If you are in the market for a good WordPress plugin for your site – chances are, you plan to start your search with the WordPress.org directory. After shortlisting a few plugins, you might then do some research about the reviews, support, updates, number of downloads and a host of other such factors. And then, if you still have the energy, you will go on to wade through all the premium plugin reviews out there on WordPress blogs. All of this might only serve to confuse -instead of helping you to decide. Sounds exhausting, doesn’t it?
The best place to start, the beginning. Tell us about your life before WordPress and after WordPress ?
My professional life before WordPress was one primarily of building websites and tools for clients and their clients. I had a little shop for selling HTML templates before WordPress was created. I also sold a few products not related to web design (and still do) but mainly I was rolling my own little PHP-based CMS for clients to be able to update pages. It was very basic.
My life after WordPress is one of developing themes and plugins. WordPress isn’t what got me away from working for clients but it might have kept me from going back to that type of work. It’s great to be able to make a living with WordPress. I prefer to help people use WordPress to build a website than to build it for them. WordPress empowers people.
How did you zero in a niche set of themes – i.e. Church Themes ?
I became more interested in WordPress a few years ago when I saw the variety of themes that were available — not just for blogs. That inspired me to make ThemeSorter in 2010 to help people find them. It was exciting to see so many different categories fill up but I abandoned the site in 2012 to give a shot at making themes myself. I imagined it to offer more reward for the labor.
ThemeForest rejected a school HTML template I made (rightfully so) so I tried a portfolio template and they approved it. I then turned that into a WordPress theme but it didn’t sell a ton so I thought I’d try another niche. As a Christian and now a WordPress theme developer I was excited to see that church themes on ThemeForest were few, but that all of them were selling well. So, I made Risen.
With the success of Risen I could see that there was room in the market for better and more church themes. I bought churchthemes.com and spent the better part of a year developing a content plugin and framework for church themes that are now used by other church theme developers. The store is powered by Easy Digital Downloads and their Software Licensing add-on. ThemeForest is great for marketing but selling outside of their marketplace has its benefits, the greatest of which is freedom.
You seem to have your fingers in many pies – tell us how you manage your time ?
I do and it’s for better and worse. I don’t like keeping all my eggs in one basket so that’s the good part but the bad part is being stretched thin. I’ve had to learn to give the hatchet to some projects, even if they are profitable (like ThemeSorter) in order to focus on what is more productive.
I have a few strategies for managing my time:
- Go to bed early (never after 10:00 pm) and get started early
- Aim to finish distracting tasks like email and support before 10:00 am
- Reserve time after that for projects (5+ hours daily)
- Limit administrative and marketing tasks to Mondays
- Say no to unproductive activities like Twitter and personal blogging
- Use the SelfControl app to force myself to forsake unproductive activities
- Outsource and delegate — something I’m beginning to learn
It’s a constant challenge to make the most of my time, as I’m sure it is for most business owners.
I know it is a little bit like asking to choose your favourite child – but which project is your pet project ?
churchthemes.com is my priority but Pro Plugin Directory is a side project that I enjoyed launching recently. While selling and supporting church themes is my main gig, I have high hopes for Pro Plugin Directory as well as HostingReviews.io. They will both benefit from more attention so I’ll be blocking out some time to try and take them to the next level this summer after I launch the next church theme.
ProPluginDirectory is an ambitious project – how was it born ? How long did it take you to launch it ?
Sometimes I look for plugins and don’t find what I want. I thought that it’d be great if there was something like the WordPress.org plugin directory that included all of the plugins that are not found there — paid plugins. I estimate there are thousands of commercial WordPress plugins. Google is not always great for finding them so I asked some WordPress people if they know of a directory. Since there apparently was none, I decided to make it.
I was so excited about the idea that it only took about a week to setup. You know how when you’re excited, you work faster? I’m not sure how that works, but it’s true. I’ve never launched a project this fast. It usually takes months. I can give a lot of credit for that to it being powered by great plugins (namely, Easy Digital Downloads) and a great theme (Checkout by Array) which was straightforward to child theme.
There is a lot of work yet to be done, so it was actually launched as a work in progress. I tend to want all the details perfect before launching something but I’ve begun to realize, thanks to others sharing their experience, that it is usually better to put out what you have earlier than later and improve it as it picks up steam and users give you feedback. I’ve had very helpful feedback and I’m taking notes.
How do you approve / reject plugins ? What is the key ingredient you look for ? Any advice that you have for potential plugin developers looking to get their plugin onto your directory ?
The guidelines are pretty simple. If someone follows them, their plugin is almost certain to be listed. I haven’t rejected a single one so far that follows the guidelines. A plugin must have a paid element, it must be 100% GPL-compatible and the submission must contain at least two paragraphs of original content.
If there is a problem with the submitted content, I ask for an update then approve. If the problem is with licensing then the listing is rejected (but even CodeCanyon sellers can opt for 100% GPL licensing). You can see how these simple guidelines will help maintain a quality directory.
I encourage premium WordPress plugin authors to submit their plugins. It’s very easy to do and they’ll want to be on board when this thing takes off. Hundreds of visitors are already rolling in daily and I’m confident it can be increased to thousands. That’s what I’m working towards.
Do you plan to introduce a fee from buyers for recommending a plugin ? Or from developers for listing their plugin ?
Nope, the plan is for it to be free for both buyers and sellers. It has to be freely available to become big, which is necessary for making it useful (lots of plugins to find).
There are several options for monetizing the site that will keep submitting and viewing listings free for all. A natural fit is affiliate links. Another option might be sponsored listings. Another could be display advertising. Using a combination may be best. However it’s done, it will be done in a mild and tasteful form. I will evaluate options for monetization after the site has proven itself to be useful.
It’s still very early in the game so the priority right now is building it up and getting it to a point where it can sustain itself in terms of traffic and submissions. Once that point is reached, it should be ripe for monetizing, which will open the doors for new features.
This should be easy enough – your favourite plugin ? Maybe one you wished you had come up with yourself ?
Easy Digital Downloads is my favorite plugin because I couldn’t run churchthemes.com without it. Pippin and his crew are absolute professionals. They not only appear to have figured out the secret to a 36-hour day but their innovation is apparently boundless.
Second place would go to WordPress SEO by Yoast. It provides functionality that every website needs but that WordPress itself does’t provide out of the box and it is very easy to use. It’s also free.
I don’t wish I had come up with either of these plugins because they are both beyond me. Kudos to the folks behind them for making them happen.
Tell us some lesser-known fun facts about you
My first website at age 13 was about a computer game involving classic cars roaming the desert southwest with roof-mounted weaponry. You wouldn’t be asking me these questions right now if I didn’t pick up a copy of Interstate ’76 to play on my Mom’s beige 0.09 GHz PC back in ’97. That website led to all of my other work on the web.
I also once sold storm footage to The Weather Channel.
You catchup with Steven Gliebe on Twitter