WP Optin Wheel by Maarten Belmans

WP Optin Wheel

WP Optin Wheel is one of the more unique plugins I’ve featured on the site so far. In the competitive e-commerce space, where everyone is fighting for eyeballs and customers through the same old popups, this plugin offers something different through the use of gamification.

WP Optin Wheel gives site visitors the chance to spin a wheel, for the price of their email address, to get discounts and other bonuses the site owner defines through an easy to use setup process.

Developer Maarten Belmans, from Studio Wombat, took some time to answer my questions about his background, how he came up with this idea and the struggles he’s had with it’s implementation.

Can you start by telling me a bit about yourself and how you ended up in the WordPress plugin business?

I’m Maarten, a WordPress and web developer from Belgium.

In 2015, I left my well-paid consultancy job to go backpacking through Australia for one year. With just a laptop and no real plan, my girlfriend and I set out on our adventure.

We loved the freedom so much that I decided to look for ways to get a side income while traveling. I started looking into WordPress and quickly found out how easy it was to extend its functionality by coding plugins.

So when I wasn’t traveling, I was learning about WordPress and its APIs and functions.

What is the background story on how the idea of WP Optin Wheel came about?

I’m quite active in Facebook groups about WordPress or WooCommerce. That’s where I heard about the concept (using gamification to hand out coupons and grow your list), which already existed on Shopify. Someone had posted on one of the groups asking if there was a WordPress-specific alternative out there for the Shopify variant.

I searched and found out there were no WordPress plugins doing this, so I replied to the post and said I would build it.

Four days later, I had my first version online.

WP Optin Wheel Examples
WP Optin Wheel Examples

What has been the hardest part of getting the look and functionality of WP Optin Wheel to where it is today?

For me, the hardest part was deciding what JavaScript libraries to use for building the settings page of the plugin. There’s a lot happening there. It’s almost like a single-page app (including a real-time theme editor), so it uses quite a lot of JavaScript.

Ultimately, I chose jQuery because it’s already bundled with WordPress and I figured most websites have it cached anyways.

Today, the software has evolved and the UI is even more complex, so I’m starting to regret the choice of jQuery. A much better approach would be to include AngularJS or similar frameworks. Perhaps when Gutenberg comes out, I should rewrite the backend in React.

As for the frontend: getting a smooth spinning wheel animation was the hardest thing to achieve. It took CSS, JavaScript, and a lot of fiddling to get it right.

How difficult has that development been and which integration has proven to be the most beneficial to you and your customers?

Integrating third-party software such as MailChimp or CampaignMonitor wasn’t all too difficult. They all offer an easy-to-use REST API so it only takes a few lines of code to implement.

AWeber was the hardest API to implement. They apply ridiculous security, which makes it impossible to make a simple HTTP request. Instead, you have to download their PHP SDK and integrate that into your software. So to keep the plugin as lightweight as possible, I chose to create an add-on plugin for AWeber support.

MailChimp is definitely still the most popular tool out there, so most of my users are happy with this integration alone.

WP Optin Wheel Integrations
WP Optin Wheel offers the following third-party integrations.

How have you marketed the plugin and are those your target audiences?

As with most developers, marketing isn’t my strong suit and I’m still learning the ropes. So if I give any advice, take it with a grain of salt.

My largest audience are indeed marketeers with a WooCommerce store. So here are my main marketing tactics:

  • Answer questions on relevant Facebook groups. I drop a link to the free version of WP Optin Wheel whenever someone is looking for plugin suggestions that fit its description.
  • FB ads with basic targeting: people from Europe or the US that are into WooCommerce. This provides quite a few clicks, but usually no sales.
  • Google Adwords: targeting email marketing on WordPress. This provides some sales, but I have to fine tune it for better results.

Is there anything you wish someone had told you before you started working on WP Optin Wheel that might be useful for other WordPress plugin developers to know?

I wish someone had stressed I should spend less time on coding and more on marketing.

Selling a plugin on your own website, as opposed to market places like CodeCanyon, is hard because you need to get the word out. Nobody will come to you if they don’t know you exist. I’m constantly thinking of which features I could add to the plugin to make it better, but I need to take more time for marketing.

Plugin users will always want new features, even if your plugin already contains plenty. So it’s easy to lose yourself in feature requests and to keep on programming.

It’s important to stop for a while and focus solely on marketing.

What’s the future hold for Studio Wombat and WP Optin Wheel?

Studio Wombat and WP Optin Wheel are both still very young (less than one year old at the time of writing), so I hope to expand both of them.

As for Studio Wombat: I only started 5 months ago. So far, it’s giving me a nice side-income, but I want to grow this into a full-time profitable business, so I’ll need to either:

  • make a lot more plugins, or
  • create a bigger plugin with a broader audience (such as image optimization or Zero BS CRM).

As for WP Optin Wheel: I have some cool new features coming soon. Oh, and marketing marketing marketing…

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