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10 Steps to Outsource the Development of a WordPress Plugin

Here is the story of how, with no coding knowledge, I outsourced the creation of a WordPress Plugin in under 2 weeks for $150.

If you are waiting for my monthly income report – it should be out by the end of the weekend – I apologize for the delay!

I have been wanting to develop a WordPress plugin for over a year and have had several ideas. Finally I decided to give it a go and create a plugin which would help me make more money through my affiliate sales.

Both the success of the plugin creation and the effectiveness of the plugin is outstanding – the marketing of the plugin could do with some work!

 Here is the resulting plugin – It increased my affiliate ad click through rate by 50% – http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/ctr-widget/

Step 1 – I Came Up With Borrowed an Idea

The Idea: similar to Clay Collins mimicking the Mixergy.com welcome page I wanted to mimick the functionality of the sliding/scrolling widget that is displayed at Quick Sprout.

Here is where I got the inspiration for the CTR widget to increase affiliate ad clicks…

Neil Patel of QuickSprout and KissMetrics Uses a Sliding Sidebar Ad and Increased Clicks by 218%!

QuickSprout 218 percent Increase in CTR

QuickSprout 218 percent Increase in CTR

Source – http://www.quicksprout.com/2013/03/14/click-here-11-ways-to-improve-your-call-to-actions/

Eugene Oprea the Conversion Expert Uses a Sliding Sidebar Ad and Increase Clicks by 670%!

Eugene Oprea Conversion Click Through Increase by 670 Percent

Eugene Oprea Conversion Click Through Increase by 670 Percent

Source – http://www.eugenoprea.com/above-the-fold-myth/

Want to see if the plugin can increase your click through rate by the same amount as Neil and Eugen – Download the plugin – Try It Here

Step 2 – Created a Document to Communicate my Plugin

In this step I wanted to provide as much detail as possible about exactly how the plugin would work and outline all the requirements.

TIP – the more visual you make the document the better the programmer will be able to understand the document.

TIP – Here is a software people rave about – http://www.balsamiq.com/products/mockups – I just used Google Docs presentation and SnagIt software to create mine.

Here is The One I Created – CTR Widget Plugin Details

CTR-Widget-Plugin-Instructions

View The Document I Created – Here

Step 3 – Posted a Job on ODesk

I use and love ODesk for all my outsourcing needs. This is the first time I have had a WordPress Plugin Developed and the quality of applicants was ok.

  • Tip 1 – Make sure to include the requirement to follow http://codex.wordpress.org/Plugin_Resources best practises
  • Tip 2 – make sure to clearly state that you will own all code created
  • Tip 3 – Bidding with a fixed amount will generally keep you more protected and ensure you get a product quickly, however, post completion support may not be as good.

Example – here is and example of the plugin job posting I used

Wordpress-Plugin-Job-Posting

WordPress Plugin Job Posting

Here is the plugin (again) – http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/ctr-widget/

Step 4 – Hired The Right Programmer

When hiring the programmer I had 6 criteria…

  1. Proof of experience creating WordPress plugins (I wanted them to have a WordPress plugin in WordPress.org)
  2. ODesk experience, the more hrs they have worked on ODesk the more likely they will be to complete the work.
  3. English – the ability to effectively communicate is key to being able to resolve the unavoidable misunderstandings.
  4. I avoid hiring an agency since they can easily use 1 persons profile but then have multiple people working behind the scenes.
  5. ODesk feedback – this is a very good indication of how he will perform. If there is someone with 4.75+ feedback from 5 similar jobs I have a high level of confidence he will be able to perform the job as required.
  6. Similar work completed on ODesk. If I am looking to hire a programmer but all their ODesk experience(previous contracts) are for data entry I question whether or not he is really the expert he claims to be.

This may surprise people but I do not interview! Interviewing is in my mind is a waste of time. If the provider does not preform I end the contract and if they do perform then great. Arranging schedules for an interview because of my schedule can delay a project by days and there is very little benefit. The benefit of interviewing marginally improving my hiring decision does not outweigh the opportunity cost of my time and the delays of the project.

I hire and if they are unresponsive to my initial action steps in the first 48hrs I end the contract and move onto the next.

The AMAZING WordPress plugin developer I hired is here >> ODesk Profile

 

Step 5 – Sent Initial Instruction with Clear Action Steps

It is important to strike when the iron is hot and make sure to provide the contractor with the required information quickly so he can begin work while still motivated that he received the job.

It also critical to lay out some initial 24-48 hr milestones such as contacting with initial questions or answering a few key questions.

