Something shiny this way comes

I’ve been pretty happy with things I’ve learned by launching WP Customer Service. But it’s time for something new.

I’ve got two boys, 3 and 5 years old, who we always read to. Their latest kick is Choose Your Own Adventure style stories, which I used to love as a kid. I’m planning on doing a new take on that concept as HTML5 kids games, with mini games injected into the stories, and an educational focus. So my new project will be like a Choose Your Own Adventure Online.

I’m going to work on this a good friend – we set up Stunt Pixels together. Lewie is an awesome illustrator, has a heap of creative ideas, and also has two kids, 3 and 5 years old. I can hack code together, both front and back end, and have a day job making kids educational games, so this should work well.

First plan is to make a landing page and start some social media accounts driving people to the landing page. Once we can a number of newsletter sign ups (I’m hoping 500+), I can email them and ask what, exactly, they are hoping we are going to make that they would pay for. We can then make that. But I’m going to try to steer people towards what we want to do.

Personally, I’d like to see it as a learn to read assistant. Choose Your Own Adventure online with each word clickable to have the word read out, the whole thing read aloud hi-lighting the current word, or no reading assistance at all. We can put a couple of mini games in each story after a certain amount of progress to keep the kids engaged. Then each year aim for a year higher in reading ability to track our own kids.

The first order of business is to get a website together, then start getting social media active. At the start we can focus primarily on the art to draw people in. If we get sufficient interest, I’m planning on creating the first 3 adventures for free. After that we can see if it’s worth doing more.

I think it is an idea with a heap of potential, and it’s something I really can get into. I do think that education is one of the most important things around, so any little bit I can do to help with that suits me fine.

Strategy updated

I had a mastermind meetup yesterday, and had a goal of hitting 100 active users of my the WordPress customer feedback plugin by the meetup. The stats got updated about an hour before the meet-up, and for the first time it showed 100+ users. it felt like another baby step down.

It is a pretty trivial number, but looking at percentages it’s much more impressive. 50+ active users in the first three and a half months, doubled active users in the next two weeks. And it was a slog. It came from a lot of leaving (useful) comments on forums). While this is a way forward, it’s a pretty slow way of building an audience. It’s actually almost a useless way of building an audience as I have to idea who most (96+) of the users are. So I’ve had to change, or more like create, a marketing strategy that I can work with my life (job, wife, kids..).

First up is to refocus outreach onto Twitter and content marketing. I’m sure content marketing will work, it will just take a while to build the SEO. It means I lose the quick, but slow, build of users, to the promise of a broader, more sustainable traffic. Twitter is cause I use Twitter all day anyway, and a separate account just for the WordPress stuff is no big deal.

One other thing I have to change quickly is the plugins landing page. It took people from the Micropreneur academy to point out my landing page sucks. In fairness, I hadn’t made it a landing page because of the way the site hd evolved, but it’s really obvious that it should be laid out that way.

So, goals for the next two weeks:

  • 2 more blog posts
  • Build up @endualist (the new WordPress twitter account) to 300 followers
  • 5 more decent inbound links
  • Redesign of landing page and a new hight res video

Let’s see how that goes.

Seeing the first glimpses of results

Using nights and weekends

I’ve used my nights and weekends this week to do a little bit of forum replying when I can add value, left a couple of links around, and a couple of SEO friendly posts. And I’m starting to see a few glimpses of results.

With my WordPress Customer Feedback plugin, it’s really hard to get any metrics. WordPress doesn’t provide any for the repo where it’s hosted. So all I have to go by is looking at downloads and active installs.

WordPress plugin downloads and installs

Downloads is a bit misleading, as each download (whether a new download, or an update), is put into the same bucket. If I release an update tomorrow I may see a hundred downloads, but no new users. Here’s how the download chart is looking.

WP Customer Feedback Downloads
WP Customer Feedback Downloads

I’m showing when version 1.3.0 got released, and I started a little marketing.

As you can see, all this gives me is downloads per day. There is no indication of whether these are new downloads, or updates. It also seems like the Active Installs number is delayed by several days. I can understand this, as people may download the plugin, try it out, then uninstall. Putting a delay in makes sure the plugin is actually being used.

Increase in Active Users

Active installs have gone up by at least 60% over the last week and a half (I’m not sure exactly because of, what I think is, a delay in updating the numbers). In pure numbers that means, in the worst case:

First 3 months, generated 50+ users.
Next week and a half, generated 30+ users.

So it looks like that last update has been well received. It should do, it now works very nicely even if I say so myself. Hopefully this trend continues.

Generating more users

So the big question is:

How to generate more users?

I don’t want to rely on the WordPress plugin repo for one primary reason. I have no feedback. I don’t know how people find the plugin, whether through WordPress search, Google, links… So there is no way I can increase exposure in a way that I can measure. If I can’t measure it, I’m just guessing what’s working.

Instead, I’m going to try to push people to my own site so I can see where they came from, and work at ways to improved that traffic. Which brings up how I’m going to get people to my wordpress plugins site.

I could pay for Google Ad words, the metrics there seem pretty good. Or ads. But there is a major problem with that:

I have no cash (or money). 

Seriously, no cash. We’re running super tight at the moment (damn kids :) and I can’t afford to spend even a few hundred experimenting with Google Ad Words. Particularly when I don’t have anything for sale at the moment! I do have a little time, but that’s outside of work, my family, and sleep. So that leaves around an hour a day, and it’s normally the drained, shitty, part of the day! So the way I see it, there is only one decent option available to me.

All in with SEO

I’ve never tried to do SEO before, so now is a great time to learn. That said, I do know a fair bit about the web, and how things work online. I’ve also run my own small business a couple of times. Once doing video work, once doing animation, and once doing web games. That experience means I have things I can teach to other small business owners.

First couple of posts are one using feedback to engage users of WordPress sites. The second is almost an extension of the first, it points out that Google Analytics is great for clickstream data, but having some qualitative feedback is really useful – Google Analytics for WordPress.

So my idea at the moment is to start teaching some of that stuff. I’ll initially focus on areas related to my plugin, then spread things out. I’m open to writing more plugins, listening to problems people are having, and helping any way I can.

For now, I’m purely in the ‘help people out’ phase. I plan to stay in that phase, mainly cause I really do like helping people out. But as time goes by I also plan to have other business related things I should be spending time on. I have to bootstrap this so that I can start buying some extra time!