One of the most difficult aspects of theme and plugin development is not the development work but all the promotional stuff that comes after. Ultimately, for your product to become successful, people need to know it exists – so you have to tell them about it.
Speaking personally, I find promoting products far more difficult than developing them. The pleasure for me is in creating the product; getting it in front of other people is not quite the same buzz. However, clearly it’s a very necessary part of the business and one I’ve been spending more time working on recently. As a result, I’ve been looking at different opportunities for promoting products online, including paid content.
Submitting to WordPress repositories
With both plugins and themes, a fairly well tried and tested method is to submit a free version of the product to the plugin or theme repositories on WordPress.org. The big advantages of doing this is that it’s free and you’re potentially getting your product right in front of the people most likely to want to use it. However, as WordPress develops, the repositories are growing and your product can easily get lost among its many competitors.
There is also the issue of how search works on each repository and which plugins/themes are featured by WordPress. This can leave your product way down the list and all but invisible.
Of course, there are plenty of other ways to pull in people, like blog posts, social media, direct marketing, and probably a million other SEO techniques. Like submitting to the repositories, traditional SEO is fine – if you’re patient. However, this tends to take a long time to come to fruition and really you want people seeing your product now.
One increasingly common method to achieve some significant traffic almost immediately is to use paid reviews on third-party sites. Established blogs like WP Mayor and WP Lift, which have been around for years, have built up significant followers: via traffic to the website, newsletter subscribers, or followers on social media – or all three.One common method to achieve significant traffic almost immediately is to use paid reviews Click To Tweet
Having looked around at different options for promoting one of my own plugins, I started to compile a list, which I thought would be helpful to share. By my reckoning there are around seven different types of opportunities for paid content on offer. Note that this doesn’t include a number of other paid opportunities. I haven’t looked at banner ads, site sponsorship, or similar advertorial content. I’m mainly interested in longer form written content.
Types of paid content
First, some definitions:
This is pretty standard territory. You contact another website or blog and pitch them an idea for an article. Some sites actively encourage guest blogging; others might need some persuasion. The great benefit of a guest post on a popular blog is that you’re riding on the coat tails of someone else’s hard-earned popularity.
A sponsored post is essentially a guest blog but you pay for the privilege of writing it. You should expect the same benefits as a guest post.
Sponsored reviews are also a paid service but you’re not writing the content yourself. Instead, you’ll provide a copy of your product to the reviewer who’ll present their own views. Depending on the quality of the review, it’s always good to get objective feedback from someone independent in your industry.
One of the benefits of competitions is that you don’t necessarily need to write a lot of content. If you find it hard to write 1000 words about your product, you can write just a briefer piece instead and some free licenses to attract people. Competitions tend to be cheaper than posts and reviews, take less effort, and are a good quick win. On the downside, the lower word count probably means slightly less SEO benefit in the longer term.
This is a method I used when I first launched the Wisdom plugin. It worked really well for me because the plugin was quite niche, aimed specifically at other WordPress developers, and giving away some free licenses allowed me to open a dialogue with the winners, which I found helpful for the ongoing development of the plugin.
Directories paid and free
I’m not entirely convinced of the value of paid directories. I think at best you’re just paying for a link, hopefully from a website with decent domain authority, but I don’t know how much benefit that’s going to transfer to your site and realistically I wouldn’t expect much traffic. But I am, by nature, happy to be proved wrong. It’s why I got married.
Sponsored social media coverage
This can take the form of a tweet, series of tweets, or some Facebook coverage.
All the above can be augmented, depending on the blog, with additional options like being featured in a newsletter, different periods of stickiness on the blog, social media promotion. Pretty much every site I visited did things slightly differently so you can make up your own mind about what will work best for you.I don't expect much traffic from directories. But I'm happy being proved wrong. It's why I got married. Click To Tweet
List of WordPress blogs that offer promotional opportunities
This list is certainly not exhaustive. If you believe there are any sites that ought to be on the list, please feel free to leave a comment and I’ll update the post. Also, please note that the pricing is accurate to the best of my knowledge but you’ll need to confirm yourself with the blogger.
WPLift probably offer the most extensive range of ways to promote your product that I saw while researching this article. They’ve been around since 2010 and have a significant readership.
