by Guest Blogger, Dan Nickerson
I like open-ended questions with many possibilities. When asked if there is a WordPress Plugin to handle a need for your website, there are a number of possible answers. They include:
- Most likely
- Let me check
- If there isn’t there will be soon…
Now before you read anymore or leave the page, I’m going to offer an ethical bribe for you to stay… because somewhere in this post there’s a link to a “free WordPress ad management plugin” that’s going to change the way you display ads on WordPress.
My name is Dan Nickerson and I think it’s safe to say that WordPress has paid my bills for the last two years. No, I don’t work for WordPress or their parent company. I’m just one of thousands of designers, programmers and developers who work to make WordPress the best content management system online. That actually is what makes WordPress the best CMS. Thousands of individuals and companies working day and night to make it better.
I started using WordPress in 2004 on some of my niche sites. After working with Microsoft Frontpage for so many years WordPress was a revelation. Simply having the ability to update content and design instantly via a web browser was a huge leap from working with html and FTP.
In 2005 I created my first wordpress theme. It was pretty basic and only had a few hundred downloads, but I’ll count that as a success. People liked it.
As most of you know in 2007 I went to work for Joel Comm as his "VP of Ideas". We created and produced a number of exciting projects from 2007-2010, but I was always prodding (not the cattle kind) Joel to do something in WordPress.
In early 2010 our project schedule lightened up and Joel gave me the green light to work on a premium WordPress theme. (Codename: Socrates) It turned out be a great codename (and name for Joel’s Dog) because we kept Socrates as the product name when the theme was released in April 2010.
The Socrates Theme was a huge success and Socrates now powers over 100,000 websites, which is pretty incredible.
I can tell you it’s somewhat surreal when you Google something random and see your theme being used on the site. (Note: Joel’s blog is built on Movable Type and due to its age, size and ranking.. It’s the right call to stay that way)
Last year I started to get into WordPress Plugin Development. A plugin is basically a php script that works within WordPress to perform a function. It’s like an app for your phone, or a browser add-on for your browser. It adds more functionality to your website.
The beauty of WordPress is that there’s a plugin for just about any function. There are 19,000+ free plugins alone in the WordPress plugin repository and that’s the place to start if you’re looking for a plugin. You can also search via Plugins > Add New in your WordPress dashboard.
I’ve always had a knack for coming up with unique ideas for products and services so I was well suited for plugin development.
In 2011 I formed a company with Mark Widawer called ACME Traffic. The goal being to release a new WordPress plugin or theme each month.
Now I’m going to tell you something surprising. I’m not a coder. While Joel likes to say he can’t code his way out of a paper bag. I actually can code out of paper bags, just not plastic.
My business partner Mark and I actually outsource the development of our ideas to programmers via freelance sites like Scriptlance and Odesk. Plus I have a number of programmers who have worked with me over the years who I call on. The average we spend to develop a plugin is around $400. A simple plugin might cost $100, a complex plugin $2,000. Before you decide to jump into plugin development, just because you can get a plugin developed doesn’t mean someone is going to buy it.
The simplest way to come up with an idea for a plugin is to find a problem that needs fixing.
One of our most popular plugins is called Related RSS
SEO experts recommended that you put a niche related rss news feed in your WordPress sidebar to generate activity and fresh content on your site. But there was a problem with that strategy in WordPress. The feed was identical on every post and page. Related RSS solved that problem by changing the feed based on the tag of the posts (and even pages). So if you’ve tagged your posts, you can install Related RSS and instantly have fresh content updating daily on every post and page. This can increase your traffic within a few days.
Most WordPress users install so many plugins they can’t remember all the plugins they’ve installed. So we created a free plugin called PluginBot to make it easy to remember and install all your favorite plugins. You just install it on each blog you own and it creates a master list of every plugin you’re currently using on all your sites. Problem solved.
- Our latest plugin is called ACME Feedback. We had been looking at website feedback services and found them to be ridiculously expensive. We also wanted a way to keep visitors on customer sites longer by directing them to popular content or playing a video on exit via a cool popup "widget". So ACME Feedback Plugin was created to make it more affordable to capture visitor feedback and give visitors a reason to stay on the site longer.
Okay, remember my ethical bribe at the top of this post. There was a problem with adding sidebar ads to WordPress. WordPress users were looking for a way to post related ads in sidebars and posts automatically. So if you had a post about webhosting for example, you could display only web hosting affiliate banners on that page instead of Adsense. We solved that problem by creating the Related Ads Plugin which lets you setup ad campaigns based on "tags". You just setup your campaigns, make sure your posts are tagged, and the ads will change on your entire site based on the content. This plugin might not be free forever, so download it here now.
These are just some of the plugins we’ve created and as long as people keep asking "is there a wordpress plugin for that?" we will keep developing them.
What are some problems you need solved? Feel free to comment here, but please don’t post any plugin ideas that you don’t wish to share freely with the world.
About The Author
Dan Nickerson has been marketing online since 1995. He’s a prolific product creator and ideator known for his wicked sense of humor and New England work ethic. Learn more about Dan at DanNickerson.com