Antonis Papamichail runs a WordPress theme business, Poka Theme, that is branching out into plugin development. The company’s first offering, Poka Review, is a review table builder for affiliate marketers. Antonis answered my questions about getting started with WordPress, the development and marketing process for the plugin and just exactly what an affiliate review site is.
Can you start by telling me a little bit about yourself and your company’s history with WordPress development?
I started working as an ASP web developer back in 2002 right after I finished my studies. I wasn’t earning enough money so as a side job I started taking freelance web development work in my spare time.
I was doing ASP and PHP projects but after a while I focused on Mambo/Joomla (I know it’s weird!). Then, in 2007, my side freelance job was going great so I quit my day job. I started PSDgator.com and focused on converting web designs into HTML/CSS.
In 2009, things with PSDgator were going awesome and I already had three employees. We were all doing design conversions into HTML/CSS. We then started “playing” with WordPress. We loved its templating system, easy dashboard and how clean its plugin system was.
We decided to focus completely on WordPress. It was a big decision but, as I know now a few years later, it was a good choice.
At the same time, as a side project, I was doing affiliate marketing and tried to market some specific Amazon products. I met with a few online affiliate marketers as well and we discussed the possibility of building WordPress themes that will focus on promoting products and services. This was the beginning for PokaTheme.com.
We’re now a local team of seven web developers from Thessaloniki, Greece. PokaTheme sells a few different affiliate themes, child themes and our latest awesome product which is the Poka Review Plugin.
What’s the easiest way to describe to people who aren’t familiar with affiliate reviews just exactly what your Poka Review plugin does?
In a few words, our Poka Review Plugin creates and organizes lists that include product and service reviews. For example, if we’re talking about online poker, you can create a table called “Top Bonuses for Online Poker 2019” and list ten poker websites that you want to promote.
Instead of online poker, you can use the plugin to promote Amazon products, VPN services, forex products or even hosting services. That’s just to name a few.
What’s unique with the Plugin is that it includes a Live Previewer so you can see the review tables before you publish them. It also features a lot of styles, layouts and shortcodes for the reviews. You can test everything at our online demo.
How did the idea for Poka Review come about and how long ago did you begin working on the plugin?
We started working on the idea of building Poka Review Plugin after a lot of affiliates contacted us and requested that we create a plugin that would include all the functions we have on our PokaTheme WordPress theme.
Those affiliates have existing websites and they didn’t want to replace their active themes with a new one. They liked a lot of the features PokaTheme had though, so they asked if we could build a plugin with those functions.
We started working on the plugin in September 2018. As we were developing the plugin, we were taking input and feedback from a few friends that are into affiliate marketing. This really helped a lot.
The plugin was finally published in June 2019. It was a long process of defining and adding features.
In terms of development, what part of building Poka Review proved to be the most difficult and why do you think that was so?
By far the most difficult part was building the custom Live Previewer for the table shortcode builder we did. We don’t know of a similar plugin with a function like that and it helps users build tables visually. You can see and understand what I mean if you check the dashboard. We have an online demo for the dashboard and you can check it here.
Another thing that was very challenging was the templating system we’ve built inside the plugin. The reason for that is to allow developers, or even users, to add custom layouts and styles for their shortcodes so they match their website’s styles.
Your target customers are obviously affiliate marketers. How have you gone about reaching them and educating them about what Poka Review can do for them to improve their businesses?
The good thing about that is that I already was an affiliate marketer when we started working on the project. I knew a few affiliate marketers as well but I met more online through the WickedFire forum and Warrior Forums.
Poka Review sells for $38/year for future updates and support on unlimited sites. How did you come to that pricing decision and were there other options you tried that were less successful?
Poka Review Plugin is a very young product, so for pricing I just tried to keep the price close to the pricing I see on most other plugins. I did a little research and found that a regular price for a plugin on CodeCanyon is about $40.
I haven’t calculated our development expenses or the time we will spend in the future. For now I only wanted for the price to look appealing and be something that I would like to buy myself.
Now that Poka Review is out in the wild and for sale, what is one piece of advice you would give to other WordPress plugin developers that you wish you had known before you got started?
My best advice is to build something that is easy for the user to use. Build a product that solves specific problems in a way that is easy and smart.
What’s next for Poka Review in terms of future updates?
We already have a list of changes and new features. We plan to release a new version (v1.2) in two months. This version will include customizable headers for the review tables, filters, pagination and also a lot more layout and style settings for the reviews.