Writing about food has to be one of the oldest blog topics out there yet I personally don’t know anything about how that market works. This was one of the reasons I was interested in talking to the makers of Cookbook, a WordPress recipe plugin with a whole host of features that gives food bloggers a powerful way to embed recipes right into posts on their site.
Cookbook is unique as it is a product from WP Site Care who are well known for their WordPress maintenance and security services but don’t immediately spring to mind as a software sales and plugin development company.
Krista McPhee, from WP Site Care, was nice enough to take some time to answer my questions about Cookbook. She goes into all of the people involved in the plugin’s creation, the process they underwent to figure out their pricing and what it’s like to market to a market like food bloggers.
First things first, how did WP Site Care decide to get into the plugin game and how did the idea for Cookbook come about?
This was pretty organic. We had a large number of food blogger customers who were generally unhappy with the recipe plugins they were using, so we worked with them until we had something they really liked.
Inevitably their frustrated friends would ask what they were using for publishing recipes, and once enough people started asking us for the plugin we built, we decided to start selling it. Like real business people!
What were some challenges you experienced building Cookbook that might be interesting to other WordPress plugin developers?
Building the product itself wasn’t close to the challenge that all of the other elements were. Things like branding, building a website, marketing, figuring out the best way to sell product on a recurring basis and all the challenges from that process; those were the real challenges.
Rob Neu did a fantastic job of building a solid solution that people really liked, but everything after that is where we’ve struggled the most. We’re finding a bit of a groove now, but it took almost a full year to find our voice and work out some of the administrative kinks.
Start as simple as you can (we did this well), but also think ahead to how you might go from simple to a little less simple when you’re serving thousands of customers (we didn’t do this as well).
Your marketing page for Cookbook is very nice. Can you talk a bit about the design process behind it and what elements you feel are the most effective at reaching customers?
This started as a collaboration with Shay Bocks who certainly has a knack for simple, beautiful design. We’ve made some major updates to the site since then with the goal of reducing friction for the customer as much as possible. Streamlining the checkout flow and using fun, relatable sales copy are the most important elements. We want to build confidence in customers and then make it simple for them to take a quick action. We feel like we’ve done that pretty well at cookbookplugin.com.
Speaking of marketing, your target audience is pretty obvious so what are some successful ways you’ve used to reach out to them and generate interest in Cookbook?
We’re still working on this 🙂
Like I mentioned before, quite a few were already WP Site Care customers, so we already had a working relationship. Also, food bloggers talk to each other A LOT. So word of mouth is the most effective way to spread the word about our product. As long as we’re building something great, our customer base will continue to grow. We have started conversations with a number of people who we dream of using Cookbook someday, but nothing official has come from that quite yet.
Cookbook costs $59 a year which falls right in the middle of the price range for developers I’ve interviewed so far. Did you come to that price from the start or was there some trial and error before settling on the current amount?
Our launch price was only $29 and we had a huge (for us) influx of buyers. Most of the competing products at the time were free, so we were a little bit surprised there was so much interest even though $29 is definitely a low-priced product.
Once we knew there was interest, we looked at our commitment to quality again and knew we wouldn’t be able to deliver what we wanted to from both a product and support standpoint at $29, so we basically decided to double the price to slow customer growth and earn enough to justify focusing more development time on the product. That’s where the price has stayed since.
Is there any advice you wish you had been told before you started working on and selling Cookbook?
Test test test. Not from a code perspective, although that’s important too, from a market perspective. We were fortunate to have a small group telling us exactly what they wanted, and they weren’t shy about it. We know the product wouldn’t have had any measure of success without that super honest feedback loop.
Do what you can to build that little community of product testers before trying to sell anything. They’ll ask smart questions and give great opinions, and when it’s time to launch, you’ll have a much more refined product that sells itself.
What new features are coming in down the road for Cookbook and are there any future plugins from WP Site Care in the works?
The next update is going to include new recipe card templates with a simple customizer to edit the styles to match a site’s brand. We also included a quick link in the Cookbook Tools to test the recipes structured data.
The roadmap we have for 2018 is exciting! More improvements, optimizations, and definitely some add-ons to extend the functionality of the recipe card.