Reviving a Dying WordPress Plugin

June 30, 2017| Mike Stott

In this blog post I wanted to write a bit about the current situation of one of my top performing WordPress plugins. Well, it used to be top performing but has fallen down from the peak of its monthly revenue and users. How do I revive this back to where it used to be?

This is a post mainly for me, but if you find yourself in the same situation (or have been there, done that and recovered) I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

The Plugin I’m taking about is the Social Gallery WordPress Photo Viewer. By the time you read this post, some of the wheels may already be in motion and some of the changes I’m planning may have already been made.  So to start off this post I thought giving a background would be useful and where things are currently (as at the end of June 2017).

Current State of Affairs

Social Gallery WordPress Photo Viewer has always been the plugin which got me into doing my own thing. It’s rise, for a single plugin authored as a ‘side product of a side project’ was really impressive (for me).

It’s the WordPress Plugin which was the first one I sold on CodeCanyon and it helped me reach Elite status about a year ago. At it’s height it was bringing in $3k to $4k in gross sales each month. Which is amazing for a stand-alone WordPress Plugin.

By gross sales I mean I’ve done a direct download of the ‘Sale’ column from the Envato CSVs, this isn’t what I took home in “royalties” since I’ve not deducted the Envato Commission (I’ve done that below)

But, over time the landscape has changed and the revenues from CodeCanyon have decreased. A LOT. Here’s a chart showing the CodeCanyon revenue for the Social Gallery Plugin (blue bars) and below it shows the split between Envato and Me.

While you may be thinking that something particularly related to Social Gallery Plugin caused the decline, that’s not the case. There’s nothing in particular that changed at all in the progression of the above graph. Apart from a couple of things I did to try and “catch the falling knife”

But, what about NET SALES

It’s true, for anyone starting out and thinking about going on CodeCanyon with their plugin, the above picture looks pretty good. However, Envato take 50% of your sales (split between a ‘buyer fee’ and a ‘author fee’) now but it’s still 50% of the list price.

For those who didn’t pick up on the subtle change, anyone buying without credit, have to pay an extra $2 on top, and you used to get 50-70% of that too, as an Author. The change above means that Envato get to keep 100% of the $2. (whoppie, another subtle change, lining their pockets that bit more) 🙂

But hey, they’re running a business, while $1 isn’t much for you on a sale as an Author, on a million sales it’s a lot more to Envato.. smart move.

Here’s how the above chart looks when factoring in the commission (the break in the lines, above is what Envato keep, and below is what the Authors keep)

The sceptical might say that Envato help you more when starting out and then ratchet down the support (i.e. Adwords bidding on your item pages for example) for newer plugins to give them that boost. But I honestly think for the chart above, it’s the passage of time plus my focus shifting towards selling direct.

What about all of the Envato changes?

Sure, I really do think something happened from July / August time in 2014 and then again in June 2015. You can see the marked drop in sales. If you do a Google Search you can see a lot of similar topics from other authors and extensive forum threads

Making changes…

So, I made changes to try and fight this fall but also on the back of an increasing frustration about all the changes Envato were making (which made me remove 9+ plugins for sale on CodeCanyon from my other account)

Selling Direct and Going Non-Exclusive

This is the final drop in the Sales Revenues in the above chart. I went non-exclusive with my Envato Account towards the end of 2016 and so far only re-released Social Gallery Pro on the site direct (others are coming soon once I sort myself out).

This post is about reviving the dying Social Gallery WordPress plugin, so for now the chart only focusses on Social Gallery Pro (my longer post, running a WordPress Business in 2017) covers the other sources of revenue.

The chart below shows how going direct has impacted the revenues from this plugin. They’ve not recovered much, I’m not sure if they will, but I’m going to do my best to turn this ship around.

So, going direct has helped somewhat, but certainly it’s nowhere near (yet) where it was in the “glory days” of 2013 and 2014.

Trying Freemius

I’ve also been working on the Lite Edition of Social Gallery and have connected it up with Freemius to help improve the number of people converting from the Lite version to the Pro version of the plugin. I put this in place in June, so it’s too early to report back on this.

The concept being the Freemius service is helping you understand what’s going on with your plugin’s lite version and make it easy to upgrade that version to a ‘Pro’ edition.

Where from here

It’s no secret that I’ve not spent as much time on Social Gallery Photo Viewer in 2016 and 2017 as I have in previous years. Like anything, if less time is spent on it then the interest will fade out. If updates are not pushed out and features aren’t added (that are asked for a lot) then revenues over time will fade.

However, I still think there’s plenty of websites that could benefit from using Social Gallery to make their images more social. So here’s what I plan on doing in the second half of 2017. Specifically for Social Gallery Pro.

It’s time to double down on Social Gallery with a view to make an impact on the chart above, which I’ll update in a future post.

Refresh the website

While the website is good, it’s still the original website that was used back in 2012. It can be improved a lot and made cleaner with easier ‘buy now’ links and not so much confusing information.

One thing which I’ll be doing is reaching out for help here. I like to build cool stuff, my ability to sell the cool stuff could do with some expert assistance. So I’m going to start by using some professional copywriting on the new landing page.

Social Gallery actually had professional copywriting (as part of my Elite reward), yet I don’t use that copy on the actual landing page.

Here’s how the landing page looks before the re-design


Re-think the sales model

Things are changing. Social Gallery is a great plugin and a STEAL at $24. That’s only $2 a month. There’s also a lot of great “supporting plugins” like Social Gallery Analytics which has had only 13 sales (the Pro version has had 4319 sales) and the Social Gallery Analytics Plugin is quite Epic too and really should be selling more than 13 copies.

So I plan to do a special offer in 3 tiers. The Pro Plugin, the Pro + Mobile and the ‘Full Pack’ priced in an innovative way (perhaps a $ per month structure, recurring).

Try and capture Envato purchasers

This one might be difficult, but people who have purchased from CodeCanyon will still get update emails, once my new landing page is up and new sales model then I’ll update the plugin on CodeCanyon with information about this and aim to convert CodeCanyon purchasers to becoming direct purchasers through the additional benefits and newer sales model.

Including a ridiculous concept, allow them a coupon of $50 off (i.e. double what they’ve spent on the product on CodeCanyon) to help support the future of the plugin.

Want to know how I get on?

People like to read success stories on blogs, the feel good stories. This post is more a “Oh, sh*t, my plugin is dying” but I am determined to try and turn it around.

It’s part 1 in a hopefully 2 part, success story. If you’ve been in a similar boat to myself with one of your plugins I’d love to hear from you if you managed to turn things around.

If you want to be notified when part 2 is available (will be in a couple of months) sign up to the newsletter and I’ll keep you notified.

Categories: Stories

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