I needed to write this article as I wanted your opinion. Are plugins suitable for advertising?
Now first of all I have seen many uses of plugins and themes that I do not approve of. Here are few examples.
- Theme or plugin automatically inserts their blog link to your blogroll. You would be surprised how many plugins and themes do this without even asking you.
- Theme or plugin is adding a nag notice in your administration panel. Bad boy.
- Theme or plugin is changing your dashboard. Usually by adding the contents of their blog feed. I am not 100% sure about this one but I lean towards the opinion that the user should be asked first. I would if I was to change someone's home.
- Theme or plugin is printing out a link to a website. In this case if the link is related (theme home page, support forum, author page) definitely yes but in some cases the plugin or theme will print out an affiliate link or a link to a site with questionable quality. Again very naughty.
The problem here is that these actions usually happen without you approving them. They will not even tell you anything about in the readme file (Hey, we are going to do this and this on our own we hope you are fine about it). They do it in a sneaky way. Bad.
How to do it without hurting anyone's feelings (almost!)
What I have done in almost all of my plugins is to have a menu on the plugin options page. I felt this was non intrusive and would be shown only when people are generally interested in the plugin (when they opened it's options page).
This menu will show helpful links to plugin support forum, plugin rating on WordPress.org, plugin home page, my other plugins and also links that can be marked as commercial - the Paypal donate button (I am not one of those who made a fortune on donations) and a link to my services page (which did bring people genuinely interested in my services).
The same goes with my themes, the footer link in the theme pointing back to my site is a common practice and I also approve of this (you are at least getting something back for the work).
However in several occasions I noticed how angry people can get even with these practices.
Once I was changing the above shown menu ( I was adding prettier icons, changing the links..) and after the plugin update has been made this comment appeared on wordpress.org forum:
This guy keeps pouring "updates" just for the sake of showing us his newest donation images and other advertisements in his back-end. What does this improve for actual users? NOTHING! Man, this sucks - heavily!
Now he did not get any approval from other forum members or anything that would really make me worry about my thinking but the amount of 'hatred' expressed really upset me.
There we have plugin authors who are putting their work out for everyone, for free, so others can have better sites and people are still not satisfied. They are angry because it is too hard to press the upgrade plugin link. There is something wrong with that.
Plugin advertising idea
Having written a book on WordPress plugin development is one of the best experiences I have had recently. Not just for publicity but the sheer enjoyment of having created something that will actually outlast me.
So I was thinking about my plugins and using them to promote the book. Can it be that all that plugin development could pay for itself if I used it now as a base to promote the book?
What happens if I add one more link to the options menu, that will say something like 'Learn to create cool plugins like this' and link it to my book page.
Here is the simple scenario.
My total plugin downloads are in the 500,000 area (official WordPress.org figures). That's not a small number, and more than a year of work stands behind it.
Let's say that quarter of the users will upgrade the plugins (some are lazy, some don't mind having old version, some are using older versions of WP). That's 125,000.
Lets say that of those who upgraded 10% will check again the plugin options page. That's 12,500.
And let's say 5% will notice/be actually interested in learning to create plugins. That's 625 users checking my book page.
How many will buy? Hard to tell, 5%-10% seems to be realistic. So I sold between 30-60 books.
The effort to actually update all of my 15 plugins actually outperforms the revenue I will get from these actual sales (we are talking maybe $200 here). Hm, I might just write this rant instead. Hate to leave it without a final conclusion, hopefully you can help me reach one.
- New WordPress forum
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Posted in: WordPress
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