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Transparency Reports

Transparency Report of August 2022

Negative Growth and Analysis, Tutorial on Creating Microsoft Word Documents, and Thoughts on Contributing

This is the 41st monthly report for Print My Blog (PMB) WordPress plugin, documenting my journey to be fairly compensated for my time and reach 10,000 active installs.


💰 $6,306.49/$35,177.28 (fairly compensated for time)

🖥5,194/10,000 active installs (on-par with other print button plugins)

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What Happened This Month

Plugin Stats

Two spikes from releases this month were pretty low but followed by a few days of higher downloads, so that’s not too interesting.
Totally negative growth in August 😥.

Mailing List Stats

Stats from my MailChimp mailing list.

About 100 new subscribers in August. That’s normal and good.

Website Visits

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

Visits are only up compared to last month, which had a glitch which prevent tracking for a few days. It looks like I’m averaging about 15 visitors a day, whereas in June and earlier (before switching hosts) it was more like 40.

Freemius Stats

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

Sales are up from last month but not where I expected (more like $300/month).
A bit of progress but not as much as last month and not super.
One or two people reported an error, but did so anonymously so I can’t follow up.

Finances and More Plugin Stats

The Details

Negative Growth 😥 in August

This was the first month ever where PMB had not only net negative growth, but negative growth every week. Ouch. About 70 fewer users in August, according to WordPress.org. Freemius, on the other hand, reported 85 new activations and 79 uninstalled and 14 deactivated (so 85 – 79 – 14 = -20). Because I only have around 50 users of the premium version (which sends usage stats to Freemius instead of WordPress.org), the WordPress.org stats are probably more accurate.

So what happened?

I was worried there was a fatal error in the last release from July, but I’ve double-checked and found nothing. Next, I looked at all the deactivation reasons for the month.

The first screen of deactivation reasons for August 2022
The second screen of deactivation reasons for August 2022
The third screen of deactivation reasons for August 2022
The fourth screen of deactivation reasons for August 2022
The fifth screen of deactivation reasons for August 2022 (and some of July 2022, too).

So, there were 78 users who provided deactivation reasons in August, which accounts for pretty well all the negative growth during the month.

Was there much of a theme to their feedback? 23% said it was just temporary and 14.57% said it was no longer needed. So nothing actionable there.

But 15.23% expected something different. They mentioned a spattering of features:

  • export to PDF and ePub (currently available, so I don’t know what they meant)
  • exporting to Google Docs (only kinda supported through copy-and-pasting, so this is valid)
  • export to Word Documents (added direct support for this last month, so this isn’t really valid)
  • custom post types and Elementor integration (only Pro Print works with custom post types, and Elementor integration is iffy, so this is pretty valid)

9.93% expected it to work differently. They mentioned:

  • integration with Thrive Architect and Thrive Theme Builder (I think this is kinda valid, but I don’t use or have a license for Thrive and they refuse to share a developer license, so we’re kinda at an impasse with them)
  • print the entire site (they probably didn’t understand that’s exactly what Quick Print does)

The 9% who said other mostly didn’t provide a reason, besides one person saying they didn’t like that there’s a Pro version. I kinda understand that, I like free stuff with no possibility of upsells too.

2% said the plugin broke their website, but were anonymous so it’s hard to follow up.

So there’s some valid feedback there (and even the apparently invalid feedback shows users are confused so it would be great to simplify the user’s experience.) But there’s nearly no mention of anything new making the plugin worse.

Also, I compared to a recent month with large growth (February 2022, which had 100 new active installs) and there were actually nearly double the number of deactivations during the month. So it doesn’t seem there were more deactivations in August, but instead fewer activations to offset the near-constant trickle of deactivations.

And looking at visitors to my website, that seems consistent: there have been nearly half the visits to my website in July and August than during previous months.

Website visits in July and August 2022 were down 61% (the blank days in July were because my analytics plugin stopped working when I migrated hosts).
Visits in May and July were OK, for comparison.

One major difference in July and August: visits from Google dropped by about a third (whereas visits from WordPress.org were about constant.) So it seems I dropped in terms of SEO, and I’m guessing that was because, when I migrated hosts, there were a few hours of downtime while the SSL certificate got renewed.

I think the solution to the reduction in website visits (which probably led to fewer new installs of the plugin and fewer purchases) is more content marketing. So look out for more tutorials!

