Black and white photo of a forest.

What I’ve Learned Running a Side Hustle.

I’ve been wanting to write this article for a long-time and I’ve finally gotten around to doing so. I’ll cover some pointers I’ve learned from starting and running Yoohoo Plugins.

A bit of background to Yoohoo

I started a WordPress plugin business back in 2017, when I was working part-time for Paid Memberships Pro, as a side business to try and generate some revenue off my free WordPress plugins.

At this stage, my free plugins were sitting somewhere around 5,000 – 7,000 active installs. Why not convert some of those sites into paying customers. So Yoohoo Plugins was born.

Napkin math: convert 5% of 5,000 sites at $20 a piece. That’s $5,000.

There are two major benefits to running a side hustle, that ties closely to my day-to-day work:

  1. Extra money $$$.
  2. Improve my skills and learn new things to bring to my day-to-day job (I could probably write an article just on this point alone – maybe another day).

Expectations vs Reality

It looks easy to make money in the WordPress product space, it’s not, I feel that it’s quite saturated at the time of this writing.

I remember the launch day as if it were just the other day. We eagerly released our paid products, sent an email out and waited for the money to roll in – we were sure we would sell at least 1 product the day of launch.

I was checking my phone for every message I received, expecting it to be a sale (and confirm that this was a good idea).

We didn’t sell anything for the first couple of months, that year we sold $394.60 (fair enough we released in the last quarter).

Give yourself realistic expectations when launching something new. If you don’t have a large email list, or pre-orders don’t expect to be making $500 a day just by launching that product. I mean how will user’s find you, or even trust your site if you have no content/reviews on there?

It’s cliche, but find a niche

Every talk I’ve listened to, the product owner says “Find a niche”. It’s true, so I’ll repeat it… FIND A NICHE AND CRUSH IT!

There’s a sea of WordPress plugins, and probably a sea of courses, e-books, services that you need to compete with. Try to real it in, and find a specific audience or solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. It really helps boost sales and customers.

Q: Where are customers going to go to fix problem X?

A: Your business.

Find something you’re passionate about

This is really really really important. Let’s assume you have a 9-5 job and want to start selling a product or build a SaaS/e-book (You need to choose).

Ask yourself: What would I be excited to work on from 7/8pm every day or every other day?

This is what you should focus on, running a side hustle comes second (until you make enough to transition into it full time if that’s what you want). I can’t remember how many days I pushed 12 hours+ a day on working my day job and building my side hustle. It didn’t feel like 12 hours some days, because it was “fun” to build that new feature and interact with customers.

Building the Business

I was fortunate enough to have the necessary skills to bootstrap the company/products. So costs to getting started was minimal, I needed a decent hosting provider and a bunch of time to code the products.

I’m fortunate enough to know decent WordPress developers and our products were sometimes built for personal clients, in which we later customized these solutions further to be more generic and launched as a product on our site. This helped to alleviate the costs to building a product – all our code is GPL and we’ll always follow this for future products (unless the platform doesn’t allow GPL code).

If you can’t build the product yourself, find a trustworthy person that you can hire to achieve.

Piggyback off the ‘big’ companies

A great way to accelerate your products awareness/brand is to integrate with an already successful company. For example, build a payment gateway that doesn’t already exist for WooCommerce (You’ll know if that gateway itself is popular or not) and charge for access to it. You then can cross-promote/build up your email newsletter to get even more awareness for future products.

K.I.S.S

This is something I sometimes struggle with, sometimes we want to build really complex solutions and expect it to be a ‘hit’. I’ve invested around $1,000 to build a WordPress plugin that has had around $200 sales (in the products lifetime).

Fair enough, this could be marketed better and features neatened up a bit. Release a MVP (minimal viable product) and iterate quickly, this will help save costs and ROI’s. Lesson learned.

MRR/ARR

This should probably be the most important lesson I’ve learned. Get subscriptions (Monthly Recurring Revenue or Annual Recurring Revenue) setup on your site immediately. At the time I wasn’t planning on ‘risking’ purchasing software to accept subscriptions, I mean it took me like 3 months to make a sale and this was about $300 (a year) – I was waiting for more traction.

We’ve learned that yearly fees for WordPress products are the best instead of monthly recurring revenue as customers would cancel when ‘things’ are going smoothly. Now, your product/service might make more sense to charge a recurring monthly fee. Find out what works for your model and run with it.

Once moving, expand

It’s really awesome to earn revenue. Don’t be a Scrooge, once you gain enough traction start contracting to people to help run your business. This will help to rapidly grow your business and you will have less work to do.

Bonus: Yoohoo Plugin’s journey

Yoohoo Plugins has been really fun to work on, I plan to continue to work on the products and grow the business. It’s been really awesome to sell to customers across the globe, and make money while I sleep (I often get a sale or two come through early hours of the morning – it’s cool!)

I plan to stay with Paid Memberships Pro for as long as I can, as I really enjoy the people that work there, the product is amazing and the work environment is awesome. Yoohoo Plugins, right now, is great for side cash for investing or just to take a ‘bonus’ some months.

The goal is to get Yoohoo Plugins making around $5,000 – $10,000 per month and just manage a small team within our ecosystem to keep the company afloat and running (I am open to being acquired in the future if it comes to that).

Yoohoo Plugins Road Map and Financials

So Yoohoo Plugins has been around for a while now, and the growth has been really good – I suspect it to start plateauing to a steady growth rate from 2021. The goal is a 20% year over year growth in the long-term.

Here’s the year over year revenue:

  • 2017 – $394.60
  • 2018 – $1,773.44
  • 2019 – $5,547.11
  • 2020 (Jan-Aug) – $6,423.00

There is around $6,000 subscriptions with PayPal that will happen over the next 365 days. The goal for 2020 is to reach around $8,000. Our current customer base is 205 (active subscriptions – as mentioned earlier in this article we started subscriptions later, around the end of 2018).

As you can see there’s been rapid growth between 2017-2020. 90% of our traffic comes from organic searches, and ‘low hanging’ keywords/search tags.

I plan on growing the business further and have plans to increase product features and pricing as our products, I feel, are underpriced but for right now I think it’s a ‘sweet spot’.

If you have any questions, or are planning in starting a WordPress based business and need some advice. Feel free to reach out to me via Twitter or email (andrew[at]andrewlima[dot]co[dot]za)

Photo by Phoebe Strafford on Unsplash


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