ultimately I think that tends to limit the amount of revenue that you can pull out of one of these things on a long term basis

[28:02] Mike: Yeah. And that goes back to the business model itself. It just makes things more difficult when you’re selling any product that is not recurring because you’re essentially starting from ground zero every single month. I mean you’re always starting at zero. It can become a grind after a while. Especially if you haven’t an automated a lot of your marketing efforts. That can be somewhat challenging. I would also think that for different products especially in the info product space, you will probably run into – I’ll say a cap on the maximum revenue that you can pull in from any given product because eventually you would saturate that market.

[28:36] Dave: Yeah, I think it’s not just market saturation you have to be concerned about but I think info products, let’s call it an expiration date on them because whatever it is that you wrote about it, unless it’s like something truly ever green like you write it now and it’s going to be good for the next 10 years I’ve not seen info products that don’t have to be occasionally refreshed like for example my website buyers guide, it’s a couple years old at this point. I probably ought to go in and actually get current screen shorts of Flippa here but I haven’t done that. So that’s something that’s definitely getting a little stale on that book.

[29:10] Mike: That’s definitely a main issue that you have to be aware of for info products they may very well have a shelf life. I can think of a lot of books. That I purchased in the past where I look at them now and even though it may have seemed evergreen at the time, things have changed enough that they are not necessarily as relevant anymore. So that’s definitely an interesting point to me.

[29:30] Dave: I mean that’s going to be true regardless of the kind of product that you have. I think it’s just very, very poignant on info products. The applicability of that product to a given market not taking into account saturation is definitely going to decay over time whereas if you’re still providing value with a SaaS application, as long as you continue to deliver that value on day 1, day 365, day 730, it’s not going to be as difficult.

[29:58] Mike: Well, cool. So I hope that this has given listeners a good idea of what the advantages and tradeoffs of going for a plug-in or an info product versus a SaaS product. One thing that I think has become more mainstream is to build an info product upfront before you build a SaaS product so that you can get a lot more in depth knowledge about a particular market and then use that as a launching point to build a SaaS product around where that info product is.

[30:28] One of the people that I’ve seen kind of leverage this technique and probably the one I’ve seen leverage it the best is Nathan Barry with his authority book where it’s a book on self publishing and he uses a lot of the ideas from publishing his first two books and he uses that information and shares it with people in his book called Authority. Then he also has a software product called convert kit which is also aimed at people who are doing self publishing. So essentially what he’s doing is he’s creating an overlapping market where he’s got an info product that kind of leads into a SaaS application and then I think that Brandon Dunn also does this with some of his products around plant scope and his info product double your freelancing rate.

[31:13] Dave: Absolutely. Yes he does.

[31:16] Mike: I’ll say it’s starting to become a trend. It is certainly not a bad trend to follow. If you can get an info product out there very, very quickly and the use that to learn enough about a particularly market or use it to gage interest in that particularly market, you can leverage that information to build a SaaS app around it or you can use it as a determining factor to decide not to build a SaaS app because again, building that SaaS app is going to be a very major investment of time, energy and resources and it may not be worth it. And just building that info product could be enough to tell you whether or not it’s going to be worth it or not.

[31:51] Dave: Absolutely and in fact just building that info product does a couple of things. I mean it allows you to sort of dip your toes into the water of how do I market this thing? How do I handle the sales? Are there support issues I’ve got to deal with? I mean sort of like baby steps to the real thing. Right? Where you’re actually getting experience in running this whole business from end to end. In addition I know that Nathan and Brandon both built their launch lists for plant scope and convert kit using their eBooks as a way to get people’s emails for their future products. So not only are you building that product, but you’re also building an audience to sell a product to.

[32:32] Mike: Yeah, that’s absolutely right. And this is in some ways kind of mirrors what Rob and I have discussed in the past about a latter approach where you build these smaller products that enable you to learn the things that you need to be able to make larger products successful.

[32:47] Dave: Yeah, definitely.

[32:48] Music

[32:51] Mike: I think that pretty much wraps this up for our discussion on plug-ins and info product. If you have question or a comment, you can call it in to our voice mail number at 1-888-801-9690 or email it to us at questions@startupsfortherestofus.com. Our theme music is an excerpt from “We’re Outta Control” by MoOt used under Creative Commons. You can subscribe to us in iTunes by searching for startups or via RSS at startupsfortherestofus.com where you’ll also find a full transcript of each episode. Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next time.

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7 Responses to “Episode 157 | How to get started with info products and WordPress plugins”

  1. Hey guys. I just discovered your podcast on iTunes last week and have been loving the content. This episode was so timely for me as I’m just weeks away from launching my first premium WordPress plugin.

    I have a question on plugin licensing. Can you recommend a system/software/plugin that generates software licenses (codes) for users to copy and paste into my plugin to activate it?

    I’m considering wpactivate but would love to hear your recommendations first.

    Thanks again for the awesome podcast content.


  2. Sorry guys. Another related follow up question.

    I like the idea of giving plugin for free and then having users but modules from within the plugin to activate them. Any suggestions on how to implement that. Would users buy a module from within the plugin? Would they enter a code they received after purchasing to enable that specific module? Is there a software module that I can integrate into my code to manage this.

    Thanks again!


  3. Hi Hani,

    Thanks for your kind words.

    I’m not using that kind of system with my plugins so I can’t comment but WP-Activate might be a good solution for you. I will say that license servers in general have been a long-standing headache and customers/developers generally hate them alike. They can be a support nightmare.

  4. http://www.startupsfortherestofus.com/episodes/episode-157

    Dave – Thanks for the shout out to my plugin!

    For other folks interested, here’s my free and paid plugins following the “freemium” model Dave mentioned.


    Hani – I use Easy Digital Downloads plus the Software Licensing add-on to both deliver the plugin and generate/manage license keys.


    I use a handful of other add-ons to EDD as well (Stripe, Mailchimp, etc.)

    Gumroad wouldn’t be bad to deliver the plugin, but there’s not licensing involved there.

    Academy member John Turner has a SaaS that he’s working on to provide this service, but it’s not released yet.


    As for add-on plugins to an existing free “base” plugin, I would look at EDD itself, WooCommerce, and Dave’s http://awpcp.com/ for examples.

  5. This just in!

    Resource on how to get started building plugins: http://wpsessions.com/sessions/building-wordpress-plugins/

    Technical nitty gritty details from guys that work at WP.org.

  6. Hey Dave and Phil,

    Thanks for your feedback on the licensing options for wp plugins. We decided to go ahead with activatewp.

    We launched last Friday and we had reached our goal of 100 paying customers in less than 24 hours, without any hiccups on the licensing server (keeping fingers crossed) 🙂

    Integration into our plugin itself was as simple as adding a new PHP file then adding two lines of code to our plugin.

    Integration into the members area was also simple since the licensing server is a plugin you install on the members area site and you paste a shortcode to display the users license code on any page.

    Overall, we are very happy with it.

    Just wanted to report back to everyone.

    Thanks again!