Transparency Report #16 – July 2017

August 7, 2017| Mike Stott

It’s that time again. I’m actually almost a week later publishing this transparency report than usual. They take a fair bit of time to put together and as I covered in last months report, I tend to flip between what I’m trying to accomplish through sharing these updates.

The purpose..

I’ve always written these reports as a way for me to look back at where things are up to with business revenues and maintain a mini task list about things I’ve been working on. I’ve also included Freelance revenue in the reports, however, as I’ve said previously Freelance can be great, but right now it’s not the thing for me to focus on. So, yet again, I’m stripping out Freelance from these reports.

A re-jigged pictured

I wrote recently about running a WordPress business in 2017. This looked at all manner of charts showing the revenues over time. It also ended looking at the average monthly revenues each year. Split between CodeCanyon and Direct. I’ve been tracking the incomes in a Google Sheet recently as I can quickly knock together charts like the one below. This shows the split between WordPress Plugins and WordPress Themes back to April 2016 (when I started these reports).

Looking at the chart above is where future updates will focus because from now on I really am having to say no to freelance.  For completeness though here’s the above chart with the Freelance figures included

Look how lumpy Freelance work is. It comes in ups and downs and it brings with it added stress and scope creeps over time. I could put a proportion of my time towards running a web agency (and outsource freelance leads to a team) but that would also take a big chunk of my time and bring with it added stress.

Excluding Freelance

I want to cover why I’m now excluding Freelance (again) from these reports. First up is I’m actually going to say no to Freelance this time. Saying yes to Freelance impacts my focus and I can’t give my own businesses the focus they deserve. While I love helping people I often take on too much and with the recent growth of Zero BS CRM I cannot continue to deliver on Freelance.

I also covered in the comment section of the running a WordPress business the following drawbacks of freelance / consulting work

Consulting work cannot give you the following benefits compared to selling products:-

  • In 5 years time you might want to sell the product to someone else (i.e. they buy the present value of your future expected sales)

  • You can put the plugin into maintenance mode where you say it’s not supported, the release is stable, and future updates aren’t included

So I’m not including Freelance anymore, but I am including revenues from Growth. Growth is my first “official” eBook covering my journey into WordPress as a full time job. If you’ve not checked it out go and grab a copy today.

Epic Plugins and Epic Themes

The chart above (top chart) shows the progression in theme and plugin revenues. July 2017 has been the first month in a long time that plugin and theme revenue alone has topped $4k. It was really close about a year ago (May, June and July) but didn’t surpass the $4k mark.

July 2017 that mark was broken. Here’s a look at July 2017 split by revenue type (Epic Plugins, Epic Themes and Zero BS CRM)


From a marketplace that was working really well, to less than $100 in July, really shows how much things have fallen there. I wrote about this in detail in my post about Reviving a Dying WordPress Plugin. I’m not quite sure what to do here and whether it’s worth trying to salvage the CodeCanyon sales.

I’m already at the top tier (Elite), so any revenues I send their way they take 30% of the sale, so there’s not really any incentive to send them traffic when I could send it to people purchasing the plugins from me directly.

I went non-exclusive on CodeCanyon and now every plugin (and more) is available in a handy bundle. It’s subscription based (like all the products I now sell) and this helps to cover updates and support for the plugin(s).

Epic Plugins

Direct Sales of WordPress plugins through Epic Plugins is up this month and it’s because I released a new WordPress plugin. This plugin is on the back of my post about making your WooCommerce My Account page look like WooThemes. It’s one of my more popular posts and people were asking for a plugin to do the work for them. So I made one and released it.

If you use WooCommerce but hate how the “My Account” page looks with your theme then this plugin is for you. We use it on Zero BS CRM’s “My Account” page and it’s really quite pretty as you can see from the image below

Epic Themes

Epic Themes has been stable again coming in at just over $1k. There’s not been anything to shout about on the Epic Themes front in the last month. My venture into “theme pax” has brought about the WooCommerce My Account Plugin above. This is one of the areas I was most excited about when I came up with the concept of theme pax.

I’m monitoring the feedback and “in the wild” considerations of the WooCommerce My Account Plugin. If it proves that “expansion packs” are just too messy to manage (due to the wide range of themes) then I’ll re-consider whether it’s worth developing any other plugins like this.

BUT… I’ve also been working on a brand new theme. The last theme that I released was the “2nd Edition” of the Epic Hackers Theme to be more in line with how Growth Hackers is today.

I’ve always had some success with themes that give you “Reddit / Growth Hackers / Product Hunt” for WordPress and the next theme carries on in that niche.

This theme should be available towards the end of this month.

It’s been in the works since 2015 but for various reasons I’ve not been able to finish it. It’s coming soon and you can be notified about it’s release and pre-launch offers by entering your email at the bottom of this blog post 🙂 exciting times.


It’s no point in hiding the fact that a large part of breaking $4k was the work that’s gone into Zero BS CRM in July. This can be seen from the detail added to the product from the core, through to 5 new extensions for the CRM system. Read about everything added in July.

It’s also no secret that I really enjoy developing Zero BS CRM and building it out into a product that’s both useful to people wanting to run a CRM and also helping to improve the revenue numbers. ZBS CRM isn’t at a revenue position that we’d like it to be just yet though (given there’s two of us working on it) so it’s still at a point where we are being a little tentative as time progresses.

Building out the self hosted CRM solution for WordPress is something which I can stand behind. Which I can talk about at networking events and which people seem to like to hear about (hey, I’m suddenly interesting). I’m still going to proceed for the next few months with a large focus on ZBS CRM as it’s enjoyable, people are using it and it’s a product which just feels good to work on.

I also want to keep building plugins which help fix things (like the WooCommerce My Account Plugin) and through exploration of pain points I’ll focus on helping to fix those.