Published Tutorial on Making Microsoft Word Documents in WordPress

In conjunction with last month’s new Microsoft Word format added to PMB, I finally wrote a good tutorial on how to use PMB to make Word docs last month. It’s done relatively well (brought just over 70 visitors so my site in the last week, which is about as many visits my homepage has had in the last month).

Featured image from my post “How to Make Word Documents in WordPress”

The post took quite long to write because:

  • I tried to include lots of screenshots (and actually needed to reduce it a bit because I felt like there were originally too many)
  • I tried to also justify why it’s useful to write in WordPress rather than Word (a big reason I realized: Word does basically nothing to organize your documents, whereas WordPress has categories, tags, author, date, excerpt, and other meta info)
  • I did a bit of research into other plugins that make Word documents (I discovered Aspose.words, which is a pretty powerful API for converting documents, but the plugin itself is a bit too simple for some applications; and I compared to MPL-Publisher, which is also mostly a simpler option to PMB; and I also discovered that those two plugins had a conflict which I reported). I mentioned the competing plugins because I wanted the post to be pretty inclusive: it’s not just how to use PMB to make Word documents, but actually attract visitors looking for any plugin to make Word documents.
  • I compared to wpbeginner’s tutorials, and tried to mirror their balance of details-to-brevity (e.g., I noticed they’ll sometimes collapse a bunch of steps into one in order to prevent the post from getting too bogged-down in details)

Although the post hasn’t caused any new purchases yet, I know creating Word documents is a demanded feature (it was mentioned as a deactivation reason last month, and in survey respondents back when I was starting PMB Pro.)

Miscellaneous Bugfixes

There were no new major releases in August, just minor bugfix ones. These mostly focused on WooCommerce and Elementor integration (mostly CSS improvements that helped their content layout better in PDFs) and some follow-up for the new Word documents format feature.

I don’t feel bad only doing bugfixes because as my plugin grows in popularity it is going to be tested with a wider variety of other plugins, which will require lots of small-but-important fixes.

Thinking Out Loud

Do My Users Have a Moral Responsibility to Help My Plugin Succeed?

This is similar to recent discussions around WordPress businesses’ responsibility towards WordPress itself… but basically: this last month stunk. Is there anything my users should do to turn things around? (And by extension, if WordPress is struggling, is there anything I need to do to turn it around?)

My wife’s reading a book about business ethics called 7 Lenses: Learning the Principles and Practices of Ethical Leadership which I think applies to this question. In it, the author describes 7 ways (or “lenses”) with which to evaluate if something is ethical/moral for a business: in terms of profit, the law, people, character, community, environment, and the future.

So, is supporting software you use good for you financially? Maybe long term, but the simple answer is no: you don’t immediately make more money by helping the software you use.

Is supporting your software a legal requirement? No, again.

Does it benefit the people who make it or use it? Ya, indirectly. It helps the developer and other users to have better-funded and supported software.

Does supporting your software show a consistent character? I guess so too, especially if you’ve received it for free.

Does supporting your software help the community? Yes, it certainly helps the community of fellow users and probably their website visitors.

Does supporting your software benefit the environment? Maybe, if you help to make it more performant so it uses less resources and energy.

Does supporting PMB or WordPress help future generations? Part of PMB’s purpose is to help preserve WordPress content for the future. So yes, helping PMB will help the future.

So in terms of character, community, and the future, I’d say yes we have a responsibility to support the software we’re using.

Another consideration is just how big is this moral responsibility? That varies a lot depending on your situation. I clearly have the most responsibility to support the software I use to make income, far more than any user of my software. And someone who’s business depends on it similarly has a significant responsibility. But someone who just has it’s nice to have, and could easily replace it with another plugin or web service, had nearly no responsibility.

So if your business depends on it, what do I think you should do? Here are my recommendations:

  • But a license for the software
  • Share that you use it and what you like about it on social media
  • Leave a review on WordPress.org
  • Provide me with feedback on what you like and what you’d like changed

If PMB is just something you just sometimes use or it’s not that big, don’t worry about it.

What’s Next?

I’d really like to simplify PMB and make Quick Print use Pro Print under the hood (in order to get many of its features, like support for custom post types). I think PMB’s losing a lot of users because Pro Print made things more complicated (even though Quick Print remains unchanged, people just get overwhelmed with all the options) and actually added a lot of the features folks had requested but they miss that they exist.

I think before embarking on that I would like to survey existing users to better understand their priorities and use-cases, although I’m not yet sure what exactly to ask.

Anyways, please share any thoughts or insights you have on any of the above.

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