Opportunities offered by WPLift include:
You provide the prize, WPLift provide the publicity.
WPLift will write a detailed review of your product, take screenshots and present their findings in a detailed review. They also offer to promote the review on social media. I think it’s worth noting that WPLift are not out to write something critical; they’re genuinely interested in finding the good stuff in your product.
Paid review + Newsletter
As above but with the added benefit of being featured in their weekly newsletter. There’s a lot to be said for being included in a newsletter. Email marketing is often considered to be the strongest because, as a rule, you’re already preaching to the converted: that is, people are only subscribing to your newsletter if they’re interested in what you’ve got to say.
WPLift have theme and plugin directories where you can submit your product.
WP Mayor have been blogging about WordPress since 2010. That kind of longevity is a big deal because it means their domain has built authority and the site has built followers. They’re also transparent about their stats: https://www.wpmayor.com/about/. Their promotional services include:
Product Analysis Service
This is essentially a review service: WP Mayor take a look at your product and report back on their findings. They describe themselves as a ‘sharp-shooter’ and you have the option whether to publish or not. In this way, it’s extremely useful to get objective feedback about your product though if you feel it’s not as positive as you’d like, you might end up without a published article.
There are several options within this service, including newsletter and video content.
Cost: $349 to $499
This is ideal if you would like WP Mayor to promote your own article on their site. They don’t just publish it blind, of course, they will review and approve it first.
Cost: $99 to $149
Currently, WP Mayor issue two newsletters a week, both with advertising opportunities.
They run a giveaway every week and the service includes some social media coverage. There is also an extra available to have a week’s banner ad on the site.
Cost: $99 to $149
This is an affordable way of announcing a new product. WP Mayor tweet once to promote your product. Last time I checked they had 25,000 Twitter followers and were only following 4 in return. The question is how much engagement you get for your money.
CatsWhoCode has been around since 2008. They offer several opportunities for paid content:
CatsWhoCode offer a straightforward giveaway service: send them your article and tell them what you’re giving away, they’ll pick a winner(s) themselves randomly to keep it fair, then you send them the prize. I’ve used this service and, as I mentioned above, I found it a useful way of connecting with potential clients.
CWC will review your product and publish the article on their site. I don’t know if you have any kind of editorial control.
Sell with WP
Sell with WP, as you’ve probably gathered from the name, are focused on ecommerce services within WordPress. According to their data, they have approaching 50,000 monthly views on their site.
You can purchase two levels of review from Sell with WP: Product overview and Detailed review. In both cases, Sell with WP will conduct an unbiased review, although they will consult with you during the drafting of the review if they encounter any bugs during their testing and to ensure that they have covered the main product features.
They augment each review with social media shares and inclusion in their newsletter. The higher level service includes some additional benefits such as keyword targeting and insertion in ‘best of’ posts.
Sell with WP aren’t cheap but have some strong feedback from happy customers on their site.
Product overview: $349
Detailed review: $559
WP News Desk
WP News Desk is an offshoot of WP Mayor and is relatively new. As such, they don’t offer details on traffic. It aggregates news from over 100 sources but also allows you to submit your own content.
There are two levels of sponsored post available in WP News Desk: 1 day sticky and 5 days sticky. You provide the article yourself, which is reviewed and approved by WP News Desk.
1 day sticky: $25
5 day sticky: $50
Engage WP have a monthly readership of around 12000. They’re well-established, having been around since 2014.
Engage WP will review your product objectively and don’t offer the opportunity for any editorial input. Once published, reviews are also included in the weekly newsletter provided you can accompany it with a special offer for Engage WP readers. The review is also sticky for a week.
Ultimately, only you can decide which, if any, of these methods are going to be worth it for you. When deciding, I recommend:
- Looking at other reviews, perhaps for similar products, on the site.
- Checking the site is still active – when was the last post published?
- What kind of other content will your product sit next to, e.g. is the site a good fit for your product?
- How do you feel about the quality of other articles on the site?
- Do they have much repeat business – i.e. do you see sponsored articles about the same company’s products on the site? If people are using the service multiple times, hat’s a good sign that the service was deemed worthwhile.
Have I missed any places that offer this kind of service and what are your experiences? Feel free to leave a comment below.