(Apologies in advance for the long post below - I realize I should have introduced myself a while ago, but since this is my first contribution other than replies I figured a little history might help. Sorry and thanks!)
I’m Shane, a solid developer who sucks at marketing.
I’ve always had the entrepreneurial itch so over the last few years had been working on some side projects in the nights and weekends. Documented my experience at http://www.sideprojectprofit.com to hold myself accountable and hopefully help out others too. Anyway, after doing this for a couple years I had been stuck at around $500/month extra income from about 5 different projects. Had a couple respected mentors tell me I’m never going to make any serious money off these side projects unless I make them a priority. So, after being steadily employed over the last 11 years of my life, until I decided to go freelance a few months ago.
I have a stable contract that accounts for most of my income, but still have a gap that I need to fill via my side project income. I’ve narrowed my focus to one project and have about 20 hours/week to work on it. Hooray, right? Well…
This decision to go freelance has forced me to have a limited runway, ie - I had about 4 months savings to account for this gap in income that I needed to fill via my ‘side project turned half-time project’. I’ve been told this is a good thing because it would force me to take actions I wouldn’t normally take and stretch my abilities. Well that’s definitely been the case, but I’m also not seeing any significant changes in extra income as a result of my new focus. That’s frustrating, which is why I’m looking for your advice.
Of the many side projects that I run, I chose the one that had the biggest $ per visitor. It’s a premium wordpress plugin that helps people optimize the adsense ads on their sites via split testing. It’s called AmpedSense: http://www.ampedsense.com/
To date (started almost 2 years ago) I have around 50 sales (at ~$70/each). Every couple months people email me with thanks showing how they’ve doubled their revenue and love the product. I’m proud of this and it has given me the impression that there’s much potential here, especially since these sales have happened without a free trial - you must buy before you try.
But since I haven’t been able to take it to the next level, I’m now I’m wondering, is this plugin meant to always just be a side project and never bring in more than a few hundred bucks a month? I feel like the need exists (in fact, someone just posted this the other day on reddit, which is my ideal customer looking for the solution I provide - https://www.reddit.com/r/marketing/comments/3xcwf6/google_adsense_and_what_im_doing_wrong/), but my marketing just sucks. I feel like it’s just a matter of trial and error before I find the right way to market this (am I being delusional?)
Over the last 2 months I had been working on 5 marketing tactics -
- Paid reviews
- Opt-in list
- Retargeting ads.
Wrote about it in detail here http://www.sideprojectprofit.com/results-of-hardcore-marketing-my-plugin-30-days-later/. Yet none of those have worked (I understand SEO takes time, but the other tactics should have shown results more immediately).
My latest approach has been to create a free limited version that’s available via the wordpress plugin directory (they don’t allow paid or trial plugins there, but you can have freemium versions). I released it last week, and has been averaging about 5 downloads per day (although I only see about 2 new active users per day). This is with pretty much zero marketing, just people searching for plugins. I kinda consider this a success since my plugin is so new it’s at the bottom of the list when you search for ‘adsense’ plugins, and thus those numbers can only rise.
Yet I just wanted to hear some other thoughts before I continue to push forward with this freemium model as I only have another 2-3 months of runway left before it has to start bringing in about $2k/month (currently about $200/month). The plan is to change the model into a monthly recurring model at $9/month instead of the one-time purchase of $59/$79.
Thanks so much if you’ve read this far! Here are my questions I’m looking for input on:
1) Does the fact that I have 50 sales already validate the product, and if not how else should I validate this before I continue my efforts? I have plenty of other projects and ideas I’d love to focus on, but don’t want to give up on this unless I know it’s a failure (and I’m still convinced it has potential).
2) Does my plan of changing from a one-time premium sale to freemium with recurring upgrade charge sound like a decent way to go? Personally I’m a fan of paying for something once, but I’ve seen how successful SAAS can be and think the jump from $0 to $9/month provides less resistance than the jump to $79.
3) Are there any other marketing methods you’d suggest I try other than the 5 mentioned above? Haven’t focused on social at all yet. What else could be considered?
Been lurking around here for some time so I know there’s lots of smart, experienced people around - super interested to hear what you have to say! Thank you in advance for any responses!
Here’s the website again - any criticism very welcome -
And the new free version -