I’ve always appreciated open source projects that do a year end summary. Before launching WP Fusion, it was posts like Pippin Williamson’s year end reviews that gave us a lot of insight into how to start a WordPress plugin business, and also explained many of the challenges involved and how to overcome them.
We launched WP Fusion in January of 2015, so we’re coming up on our fourth year (🎂!). 2017 was the first year where we had enough data to create a meaningful year-end review, so I’ve collected as much of it as I could, and am presenting it here— to help our customers understand what we’re working on and where we’re headed, and also so others in the community can get a better sense of what it’s like to create and maintain a commercial plugin like WP Fusion.
Let’s get started!
Up until this year, WP Fusion was almost entirely built and supported by myself. In January, we brought on Stan Stempniewicz as a full time intern. Stan came in knowing almost nothing about programming or web design, but with a real appetite to learn. Within about six months he was able to begin creating plugin integrations on his own, including creating our Ultimate Member 2.0, WishList Member and Tribe Events / Tickets integrations. He also built our CRM integration for Mautic, and is working on an integration for Nimble CRM.
In addition to expanding an optimizing our existing feature set, we added new integrations for the following plugins:
- WP Courseware
- Toolset CRED
- Formidable Forms
- Ultimate Member 2.0
- Simple Membership
- Tribe Events / Tickets
- WooCommerce Bookings
- WP Execution Plan
We also extended WP Fusion to support Mautic, Intercom, and Salesforce, and we’re currently working on CRM integrations for Nimble and MailerLite. The Ecommerce Add-on was also updated to include support for Ontraport, Drip, and AgileCRM.
Let’s look at some numbers! In 2016, our revenue was $44,725. For 2017, I’m happy to say we’ve grown this by 204% with a total revenue of $91,266, and 319 sales.
Of that, $16,323 were license renewals, $2,408 were license upgrades, and $72,535 were new customers.
Our best months were in July and November. In 2017, for the first time, we decided to try out offering a 30% discount for Black Friday / Cyber Monday. This turned out very well, with 30 new customers, and $7,078 in sales over the four day sale period.
In 2017 we had a total of 1,272 support tickets, with 2,404 messages received. 49% of support tickets were resolved on the first reply. The average response time for all tickets was 4 hours and 46 minutes, while the average first response time for new tickets was 2 hours and 29 minutes.
I’m super happy about these metrics. I’ve used a lot of premium WordPress plugins over the years and the biggest differentiator is the ease of contacting support and the amount of time it takes to get a problem resolved. We’re going to try and match or improve upon these numbers in 2018.
This year felt like the first year where WP Fusion stopped being a side project and could finally stand on its own. I’ve slowed down taking on other projects, and now spend about 80% of my time on WP Fusion. The extra room to breathe has meant I can spend more time focusing aspects outside of just development, like community building, marketing, and growing our team.
But we still have a ways to go. Right now I’m the only one who knows the plugin inside and out, so the vast majority of support tickets fall to me. I’d like to bring on a couple more people over the next year and try and establish more concrete roles— at least have someone dedicated to support, and marketing / community building. There is a lot of value we could provide in terms of tutorials, marketing strategies, site setup strategies, etc. that we haven’t yet been able to commit time to, but it’s definitely something I’d like to explore.
This year we’re going to focus on bringing WP Fusion to more CRMs and marketing automation platforms. Almost every week we get a support inquiry asking if we support a certain platform, and often it’s one I’ve never even heard of. New marketing automation platforms are launching at an incredible pace, and we’d like to support as many as possible to give our customers the flexibility of choosing a system that matches their needs, their industry, and their budget.
We’ll be launching an integration for Nimble in the next few weeks, followed by MailerLite. We’re also looking at ConvertFox. It’s new, and doesn’t have an API available yet, but once it does we’re ready to jump on it.
Along with new features and integrations, we’re also creating a series of video tutorials for WP Fusion and our various integrations, to help new customers learn how to use the plugin without having to read through many pages of documentation. We’d also like to simplify some of our messaging for people who are interested in WP Fusion, but might have a hard time grasping how it can solve their particular problems.
Fatal Error Notify / ErrorWire
Finally, I’m really excited to be launching a new plugin, and a new service with it. Having worked on so many WordPress sites over the years, it’s become clear to me how little transparency there is in the plugin / theme ecosystem. Many times installing a WordPress or plugin update involves crossing your fingers and hoping that nothing breaks.
Even if these updates don’t cause any noticeable problems, they can sometimes break other functionality on your site. Your checkout might stop working, forms might stop submitting, and there’s no way to know until a customer complains. Sometimes a very popular and well made plugin can cause a conflict with something else on your site that the developers could have never anticipated. And sometimes a plugin that hasn’t been updated in years is still reliable, and causes no conflicts at all.
With that in mind, in December we launched a new plugin, Fatal Error Notify, with both a free and a paid version. Our goal is twofold:
- The Fatal Error Notify plugin will notify you whenever something on your site breaks, even if it’s in the background and doesn’t cause any noticeable problems. You’ll get a notification with what plugin / theme file caused the error, the severity of the error, and have the ability to either edit the offending file or deactivate the plugin (or pause notifications for that issue).
- We’ll ask you to opt in to anonymously send these error reports to us. We’ll collect them all in a browsable tool at errorwire.com (under construction). As the data is collected, we’ll be able to identify possible conflicts between plugins and themes before you even install them. If an update causes a known incompatibility with something on your site, we’ll advise you, and you can skip that update until the problem is resolved. The site will also score plugins and themes, and each version, based on the number of reported errors.
We still have a lot of work to do, but I think this will be a great service for the WordPress community. We can help site owners identify problems before visitors or customers notice, and help to make the developer community more accountable by having all of the data publicly accessible.
Sign up at the bottom of fatalerrornotify.com if you’d like to keep updated on our progress.
Thanks to all of you for supporting WP Fusion and contributing so many great ideas in 2017. Here’s to another year together!
— Jack Arturo