I have been part of several WordPress projects for clients over the years that involved major switches in themes and plugins. Sweeping replacements like that can often lead to broken content that needs to be fixed by hand or carefully corrected with search and replace procedures on the database. These situations frequently include shortcodes inside of post content that are no longer functional and need to be removed.
Mohamed Abd Elhalim experienced the same problems while he was developing WordPress themes so he decided to build an easy-to-use plugin that would automatically remove broken shortcodes from his sites. His plugin, Shortcode Cleaner, is a simple solution for cleaning broken WordPress content.
Mohamed was nice enough to sit down and talk about his beginning in WordPress development, his motivation behind building Shortcode Cleaner and how he is marketing and selling the plugin.
Can you tell me a bit about yourself and how you got into WordPress plugin development?
I’m Mohamed Abd Elhalim from Egypt, a WordPress developer and founder of Jozoor. At first I started with WordPress theme development since I was already PHP & frontend developer. Then I started to sell our themes on the ThemeForest marketplace.
I developed our first free plugin, Arabic Webfonts, and published it on the WordPress.org plugin directory. The plugin helps sites add Arabic fonts to any theme without coding through use of the WordPress Customizer. It currently has over 5,000 active installations and over 21,000 downloads.
How did the idea for Shortcode Cleaner come to you and what have been the toughest challenges creating it?
When I saw people talking about broken shortcodes left behind when switching between themes or plugins and asking about how to remove them I realized this is a big problem. If the broken shortcodes are only found in 10 posts it’s easy to fix but what about 100 posts? In that case, you need to edit all of your posts and delete the broken shortcodes or run a search and replace on your database which is a risk for your site’s content.
This is a problem I faced personally when creating theme content so I decided to make an easy solution for this issue. Shortcode Cleaner also helps save people from the lock-in effect of some themes or plugins by making sure your content will be clean and fresh all the time.
The tough technical challenges were finding broken shortcodes within HTML tags and listing the broken shortcodes in the WordPress admin bar.
Your plugin could have easily been a one click solution but you offer a lot of reporting and settings inside the WordPress admin. How important was offering that level of information and customization to you and do you think it will help drive sales?
I think these reports will help customers know which theme or plugin left them with broken shortcodes. Also the customers then know exactly where the broken shortcodes were found and can go directly to post or page to preview or edit. These reports are important because they give the user the big picture about broken shortcodes in their site content.
Your sales page has a great series of animated gifs and a video explaining how the plugin works. How much time and effort has gone into your marketing efforts so far?
We started marketing after Shortcode Cleaner was approved for sale on CodeCanyon. We share it on social networks and contact popular WordPress website like The Plugin Economy and others on your list of WordPress sites. Some sites on that list will be doing plugin reviews for us soon and we are also advertising through BuySellAds.
You’re using Envato’s CodeCanyon marketplace to sell the plugin. Can you tell me about the pros and cons you’ve experience using their service to sell WordPress products?
I think it’s a good marketplace to sell Shortcode Cleaner because we currently sell our themes at ThemeForest and we have good sales numbers there already.
Pros of CodeCanyon
- A large customer base to tap into.
- Publicity for our plugin.
- An established marketing and distribution channel.
Cons of CodeCanyon
- CodeCanyon is a highly competitive market.
- Auto-renewals are not an option.
- The commission rates are pretty high by most people’s standards but we are an Elite Author their so this is not such a big problem for us.
What is one piece of advice you wish someone had told you before you started working on Shortcode Cleaner?
I think maybe some advice about how to marketing our plugin but I hope after sites review Shortcode Cleaner we will start getting more customers.