Here is the email I  sent via ODesk internal message system to him to have him create the plugin.

 

Hi

Your experience looks great and I am sure you will be able to whip this plugin into shape in a hurry.

Attached is the requirements in more detail with some helpful code(I think).

Have a look and if you can get back to me in the next 24hrs confirming…

  1. you understand the scope (repeat back in your own words the purpose of the plugin)
  2. Any questions you have
  3. You understand the communication requirement (daily status email) per attached package
  4. Confirming if the schedule of 1 month delivery is reasonable or if you can do better what is it?

Please email at jon@authoritywebsiteincome.com with the above 4 requirements within 24hrs.

Thanks

Jon

(attached – CTR-Widget-Plugin-Details.pdf)

 

Step 6 – ensure clarity

This is absolutely a key step! If you have created a document in step 2 that lays out exactly what you are looking for than hopefully this step will go smooth but don’t assume it will.

Ask for the contractor to repeat back in his own words what he is going to build and correct as needed.

Here is the message I received back confirming clarity…

Hi Jon,

Thanks for hiring me! That is much appreciated.
I’ve read through your brief, and not really any major questions. Everything seems clear to me. The purpose of the plugin is to have a scrolling “ad” area in the sidebar where you can place any html you choose to.

What I want to ask you though, is the selection of sidebar. As WordPress doesn’t have a sidebar per definition anymore, as it used to, but now allows themes to have multiple sidebars (or widgetized areas as they are called now). We need a way for the user to tell the plugin which sidebar to use. The theme might not even call it sidebar, so it would be dangerous to hardcode where to put it, I think, or assume it is called sidebar.

Two options come to my mind, scan all registered widgetized areas, and display them in a dropdown menu. Or registering the CTR as a widget, so the user can drag and drop it to their widget area of choice from the admin section for widgets.

What you think?

Completing this in under 1 month shouldn’t be a problem and I can send you regular updates.

Cheers,
JS

Based on his response I was happy that I had hired someone that knew what he was doing and that he had spent some time considering the plugin and how it  would be used. He clearly dodged my request for daily updates and added the word “regular” but we settled on every other day but because of how quick he turned the project around we had daily communication going.

 

Step 7 Monitor

I like to set up a simple reporting system which has the team member checking in regularly.

One easy way of doing this is requiring a quick email each day of the project with a really quick email.

  • What did you work on today?
  • Any problems come up?
  • What is the plan for tomorrow?

You can choose to receive fewer of these emails but I suggest you keep it to no more than every other day for most projects.

 

Step 8 – Test Initial Version & Fix Bugs

Once you receive a copy of the plugins first version make sure to test it extensively.

The plugin was developed in under 1 week!

Wordpress-Plugin-Initial-Email

FEB 7 – Contract Started

Completed-Plugin-Email

 

Feb 11 – Rev 0 Plugin Sent!

When testing make sure you…

  • Test it in multiple WordPress sites
  • Take screenshots of all the bugs you find.
  • Create a simple document to track all the bugs. For bigger development projects you should have something more complex but this simple document is really easy to use.

This plugin was your baby so you are going to look at it differently from other people so it’s important to have a lot of people test it.

  • Ask people you know
  • Hire people on odesk
  • Hire people on fiverr

Once you have received the feedback  decide what you are going to fix before version 1 release and what will be in version 2.

 

Step 9 – Submit to WordPress

Her are all the instructions you need to follow to submit your plugin to WordPress

Tip- make sure to complete the readme documentation

 

Step 10 – Promote

I have not done this in a lot of detail yet but here is my basic plan…

  1. Create a compelling “sales/squeeze page”
  2. Share your story on whatever platform you are on (this post you are reading!)
  3. Reach out to people you know. I plan on emailing 5 people per day who run sites that this could help them on.
  4. Create a few pages targeting keywords that I could rank for
  5. Build a squeeze page for a premium version that results in people opting in – gauge the potential for a premium version based on the number of people that opt in
  6. Get custom graphics created for it

So there you have it….steps 1-10 on how I went about coming up with my plugin idea, getting it created and promoting it.

Remember if you want to increase your click trough rate download the plugin and let me know what you think.

DOWNLOAD THE PLUGIN HERE

About the Author Jon

I am a 33 year old husband, father of 3, engineer and a huge fan of developing systems to build useful and profitable websites. The reason I build online businesses is to provide financial independence for my family and yours AND so I can spend time outside skiing and biking with my family.
Jon Gillham, Online Entrepreneur

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