What We Learned From Launching Our First WordPress Plugin

As many of you know, my brother and I launched our first official WordPress plugin, WP Coupons, back in June of this year. This was very exciting for us because we both live and breathe WordPress every day and we are proud to be able to give back to the community. Read about our experience below.

What We Learned Launching Our First WP Plugin

Our WP Coupons plugin was born out of need, which is probably where some of the best creations and ideas come from. We needed something to increase our conversions and CTR, and so we created it. After a while we got so many emails about the plugin we finally decided to develop it full time and release it to the public. Since this was our first time launching a product, we definitely learned some things along the way.

1. Leave More Time for Testing Than You Think

We knew from the beginning that we needed to test our plugin in a lot of different themes and scenarios to prevent tickets and bugs from popping up after launch. What I don’t think we anticipated was the amount of time we needed to spend testing.

time plugin development
src: memegenerator

So note, allot many weeks for testing your plugin. And depending on the size of your plugin, you might need to even test for months. The more you test, the easier it will make your launch. Fortunately we started testing quite early and thank God we did, otherwise we wouldn’t have met our planned launch date.

2. Pick A Solid eCommerce and Distribution Platform

Upon first thought we were going to originally launch our plugin in WooCommerce using the Digital Downloads Extension. But upon further research we decided to go with Easy Digital Downloads platform. I have always heard good things about the original developer, Pippin, and wow they were right! My brother, the dev, said the documentation for tweaking stuff was amazing and we literally had EDD up and running in a few minutes.

easy digital downloads

We launched with the following plugins:

We decided to go with the free PayPal integration. We might be adding Stripe later on, but I keep reading about lots of charge backs and decline errors from people, so for right now we are pretty happy with PayPal. After using EDD, at least for digital downloads I will never go back to using WooCommerce again.

Not to mention that EDD is way faster when it comes to performance. Check out our speeds with EDD running. We scored a 100/100 on Pingdom with a load time of 307 ms. Let me see you do that with WooCommerce!

edd speed test

3. Development

From the development side, one of the biggest things we had to get used to was realizing we had to develop everything including styles basically self contained within itself and not rely or count on any theme or framework being there. One thing with WordPress, it makes a lot of us lazy. We are used to relying on a theme or plugin to power almost everything we do. So when it comes to developing a plugin from scratch, you absolutely have to start from a blank slate and not rely on anything else.

4. Launch with an Affiliate Program

One of the smartest things you can do is launch with an affiliate program, this will make spreading the word much easier. We didn’t launch with one and about a week after launching, we realized we needed to get it up ASAP. When you are doing outreach and promoting your plugin, it is much easier if you can mention that you have an affiliate program. We decided to rely again on Pippin and went with his AffiliateWP plugin ($49.00).


Again Pippin came through for the win. We had the affiliate program literally installed, configured, and up and running in 5 minutes. It has an integration with EDD and they just work together flawlessly. We now have active affiliates and the data on the back-end that it provides is awesome.

5. Be Prepared to Hustle

Even though you have an affiliate program up and running, be prepared just like with any other product or service to hustle with the marketing. Don’t expect people to just come out of nowhere when you launch your plugin, I don’t care how good it is. Since ours is a premium plugin we aren’t listed on the WP repository which means we have to drive visitors to our plugin ourselves. This is also a good thing though because we didn’t have to go through all the hoops to get on the repository.

marketing hustle
src: imgflip

6. Leverage your Contacts

Thankfully working in the WordPress community for quite a while I have made a lot of good contacts. Leverage the crap out of your contacts! And don’t forget about your newsletter list if you have one already. Tell your friends, tell everyone you know that works in your industry. Word of mouth is still by far one of the best ways to grow a plugin. If you have a quality plugin, people will share it with others, it’s as simple as that.

