In reviewing people’s code for WordPress, I’m constantly struck by the lack of foresight people put in to their success. When a developer makes it clear they intend to run a business or have some modicum of popularity, one would expect them to put a bit of effort into it. Instead, I’ve watched people make the same mistakes over and over. And they complain to me about why their plugin is failing to become “the one” to use.

The answer always seems to surprise them. People don’t take them seriously because they are unprofessional.

WordPress Basics

First of all, no one magically knows all this when they start. So it’s alright not to know. However. If you’re going to go into business based around anything, you need to learn the rules of the road. Take the time to learn that it’s WordPress with a capital P, that there’s a foundation, a trademark, and, yes, that you cannot use WordPress in your domain name.

If you were going into business with PayPal or CitiBank, that’s all legwork you are expected to do beforehand. This is a business, and when you don’t take WordPress seriously, you won’t be taken seriously by WordPress.

SEO Basics

Pick a good domain name for your business site. Make sure you’re not violating a trademark or copyright. Pick a good name for your product. For the love of all things whiskey, don’t name your slider plugin “Slider” and stop using “Mega” as a prefix for anything. Remember, the name of your product cannot infringe on anyone’s trademark. So while “Shoppable Cookie Cutters” is not trademarked, “Shoppable” is. And yes, you’ll get a C&D for being similar.

Write good copy for your website. Have a clear mission statement, a human about page, and some semblance of being real people. This extends to your documentation. Write it. Write it good. Write a readme that tl;dr pitches your product, explains why someone needs it, and details out what kind of services it uses (if any). Remember that most of your SEO comes from humans. Write for them.

Community Basics

The OpenSource community in general will help anyone who asks politely. So be polite. Be respectful. Be courteous. Be generous. If people are helping you for free (and most of them are) then thank them and ask how to pay it forward. Offering services, answering generic questions, educating users, or even just publicly thanking volunteers helps.

The community also includes your users. Respect them. Especially when they’ve gone off the deep end and accuse you of wild impropriety. Your plugin hacked their site? Probably not, but treat them with respect and kindness. It goes a long way to inspiring the volunteers to back you up. But also don’t spam your users with a million in-product reminders to review your product, give it five stars, or otherwise distract them from actually using your plugin.

Universal Basics

Do your research. There is nothing on this earth that is a get-rich-quick, so study what you’re getting into. Don’t jump in blindly. Make sure the community is one you can work with, that they have ethics similar to yours. And if not, make absolutely sure you really are comfortable with going for the money.

Set your expectations realistically, and be willing to have them reset. Take your work seriously, don’t make excuses like “someone else did this first!” Own up to any mistakes or missteps you make. Remember, you absolutely will screw something up along the way. The measure of success can be found in how you handle it.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Awesome advice as usual! I soooo wish that more developers would abide by these simple (and seemingly common-sense) basics.

    And your first point is an important “first step.” I’m amazed at how many developers hold themselves out as “WordPress developers” yet lack even basic knowledge of WP itself. A little research (and learning) goes a long way. If someone wants to look like a professional, they should start by acting like one; and that means doing your initial research and going through the learning curve BEFORE hanging your shingle out in public.

    Thanks again for the insights!

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