When we first started the WP:inline project (as Rollerblade App) we submitted our plugin to the WordPress directory. It made sense that we should put it in front of everyone using the directory since, well, WordPress users are our target market.
But during our recent rebrand, we decided we wouldn’t submit it. We think the reasons were pretty good ones, so we’ll lay them out below and follow them up with questions you should consider before submitting your premium plugin to the WordPress directory.
It wasn’t getting us much attention anyway.
WP:inline can be described as the following: a visual feedback tool, a project management tool, a communication tool for you to use with your clients. Chances are those terms are not searched very much at all in the WordPress plugin directory, so we did not get to benefit from the ‘Google Effect’. Now, if we were an “SEO Plugin” or something like that, it would be a different story. But in our case, our product did not lend itself to discoverability through the directory anyway.
Room to experiment
We are a startup. We have complex ideas and plans and more potential paths to follow than we really need. But we still need to be able to put these ideas in front of users in order to learn more about what they want and need. We need feedback from real users before anything becomes a real feature. Further, if an experiment goes wrong with an extension in the directory, you better duck to avoid the rogue negative commenters.
Quick pivots and content control
The directory was just one more place we would need to update our product descriptions and sales pitches. In addition to our web site, we already have three browser extension descriptions to update and several social media properties. We like to test different marketing messages very frequently so the more places we have content spread over the web, the more time it takes to test different marketing ideas.
Pricing is hard
SaaS pricing is complex. So complex, that some companies like PriceIntelligently have created SaaS products to help you understand your SaaS products better. It will take some effort and experimentation for us to find the right mix of delivering value for money to our clients and still be able to run a viable business.
There are so many ways we can charge (per project, per user, per ticket submitted) and so many features we could add to a pro version…it’s really mind boggling. We are simply not ready to lock ourselves into what should be free in a WP Plugin directory version yet.
Ok, so maybe we are missing some eyeballs on searches for “Project Management” in the directory. That’s definitely a downside.
And yes, we did have to build our own system for pushing plugin updates to your WordPress dashboard. But we had already built a custom plugin to do that for another project anyway. And there are solutions like Easy Digital Downloads that have support for automatic plugin updates that are not in the directory.
Questions to ask yourself
So surely, there are great advantages to submitting to the directory. But there are some questions that you should ask and answer honestly before you submit it. Here are a few:
- Is my product reliable enough? (Don’t wait until it’s bug free – that will never happen).
- Is the sign up and set up smooth and clear enough that users will know what to do right away? (There has to be something that happens right after installation to guide your users.)
- Might I make dramatic changes to the functionality or direction of the product that would be difficult to explain to users who have already invested their time in it?
- Might I make dramatic changes to the pricing structure or free vs paid features that would render it useless for large numbers of people?
- Does my product lend itself naturally to being discovered in the WordPress directory? Will it be lost among similar competitors? Will people even find it based on their search terms?
You could cost yourself a poor reputation no matter how great your product is, if you get even one of these wrong.
If you have a premium plugin, we’d love to hear how you dealt with this decision.