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Freemius Cheat Sheet

This post was written by Scott Murcott, Freemius’ Head of Content, in collaboration with WP Mayor’s Mark Zahra.

The team at Freemius has been busy! In November 2020, the good folks here at WP Mayor featured the Experts Corner, a video series in which WordPress all-stars shared their tips on how to monetize digital products. The series has since come to an end and our focus has shifted to the launch of an eBook that we’ve been quietly — but relentlessly! — working on for the past few months.

Freemius is excited to announce The WordPress Business Cheat Sheet for Selling Themes and Plugins! Covering all of the important milestones in business and product development, the cheat sheet provides concise, actionable tips on how to run a successful WordPress business

Having recently joined Freemius as Head of Content, the cheat sheet has made my onboarding experience far easier and given me invaluable insight into product development and business growth in the WordPress ecosystem. Before the launch, I sent WP Mayor’s own Mark Zahra an advanced copy to pick his brain for insights and feedback. He also had a few personal stories to share with me about his journey in WordPress product development.

Here’s what he had to say:

A Growth Roadmap for WordPress Product Makers

Scott: Hi Mark! Now that you’ve read the cheat sheet, do you think any of your past projects would have benefited from having a resource like this on hand?

Mark: Definitely. Having already been involved in the WordPress product business with WP RSS Aggregator, I had a good idea of what to look out for when creating and launching a new product. With that being said, I didn’t have a single source of information that I could use as a kind of checklist to keep myself on track and make sure I’m not forgetting anything. For those with previous experience in product development, this cheat sheet can serve as just that — a constant reminder of what to focus on and what not to forget, from UX to taxes.

Scott: From the beginning, we intended for the cheat sheet to be a ‘growth roadmap’ that developers can reference at any point of product development. Are you working on anything at the moment that the cheat sheet could help you with?

Mark: Having read through the cheat sheet around 10 months after launching Spotlight, it’s proven to be a good reminder of what we’ve done and what we still have to work on. The latter is very important as we reflect on our roadmap for the next 10 months and beyond. We sometimes get caught up in our day-to-day routines and forget about certain things. Having this reference to fall back on is a good way to be reminded of all of them.

Scott: Did anything, in particular, stand out to you?

Mark: What I liked the most is that the cheat sheet goes into practically every area of starting and running a WordPress business. I wouldn’t single out any one section or topic because they’re all very important and worth taking the time to understand and implement.

Expert Insights Collated From 160+ Articles

There are tons of helpful WordPress resources out there, so you may be asking yourself: “What makes Freemius’ cheat sheet unique?”

There’s an interesting backstory here…

For some time, our CEO Vova Feldman had wanted to refresh Freemius’ growing content repository to keep it relevant and valuable to the community. The repository’s growth was mirrored by our own internal expansion, meaning the onboarding process needed to be streamlined and optimized to make the learning process easier (and quicker) for Freemius recruits.

Vova had another consideration: 

  • Was there a way to make the effort worth it for Freemius’ readers and the WordPress community as a whole?

That’s when he hit upon the idea of a ‘cheat sheet’. While we updated our content repository, we’d also collate the learnings into a concise, digestible asset for the Freemius team, our readers, and the WordPress community.  

The man tasked with this rather daunting assignment was Yashwardhan Rana, Freemius’ new content marketing specialist. Yash was a champion! He went through over 160 Freemius articles and condensed years of information into actionable, data-backed tips (from the experts) for selling WordPress themes and plugins. 

That’s half a million words distilled into ten thousand insight-laden ones! 

What’s more, quotes from leaders in the WordPress business community are peppered throughout the eBook to lend it more authority, such as this one from Mark:

Mark Zahra quote

What’s Inside?

The cheat sheet is divided into 11 chapters, each exploring an essential aspect of WordPress business development. Here’s what to expect:

  1. Brainstorming and Ideation explores how product ideas are born and offers tips and techniques to brainstorm and develop ideas for your own.
  2. Understanding the Target Market helps you assess viability, feasibility, and how you can differentiate your product before you commit.
  3. Creating the Product dives into WordPress guidelines and coding standards, as well as UX best practices and keeping your code lean to avoid bloat.
  4. Choosing the Right Business Model and Architecture takes a look at the pros and cons of Premium and Freemium models as well as add-ons and paid architectures.
  5. Subscriptions vs. One-time Purchases dives into recurring payments that automatically renew and why subscriptions continue to be the ‘go-to’ billing model in the plugin and theme market.
  6. Pricing Your Product Correctly will help you determine your product’s value and calculate your costs and overheads, among other pricing priorities. 
  7. EU VAT, Sales Taxes, Privacy, and Legal cuts through the confusing clutter with viable methods to simplify sales taxes when you sell globally.
  8. Preparing and Launching Your WordPress Product outlines the steps to a well-coordinated, momentum-building product lift-off.
  9. From repurposing your content to starting an affiliate program, Marketing Your WordPress Product unpacks effective marketing strategies to amplify your WordPress plugin or theme.
  10. Handling Customer Support covers tips to create an effective WordPress product customer support system, including how to systemize it and build scalable documentation.
  11. Going Forward and Growing lays out proven strategies such as selling in multiple currencies, offering free trials, bundles, and memberships to build on your success and create a profitable outlook for the future.

A Resource That You Can Return to

Whether it’s conceptualizing, launching, or marketing your WordPress product, the cheat sheet outlines each step in a way that’s accessible to both new and experienced developers seeking business success in the WordPress ecosystem.

To wrap things up, here’s what Mark had to say when I asked him what value the cheat sheet will bring to the community:

Mark: There are many developers out there who are working on side projects or small plugins with the goal or idea of turning them into a business. Figuring out how to do that and finding a trusted source to rely on for information isn’t easy. Despite the wealth of knowledge available within the community, there never was a single place that you can turn to for an “introduction to WordPress businesses”. This cheat sheet seems to do just that. The quotes from successful individuals who’ve been there and done it all are a nice source of inspiration too!

Grab your free copy of The WordPress Business Cheat Sheet for Selling Themes and Plugins here.