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Transparency Reports

Transparency Report of June 2021

Sharing lots more stats from my mailing list, website analytics, and Freemius dashboard. Custom designs documented, printed manual on its way, and WPCampus presentation is a-go!

This is the 27th monthly report for Print My Blog (PMB) WordPress plugin. Check out the new stats!

What Happened This Month

Plugin Stats

Lots of releases this month so lots of spikes
Active install growth actually stopped these last 2 weeks. Ouch. Freemius acquired some details about why that was.

These other stats are new. I haven’t thought to include them before, so I’ll share some catch-up stats from the previous year too for each of them.

Mailing List Stats

Stats from my MailChimp mailing list.

Last Year

Email list growth over the last year. Big jump of about 100 subscribers in May 2021, when Freemius integration added on WordPress.org. The June 2021 stat shows email list at the start of the month, which is weird MailChimp.

Last Month

Email list growth in June 2021, up about 150 more subscribers.

Website Visits

Stats from my site’s Koko analytics (don’t need no Google Analytics, thank you!)

Last Year

Website visits June 2020-June 2021. I think you can see a definite increase over the past two months especially (thank you retweeters and sharers!)

Last Month

Website visits in June 2021. Some of the spikes were from getting featured on wpmail.me, some were from sending blog updates to the now-much-bigger email list.

Freemius Stats

Freemius gathers other stats about sales and sites using the plugin.

Last Year

Before June 2021 had nearly $800 in sales and a few other stats.
113 new active installs and 161 users opted into Freemius’ data collection before June 2021. 40 folks uninstalled (for every 4 users that opted in, 1 user deactivated)

Last Month

During June 2021 had nearly $400 in sales.
203 new active installs and 395 users opted in Freemius’ data collection during June 2021. 176 uninstalled (for ever 2 users that opted in, 1 user deactivated). That has been a significant loss.

Business Stats

  • Hours:
    • 103.25 (+2) support
    • 149.25 (+8) marketing
    • 377 (+10) development
    • 62 (+0) management
  • Expenses (Opportunity Cost): $25,686.55 (+$678.30)
  • Expenses (Out-of-pocket) $105(+$15)
  • Income: $2,003 USD (+367.63)

Plugin Stats

Overview of What’s New

The Details

Documented Custom Designs

One of the payers this month was asking about several features that really require writing custom designs, so I finally added a section to the user guide all about making more advanced custom designs. It will probably be pretty dry for most users, but for folks familiar with web design, I think it’s pretty cool. It lets them use familiar tools for a totally new application: print design.

The documentation also includes 3 new add-on plugins that extend PMB Pro:

The use-case custom designs don’t yet serve very well is when a designer wants to just reuse an existing design, but just add some custom fields, like from ACF.

What possibilities do custom designs open up? Basically any of the samples documents provided by Prince are possible with PMB Pro. Feast your eyes on some of their samples…

Got a cool design you wonder is possible with PMB Pro? Please ask me about it!

Printed Manual On Its Way

I finally compiled the user guide, a few posts and pages, and a few extra print materials into a printed book: the PMB Pro Manual. I wrote a tutorial all about it. I sent it for printing with lulu.com for pretty cheap (almost 200 pages, and printing costed about $8 plus shipping). I want to look it over myself before sending it to the business users. But the digital manual is available although I do want to do some more proof-reading of it before I deliver it to all the Founding Members, Pro license holders and Business license holders.

General Release Promotion a Dud

Last month I started a promotion for the release of PMB Pro onto WordPress.org. It was 50% any lifetime deals, and lifetime deals are 3x yearly, so you could upgrade from 1 year to a million for 50% more.

I put notices about it on my website (a banner at the top), a notice for it in the plugin’s welcome and upgrade screen, and on the Pro Print page inside the plugin. But I didn’t get a single person who used it (or bought a lifetime license during that period.)

