2015

It’s hard to believe but Ultimate Member turned 1 yesterday. The last year has flown by and whilst it has been a very successful first year for us, it has not been without its challenges.

Let’s take a look back at everything that happened during 2015.

Growth

Launching Ultimate Member was scary, especially when the plan was for the plugin to provide a full-time income for two people.

We didn’t have a mailing list, friends in the WordPress community or an established reputation to help us increase awareness of the plugin.

We started from scratch.

We had invested over six months into building the plugin and it would be a lie to say the first weeks and months of the plugin being on the repo were not stressful.

Thankfully, Ultimate Member proved to be popular with WordPress users and it didn’t take long for us to get to an average new active installs of around 2000 a month.

We ended the year with over 20,000 active installs.

The Team

For most of the year it was just Ahmed and me running the business by ourselves. This was fine to begin with but as our user base grew and more support tickets were submitted it became harder and harder to manage the plugin.

So in October we decided to grow the team and bring in three new developers to help with technical support and product improvements.

Their names are Champ, Jon and Alex and they have made a huge difference in helping to improve support and make the plugin and the extensions better.

As well as helping the business, they have also had a major impact on me personally, as I am less stressed and can take more breaks knowing that our plugin’s users are in good hands.

Revenue

I am a big believer in business transparency.

Seeing revenue figures for plugins such as EDD and Ninja Forms made it much easier for us to commit to creating Ultimate Member as we were able to see just how well other plugin businesses were doing.

We decided to embrace transparency fully and from the very beginning we have had a real-time metrics page where anyone can see how much money the plugin makes.

Total revenue for 2015 was $210,142.46 from 2,336 sales. This was earned over 295 days as we did not start selling extensions until the 11th of march. This gives us a daily average total revenue of $712.

Our highest monthly revenue was in October where we earned $28,518 and since June our revenue has been above $20,000 each month.

Support

Screen Shot 2016-01-21 at 16.12.58

Without a doubt, the biggest challenge of running a WordPress plugin is providing support. It can consume up all the hours in a day and bring development to a halt, which is what happened to us a few months ago.

When we first launched Ultimate Member we decided to use a forum as our means of providing support. Whilst this worked to begin with, as our user base continued to grow each month it became harder to support the plugin.

So in October we decided to switch from a forum to email ticketing support using HelpScout and hired 3 people to help with support.

In total, we have had over 6100 requests for support during 2015. This works out at $34.40 in revenue per support ticket.

Whilst a large plugin with lots of functionality is always going to have a higher support-user ratio than a more basic plugin, this is a number that is too high for me and is something we will be working on actively over the next year to reduce.

Here are some other support stats:

  • Number of tickets resolved on first reply – 45%
  • Average first response time – 16h59m
  • Average response time – 21h9m
  • Average resolution time – 3d17h
  • Average number of replies to resolve – 2.63

Reviews

As well as the number of active installs, another great indicator of how popular a plugin is, are the reviews it receives. Ultimate Member received the following reviews during 2015:

  • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – 236
  • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – 11
  • ⭐️⭐️⭐️ – 4
  • ⭐️⭐️ – 5
  • ⭐️ – 5

Overall, our average star rating is 4.8/5, which is something we are very happy about as it tells us that the vast majority of users are happy with Ultimate Member.

2016 & Beyond

2016 promises to be an exciting year for Ultimate Member, with many improvements to the plugin and new extensions to be built and released.

There is definitely a lot more growth in the plugin and we will be looking to increase the scope and usage potential of Ultimate Member to reach a greater user base and make the plugin the go-to plugin for membership/community sites.

Here are some of our goals for 2016:

  • Reduce support tickets by improving documentation
  • Develop more extensions & continue to improve plugin
  • Grow team further to allow for faster support & development
  • Increase monthly revenue to $30,000+ via new sales & license renewals
  • Better content marketing with more blog posts
  • Continue to improve business transparency
  • Improve health & wellbeing with more breaks and holidays

Calum Allison

Founder of Ultimate Member - a free online community & user profile plugin for WordPress.

This Post Has 14 Comments

  1. Hey Calcum,

    Unfortunately, I was one of those who may have increased the support count. but I totally understand the switch to a more systematic customer service approach.

    Congrats on a great 2015 and I wish you and your team all the best in 2016 and beyond!

    Best,
    Vic

  2. Congrats guys. This plugin is ridiculously good, especially considering that it has only been around for a year. Out of the box it is 100x better looking than all the other membership options.

  3. Great job Calum.

    It’s a shame that you lost the community that you had on your site when you had the forums running. You are a “community” plugin, and the first year having the forums, I found myself coming back every day to see what people were up to, any issues they had that I also had, and that I could help them solve, etc. It was great!

    That all went away when you shut the forums down. Plus, when I am working on my site over the weekend, I can’t even submit a support ticket because you close the ability to even do that, so I have to make a note to try to remember to email you on Monday, which by then is usually too late to help.

    So, I hope that you can bring back the sense of community again because I have only visited your site once or twice in the last few months, and it makes me sad that I was part of a cool community in the beginning and now that community has been dissolved all because of your difficulty in handling support.

    Please think about bringing back the forums, because I think you will hit your $30k goal much faster. Your maximum month was at a time when you still had that community, and it’s gone down since abolishing it.. so it’s something you should look into. (Obviously, you tell people that support questions will only officially be answered by submitting a ticket and the forums are just for people to communicate and help each outer out with things on their own.)

    I got all kinds of features from other members (like message counts in the menu bar, and I even built a pseudo-front-end publishing extension) and these things cannot be gotten with your current setup with no community.. so please look at a way you can bring it back. Again.. you are a community plugin.. it would be nice to actually HAVE a community on your website! What better way to sell what you have!

    Sorry for venting.. I still love the plugin.. just wanted to add some additional thoughts to it all.

    Thanks Calum.

    Charles

    1. Agreed. I’m wondering if it is possible to create an easier workflow by making the forum behave like a ticket system to make management easier. Perhaps such a system already exists for WordPress? Having a community backing an extension helps build relations and is helpful for the supporters. In addition to this it helps bring confidence for the non subscribers who see your great transparent support. Finally there is also the SEO benefit to more content being produced as a result. 🙂

  4. Has anyone here at any experience with emplimenting woo commerce extention sensei? Ive searched up and down and have had no lucky. The fact that the “community” was shut down doesn’t help

  5. Congratulations on the 1 year anniversary! I am a big fan.

    It may be worthwhile re-activating the forum…here’s why;

    * People love to contribute to the community. Some of my questions were answered by the forum. So, a ticketing system actually may create more volume in some respects.

    * You could offer a few power-user-experts complimentary ____… extensions? or ____ to help moderate the forum. This would give you a small army of moderators without extra cost.

    * Perhaps the only way you get a ticket, is with premium support, to keep the volume down.

    Just some food for thought. Again – thanks for the product, and keep up the great work.

  6. You did one hell of a job with Ultimate Member! Yesterday I purchased your package for a client. I’m not through implementing all the awesome extensions yet but so far I feel really really happy and I my client will be as happy as I am. I know it.

    The package is a total break-through. Seriously… how can you give it away for that price? 😀
    Callum and to all your co-workers: You probably know me from several tickets asking crazy questions and bringing forward implementation ideas – I may not be an easy customer but I’m definitely one of the happiest one 🙂

    Good Job!
    Stay on it!

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