Focus of the Blogs

I’ve been working on some of my weaknesses. One of them has been SEO and what I want this website to rank for. I sell premium WordPress Plugins here on Epic Plugins and Niche Premium WordPress themes from the Epic Themes website.

I’ve been trying to focus a bit more on SEO and understanding whether my sites are growing from a traffic perspective. I’ve 27+ WordPress Plugins for sale now here, however I don’t tend to rank very well for specific cases. What I do rank really well for is the term ‘CodeCanyon’ this is probably because I blog a lot about CodeCanyon and my 10+ reasons why I removed 9 plugins for sale is the top of Google (after CodeCanyon itself)

Traffic Reports

I still like to look at Traffic Reports and I’ve been learning a bit more about Google Analytics. What I’m really interested in is how I am acquiring users to the websites. Then secondary to that is how I well I am doing when it comes to converting those users to people who want to purchase a plugin (or a theme)

Epic WordPress Plugins

First up, it’s Epic Plugins turn, I’m going to take a leaf out of the Optimisation Reports for Epic Themes and cover Epic Plugins versions of those too, but first up, here’s how the user acquisition looks like for this site

What’s plain to see in the above chart is I’m bringing around about 1k “users” to the site now. The proportion from Organic Search has increased the past 12 months which can only be a good thing.  The “Shopping Behaviour” is something I can start including in these reports too, below is the Epic Plugins shopping behaviour

Yes, there’s a high abandonment of visits who do not add to their cart, I’ll be covering this in an Optimisation report. I made a subtle change at the start of August so it will be interesting to see how that change impacts the above picture.

Epic WordPress Themes

Next up is the same two charts for Epic Themes. It’s worth noting that I added the Google Analytics tracking code to the demo websites towards the end of June. This is why the chart “jumps” up for user acquisition.

I’ve written a handful of Optimisation reports over on the Epic Themes Blog which you can read at your leisure.  Here’s the screenshot for July. I made a similar optimisation to Epic Plugins at the start of August, which I’ll cover in a new Optimisation report.

Planning Content for the blogs

I’ve now got three blogs that I manage with respect to WordPress, this blog, the Epic Themes blog and also the Zero BS CRM blog. While I can write a number of “top 10 ranking themes in 2017” type posts, these don’t fill me with passion.

So what you tend to see on these blogs is transparency reports, optimisation reports and me being open about my revenues and plans. Nothing that is really going to drag someone in from Google who is looking for a light box plugin like Social Gallery.

It’s clear I need to plan content (and write it) with the customer in mind, alongside the content I write in these reports and the optimisation reports. At the moment there’s a disconnect between my content, and what my plugins offer.

What I do enjoy writing about is why people should be using a CRM and why they should think about self hosting their CRM. I wrote an article about self hosting your own CRM here.


I’ve been doing some Outreach to other blogs to cover Epic Plugins and Epic Themes. Our Plugin Hunt Theme got covered over at BobWP and I got my interview published over at Indie Hackers where I covered how I have grown revenues to where they are today.

In other news…

We’re hiring

I say “we”. It makes us sound bigger. In reality though I do 95% of this myself with a joint venture (Zero BS CRM) being my only opportunity to really work as a team.

I still do the lion share of support myself and it takes up a fair bit of my time each month (around 20 to 30 hours a month). So I’m looking for some support with support. If this interests you you can read about how to apply here.

It’s been a year

It’s crazy when I think about everything that’s gone on. I quit my job a year ago. Well, I actually quit in May, but I finished my noticed period on the 29th July 2016.

In those 12 months I’ve managed to generate $54.3k in revenues (through a mix of sales and freelance), this ignores the time I spent contracting back at my 9-5. However more importantly I’ve been able to

  • Do this from anywhere (without having to go to an office to “earn” my salary), in the past 12 months I:
    • Went to Oktoberfest in (Sept 16)
    • Travelled to Hong Kong and Japan (Oct 16)
    • Took the usual trip to Amsterdam (Nov 16)
    • Spent 2 months in Chiang Mai (Jan + Feb 17)
    • Visited Hong Kong (from Chiang Mai – Feb 17)
    • Went to Benidorm to surprise the parents for Mothers Day (Mar 17)
    • Headed to Las Vegas for a business trip (Apr 17)
    • Had my Stag Do in Amsterdam (Apr 17)
    • Got Married in Cyprus in (May 17)
    • Got taken on a surprise birthday trip to Venice + Rome (Jun 17)
    • Went to Paris for WordCamp EU (Jun 17)
    • Headed to Edinburgh for WordCamp Edin (Jul 17)
  • Work on what I enjoy doing and didn’t attend a single office meeting
  • Started a new WordPress Product – Zero BS CRM (Jul 16)

It’s been a crazy year. I’ve travelled a lot in the last 12 months, there’s even more travelling to come from November 17 when we start our honeymoon (travelling through Russia, to South East Asia) and stopping off at some places along the way back home.

That’s it for another Transparency Report. I’m in two minds whether to keep writing these, if you want them to keep coming leave a comment and let me know.

Categories: Transparency

4 thoughts on “Transparency Report #16 – July 2017”

  1. Charlotte

    Kudos to you for these. It’s the first I’ve seen since discovering ZeroBSCRM a little earlier this year. I hope these, and your success, will continue

    1. Mike Post author

      Thanks Charlotte, glad you’ve found these transparency reports (a mistake in who I sent the broadcast to!). It’s good that ZBS CRM is growing and it means we can continue to spend our time on it making it better and better for its end users

  2. Ilja Weber

    Hello Mike and thank you for posting those transparency reports. They are actually really inspiring and I hope to be able to post my own transparency reports in the future.

    As for now I wish you good luck with your business.

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