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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

Leave a Comment:

17 comments
Theodore Nwangene says April 13, 2013

Hey John,
This is really impressive man, initially, i use to think that before one can outsource the creating of any plugin, he must have anything from $1k, but you’ve really shown me that anything is possible with the right knowledge and experience.

Hey man, i really like the way you do your things, really simple yet unbelievable. You’re so impossible man. I’ve already learnt a lot from you so far and, i hope i will soon start putting all these to practice soon.

I just created my first niche site following your tips with that of Quinn and i will like you to take a look and then give me your own suggestions if you don’t mind. The domain is at theoweightlosssolutions dot com. Its on the weight loss niche just as the name implies.

But my problem now is that Google just disabled my adsense account. Thanks man.

Please any suggestions or recommendations will be highly appreciated.

Reply
    Jon says April 14, 2013

    Hi Theodore, thanks for the kind words!

    I was impressed as well that it was possible to get a plugin created for that price.

    Here is some feedback on your site theoweightlosssolutions dot com

    1. Monetization Review:
    I would recommend removing the big banner and making the ads more contextually relevant. Making posts specifically targeting some product you can provide a relevant review on will have higher conversions than a large banner. One easy way of doing this is picking a product you want to promote and then having a contextual link placed in all posts using the plugin Quick Adsense.

    You can always try out my new plugin as well 😉

    Having your adsense account banned sucks but at least in the health niche there is no shortage of products to promote!

    On Page Content Review:
    The posts look pretty high quality, did you write them yourself or outsource them.

    One tip I would provide is the weight loss niche is extremely crowded, in order to get any social momentum you will need to make your content unique and stand out.

    Web Design/Engagement:
    I know the site is new and I am sure is evolving everyday but here are a few tips I would add…
    a. New logo – you can outsource one for $5 and get a reasonable quality one from Fiverr
    b. Widget area needs to be more user friendly
    c. Why is your site unique – that needs to be clearly defined in the first 7 seconds someone visits the site
    d. The banner ad at the top makes the site look like its sole purpose is to make money and not help people

    On Page SEO:
    The widget area needs to be improved – add recent and relevant posts to the sidebar so that link juice gets passed throughout your site.
    The name of your homepage shouldn’t be “Home”

    Off Page SEO:
    Nothing was showing up as far as your offpage promotion goes. As you said this is a new site so I am sure it is in progress.

    Your site is looking good and you are on the right track as far as I know. The key for your site is to somehow differentiate it from the thousands of other weight loss sites.

    Let me know if you have any other questions.

    Jon

    Reply
      Theodore Nwangene says April 17, 2013

      Sorry i replied late Jon,
      My authority site was hacked so, I’ve been working so hard trying to fix it. I really appreciate you taking your time to visit my site and then giving me all this suggestions. Thanks man. I will have to print out this reply of yours.

      How do you see the theme? I’m thinking of changing it too. I will do as you said to remove the big banner at the top, i was just looking at it and don’t like it either. Yea, Google finally rejected my appeal and that was the main monetization method i planned initially. What other contextual ads will you recommend?

      I thought quick adsense plugin is meant for adsense codes alone? Of cause, I’ve already downloaded your plugin and will surely make use of it.

      Thanks for your response, can i add you on Facebook?

      Reply
Miki Vicioso says April 15, 2013

John! glad to have you back buddy. Love how detailed your posts are. I will check the plugin out and let you know, I currently do this custom coded on some of my websites but I have a couple that I will give this a try.

Reply
Ago says April 27, 2013

Jon, you are them epic post man!
The details you write in each of your posts make me want to go to the action,
and I’m soooo motivated!
Ohhhh, and you make me love Odesk too!!! 🙂
All the best,
Ago 🙂

Reply
    Jon says April 28, 2013

    Ago, I am glad you are motivated! Writing these posts for the readers is very motivating for me!

    Reply
Tiky. says May 6, 2013

Hi Jon,

Thank you very much for this post. I was looking for some tips about hiring.

Reply
    Jon says May 6, 2013

    I am glad you liked it, when you create your plugin be sure to let us know how it goes.

    Reply
James @ Hloom says September 3, 2013

Interestingly enough, floating sidebar content does not perform well everywhere. We tried using this on all of our sites, and some performed very, very bad so it was not worth having it. Did you see Float Ads Fixed Position? That’s what we use, it seems to be doing exactly the same thing yours does.

PS: Half of the links in your plugin do 404, which is slightly annoying.

Reply
    Jon says September 3, 2013

    Thanks for the heads up James, yah I found out after about another plugin that does basically the same thing. The one you mention I believe came out after. They all perform the same function. Thanks for the heads up on the 404 errors, I will put it on my list to fix.

    Reply
Leo @Newbiesup says January 7, 2014

Hi Jon,

Leo again.

I am just looking around your posts and happened to see this one. It’s also a good instruction on the outsource process. $150 is fairly cheap to develop a plugin from the ground.

I welcome you to look at my site linked by my name and you’ll find my right sidebar also contains a float box. I don’t use any plugin for this but add some lines of codes to my theme 😉

Reply
    Jon says January 12, 2014

    Well done Leo, that looks good in your sidebar!

    Reply
James @ Hloom says April 8, 2014

Hey Jon,
heads up on floating AdSense: it is not allowed anylonger.

https://support.google.com/adsense/answer/48182?hl=en
Encouraging clicks:
– Place ads in a floating box script.

Reply
Josephs says August 10, 2015

Hey John,

Thank you very much for the nice information.. I’d a plugin customization to fix..contacted local team but did’nt get a good solution. Now it fixed by a team http://www.segurotechnologies.com I’m very happy, they are giving good support for my wordpress. 🙂

Thanks again for your instructions.

ALL THE BEST

Josephs

Reply
Jon B says August 13, 2016

Hey Jon, found this post by a google search on page one. It was exactly what I was looking for, great post!

Question though? Ive used upwork for sometime now and I think a big part of getting something developed is knowing the lingo of what you exactly want!

I know in the beginning days of starting a site and finding a freelancer to develop it. It always felt like one huge nightmare. It drove me to the point where eventually I just did it on my own and started watching training tutorials.

But as soon as i got the basics down from the tutorials, I really started to understand the lingo and how things function. That basic training made it easier to communicate with developers.

Even though I couldnt develop nothing near what they were doing for development but I it least understood because I would eventually remember like: ” oh this is what hes talking about, I remember reading that the other day on how to do it”

I think a big problem with freelancers and odesk in the beginning days was the never ending excuses and reasons why they couldnt get to it. “oh sorry I had an emergency this weekend I had to go here” “oh this happen” or it least they were honest and go ” oh I had to finish other project” That would happen a lot in the beginning.

Once i knew the basics it cut through the bs cause I think developers realised “hey this guy knows the lingo hes done this before, so they take you more seriously”

So my question is do you have any recommendations for beginning tutorials about plugin development? Like any good rookie books, or blog post or youtube series out there that you know of?

I know the point of your post is to outsource, which I still want to do but learning how to do some and know the basics goes a long way.

Thanks again for the awesome post!!

All the best! Jon B

Reply
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