WPbeginner business model and growth story

This is story of how to build big community for big platforms like WordPress and earn money from ads, affiliates, services and own products. Story of Syed Balkhi.

  • Started at age 7 selling greeting cards on the street.
  • At 13 used proxies to play games in school library, was designing logo and avatars in forums.
  • Then created game site so children could play games. Needed lots of traffic to earn money from game website. Realized that he need web directories to add his website to it.
  • Started to build his own directory site and did some paid.
  • Then started creating HTML web sites for clients who knew his family in person.
  • Need to update site content made to move his sites to wordpress platform. He offered it to clients “Instead of paying me maintenance fee every month you can update your site yourself if I move your site to wordpress for curtain fee”.
  • Clients started to ask how to do things in wordpress. He needed a step by step tutorials to teach clients to use wordpress. Saw that some sites were asking 400$ for video cources teaching wordpress, other offering PDF manuals.
  • Decieded to buld wpbeginner.com for teaching wordpress for beginners. Also theme and plugin design services to visitors.
  • Blog topics are generated from user requests and own ideas. Then started to use twitter and search #wordpress to find what problems  others have with wordpress and write about them in his blog. Then reply to that user in twitter linking to his blog post.
  • Twitter connection helped in the beginning when you have 100 followers, then those one to one connection make big impact and you become friend with them.
  • In 5 years twitter followers grew to 100,000 and newsletter subscribers to 130,000
  • Revenue is split equal with ads and affiliates.
  • Helped some known blogs and people to get on front page of Digg.com for free. Then they helped to promote his wpbeginner on their blogs.
  • People started to ask to write reviews for their products, instead he wrote how to solutions using their product and using affiliate links in article to link to related product. This way it was not praising product but offering solution using that product.
  • Wpbeginner launched in 2009 and after a year earned 100,000$.
  • Was creating content for blog every work day per week, 5 posts weekly and spent 45 minutes per article. Content was bringing traffic and clients for consulting and web design work. Then hired designers/developers to do the work.
  • Did wordpress design work for clients like webs and checkpoint (zone alarm firewall software)
  • Site has lead generation purpose with beginner articles like “Why use WordPress?”, “Free wordpress setup”
  • Offered free installation service if you purchase hosting using affiliate links that he provided. This also generated more leads because users then asked for extra features that he would provide as paid service.
  • On wpbeginner they update old posts with relevant solution if visitors contact them pointing to content or plugin that is updated.
  • Wpbeginner get lots of traffic from wordpress forums, where users link to a solution posted in the blog.
  • In 2013 created his own product OptinMoster , and started to make more money than site was earning. Services were bringing good money but not scalable, you have to meet clients in person and discuss.
  • Earning money from affiliates and helping them to sell their product also helped to get idea building own product and promoting it.
  • OptinMoster  took 8 month to develop, too long for a plug-in. Idea came from a list25.com, list of 25 interesting items. He had 1.2 million youtube subscribers and 200 million views. Videos ware created from 25 items reading and displaying images in video. Was earning money from ads. Tried some popup plugins that didn’t meet his requirement then idea of OptinMoster  came.
  • He approached Thomas Griffin to build a plugin but first built a smaller plugin just to see if they could work together well. They build floating social bar plugin which had 90,000 downloads first.
  • Then built OptinMoster as a plugin. Earned more than a million $ from OptinMoster plugin.
  • Hard part of product business is you have to find right partner, you can’t do development and marketing good at same time. Also you have to support all your customers and be in good mood always. You cant piss off your clients. Because there are thousands of them, it is not one to one service anymore.
  • First clients ware coming from wpbeginner. Then he reached his friends and clients with big audience and offered plugin to use and if they like it then promote to their users. Also friends ware happy with conversion rate of OptinMoster .
  • People can steal it but they will not get support and updates. They contact if somebody violates copyright and warns them telling they cannot do it. Code is GPL but design and images copyrighted. Also name is trademarked they cannot sell or offer it with same name. Also files that are not downloaded from original owner may have some harmful code in them which will ruin their website.
  • For support hired paid staff, that will respond in the forum.
  • There is step by step guide to install and use plugin.
  • Suggestion for product developers not to use gmail or public forum. Because in forum customer can read old post and not find relevant information, you always have to keep forum up to date. Use help desk syste­­­m instead.

This are notes from interview that is published on mixergy, you can view full interview here.

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