Simple Giveaways provides WordPress site owners with a way to grow their mailing list by incentivizing visitors to sign up in exchange for a chance to win a product, discount code or more. Automation gives Simple Giveaways users the ability to have winners chosen and notified without any fuss: everything is handled by the plugin without user intervention.
Developer Igor Benić took the time to answer my questions about Simple Giveaways. We discuss the usual topics (development hurdles, marketing and pricing) as well as what he’s learned developing premium WordPress plugins.
Can you tell me a bit about yourself and your background working with WordPress?
Hi, my name is Igor Benić and I live in Rijeka, Croatia. I am a developer who works mostly with WordPress. Before focusing entirely on WordPress, I worked also as a ASP.Net (C#) front end developer for a company in Rijeka.
I can’t remember when I started working with WordPress, but I do know that there were no custom post types, so somewhere around 2008-2009.
My first “premium” plugin was somewhere in 2010 and I sold a few copies on CodeCanyon. It had a classic HTML form where you could upload files to Dropbox. My code was really bad back then but I was happy to see that you can earn some money on the side just by developing WordPress plugins.
While working as a ASP.Net front end developer, I met another guy who I am happy to call my friend. He, Dino Kraljević, and I have started teaching web development in Croatian. He focused more on Node.js tutorials while I focused on WordPress and the front end.
After a 1.5 years of writing in Croatian and having low traffic I decided to create my own website where I’ll write in English so anyone can read my tutorials. I really like writing and recording tutorials and also teaching others to become better developers.
What was the inspiration behind Simple Giveaways?
When I started my own site I had read many articles on building your audience and email list. One of the popular options to grow your email list was hosting giveaways. One of the recommended plugins was KingSumo Giveaways.
That plugin cost $199 and back then my monthly pay was $900-1,000. Buying something for $199 was out of the question for me due to other expenses.
So, as a developer, I challenged myself and decided to build something similar that could help me host giveaways and grow my email list.
I never thought this could be something that I could have as a freemium product. After a few iterations, I realized that this could be a good plugin for plugin repository and from there everything started.
The Pro version of Simple Giveaways has a lot of useful features: templating, automation, third-party intergration, etc. What was the hardest feature to develop and why?
One of the hardest parts was the automation. I had to create a WordPress Cron job that will take into account the server timestamp and the local (site) timestamp.
When I built that, I was not aware of WordPress storing such settings and I went into creating that myself. Today, I could have done that under an hour, but back then, I tested it and refactored it for days.
I feel like Simple Giveaways is an ideal tool for marketers. How do you successfully market to people who know all of the tricks of the trade already and can sometimes be difficult to persuade?
That is something that I have not focused on. I have tried using Facebook Ads but that was not successful. But I believe that Ana from AnarielDesign.com has helped me here a lot! She tweeted my plugin several times and I saw growth in the active installs after that.
So my best “marketing” tactic was a version of “word of mouth” by others.
I do plan to start writing helpful articles on hosting giveaways so that could be something that might push new installs.
Also, until I started using Freemius, I did not have any sales. The best thing there is that the users of my free version can upgrade to the premium one with a few clicks from their own site. They don’t have to even go on my site to buy the plugin. I guess that is a big plus!
With the help of Freemius, I have created a way to show integrations on the free version and that bumps the conversions a bit.
You have typical tiered pricing but at interesting price points. I rarely see an option for two sites like you have. How did you come up with that and how has the response been versus the standard one or unlimited sites approach?
I have never put too much thought on that really. I created the option for two sites because sometimes people do have more than one blog with a different niche. You might see a developer who writes tutorials and then he/she has a blog on healthy food. A completely different niche so hosting the giveaways on one site would not be practical.
Since two sites is not so different than one site, people to tend to buy that option more than I would have thought. Also, Freemius has a nice way of displaying the prices and people do see that they actually save a few bucks from buying the license for two sites.
Most purchases come from the standard license and for now the lifetime version is the most popular. A few months ago, all licenses were lifetime. But that’s not sustainable in a business. I had that because KingSumo Giveaways was my main competitor (even though, I purchased their lifetime license after a few sales, mostly as a “thank you” since I started all this because of them).
I talked with Vova, one of the founders of Freemius, and he also helped me with pricing it.
This is my favorite question: what is one piece of advice in terms of selling WordPress plugins you wish you had received before you started Simple Giveaways?
I have a few pieces of advice here:
- Plan your plugin name. My was GiveASAP at first and it did not actually tell you what it was doing. I had a business plan on having ThemeASAP and plugins along the way. Let it be clear so people immediately know what your plugin does.
- Build your plugin as if you’re another developer and want to extend it with new features. I did not do that at the beginning and extending it with premium features was much harder because I could not just put some features on another file.
- Create an email list (ex. on MailChimp) and integrate that within your plugin. Maybe give them a discount code in return.
- Use Freemius to sell your plugins (and add-ons).
Finally, what’s next for you personally and for Simple Giveaways in the future?
Personally, I want to grow my site even more and get more developers into my course on becoming a WordPress developer. I want to extend my eBooks with new chapters and finish a new plugin for managing pets. That is something that any site with animals can use and it will have features that will benefit animal shelters and the like.
Also, I want to lose more weight so I am continuing my Keto diet, which actually works.
For Simple Giveaways, there is a Trello board full of ideas and collected feedback/requests. Some of the next exciting plans I have is to provide FOMO-like notifications on every page. For example: “Igor Benić subscribed to Your Giveaway #1, 2 minutes ago”. Another feature that could help others is a template builder where you can choose the order of elements (form, images, text, rules, ect. And of course, new giveaway types and integrations.
Thank you for letting me tell you my story with Simple Giveaways! 🙂