I bet most of the people who will read this post spent at least some time over the holidays explaining Bitcoin to a family member.
Cryptocurrency talk is at an all-time high right now and I’ve been patiently waiting for a related WordPress plugin to be released so I could feature it here on the site. Luckily, within the last 24 hours, CryptoWP was launched to give WordPress users an easy way to include crypto prices and data on their sites.
Alex Mangini, the developer of CryptoWP, gave some very thorough answers to questions that I had about his plugin involving its development, marketing a niche product, accepting cryptocurrencies as payment and even the future of crypto in general.
How did development for CryptoWP come about and how long has it taken you?
As soon as I got started in crypto, the thought grew in my mind that I could somehow use my development skills to get involved as more than just an investor. Couple that with the motivation to spend less of my own money and instead be able to accumulate crypto by exchanging a product of my own, I had the motivation to get started as soon as possible.
On December 1st 2017, after a small amount of time brainstorming and researching, I came up with the basic idea of what CryptoWP would enable WordPress site owners to do. I made sure that there were some solutions available already — and that they were subpar — and spent the weekend building the first prototype.
Despite a few setbacks in development, I was able to launch exactly a month later and in my mind start off what has been a highly anticipated year for crypto as strongly as possible.
What were some challenges you experienced building the plugin that might be interesting to other WordPress plugin developers?
The CryptoWP plugin does a few things that I had never encountered as a developer before, and I knew from the beginning that building a plugin that relies so heavily on a 3rd party API would have to be done with care and performance first and foremost.
The thing about working with offsite APIs is that you never want to abuse the data you are given to work with. Not only to the servers that host the API (by making too many calls, for instance) but for the site owner who ends up using the data itself.
Performance is the best feature of any product you build and I know that from learning the hard way.
Your target audience appears to be people who write about cryptocurrency and use WordPress as their platform of choice. Do you have any concerns that market might be too niche? And, if not, why?
I couldn’t be more thrilled at how niche this product turned out to be, and for a few reasons.
First of all, a big indicator I saw that there could be demand for such a product was from my customers of my primary WordPress business. I had custom designed a cryptocurrency blog for a client, and the amount of traffic and content their site had gained in a short time was hard to ignore.
Soon after that, a few customers who were building their sites with my theme also had cryptocurrency blogs, and were even selling products of their own. I quickly pitched all of them the idea of this product, and they couldn’t have been more thrilled with the idea of what CryptoWP turned out to be.
Second, I believe that if you are dedicated enough to an idea that not only makes you excited, but even just a few others excited, and you see all the indicators of a booming industry ahead, that you can carry forth and forge your own niche.
If people weren’t thinking about using WordPress before, I want my product to be so good that they come to WordPress because of it.
It wouldn’t be the first time I carved myself a niche in WordPress and with the vastness of WordPress and cryptocurrency as a whole, I believe it can be done again. Even if a small percentage of these billion and million dollar markets come my way, I’d consider the project a massive success. I’d cite this tweet to sum up my feelings here:
“You can’t make money in WordPress anymore!” they screech from the basement.
…as I look up and see WordPress in the sky. pic.twitter.com/p5ZaCOzRYv
— Alex (@aamangini) November 7, 2017
Now, it is possible that investing in the volatile markets of crypto has saturated my sense of risk, but as I’ve learned from even before making my first investment — sometimes you’ve got to follow your gut and make things happen.
I always ask people about marketing their plugins and you have this absolutely great tweet that basically reflects my feelings on the topic. Can you talk a bit about the challenges you see in promoting a new WordPress plugin and what aspects of it you dislike?
If somebody could release a course that teaches you how to launch a new product without devolving to a human subspecies I’d gladly buy it. Thanks!
— Alex (@aamangini) December 30, 2017
Marketing is something I’ve never spent much time on, for better or for worse, and while I don’t fully subscribe to “build it and they will come,” I do think a solid product and message takes care of a lot of the heavy work.
Of course then the question becomes “well how do I get this solid product and message out?” and that was something I had to revisit since I was entering a niche with no experience or name to stand on my own with.
As I’m writing this I’m 12 hours into launch and I’ve kept things simple. I’ve messaged a few popular crypto accounts on Twitter that I learned a lot from to get their opinion on the product, and even got a few retweets. That was a huge boost.
I’ve been fortunate to be in WordPress for many years at this point, so I have built up a solid customer list who were excited to hear about the product as well.
With this initial bit of exposure, I plan to continue reaching out to larger audiences when I see fit and mention it when talking about crypto to friends and other investors. I’m in no rush to explode out of the gates, but not slow enough make promotions when I see fit.
All in all, I expect most of the marketing to be done through word of mouth while I continue to create new reasons for people to talk about CryptoWP.
You are, naturally, offering cryptocurrency as a payment option for CryptoWP but right now it’s manual process. Was this just the easiest method for accepting that kind of payment? Do you think there’s an opening in the market to come up with a better solution?
Yes, setting up manual crypto payments was the easiest way to get the process running how I wanted it to go, but also one of the biggest question marks in my mind.
However, I came to the conclusion that with the expectation of how new cryptocurrencies still are, and how traders are used to waiting for their crypto transactions to process anyway, that I’m mostly able to squeak by this without much harm.
The person or company who cracks the problem of automating crypto transactions (or at least some of the huge currencies) into native eCommerce solutions will find a lot of success and far more demand than a product like CryptoWP.
But that is simply an undertaking I have no interest in and am excited for the ones who make it a reality. Who knows if CryptoWP would ever have a role in such a thing, but either way, the potential for crypto related WordPress products seems to be there for anybody willing to get creative.
What’s next for future releases of CryptoWP?
I see CryptoWP as a big data center, and as I’ve tried to prove already in how I accept crypto payments, that data can be used to create neat things. I plan to build an addon store to release custom designed price tickers, calculators, even a theme, and other kinds of widgets that use this data in creative ways.
I want to promote WordPress and CryptoWP as the best solution for creating data-rich crypto blogs. As many of the “mini crypto celebrities” start building websites to take their brands to the next level, I want CryptoWP to be a big reason why they choose WordPress.
Unfair bonus question! How do you feel about cryptocurrencies in general moving forward into 2018?
Ha! You can always expect questions like this when discussing crypto. I think 2017 was a massive year for crypto and was largely fueled by hype and “what-ifs” for many currencies who’s market caps grew by the hundreds of millions dollars based solely on speculation. It’s hard to see that trend reverse in 2018, especially as Bitcoin becomes more widely known.
In 2018 we’ll see a lot of these projects make it or break it as they have more pressure than ever to actually release working tech. That’s the big critique of most cryptocurrencies, that there is rarely a working product to be found!
Over the years as projects solidify, there will become more and more “safe” investments (barring some kind of total collapse). But while we’re still in the volatile years of these markets, there may never be a better time to take a gamble on something new and unknown.