12 Comments

  1. fredclaymeyer

    Great article! There’s been a lot of discussion in the community recently about the general expectation that everything in WordPress will be free or cheap, from theme and plugin pricing to developer rates. The sheepish “Am I really a business?” feeling seems closely related.

    In my opinion the more we’re able to stick our chest out and say, “I built this, it solves a pain point for a large audience, and it costs money: It’s a business” (or a startup), the more we can shake off the sheepish/cheapish attitude and aura that get in the way of our work as WordPress professionals.

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    • Miroslav Glavić

      The main issue is the over-inflated egos of many members of the WordPress community who think their first plugin/theme/etc…will be $1,000 and think HE/SHE/IT will dictate what the price is. If no one buys things from you then your price is useless.

      Please note that my comment is not directed at anyone specific.

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    • Peter Suhm

      Very true. The fact that it is WordPress is not the most important point. Sell it as a solution to a pain point, not a “plugin for WordPress”.

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  2. kakoma

    Building a repeatable and scalable business model around a plugin is very possible. As with any start-up that hopes to see it past three birthdays, a strong initial ( almost manic ) focus on a building a good MVP to share for validation by users is a great starting point, something that’s very possible with plugins.
    I agree with Jeff, thinking like a business (and by extension owning the “We are a business” label ) is critical. I disagree slightly with Miroslav – the issue might not be egos; it just might be that, like all start-ups (even outside WordPress), finding a good pricing model is a very sticky issue.

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    • Miroslav Glavić

      Kakoma,

      If you overprice a plugin/theme, I can go somewhere else…whatever functionality your p/t has, I can get the same from other p/t.

      Just like there is Akismet for spam fighting, there is AntiSpam Bee and others. The average person is not going to pay $30 a month for support, or even $100 a year.

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      • tomazzaman

        The average person uses shared hosting.
        The average person thinks “just a few clicks” will get anything done.
        The average person complaints the loudest when free software doesn’t work like they want it to.
        The average person takes most of the support time.
        The average person doesn’t have a clue about the value of a particular solution.
        The average person doesn’t care how awesome the code is.
        The average person doesn’t care about WordPress or GPL.

        The average person is not who you want to target, in any business.

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  3. benjaminlupu

    Thank you for this article. I believe that many WordPress business already consider themselves as startups or at least use tools and best practices of the startup world (like MVP). What I like in your article is that you set a focus on the fact that plugins and themes mechanisms were found to be a very good soil for startups. WordPress has democratized publishing and we may say it has helped doing the same thing for many people regarding startups. This is why WordPress startups can be side projects (in their form) even they have to be startups in their goals and practices (and you’re right to highlight that).

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  4. Mario Peshev

    I usually get goose bumps once I hear “startup”. The term has gotten so trendy now that students and lazy people spending too much time online define themselves as “startup owners” or “in the startup R&D phase of the next big thing”. While there are plenty of incredible startups out there, the lack of too formal definition allows everyone to label themselves as a startup founder once they decide to do something.

    It actually reminds me of the early years of blogging when lots of university students I knew were “Founder/Owner at {myblog.com}”, since that was their huge accomplishment. Or novelists who spend years getting inspiration for their second best-seller.

    Another part of the startup definition (according to Wikipedia) is:

    “The latter implements a well-known existing business strategy whereas a start-up explores an unknown or innovative business model in order to disrupt existing markets, as in the case of Amazon, Uber or Google. ”

    While this is also vague to some extent, it’s more structured compared to “a company, a partnership or temporary organization designed to search for a repeatable and scalable business model”. My definition of startup is a person or a small team focused on growing fast and accomplishing great results in a shorter amount of time. The most important part though is that a startup has a unique selling proposition – a key thing that is truly innovative and groundbreaking, and could affect a large group of people or businesses in one way or another.

    Creating yet another design or web development agency is not a startup if you offer the most generic services in the world.

    That said, a plugin development process is not a startup per se. It’s just building a plugin. On the other hand, if the plugin is truly innovative and has serious impact on a given niche, the founder/team focus on growth hacking, reaching out to the masses, partnering with other teams and integrating various services etc., it is a potential startup that could get traction and gain a massive user base.

    That’s at least my point of view.

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    • Peter Suhm

      Exactly. Building a plugin != building a startup. But treating the process of building the plugin like you would have treated building a startup can make things take off for you!

      I agree with you on most of this. However, I get goose bumps when I hear “growth hacking”! ;-)

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  5. Essekia Paul

    If someone can create good value for the end user and he/she can capture a portion of that value. It’s all that matters. Create value, capture a portion of it.

    Doesn’t matter if its WordPress or SpaceX.

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