Transparency Reports

Transparency Report of April 2021

PMB Pro Promotion ended, improved javascript rendering, more free features in free, introduced Bulk Pricing and a new homepage and pricing page

This is the 25th monthly report for Print My Blog (PMB) WordPress plugin.

What Happened This Month

No releases to WordPress.og this month so no big surprises…
…the only surprise being two lulls in growth and a spike. It was either a coincidence or somehow PMB got some temporary attention from somewhere. I don’t think the spike or lulls were due to anything I did.

Business Stats

  • Hours:
    • 99.25(+1.5) support
    • 126.25 (+7) marketing
    • 352 (+10) development
    • 61.5 (+2) management
  • Expenses (Opportunity Cost): $23,923.25 (+$742.35)
  • Expenses (Out-of-pocket) $75(+$15)
  • Income: $1,635.53 USD (+493)

Plugin Stats

Overview of What’s New

The Details

Founding Members Promotion Ended

The 70% off promotion ended at the beginning of May. Did I have a +100k product launch? More like $709 (combining this month and last month’s revenue). Still, 2 months of sales has nearly equalled 2 years of donations (and actually about $500 of those donations were from founding members while development of Pro was underway, so that’s a gray area.)

Also, my product launch isn’t totally over. There’s still the release to and announcing it publicly over social media etc. I expect to have another, lesser, promotion shortly.

Improved Plugin Integration Through Browser Rendering

PMB Pro 3.1.0 made a major change: when making a PDF, instead of executing Javascript using DocRaptor (the service that converts HTML to PDF), I’m doing it with the user’s browser (eg Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc).

The new “print page” where the browser gets to execute its Javascript. Clicking “Download Test PDF” sends the fully rendered HTML (after the browser’s Javascript has done its thing) for conversion into a PDF.
A page of a PDF generated using browser rendering. Before 3.1 that colourful chart didn’t appear because it’s actually rendered in Javascript (which DocRaptor couldn’t handle.)

From my testing so far, this works much better with other plugins, especially ones that used Javascript to render content (especially gallery plugins.) DocRaptor’s Javascript worked well enough if you wrote the Javascript by hand for the PDF (like how I have Javascript for creating the table of contents) but it just couldn’t support all the Javascript frameworks and all that. Plus, when it has an error, it just dies (whereas browsers keep trying so often users don’t even realize there was an error).

Ok, Pro Print will Actually be Mostly Free

You may have noticed on the earlier screenshot of the “print page” that there’s a free option to print using your browser. This means free users can use PMB Pro’s project organizer (eg reorganize content, organize into parts, include custom post types, add a title page and table of contents, etc). The only catch is that web browsers generally won’t handle some of the features that really differentiate PMB Pro (like replacing hyperlinks with page references and footnotes, and controlling page margins.)

So I do think free users who want to create a copy for their own records will find this handy because it’s still pretty good. But if they want it to look like a professional document, they’re probably going to want to buy access to those last few features.

The free version of the plugin will point out which features browsers support and which ones they don’t. I hope this will be well-received.

Added Bulk Pricing

Quite a few Founding Members indicated they had several sites they’d like to use Print My Blog Pro on, so I’ve added some bulk pricing to accommodate them better. The pricing basically works out to:

  • buy any 5 licenses for the price of 4
  • buy any 10 licenses for the price of 7
The pricing page now shows the bulk options for 5 or 10 sites.

Are these savings substantial enough? I bet some people would like a license to be usable from unlimited sites, but I’m afraid that would incur just way too much support needs. Each site will often have new plugins which will take more work to support and integrate with Print My Blog Pro. So I’m not comfortable committing to supporting infinite sites on a fixed income.

Centered Content

One new feature I added in April, that might easily be overlooked, was centered content section template, which will vertically and horizontally center the post’s content.

This is especially useful for dedication or copyright page.

Selecting the “Centered Content” Section Template for a project’s dedication page.
On the left is the dedication using “Default Template”, on the right is using “Centered Content”.

New Landing and Pricing Page

I finally added a landing page for that talks about PMB Pro’s features, as well as a pricing page so folks can buy more easily (rather than needing to download it and buy in-app, which some founding members struggled to do.)

Part of the new landing page, describing PMB Pro. There’s a floating window that says “View Pricing or Download for Free” that I added just using HTML and CSS.
The pricing page is pretty simple. Freemius takes care of the payment processing from my website and showing the full payment options.

Thinking Out Loud

Things I Could Have Improved with Product Launch

What would I do differently if I were to launch a new plugin or what could be improved? Well, I hardly achieved “ubiquity” in the WordPress space- I haven’t gotten around to submitting posts to any of the WP news and review blogs. I suppose I’ve had my head down in product development.

I basically ended up rewriting PMB from scratch (although I’ve left the original code in-place as “Free Quick Print” so it’s still usable) which seems to have taken about a year. So the release was way longer than I or the founding members would have anticipated, so I bet a lot of folks lost interest in that time.

Also, I didn’t go for a totally aggressive pricing strategy- instead of only offering the 70% discount for lifetime licenses, I offered it for the yearly and monthly options too. (Most sales were of the yearly option.) Maybe it would have been better to stick to only offering it for the lifetime option.

So if I were to have done it again, I’d do it faster and with more marketing. ie, spent more time at it, which can be tricky to do when you’re bootstrapping… Anyways, we’ll see what changes when the release to happens, probably this month.

Things That Worked Well for Product Launch

I think having a social group on Facebook for users was good. It was energizing for users to interact with others. They provided a lot of great feedback. I’m afraid I could have capitalized on it better by developing the plugin a bit quicker, but oh well. (Also: quite a few people said they weren’t into Facebook, and it’s been a bit of a manual process of approving folks; so in some ways I wish I had created my own BuddyPress network for privacy and automation, but I bet the involvement would have been lower.)

Getting feedback from the initial users has been really helpful. So in the absence of having initial paying users, having initial free users has been a good substitute (although some folks have pointed out that free users probably prioritize different features than paying users.)

I haven’t been super aggresive with the email list, but I have tried to always send a follow-up email or two, which has been good. For example, I didn’t just notify subscribers once about the Founding Members discount, but have sent 4 emails in total specifically about it. All but the last one produced a few sales.

I learned about users’ pricing preferences from the initial users. I originally thought I’d only offer monthly subscription plans, but the Founding Members indicated they weren’t interested in that. Indeed, most of my sales so far have been for the yearly plan, and a few for the lifetime license.

Business Isn’t Fair

I like the autonomy of working for myself, and being involved in all aspects of the business, and I’ve hoped I could do that with Print My Blog and still earn about the same income as working for someone else. But I’m learning that being in business for yourself isn’t as “fair” as working for someone else. There’s no fair wage or guaranteed income (you can work tons upfront with no income at all). No immediate payoffs for work (even if work does pay off, it might not be for months or years). And if you do ever make a living off it, there’s no reason the “fair wage” is what you’ll get―you may earn double or triple (in which case clients might, understandably, become the ones to start complaining about fairness.) Of course, there’s no real way to know if you’ll forever be earning next-to-nothing, or if a big payout is just around the corner. Yes I enjoy starting up a business and working with customers, and it might work out financially someday, but keeping things fair isn’t part of the equation.

What’s Next?

In preparation for releasing on, I want to:

  • update and finish the documentation
  • rewrite the plugin page (readme.txt)
  • include a new update splash page for existing users to upgrade to it (to tell them about the new features, and that the old ones are all still there)
  • try to clarify more what’s free and what’s an upsell in the plugin
  • add a new promotion

Then release! Thoughts and comments welcome.

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