Interview with Adam Warner, FooPlugins Founder On Business Challenges & Useful Tips
I met Adam W. Warner at Pressnomics conference this year. Almost from the very beginning he became a good friend who not only taught me the basics of golf, but helped me learn a lot about the WordPress community. As of recently, SiteGround and FooPlugins, Adam’s company, partnered because we like and respect each others’ work. FooPlugins is a place where you can find multiple useful plugins for WordPress, but the most popular one is FooBox Media Lightbox for which SiteGround customers now get 20% discount.
So, I asked Adam a few questions on his business tactics and for some useful tips based on his experience as an entrepreneur with a WordPress-centered business that could be valuable to anyone who has their own online project.
Adam: There are several ways to promote other than just cross-promotion partnerships. In fact, those usually come after your brand has been somewhat established.
You’ve probably heard this phrase before…”The money is in the list.” I like to think of it like this…”The trust and loyalty is in the list.”
The number one thing I recommend to anyone wanting to start an online business is to blog regularly, create a free ebook (or other downloadable product) and ask for an email in order to get it.
Now here’s the most important part, and where many people go wrong. Do not pitch that email list with anything to buy. Not yet. The primary goal should always be to bring value-added content to the people who are subscribed.
Why? Because helping others learn is just the right thing to do, but you also start to build trust, and building trust takes time, especially in the digital world.
After you’ve gained the trust of those following what you’re doing online, you can then let them know that you’ve got something of value that you’re selling. Even if it’s not for them, they’re likely to share because they know that you bring value and it’s likely your product or service does the same.
I also recommend becoming involved in groups related to your product or service and use those groups not to promote yourself, but to be helpful to other group members. By doing this, you create a solid reputation in those communities and individual trust. Followers and customers will follow naturally.
Some examples are Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, and Google+ communities.
Reneta: No matter how successful your promotional efforts are, the buying decision often comes down to pricing. Compared to the market, is paying $27 for a whole year for FooBox lightbox plugin expensive and why?
Adam: When we first released FooBox, the price was set at just $9. We knew this price wasn’t sustainable for a full time business, but we did this for a couple different reasons.
First, it was to test the market and what price it would bear. Secondly, it was low enough to gain a considerable customer base quickly. That mattered because we now had that many people following what we were doing with FooBox and also an outlet to communicate our future products.
We also looked at other premium plugin products and used those prices as a gauge.
Starting with an “introductory” low price allowed us to raise the price after determining how much time our support and development teams are spending on each product.
It should be noted here that our customers aren’t just purchasing our plugins, they’re also purchasing a year of plugin updates and access to our support.
Reneta: What was the biggest challenge when you started Foo Plugins? How did you know if it was worth going on with the idea?
Adam: The biggest challenge in creating FooPlugins was learning the correct way to structure the business legally.
Your readers should know that it’s really not difficult at all to set up a legal business, but because the FooPlugins Co-founder, Brad Vincent, and I live in different countries we had some extra things to consider. We ended up hiring an accounting firm to help us decide and then setup, the legal structure.
Knowing whether or not to continue an idea or business can be measured in a few ways.
Before FooPlugins.com was created, we started selling our flagship product, FooBox. In fact, this was how Brad and I tested our partnership. We knew we needed each other’s skills but started with one thing in order to validate any future business plans together.
It’s probably obvious to state, but the first metric to pay attention to is revenue, both incoming and outgoing, and to find a monetary balance between income and expenses.
The second metric we pay attention to daily is our reputation in the WordPress and jQuery communities. We try hard to ensure that we’re adding value and that our brand continues to be known, mentioned, and recommended. If we know our customers are happy and that they’re engaged in what we’re doing.
Those two measurements are what help guide our business, and our product offerings.
Reneta: How important is the support you provide to your plugins?
Adam: Support is just as important as our plugin features. We pride ourselves in fast and complete support for our customers. It’s not just the right thing to do; it’s a key part of our business.
If your customers aren’t satisfied, the word will spread and your brand and business will quickly fail.
Most of our customers are web developers, agencies, and independent business owners building image heavy sites (think a photography website) and wanted a better way to display their images on mobile devices and get those images shared across various social networks. Instead of their images being cutoff on a phone or tablet screen, FooBox solves that problem by automatically detecting the screen size and adjusting the image or other media accordingly.
Reneta: In my experience making sure you stay different and have a competitive advantage is essential for business success. So, why should someone buy your lightbox plugin and not someone else’s?
Adam: FooBox is the best media lightbox plugin for WordPress. I know that may sound like a bold statement, but that’s what we believe and it’s what drives us to continue adding features and enhancements.
Here’s a short list of my favorite features:
- Fully responsive and mobile ready
- Image, video, inline HTML, and iframe lightboxes
- Social sharing built-in to easily share your media and drive traffic
- Works with WP galleries and other gallery plugins like NextGEN Gallery, Jetpack Tiled Galleries, Justified Image Grid, and more
- And much more…
Indeed FooBox Lightbox has the reputation of being one of the best lightbox plugins for WordPress. But you can’t last long on reputation if you don’t make efforts to match it with a quality of product. Knowing Adam it seems they are working hard to make sure that reputation stays well deserved!