Step-by-step guide to overthrowing long-entrenched plugins with unhappy users.
It’s time for a WordPress citizens revolt against bad plugins and my [theoretical] guide shows you how to do it.
STEP #1 – Select a plugin market.
Start with plugins you know and functions you actually use. Then find the big bloated plugins in that category that you know you can do better than.
I suggest sticking to a plugin category that you actually know. I don’t recommend chasing the money…but sure, do whatever you want.
- Plugins proven markets with tons of (preferably paid) users.
- Plugins that with tons of utility and features.
- Plugins with emerging niches that show trending growth.
STEP #2 – Build a free plugin with essential features.
It’s simple as that. Pick the most essential features that everybody wants…even better if you can put the features that other plugins charge for…and make it for free!
Your plugin will now have only essential features, built from scratch for the purpose of the current era. Whereas other plugins are bloated and full of features from a previous era that aren’t as valuable today. Your plugin will theoretically be lighter both in code and also in UI design because it’s made perfectly for the market now.
That’s the real strength newer/smaller plugins for me. Written from scratch and don’t have to cater to current user base and pricing model. As those big plugins can’t just chop things out unless they decrease their price as well.
STEP #3 – Add “premium” features.
Now it’s time to start adding the extras. Many free users will wish you had XYZ feature just like the bigger premium plugins, and will be willing to pay for such extras. The more premium features you add, the more you can justify charging money for it.
I think what’s most important is NOT to look like you’re eventually building your brand to be just like your competitor. It has to be clear that you’re building towards something different. So you better strategize correctly. Deciding which features to build first and which are most important as THAT will determine how your overall product and branding is different.
Take GeneratePress and Astra themes for example. Both are very similar and do more or less the same things. But GeneratePress when it was originally being built was targeted for developers…things like hooks and filters, sections and elements, then later had customizer settings and such. Astra however started right off the bat branding itself for speed and pagebuilder-compatibility. That pagebuilder aspect alone really set it apart from GeneratePress even though it’s very similar in many ways.
STEP #4 – Declare your brand position.
Now that you’ve got a big user market and a clearly differentiated plugin, it’s time to stake your place in the market. Say it loud and proud.
- “WE ARE XYZ PLUGIN and we are the best at ________.”
Good marketing isn’t just telling lies, right? You should have a diehard loyal following by now, willing to re-chant your slogan to the rest of the world.
The brand is there. The success is there. There shouldn’t be any doubt what kind of users your plugin is best for.
STEP #5 – Refactor or reinvent.
Here comes the hardest part of running a business. Very few companies get it right and for that reason, it’s why many of them will die off during this phase.
Now matter how successful or how much market share you have…the market always changes.
This has always rung true time and time again.
- One day people want to buy pre-made themes.
- Then people want a theme to custom code (Genesis).
- Then they want custom theme that doesn’t require code (pagebuilders, GeneratePress).
- They they want fast themes with customizable design (Gutenberg, Blocksy).
And when the market changes…you either have 2 choices.
- Refactor – rebuild your product completely from scratch to be lean and best fitting the current market. Almost no company does this as it’s tons of work and damn near impossible to be compatible with existing users. So they just ride their product off into the sunset.
- Reinvent – start creating a new product to supplement your existing one. It’s a good way to add revenue while starting over with a new brand/product. But can alienate existing customers who feel abandoned.
Actually, there’s a 3rd choice. It’s to cover your eyes and double down on your product despite signs of the market shifting away from it. Look at pagebuilders today in a Gutenberg world and you’ll see what I mean.