Our plugin celebrates its first anniversary this month. What experience can we share with you?
Quite a few things, all shaped by 30 releases, 25 000 active users (guesstimate), 200 000 downloads and plenty of visits to WordCamps.
At the end of this post, I’ll also cover what to expect in the next 12 months.
Two different user expectations
Free and paying users have been waiting for a quality plugin for newsletters for a while. Both have different expectations.
WordPress users have come to expect lower quality from free plugins: complex user interfaces, little or no support, or relinquished code. It’s not a criticism. It’s rather the nature of a directory of free software, without understating the recent explosion of the Premium.
At the other end of the spectrum, are the customers of online email marketing services. We’re talking about Aweber, MailChimp, Campaign Monitor, MadMimi and Constant Contact. The competition between these players has raised the bar in terms of quality.
Their customers discover an alternative called Wysija, both simple and cheap. They expect the same firepower.
Operating within WordPress gives us a huge advantage. But it’s also our Achilles’ heel. WordPress plugins are affected by plugin conflicts (hello ThemeForest!), WordPress versions, and weird server configurations, not to mention that nearly all popular hosts are blacklisted for sending. It’s not always smooth sailing for our users.
Freemium works on WordPress
This is no secret. What’s there to learn, then? It took us 15 months to become “profitable”, and yet, we guesstimate that 99% of our users are running the free version.
There are 3 good reasons to go Freemium:
- Competitors have free plans, like MailChimp
- Give back to the community
- More users, more feedback
Our Premium customer base needs to grow if we want to slug in the big leagues. Our plan was to first build a solid free plugin, then work on features and services for the Premium. This is the phase we are entering now. Let’s play hardball. You pitch, I’ll swing.
We polled our customers recently on why they purchased the Premium. They felt more compelled to pay to encourage us than to get priority support. Maybe our free support is already too good?
The main reason to buy was our limit of 2000 subscribers. This nearly got us kicked out of the repository and killed our business model. Understandably, we walk on a fine line according to the guidelines. We strongly believe that the plugin and theme repositories should remain totally free. Is it ironic? Not really.
Coupons and affiliation
We’ve shied away from coupons. We already give a completely functional plugin for free. Users seldom pick an emailing solution based on a discount, but rather on user experience and features.
We’ve relied on our users to promote our plugin, and shunned affiliation. It seems to work. How? We point our satisfied users to this page which gives tips on how to promote us.
Word of mouth is slower than blatant affiliation. When it does finally pay off, it’s the best organic SEO.
Could we get more sales from affiliations? Probably so.
If you want to run fast, run alone…
If you want to run far, run together. This African proverb brings you to my following tale.
This past summer, I ran the San Francisco marathon. My first. Two things kept me going when my legs ditched: my jogging partner, a cerebral mathematician at Google, and my mom’s spirit. She was a formidable athlete herself who lost a long battle to cancer 6 years ago.
Wysija is the marathon I’m running with Ben, Jo and Adrien. We’re holding together by a similar determination and faith. We’re in it together, same pace. Our users are like the crowds cheering the runners on.
Coming to this year’s end, yes, we’re tired. Our rhythm has wavered and we’re a bit out of breath. It’s challenging to prioritize tasks with 4 equal partners.
Positives are plenty. We have heated debates, but never yell. We share our mistakes. We adapt to each others’s quirks. We apologize when we screw up. We help each other out. It’s part of going further together.
It’s sincerely a pleasure to share this run with 3 other guys I barely knew before. I’m certain today that we’ll go even further together. I dare say: the best is yet to come.
Pick a better name
Wysija. How do you pronounce it? How do you spell it? What does it even mean?
For the record, it’s an acronym: what you send is just awesome. Like Wysiwyg, which we still have to spell in our heads while we type it on the keyboard, right?
Propose a cooler name and we will take it. We’ve been trying for 3 months ourselves, to no avail. My partner Ben is nearly bald from pulling out his hair.
The next 12 months
We want to grow our user base. We want to make a better product. We’re ambitious.
There are 4 challenges to tackle in 2013:
- Ensure deliverability ourselves. Users blame us when their emails fall in the spam traps. And why wouldn’t they?
- Shorten the configuration time.
- Keep simplicity while adding new features
- Scale the team. We’re hiring. Interested? Get in touch.
What we’re currently working on:
- we’re training a new support staff called Ami.
- 2 new licenses before the end of the year:
- 4 Premiums for $299 / year
- unlimited sites for $599 / year
- form designer with custom fields (gender, phone, etc.). This is a biggy, so it’ll be released in waves.
- better settings for WordPress multisite
This coming weekend
We’ll be relaxing. Talking it real easy. It’s been a long 53rd week!