7. Get Ready for Feedback

Get ready for the feedback to come in. There will always be things you didn’t think of. We had to launch a features request page because of all the things people were suggesting. There are both pros and cons to this.

plugin feedback
src: memegenerator

First the pros are that people are very creative, usually more than you. We got a ton of great ideas that we have already implemented into the plugin that we didn’t think of. Here is an example of some feedback we are especially proud of.

better lemonade stand review

Richard Lazazzera from ABetterLemonadeStand.com

“Finally! I’ve been waiting for nearly 2 years for a plugin just like this. There’s been others in the past but no where near the attention to detail and polish that this plugin has. Hands down my new favorite tool for providing value to my audience and increasing conversions.”

The cons to feedback is also that people have ideas that might not match up with what you want to add to the plugin. So you have to give and take and make decisions of whether that is something you really want to add into your plugin.

8. Give People Documentation

We had plans from the very beginning to have a knowledge base area on our website to help people. The mistake we made was not having all the docs written when we launched the plugin. This resulted in a few more emails that we didn’t anticipate and could have easily avoided. So write docs, write docs, and write more docs! We now have over 20 knowledge base documents written and the emails from people have pretty much stopped. People aren’t stupid, if you give them the info, they will find it and use it.

Also, give people a changelog please! This is a pet peeve of mine. We have links to this in our knowledge base, our plugin, and even the footer of our website. We are OCD about our changelog and make sure it is updated whenever we release new updates.


If you are thinking about launching a WordPress plugin, or are currently developing one, hopefully some of the things we learned above will help you. Always budget more time than you currently have budgeted and be ready for a lot of emails. And when it comes to documentation, there is nothing to easy. Write a doc for everything!

Visit our WP Coupons Plugin

If you are a plugin developer I would love to hear your thoughts below. And make sure to check out our follow up post on 9 things we learned from launching our second WordPress plugin.

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Brian Jackson

Co-founder at forgemedia. Blogger and entrepreneur obsessed with SEO, marketing, and web performance. Connect on Twitter @brianleejackson.

6 thoughts on “What We Learned From Launching Our First WordPress Plugin”

  1. Woah!

    I never knew launching a plugin was such a lengthy process, as it always seemed easy to me.

    Thanks Brian for sharing your true experience and helpful tips. I liked to idea of creating an affiliate program and let our affiliates do the majority of promotion while we can focus on adding more features.

    WPCoupons looks like a great plugin and I would definitely get one soon.

  2. Brian, did you know that since the time you originally wrote this review, EDD more than tripled in price ($199/yr for one site)? Do you still think it’s worth that price?

    • Ya I need to update this… but yes, I still think it’s worth the price. I literally have never had issues with EDD, which is saying something. Am I happy about the price increases? No… but WooCommerce has done the same. EDD for digital products is still by far the best solution out there. However, it would be nice to see more competition in this space to bring the prices back down.

  3. That’s very helpful. I remember crossing paths with Pippin when he was just starting out. He did great work then like he does now and I completely get the price increase (a problem with under-selling at the onset) but it’s very useful to have a before/after perspective so thanks for such a quick reply!

  4. Hi Brian,

    It’s always great to hear from you. You never fail to amaze me with your writings. As usual, loved it.

    First of all, I want to share some similarities we both have.

    Our first plugin is also a coupon plugin (WP Coupons and Deals). My brother and I developed the plugin. And we also developed it to increase our affiliate sales. And at that time, there was no decent coupon plugin in WordPress repository.

    We use Freemius to sell the plugin. It’s specially designed for WordPress business. It helped us a lot to get sales directly from WordPress dashboard. And it also has an affiliate platform.

    When it comes to marketing, we actually didn’t do anything special to promote the plugin. All we did was, just published some posts on our blog. We didn’t even do a single outreach. But the plugin got some traction because there was a perfect gap on the market. There was no decent solution back then.

    Now we are working on our second plugin (Ultimate Blocks). This time we are very serious about the development and marketing. Hope it will be a great plugin for Gutenberg Editor.

    However, thanks for sharing this awesome post.


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