WPSchoolPress is a WordPress plugin for School Management.
Approved on WordPress.org since January 2019, the plugin is available on a freemium model, the users need to pay on wpschoolpress.com for the add-ons that enhance the plugin features.
- Plugin downloaded 30,000+ times ~100 new ones per day
- Database with 22k+ user contacts
- Global customer base – users from 132 countries
- Niche market with little competitors
Currently, there are 5 Add-Ons that can be purchased individually $30 each and a Bundle pack of $135 for all of them.
- 31% of the sales go on the purchase of the Bundle option
- The most sold after the bundle is the “Import Export” add-on
- Users purchase a lifetime license to use the add-ons and included is one year of product updates
- After 12 months, users need to purchase again to get the updates for another year
Two more Add-ons are in the development process
- Payments Add-On – Test stage. once launched, it will be sold for $50 and the bundle price will increase to $150.
- Grade card Add-On – 1st version, 70% completed.
Tell us a little about you, how did you develop WPSchoolPress?
After building my web agency, JD SoftTech both in Boston, USA, and Ahmedabad, India, I wanted to find a way to help other agencies.So, we took our team of highly qualified website developers and web designers and launched UnlimitedWP, a white-label WordPress partner for growing agencies.
Along the way of building our web agency which has morphed into UnlimitedWP, we also worked on creating and supporting our in-house software products. One of which is WPSchoolPress, a plugin in for WordPress CMS which has 60% of the market share. Our plugin adds an entire school management system into the website’s backend.
What has been the evolution of this site since launch?
The plugin and its website were originally established in 2015 by a different person with the strategy to only offer a paid version. The website quickly ranked on the top of Google searches and got a decent number of visitors. As the previous owner had a full-time job and thought they were not able to take full advantage of the plugin’s popularity it got in a short time, they decided to sell it in 2017.
Due to work commitment, we did not do anything on the plug-in for one year. During that time we received up to 10 emails per day from people showing their interest in the plugin.
In 2018 we decided offering the plug-in for free and then paid add-ons to expand its functionality. We spent 6 months with extensive work and testing on the plugin, updating to the required WordPress standard to add it to their WordPress.org repository; our aim was to get a large number of downloads, so WordPress websites could install our plugin with one click. The updates involved stability and a more modern design.
On Jan 1st, 2019, we finally got the free version of the plugin released on WordPress.org. We immediately got success getting ~50 daily downloads. The next step was to create paid add-ons. Since June 2019 we released 5. Currently we have nearly completed 2 more add-ons to be released in early 2020.
Along the way, we have collected over 22,000 emails from people who download our free version.
The third phase of our strategy is monetizing from our large community base and start marketing to grow revenue to even higher numbers.
This plugin has been a side project for our agency. Our cost to run this plugin was $450 per month (the salary of one person in India) to develop, manage, and communicate with users. The person who was doing this has just left to study aboard and now we need to hire another person. Meanwhile, as one of our other software products has seen great success and we are considering selling this plugin to focus 100% on that product. We believe that WPSchoolPress is very near to unleash its full potential and make hefty cash without much effort to run the business.
What is the business model? What are the current revenue streams?
We offer a free school management system plug-in on our website WPSchoolPress for WordPress CMS. It offers full functionality to a WordPress website back-end for a school to run their operations.
We offer paid add-ons to expand the features and functionality, e.g. bulk import/export, SMS, assign one student to multiple classes, front-end student self-registration form, etc.
These add-ons can either be purchased individually or together with a bundle. We issue an API key that user needs to add to their website in order for the add-on to work. Users get free updates to their purchased add-on for the period of one year. After that, they are free to use the add-on, but they need to pay again if they like new updates. The API key system we have in place ensures that add-on copy can be used only on one website.
Our goal is to reach out to as many people as possible with the free version. Though add-on sale has started recently, 4% of the active plug-in users are coming back to purchase add-ons. 33% of those users are going for the bundle pack.
What does someone need to do to continue operating the business in its current Form?
- Emails – normally customization or some partnership requests.
- Respond to the support system added on the backend of the website where paid users can raise a ticket if they have a question.
- Get back to users via the live chat installed on the site.
- Whenever there is a WordPress update, checking plug-in for updates, normally there is none. Once or twice a year there may be small changes requiring a few hours of work.
