An Interview with Scott Bolinger about WordPress Businesses And Life

A graduate of San Diego State University, Scott Bolinger is the Co-Founder of AppPresser, a WordPress plugin that lets users to easily and conveniently convert WordPress Websites into mobile apps. Scott also hosts a blog where he offers top shelf advice to WordPress and JavaScript developers.

Scott has presented at Macworld, New Media Expo, Loopconf, and several WordCamps and led AppPresser to the finals in the 6 About to Break competition.

Scott, thanks for agreeing to participate in an Interview with us. We’re sure you have loads of valuable advice to offer to plugin devs and businesses. Let’s start off with a west coast question.

What’s it like mountain biking in the OC?

Pretty awesome!  Laguna Beach and Aliso Viejo are 15 minutes away and have some of the best trails in so cal. I grew up riding BMX, transitioned to motocross, and now I’m hooked on downhill mountain biking.

Downhill mountain biking

What is your background? Were you always inclined towards mobile app platform development?

I started out doing websites for clients, then started a premium theme company. Honestly I didn’t have much mobile experience before AppPresser, I just thought it was a great idea and I went for it. I had to learn almost everything about apps while building my product.

What was your first encounter with WordPress? Was it love at first ‘site’?

My first experience was paying a developer from Craigslist to install WordPress for me because I had absolutely no idea how websites worked. I asked him how much he would charge me and he said $5.  Needless to say, it’s pretty easy to do, I just didn’t know that at the time.

What was your motivation for starting AppPresser?

I was inspired by Matt Mullenweg’s talk at WordCamp San Francisco about WordPress becoming a platform for apps. I was already looking for new business ideas at the time, and it struck me that no one had a product specifically for WordPress + mobile apps. I immediately began seeking a partner to help.  I had no idea how to do it, but I was convinced it was a great idea.

What would you say gives a plugin the most traction? For instance, can plugins thrive on the sheer merit of their functionality or do they need to have strategic exposure?

I think some developer focused plugins can succeed just because they work really well. For example, Gravity Forms didn’t do much marketing, but they thrived because developers loved them and became their evangelists.  It worked for them, but this is a terrible strategy for a newcomer.

Marketing is incredibly important, and it’s how most products gain traction. I’m a big believer in content marketing, it’s how many multi-million dollar companies have been built. For example, Groove, SEOmoz, and Kissmetrics.  Strategic exposure of some sort is invaluable, and I wouldn’t make a product without outlining my marketing strategy first.

Some companies like Leadpages started marketing before they even had a product. They built a popular blog 6 months before they launched anything to buy. I think this is a fantastic strategy.

It’s not that hard to get people to see your product in the WordPress world. Everyone will take a glimpse when you launch, just because everyone likes something new. The question is: is it interesting enough to take a second look, or share?  We got a lot of exposure early on with AppPresser simply because it was so different than other products.

If you are launching a premium theme company, good luck getting exposure. You are gonna have to buy a super bowl ad to get anyone to pay attention to you, you better have an incredible marketing strategy.

If you are launching a premium theme company, good luck getting exposure. You better have an incredible marketing strategy.

Scott Bolinger

Scott Bolinger in action

What’s your day to day office routine like? Do you work at home or the office? How many hours a week do you dedicate to AppPresser?

I work from home, but I’ll have to get an external office soon because baby #2 is on the way. I work full time on AppPresser.

I see on your blog that you are a self-styled ‘Growth Hacker’. How has growth hacking benefited your plugin in ways traditional marketing techniques never could?

I would call myself more of a “Growth Hack!”  I just like to study marketing and growth, and try to apply it to my business. I’ve had some success, but I’m not an expert.

I think the single biggest thing we’ve done at AppPresser has just been to do something different. We came out with a product that was unique and it filled a need, and we are still being paid dividends for that.

What are your goals for 2016? Personal and business.

Business: I’d like to release a new product this year that serves a bigger market.  Personal: I want to ride MTB as much as possible and get faster.

You offer a wealth of information to emerging WordPress users over at your blog. Is there any plugin advice you would like to impart today?

I think it’s pretty easy to make a product that pulls in $5k or so a month. That’s a lot of money to some people, so take that as encouragement to start your own product business.

It takes a long time to learn everything you need to know, so the best thing to do is start now. Stop procrastinating/overthinking and just release a product. Consider it a learning experience.

It’s a full time job to promote a product, so expect to get what you give.

What would you say was your biggest mistake or regret while running AppPresser?

Our niche is great, but it’s a small niche. WordPress makes up 25% of the web, and people who need apps are a small percentage of that. The market for my product is fairly small, which is good and bad.

Small niches are easier to gain traction in, but AppPresser will never be a 5 million dollar per year product.  Think hard about your market, and make sure it’s focused, but not too small.

Small niches are easier to gain traction in. Think hard about your market, and make sure it’s focused, but not too small.

Scott, it’s been a great pleasure interviewing you for the Freemius blog. When I go back and read your answers I see some pure gold advice for the developers out there that are working on their awesome products and businesses. Thanks a lot for your sincere advice and answers!

Here’s an awesome smooth downhill mountain biking video I came across. It’s not Scott riding, but I’m sure he’ll appreciate the gesture 🙂

 

If you can think of anything you’d like to ask Scott, which we didn’t think of – please do so in the comments area below, and we’ll make sure to bring it to Scott’s attention.

5 comments

  1. I have had a failed venture in the past. WordPress theme and plugins business is little bit hard. If you are not good at marketing, you will fail miserably.

     

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