Kanban for WordPress is a communication and collaboration plugin to help individuals and teams stay organized as they work. The kanban method is very popular with software developers but it’s also suitable for content creators, marketers and any other type of person looking to improve their workflow and productivity.
Corey Maass, the man behind Kanban for WordPress, was kind enough to answer some of my questions I had about the plugin. We discuss his background in SaaS, the demo system he uses for the plugin and his switch from an extension model to a simple single Pro plugin to generate revenue.
How did you get started working with WordPress?
Like most good developers, I built my own CMS back in the early 2000’s. It was actually my first SaaS. I closed it after a couple years of unprofitability. This left me with a lot of client sites that needed CMS back-ends. Eventually I found WordPress and haven’t looked back.
I’m talking to more and more developers who are building traditional SaaS applications as self-hosted WordPress plugins. What made you decide to go this route for your product?
My background is in SaaS apps, starting around 2003. I’ve built and launched dozens of apps, and I love solving complete problems. To be honest, I wasn’t specifically looking to build an app within WordPress, but most of the easy problems have been solved in WordPress, so it’s going to be the large, hard problems that are untouched opportunities.
You have an interesting demo approach where you offer 7 days of access via a fully functional demo site. How has that approach worked out for you and would you recommend a similar idea for others?
This came from customers asking for a chance to try the product before buying. WordPress multisite lends itself to this beautifully, and there are plugins that make it easy. It’s made a huge difference to our sales and customer experience. It’s also been a great sandbox for showing customers how to do things within the app.
How hard is it to market a plugin that serves as a tool for so many diverse businesses? What marketing technique has proven to be the most successful for you so far?
This is extremely difficult. It’s tough in a customer support, in marketing, and in product development. Our marketing tends to focus on the high level benefits of getting organized and being more productive. I do wish we could be more specific sometimes. We’re working on a version 3 of the app that will address more use cases more directly, and we’re planning on offering lots of tutorials on how to solve for these business needs.
The flip side of this challenge is we have a lot of customers who are using the app in ways we never imagined. It’s been a pleasure seeing how creative people can get with it.
You have pretty straight forward pricing by WordPress plugin standards. Can you talk a bit about how you came to your price point and your experience keeping it so simple?
Originally we started with lots of add-ons, priced individually. It’s a common pattern in WordPress, and pretty straight-forward, but eventually we realized everyone was buying the bundle of all add-ons anyway. I’ve always been a fan of simple pricing since I’d much rather focus on the product. I’m a pretty typical developer in that respect. 🙂
Now that Kanban for WordPress has been out for awhile is there any one piece of advice you wish you had received before you started development?
Start with a free plugin in the WordPress plugin directory and don’t rush to release a paid version. Don’t roll your own shopping cart. Hire designers. Expect it to take five years to see real profitability.
What’s coming in the future for yourself and Kanban for WordPress?
This year we’re focusing on a version 3, completely rewritten from the ground up to offer a lot more customization for different use cases. This is the culmination of two years of talking to customers and seeing how thousands of people are using our app. I’m really excited to see the product grow and how people will use and abuse it.