How Print My Blog Got Started

In 2018 I, Michael Nelson, was working for Event Espresso and started a local WordPress meetup. One day, someone at the WordPress meetup asked how to print web pages from your browser without having the images get cut in half across page breaks.

I made a short video explaining a trick to do that. But I began to realize this was a problem many folks have, and it’s mostly ignored by most web developers today.

I had previously been blogging for a few years, and had wondered how to best preserve that data, knowing that websites seem to come-and-go. I wrote a post titled The Digital Dark Age & Your Blog which got shared by fellow WordPress meetup attendee, Donna Connolly, who had quite a significant following on her blog.

The solution I came up with was to just make a PDF from my blog, then upload it to Family Search for posterity to read (just like I had uploaded data about my ancestors there).

Anthologize was a plugin that looked like it would accomplish that, but not quite. It just wasn’t setup for handling hundreds or thousands of posts, which I had, and I realized lots of other folks had.

I contributed to Anthologize briefly, but its developer, Boone Gorges, suggested what I wanted was so different it would probably be best to create my own plugin. So, Print My Blog was born, primarily with the purpose of helping preserve our blogs for the future.

Growth of the plugin has been surprisingly steady (although not explosive) as I’ve recorded over the months of transparency reports.

I really enjoyed working on my own plugin (helping customers, building features based on their feedback, reaching out to new potential customers with the improvements) and hoped to do it more full-time. I hoped to fund my time entirely through donations, but despite doing quite well for the plugin’s size, it was never anywhere near enough. Plus, it seemed to get more donations I’d have to employ a lot of strategies that removed all the joy in it (like trying to make people feel bad until they donated). So I decided to create a paid version.

A paid version would also allow me to use paid 3rd-party software (like Prince or DocRaptor) that would allow a lot of cool features that had often been requested (like more control over page margins, a table of contents with page numbers, intelligently rearranging big images to reduce dead space.) So I started working on Print My Blog Pro.

Based on an article from Freemius’ blog by Vito Peleg, I outlined a plan to recruit some “founding members”, work with them to create the first version, then give them a big discount when it was finally released.

The feedback from founding members was very useful, but I admit it took me a lot longer to build it, while receiving their feedback, than I anticipated. It didn’t help that I chose to basically rewrite the entire plugin, then integrate the new with the old. It ended up taking about a year, instead of the 3 months I had planned.

But, as of May 2021, Print My Blog Pro is released for anyone to use and purchase. It’s hardly perfect, but it was great to get it finished, and then be able to iterate and improve it (rather than forever thinking “I’ll release it after I finish just this last thing” over and over again.)

I hope Print My Blog is useful to you, and helps your writing reach wider audiences right now, and helps preserve your writing far into the future.

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