This is the 22nd monthly report for Print My Blog (PMB) WordPress plugin.
- 92.25 (+7) support
- 108.25 (+4.5) marketing
- 312 (+11) development
- 50 (+6) management
- Expenses (Opportunity Cost): $20,907.57 (+$1030.05)
- Expenses (Out-of-pocket) $30 (+$15)
- Donations: $963.52 USD (+30)
- Now Making Watermark-Free PDFS!
- Survey 3 Results are Posted!
- 18 Free Founding Members
- Theme Support Added
I’ve started paying for DocRaptor service, got my printmy.blog server code working, and am producing watermark-free PDFs for the initial founding members! So this is an important milestone of things actually fully working. So the technical things work, now what about the financial and marketing aspects? (And I’m sure this isn’t the last I’ve heard about technical challenges though!)
I sent out a third survey to the initial founding members, primarily trying to figure out what pricing would work best. I posted the aggregated results earlier, but wanted some time to analyze it.
In the spirit of transparency: I was initially disappointed with the results. I was surprised how few respondents said they’d be willing to use a monthly subscription (16%), and how little they reported being willing to pay (44% said their max was $10/month which was the smallest option I thought to provide, many others selected “other” and entered a smaller amount).
What billing cycle would you be willing to use?
This was probably because respondents didn’t think they would use Print My Blog a ton. 33% said they make fewer than 1 PDF per month; 40% said they’d use it for one or two a month.
How many paid PDFs do you expect to make each month, on average?
I went into this comparing PMB to Designrr which only has monthly options the cheapest of which is $29/month, which respondents agreed was still far cheaper than actually hiring a designer to assemble a book (42% respondents guessed that would cost over $500).
All the respondents already got a free lifetime license (and they were reminded of that at the start of the survey) so they weren’t saying this in self-interest, but were giving their honest opinions.
One oddity though: many respondents were probably intending to only make one or two PDFs from a site, and then shut it down. So they answered saying they just wanted to pay once. But they indicated they wanted to pay once for a lifetime license, which would be the most expensive option.
Also, I realized after-the-fact that I never specified (because I hadn’t much thought about it yet) whether licenses would be for a single site or many, which was actually an important difference seeing how 72% of respondents said they ran more than 3 websites (I incorrectly assumed most only had one.)
And while I’m very appreciative of the initial found members’ contributions, I realize that if payment were a requirement, not all would necessarily become paying members. In fact, if this were to be profitable, probably not all should become paying members. I frequently see tweets from folks pointing out that you should frequently see people say your prices are too high, and if you don’t, they’re too low. Like the founder of Wordfence, Mark Maunder, pointed out: ironically the lowest paying customers are often the most demanding. So right now it’s helpful to work with the free founding members to try to iron-out all the kinks, but if this picks up steam I need to start shifting my attention to those willing to pay more, and let the folks who can’t afford it just use the free quick print.
It’s turned out that I’ve only handed out 18 free licenses because that’s how many ended up meeting the requirements I initially set out. An overview of my numbers:
- about 150 signups to be founding members
- 96 answered survey 1
- the first 50 became “initial founding members”, who got invited to the facebook group and sent survey 2 and 3
- 18 answered surveys 2 and 3 and redeemed the coupon code
So when I first thought I’d be handing out 50 free licenses, it turned out I was too slow (it’s been about 6 months to release, instead of the 3 I had planned) or the software wasn’t quite what some were interested in.
For a while I’ve known that most WordPress themes don’t do a great job when being printed. This is why I initially wanted PMB Pro to totally ignore the active theme when producing the PDFS, and instead use the chosen PMB design…
But testing from a founding member pointed I might not get off that easy: sometimes blog content contains shortcodes, blocks, and whatever other stuff that depends on the current theme in order to work right. If the theme isn’t being used when making the PDF, it can be missing content.
So I’ve added an option on designs to use the current theme.
I still recommend against enabling this, because so far it hasn’t worked very well. Yes, the content that depends on the theme is showing, but now the theme’s CSS is wreaking all sorts of havoc as it tries to make the design look good for screens when it should look good for print.
I’m thinking of leaving this option, but saying that it either isn’t supported or is only supported for an extra fee.
Survey 3 respondents indicated an equal split between folks who preferred to learn through reading an online manual and watching instruction videos. So I finally started putting together some online instructions, and my Freemius Slack channel friends suggested using a plugin to organize this. I ended up going with BasePress which also uses Freemius.
So far the User Guide only gives an introduction, but I want to add more pages explaining how to use some of PMB’s more advanced features (like using special Prince-specific CSS in designs or creating your own PMB project design just like you would a WordPress theme.)
I want to release to the rest of the founding members ASAP. I want to validate that someone will actually pay something for this, and start getting feedback from paying users.
In harmony with that, I want to make sure potential users understand PMB Pro’s prevalent features, so that they’ll understand its value (eg why they should bother with it instead of copy-and-pasting their posts into Microsoft Word!)
Please let me know your thoughts!