First 3 Months of Development, The Marketing and Agony.

It is not 2008 any more. Back in a day, it was easy enough to make something up, upload it to the correct directory and users would take it. That was the story of success of the first version of ConveyThis. This was an after thought project with no clear directive, no clear goal and no monetization strategy. Yes, WordPress was just taking off. Lots of people thought of it as a blogging platform, not a real CMS. But 10 years later, WP had matured into something that no one would expect – the CMS that powers roughly 29% of all world wide web.

New players and developers had flocked in. It is not enough to develop an app, a theme or a plugin, and it would become an overnight success. It is more like a methodical effort now. You need a budget, a right idea, right team and luck with marketing. Relying on the WP directory for your plugin to be discovered is a myth of the past. The directory is so overwhelmed by competing offers, that you plugin would mostly enjoy the 100th spot if it is lucky. It is big business now. Companies sponsor WordCamp events around the world, buy press coverage, buy bloggers and youtube channels – all of that to put their products in front of as many people as possible. These folks already have tons of stellar five star reviews, their product listings already optimized for best SEO in the directory and their FAQ pages ran over all possible questions already, something that a newcomer would have trouble catching up.

So that was the story of the second re-incarnation of ConveyThis. We took this idea back in 2008 as a simple “add this” type of Javascript widget (Borrowed this idea from: http://www.addthis.com )that would unite all machine translators and allow website visitors to translate web pages into any language free of charge and instantly. The service was new and we didn’t have any competitors in that marketplace. However, since WordPress was never conceived as a commercial CMS in 2008, and we were busy working on the main project (this was a side one), we really didn’t want to put more into it rather than what it was. Conveythis was a steady online widget with a loyal base of adopters who never paid a cent to us and used it free for over 10 years.

Then, the 2015 came along. WordPress has changed their directory policies. The plugins began to be screened more rigorously thanks to new editors hired by Dreamhost company. We were accused of wrong doing and the plugin was delisted. We quickly “castrated” the core functionality, resubmitted it, but it never took it back its original glory and popularity. Times have changed. Free plugins are a thing of the past. Only plugins with money can buy a way in and remain sustainable. And we took a note.

Thanks for the army of new ideas, improvements in the technology and overall growth of the industry, we were able to learn new ways for developing the product. Just like chess grandmasters who do not become strong by themselves but rather studying great chess games of their predecessors, we have learnt that was best in website translation industry and chose the new paradigm. Instead of focusing on a free product which we can never monetize; and, therefore, will not be interested to support in the long run fo the lack of motivation, we have decided to try a freemium model based on subscription. It would come with great features free of charge and add pricing only to heavy users.

So far so good. We’ve rolled the new plans, hooked up the credit card and billing processors, but no paying customers had flocked in! In the world of freemium products, paying customers consist of only 1% of total users (if you are lucky, haha!) So, in order to get a first paying customer, you should have at least 100 loyal free users.

We like how other wordpress plugins grow. Their owners brag about their revenues growing every month, how desperately they look to hire new support members and web developers. They all originally started as free products, amassed a critical user base and introduced a premium plans. We sort of started in the wrong way. We introduced the paid plans from the get go. This had turned away most of the people including influencers and early adopters.

It is May 2018, we have developed the most robust version of the software to date (v.2.9 for a record) The marketing machine it ticking. We are going to add more users and continue our journey to convey world’s information. It would be great to have a monetary incentive from it so we could sponsor more events and I could fly a business class, haha. So, the plan for now is to keep it going. Stubbornly improve the product. And spread the word out!

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