This is the 42nd 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.
💰 $7,018.49/$36,435.28 (fairly compensated for time)
🖥5,????/10,000 active installs (on-par with other print button plugins)
What Happened This Month
Mailing List Stats
Stats from my MailChimp mailing list.
Stats from my site’s Koko analytics (don’t need no Google Analytics, thank you!)
Freemius gathers other stats about sales and sites using the plugin.
Finances and More Plugin Stats
For the past several years I’ve been using the “Active Install Growth” stats provided by WordPress.org to gauge the success of my plugin, but late in September WordPress.org removed those stats. There’s speculation that they will be coming back, but it seems it was a closed-door decision (considered security or privacy-related) for which not very much is publicly known.
Freemius provides similar stats which I will probably switch to using, but their stats only include users who elect to allow Freemius to collect their usage data. So for the moment, we’re all left wondering whether PMB’s active installs are growing or shrinking.
The major improvement this month was a behind-the-scenes technical change that should improve integration with other plugins. For example, there was a report that Supsystic tables weren’t appearing properly in PMB projects, but this integration issue was resolved in PMB 3.17.0.
The fix was to change an important internal, technical detail of how PMB works. When PMB is creating the Print Page (the single page of HTML which is later converted into PDF, eBook, or Word document), it does so over the standard “WP AJAX” request (e.g., by sending requests to
https://printmy.blog/wp-admin/admin-ajax.php). This was normally fine, except some plugins’ content didn’t appear properly because those plugins didn’t expect to show their content in “WP AJAX” requests—they only expected to show their content on normal requests to the front end of the website. So I switched the code away from using “WP AJAX” to instead being a normal request to the frontend of the website (e.g.,
https://printmy.blog?pmb_ajax=1), what I’m calling “Frontend AJAX”. This way, other plugins see that it’s a normal frontend request, so they set everything up properly to show their content.
I tested it for this month and didn’t notice any problems, besides having to change my integration code with the WPML plugin.
Using WPML and PMB together helps in the creation of documents and PDFs in multiple languages. WPML keeps track of changes when a post is updated, so it’s easy for translators to see what was changed and what translations need to be updated.
WPML’s link back to PMB has
rel="noopener noreferrer" so I can’t tell how much traffic is coming from WPML, so I’m afraid it’s hard to gauge how much traffic is coming my way from it. I think the best way to tell if by how much traffic goes to my WPML+PMB tutorial which WPML linked to (in September: none.)
So I think getting listed as WPML-certified is a win, but I have yet to see any concrete benefits from it.
I recently got an inquiry concerning using PMB to make a tabloid-style newspaper. I explained to them that, potentially, yes, but currently, no. PMB uses Prince to create PDFs, which should support some interesting newspaper-type designs, but I hadn’t gotten around to making anything like that yet. So I decided to finally take some time to see what was possible.
Here’s some features I thought were pretty useful and looked good:
- header area showing the issue number, newspaper name, and page number (and it alternates so the date is always on the outside-top corner)
- newspaper title area on the same page as the first article
- multiple columns of text
- “full width” images take up the full page width, and “wide width” images take up two columns
- images naturally float to the nearest page edge (top or bottom) to produce a more pleasing layout
I had originally planned to make this feature only available to Professional plan payers, but I think my current differentiation between Hobbyist-and-Professional plans is pretty sufficient (mostly, Hobbyist files say “Powered by PMB” somewhere in them). So I’ve changed my mind and will be making this available to everyone.
I would like to start up a “design marketplace” where folks could search for designs (just like you search for WordPress themes), and this could have been one, but I don’t think PMB has the critical mass to make that idea worthwhile yet.
The removal of Active Install Growth chart from WordPress.org has left me pondering how to replace it, and wondering if even “Active Installs” is the best thing to track.
Whenever we track a number, we naturally imply we want to increase that number and is how we measure success. But how do I measure success?
I have two purposes with PMB:
- help folks make content more widely available by facilitating converting its format (e.g. make it easy to convert a blog into a printed book or digital book which can be shared and preserved)
- make a fair income (for myself and whoever I may hire)
- share my stats and experience for other plugin developers to learn from
Just having folks leave the plugin active on their site it’s actually the goal, especially if they only needed it for a brief moment (e.g., if they just wanted to make a PDF backup of their content, it’s best for security to uninstall the plugin immediately after you’re no longer using it).
I mostly want to track how useful it is for folks. To measure that, I could alternatively track:
- printouts made (via either Quick Print or Pro Print; but it’s unclear whether I’d need to ask permission to track this after folks have already opted into Freemius’ data tracking)
- 5-star reviews (although this is highly affected by how annoying I am at asking for reviews)
- download spike after an update (but this is affected greatly by how early in the day I release the update, and whether it’s a minor or major update)
- Freemius’ “Active Sites” but that only includes users who opt into Freemius’ data tracking
I’m still pondering on it…
My next stop is releasing the Tabloid design and writing a tutorial on it, and also a tutorial on how to make your blog into a book on Amazon.
I had wanted to deprecate Quick Print and replace it with a simplified tool to also use Pro Print (because it has more features, even when used for free) but that will be a big and potentially dangerous change (“dangerous” because folks might decide they really dislike it, or there might be unforeseen integration problems). So I admit I’m stalling on it and thinking about how to proceed.
Anyways, please share any thoughts or insights you have on any of the above.