There were a couple sales during that time (one of which was refunded a week later because PMB Pro doesn’t support giant printouts yet), and a few more annual license purchases after the promotion ended. So it’s not like there’s absolutely no interest. I think folks just weren’t sold enough on PMB Pro yet to want to commit for a lifetime, even though it was only a little bit more than the annual license.

A Million Pingbacks from David!

One of the founding members, Prof. David Simpson, is up to some serious blogging, getting going on using PMB Pro, and linking to my posts, which is triggering a lot of pingbacks. I really appreciate the buzz he’s generating for PMB with his readers. You can’t pay for help like that!

WPCampus Presentation Accepted!

I just got an email saying Hugh McGuire (Pressbooks CEO) and I’s proposed presentation for WPCampus 2021 got accepted! Just trying to finalize some details (it seems their system is kinda setup to have a “primary” and “secondary” presenter, but I’d really like for us to be considered co-presenters. I admit I’ve taken more of the initiative on it and have done more of the footwork, but Hugh has a way better resume, and I really don’t want to belittle his way bigger, way more legit contribution. Anyways, that’s coming up September 21-22.

Thinking Out Loud

Way Bigger Email List but Slowdown in Active Installs

As you can see from the new stats: my email list has exploded, but active installs growth has slowed down. I think these are related.

When folks upgrade to version 3.1 or higher of PMB, Freemius removes PMB’s admin pages until the user either opts in or out of their data tracking. At that same time, they also choose to opt into the email list or not. I don’t think this is outrageous, but it is certainly more aggressive, which is quite polarizing: 150 of the 700 new PMB 3+ users opted into the email list, 176 decided to deactivate the plugin.

Active versions at the end of June 2021, showing 47.7% of 4,356 active installs (2,077) sites are now in version 3+ which introduced Freemius integration. At the end of last month it was at 30.6% of 4,390 active installs (1,343). So there were around 700 more sites that upgraded to the version with Freemius in June 2021.

Freemius’ deactivation survey is a little helpful to me, but it’s not too pushy (folks can just click to “Skip”, or select a reason but not give any explanation).

I’m looking for a trend in the deactivations. 26% of deactivations said it was just temporary (oh really?) 16% said they “expected something else” (only 4 said exactly what that was, two of which mentioned a feature PMB Pro added), 9% said “other” (and then usually mashed the keyboard), and then it’s a pretty long tail which mostly seems to add up to folks either found it confusing, couldn’t get it to work, or had an unspecified problem.

My guess is that usability was the problem, and I admit although PMB Pro adds a ton of nice new features (many of which are free) folks can’t find them or are getting confused and giving up.

Having said that, the big email list is actually kind of a problem now. I will soon have over 500 contacts on my list, and if I were to switch to MailChimp’s paid “Standard” plan I’d be in the $50/month category, which is a bit steep right now.

I also suspect folks don’t like that PMB has a business plan now, rather than continuing my original hopeful “just supported by donations”. I think they’re afraid they’ll get spammed, which is understandable. Still, from my perspective having a business plan is a good thing: I have a financial incentive to maintain the plugin. But most users probably don’t see it that way.

Is the Price Right?

One of the deactivation surveys said my prices are ludicrous. I admit they are higher than many of the most popular themes and plugins, or many you can find from Theme Forrest. But they are competitive with many of the competing services (PressBooks and Designrr especially.) What’s more I am also wary of the effect where cheaper users are often more onerous to support. So I think I’ll be pinging Freemius’ CEO Vova Feldman for pricing advice again (he said to follow up after a couple months sales). Right now my conversion rate is actually 2.4% for June, which is pretty well the average.

What’s Next?

Lots of ideas have been swirling in my head:

  • getting the print and digitals manuals out
  • moving off MailChimp to something cheaper
  • supporting ACF users better (maybe I’ll ping their Facebook group for feedback)
  • ePub support
  • bulk adding content to projects (rather than dragging each post individually)
  • adding more premium designs (eg a research paper design and a design with 4 levels of nesting/grouping.

The last 4 items were all brought up by paying users so I feel like those are valuable features. The first two items are, however, important housekeeping.

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