Today’s interview is with Pippin Williamson, the man behind what is perhaps the best named WP site of all time: Pippin’s Plugins.
Pippin is founder of the e-commerce plugin Easy Digital Downloads, which you’ll definitely want to check out if you sell digital goods from your site.
How do you personally make money with WordPress?
I run two commercial plugin businesses. One is my personal business, PippinsPlugins.com, from which I sell a variety of plugins, including a membership plugin, a plugin for adding beautiful full screen background images to your site, and a simple event calendar plugin, as well as quite a few other small plugins. The second is Easy Digital Downloads, an e-commerce plugin for selling digital goods that I founded and run, though I am by no means the only person on the team. I also do occasional contract work for a few established clients.
What’s your top tip for a killer hidden resource most WP users probably haven’t heard of?
WordPress core itself, though everyone has heard of it. Usually you hear people listing the top 10 tutorials for x, y, or z, or a list of the best WordPress tutorial sites. While I’m as much of a fan of these as the next guy (I run one), there have been countless times when I learned far more by simply exploring the WordPress core source code than any tutorial could teach me. This definitely is for the developer crowd more than anyone else, but even beginning developers can learn an awesome amount by looking through the depths of WordPress core, even if you don’t completely understand what it is happening, it makes you become more familiar with the inner workings of the platform, and that is invaluable.
What are your favourite plugins of 2013 so far?
As a plugin developer, there are two kinds for me: those that I write and those that others write. My favorite plugin that I’ve written (or helped to write) this year was Comments Not Replied To. It was a joint project between Tom McFarlin, Andrew Norcross, and myself. For plugins that others have written, it can’t be any other than WP Migrate DB Pro, and absolutely amazing plugin for migrating WordPress sites.
Here’s a video of Pippin speaking about modular plugins at WordCamp Chicago 2012.
Can you tell our readers a little bit about your VERY cool new project ‘WP Fund It’ and what they can do to get involved?
WP Fund It is a project that Adam Pickering of Mint Themes and I are working on. The goal is to provide a crowd funding platform where developers, designers, project managers, writers, and anyone else can come to try and raise community funding for their WordPress projects. These projects could include WordPress plugins, themes, events, documentation sprints, or anything else related to WordPress. The primary requirement for projects to be approved for listing will be that they benefit the greater WordPress community in some way. For example, we’re really excited to help fund a “tropical island get away” for a group of developers to go on for a week and do nothing but contribute back to WordPress core. We are also equally excited about possibly funding projects that get a group of writers together to work on the WordPress codex for a week straight. We don’t have a launch date yet, but it will hopefully launch sometime this summer.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about working online that was counter-intuitive or not obvious?
How important providing high quality product support is, and how hard it can be to keep up with a growing number of support requests. Between my many commercial plugins, and my free ones as well, I spend an average of 3-5 hours per day working on support tickets. Even though there are several paid contractors that work on my support teams, managing the number of tickets can be challenging. Before I was selling commercial plugins full time and still doing a lot of contract work, I could easily get through all support requests in an hour or two once or twice a week. Now it is hours every day. While this is a blessing because it means the plugins are being used, it can be quite challenging to not get overwhelmed. Everyone considers support (to some degree or other) when releasing a product, but it’s not until you have too many support requests to handle that you begin really thinking about how in the world to manage them all.
What would you do if you had to start again from scratch?
Ship early. There have been a few projects that I’ve worked on, and worked on, and worked on, and then either never released or didn’t release for a really long time. Especially in the open source world, one of the most important things a developer can do is simply get code out there. If you have a project you’re working on, release a beta right away. Don’t wait until it’s perfect, but push it out now, get some feedback, make improvements, push another early version, and continue to do this until you have a polished product. Whether it be a business, a plugin, a theme, or any other kind of project, the ones that sit behind closed doors for months or even years, are never the ones that shine. Sorry for the lame pun but it’s true.
What is your biggest challenge or frustration right now? Let’s see if any of our readers can help you out!
Finding enough hours to work on what I want to work on.
What is your biggest opportunity right now? Let’s see if any of our readers can help make it happen!
I feel that WP Fund It could do really, really well, so I’m excited to get that project out the door. Easy Digital Downloads is my primary project right now and it’s doing exceptionally well, though I’d love to see it double or triple even.
What does your typical workday look like?
I run a pretty steady schedule. I get up around 7:30, eat some breakfast and make the morning’s coffee, then I start work around 9. I work from my home office, so the commute up the stairs is generally a short one. Usually I will start by working on a project that I’m particularly interested in at the moment, then I will transition to taking care of support requests for an hour or two. Around 11:30 or 12 I will take an hour lunch break, during which I try to get out of the house, even if it is just to run down to Star Bucks and get another coffee. After lunch, I’ll work the rest of the afternoon until 5:30 or 6, at which point my day is mostly done and I spend the evening with my wife and daughter.
What are your top 3 business books for WP junkies?
I’ve actually never read a single business book, so I don’t have any. I love reading, but I rarely find business oriented books that are able to keep my interest. I do love, however, listening to podcasts. While not generally about business, TEDTalks are a phenomenal way to get your mind running.