Paid online training is a hot area for generating income these days. Edivently is a new plugin that turns any WordPress installation into a simple learning management system for building and selling online courses.
Edivently uses the power of WordPress to give content creators the path of least resistance to producing and selling their work online. The plugin generates a marketplace and accepts payments right out of the box while providing tools for tracking and managing students, sending email notifications, testing students with quizzes and much more.
Martin Shiderov, the creator of Edivently, was nice enough to answer my questions about starting his plugin (including picking the unique name), the challenges of building such a complete learning management system and his thoughts on using Envato to handle his sales.
How did development on Edivently start and what was the inspiration for the name?
I wanted to create something simple, straightforward and easy to use. I have never been a fan of plugins and themes with all the bells and whistles, which make you end up with limited capabilities than greater flexibility – completely opposite to what you expect when you approach these products. Believe me, I tried a lot and spent a lot of time and money testing plugins, themes and custom coded combinations of both.
The name ‘Edivently’ is ‘education’ + ‘evident’. I wanted to make education and the access to it online evident and available to anyone, to create a system which is the link to knowledge providers and knowledge seekers.
What were some challenges you experienced building Edivently that might be interesting to other WordPress plugin developers?
It all started three years ago.
Yes, it took me three years to develop this plugin and it was a roller coaster. I am not a developer but had the vision to develop something unique though I started this journey with something completely different in mind. I wanted to create an online market place to sell online courses and spent a good year working on it. I made many mistakes down the line but learned a lot. My project was excessively ambitious and I did lack the technical skills but above all the knowledge of what it really takes to build and market a successful plugin.
I am a big fan of dreaming big and the sky is your limit, and the blue ocean strategy-thinking sort of stuff! However, I cannot stress enough how important is to be realistic and focus beyond the idea. Your idea might be cool and your friends and family might be so excited about it but the idea is only a very small part of the whole thing. People talk about the idea being the core of what you do but it is not. I would encourage you to think about the idea as the glazing on your cake rather than the essence.
Think carefully about how you will be actually selling and promoting your plugin – is there a real market for it? Are you the first to get in this market or if not then what is your unique selling point?
In the case of Edivently, it is the simplicity, intuitive management and affordability that I wanted to embed in the offer. I strongly believe that technology should be a seamless facilitator rather than the main factor – you do not even pay attention to good technology, it simply makes things happen for you!
There is a lot to think about when you are developing a plugin. Focus on a good foundation and a clear offering; be open and real with your customers and do not pretend to be what you are not. Trust customers, your partners and me will appreciate this.
What have been some of your most successful marketing efforts to reach your target audience?
There are some good market places which you can explore to sell your plugin. The best marketing effort is when you are true to your customers. Be transparent and keep a list of new developments that you can do on your plugin – this approach has been bringing me a lot of success.
Being creative also helps but there is sometimes so many options and it is may be overwhelming, and you do not need this sort of pressure. Stay focused and stick to the core to get it right first but go and experiment.
I am a fan of reaching out to as many channels as possible. Especially in the early days of your plugin but have a plan. Posting your plugin across different market places for digital products would bring you popularity and SEO power. You need all this traction to spread the world and reinvest to keep improving it.
In the early days just go with all the low hanging fruits that are available to you. However, do not spread yourself too wide as your ability to sell, support and improve gets thinner – conquer and move to the next.
Can you talk a bit about your decision to go with Envato for your sales and do you see yourself sticking with the platform long term?
Envato is one of the most popular market places so starting with it is almost a no-brainer. There is a real sense of community on Envato, which I like very much. The support is very good and the selling process is straightforward. It also gives you access to a big market.
The thing that is a little bit challenging is that it is competitive. Obviously, there are plenty of plugin alternatives there and it might be difficult to capture the market’s attention. I think it will be also good if Envato improves the visibility around how products are promoted.
The commission, which Envato takes, is the biggest challenge for me. It is high and can go up to 50%, which I think it is high for plugin developers who shed blood and tears to develop and support high quality products. I am planning to stick with Envato as the positives seem to outweigh the negatives for now but only one channel would not limit me.
What do you wish someone had told you before you started working on Edivently?
I wish someone told me about the long-term journey when you develop a plugin. You might have a cool idea but think about your market, your support, sales channels and future development plans. A plugin is a long journey and if done right it gets more and more exciting with every single day.
Think about how you are going to market and promote your plugin. This may not be the most exciting part of the development process especially when you think about something which is non-existent but it will help you hit the ground running as soon as you release your product.
What does the future hold for the plugin?
The future for Edivently LMS is very bright.
There will be many new developments, which I am planning to release. I am planning three different products – one focusing on the casual online teacher who wants a lite version; a pro version, which gives more power and functionality, and finally a version, which empowers teachers to really scale their offers.
I am also looking to create a number of add-ons and corresponding themes to best match the plugin. I am looking to introduce a number of solutions to completely disrupt the WordPress plugin economy so watch this space!