This is a deep dive into a very interesting success story with Freemius. You’ll see why it’s interesting in a few paragraphs. This time we are exploring a WordPress plugin called Pootle Page Builder, talking to its founder & managing director – Jamie Marsland.
Hi Jamie! Can you give us a quick overview about yourself: where are you based, and how did you get started?
Pootlepress is based in Cheltenham in the UK and we’ve been helping individuals, small businesses and big brands with WordPress for five years. We started off as a WordPress training business and to date have trained over 3000 people ‘face to face’ and have over 1000 members on our online training academy.
Now we also build cool plugins and themes to make WordPress even easier.
What is this page-builder plugin you’ve created, and what makes it great when compared with other builders in this market?
Pootle Pagebuilder is a front-end, drag and drop authoring tool that makes it easy to create beautiful WordPress pages and posts. We’ve focused on making it super easy to use, lean and fast. Whereas other page builders tend to interrupt the creative writing process, we’ve tried hard to make Pootle Pagebuilder the only authoring tool you’ll want to use.
WordPress & You
How did you get into the WordPress world? Was it your first CMS?
10 years ago I was Managing Director of a publishing business and we were using a commercial .NET content management system called Ektron, which was expensive and a little clunky. Then one weekend I stumbled across WordPress and within a few days I was building the same functionality that it was taking my development team months to produce.
With WordPress I was building the same functionality that was taking my development team months to produceTweet
Is Pootle Pagebuilder your first plugin, or did you have other WordPress products prior to it?
We also build plugins that extend the functionality of the WooThemes Canvas theme (Canvas Menu Customizer) and WooThemes Storefront theme (Storefront Pro). We continue to develop these.
We’ve also just released our own theme called 18tags, available from WordPress.org. This is based on our understanding on how users want the ability and control to change every element of the design of their theme. 18tags has a pro version that we’d love to sell using Freemius at some point in the future.
What inspired the name for ‘Pootle Pagebuilder’?
Pootle is part of our name. It means ‘to move or travel in a leisurely manner’. It’s often used in our household ‘I’m just having a quick pootle on the web’ or ‘I’m off for a pootle down the road’. Pootle is also a character from a 1970’s UK children’ show.
Pootle Page Builder & Freemius
How did you first hear about Freemius?
I think I first heard about Freemius from a Tom McFarlin article.
Why did you choose to use Freemius over other solutions such as EDD, WooCommerce or CodeCanyon?
For our other plugins we’ve used WooCommerce and their API extension for software licensing. There were three reasons why we made the switch away from WooCommerce.
- The WooCommerce solution was a little buggy and difficult to support for us
- We wanted greater visibility on how our users were using (or not) our plugin
- We wanted to have a free version of Pootle Pagebuilder on WordPress.org, with an option for users to upgrade directly from within the admin dashboard, if they want to.
How long did it take you to integrate Freemius into your plugin and have it do its thing?
It was really quick, it only took us 1 week to get to live.
How long from the day you released the plugin with Freemius until you saw the first sale made?
We saw our first sale within two days.
How would you describe your experience working with the Freemius team so far? Please be honest
Our experience has been really good so far. The caveat to that is that we realised Freemius is a new service that was going to have some teething problems, so we were prepared for a few issues, but the guys at Freemius have been really responsive and we love their vision for Freemius.
What is your favorite Freemius feature?
Transparency. Now we get visibility on how users are using Pootle Pagebuilder and we also get feedback on why they have stopped using it.
For example, we now know that quite a few users who have de-activated Pootle Pagebuilder say they didn’t know how to get started. So for the next release we are ‘onboarding’ new users. What’s really nice is that using Freemius Insights we can track whether this works and iterate and improve as we go.
Pootle Pagebuilder & Your Career
Is PPB your full-time job, or is it a side income? If not, what is your main thing?
Pootle Pagebuilder is one of our products in our product suite. We’re now actively considering moving our other plugins onto Freemius.
We love developing new plugins where we see a requirement and where we can help make WordPress easy. We feel it’s important to keep growing the training side of our business because it feeds directly into our product development. It’s incredibly insightful to see how non-techie users approach building websites.
You sold for almost $9k on your first month with Freemius, and your free version has less than 4,000 active installs. These are some outstanding conversion rate and sales performance! What’s your special sauce?
Pootle has built a solid reputation over the past five years, so we have quite a few customers that know and trust us.
Email marketing forms a large part of our sales strategy and this is something we’ve built over time, using content marketing.
How are you balancing PPB’s resources between marketing and development?
We’re currently split 50/50 between marketing and development.
I know you guys have a new exciting complimentary iPad product you’re about to release. Can we get a teaser?
Yes, we have a companion Pootle Pagebuilder App coming out in the next two weeks. Here’s a video
What tip can you provide for folks working on their WordPress product/business right now, in order to maybe help have things easier for them for when they’re out the gate?
My number one tip is to be clear on your route to market and plan for this.
What’s worked for us has been content marketing. We do this primarily through our blog, free products and the free tutorials that we’ve produced.
My number one tip for WordPress products is to be clear on your route to market and plan for this.Tweet