Can you list a few opportunities to Grow for a prospective buyer?
- Start using the large list of 22,000 contacts to market paid add-ons.
- Run a poll among the contact list to see what other features are mostly needed to create paid add-on for it. Typical add-on development takes 1-2 months. But then that add-on is sold forever.
- There is a lot of interest in the FB page. Just active posting there can help to make community big.
- There are many people who reached out to us and offer to help as they are interested in the potential of the plug-in and they have experience in the educational field.
- Half of our traffic is from other web agencies/developers who are building a school management system on behalf of the schools. A school hiring a web developer to build website and web developer using WPSchoolPress. There is a great opportunity in building a relationship with this developer to even promote more. It is very common in the WordPress ecosystem for a plug-in to offer “developer license” which basically grants multiple website use of the paid add-on license. The market rate for such a developer license for WPSchoolPress will be $300-$500. We do want to offer this, but we were planning to do it in 2020. Many premium plug-ins like WPSchoolPress have this option, we just haven’t launched it. All the work needed for that is already done.
- WordPress is a very large community and helping one at that. There are many WordPress high traffic blogs and they would love to write about a plug-in that is helping schools. This can have a significant impact on the traffic and hence increasing download rates.
- Customization work: We receive very regular customization requests. I would say over 200 in 2019. From that data, we know what the most requested customization work is. We have created a list of 10 items. We were going to create an add-on so plugin users can customize those areas. The next owner should do it, it will be a big hit and you can expect a lot of people to use the plugin. Meaning they will need other add-ons too and unlimitedly 30% of people decide to go with a bundle pack of $130.
Apart from this add-on for customization. The new owner can also offer another deep customization for a one-time project cost. In fact, we have done it last year.
- Payment integration add-on: We are building an add-on to integrate WPSchoolPress with WooCommerce. This one is a big one as we have received tons and tons of requests to add a payment system in the plugin. We thought it would be better to connect the school’s classes as products in WooCommerce. That way people can use any payment gateway they like as oppose us building integration with different payment gateways. WooCommerce works with 100’s of payment gateway around the world. Given our World exposure, this will allow all schools to collect payments from the parents. Nearly all work is completed with integration. On the final testing before launching that much-awaited add-on, we found one scenario that needs some work. We haven’t been able to work on it yet, so we did not launch the add-on yet.
- Results add-on: With this add-on, schools will be able to generate results/grade cards for the student. It will auto-populate exam scores from students’ data. Initial work on the add-on just completed in Nov. We have not begun testing yet.
- We do have other 5 new paid add-on ideas prepared. Such as online examination, LMS extension, customization add-on, etc.
- Offer to build a website along with the plug-in – The schools who are looking for the plug-in is also looking for website many times. We wanted to take highly rates premium WordPress theme like Astra theme along with a page builder like Beaver Builder and integrate WPSchoolPress plug-in deeply in it. This way we can sell a packaged hosted website with the entire school management system pre-built in it on a monthly subscription-based to schools. We already have heavy traffic and a web presence that it would be a good product to sell it. To build something like that would take 1-2 months. With monthly subscription-based, a new owner can build a good side business using the same plug-in. It does not have to be a monthly subscription; it can be sold as package priced – of course, it will be over $1,000 with maintenance fees.
- Not all of our traffic and users are schools. We have so many users who are not schools but have a similar structure as schools. For example, gyms like to use it to create gym classes and have their gym members sign up on those classes. Schedule, attendance, grade report, etc. can be managed on it. Coaching institutions are also interested as they have similar structures as schools. Other teaching programs like yoga classes, certification courses, language centers, and much more similar businesses can also us our plug-in and infect they do. We can create a landing page on the website for different industries. Given Google ranking, we can rank high for keywords like WordPress yoga class management plug-in, gym management WordPress plug-in, etc to get additional traffic and downloads.
- Learning management system: Our plug-in is a school management plug-in, but we can do an add-on to add a learning management system (LMS). LMS are highly popular as they are needed for many industries. It is basically adding a page for each class to add assignments, notes, material to download, notes, discussions etc by the students who are on those classes. This is asked by many of our users and highly needed add-on to release down the line.
How have you marketed the product and where are your customers originating from?
We have not done any direct marketing yet. Here is what we did so far,
- 2018 we revamped plugin both in terms of code and design. This was the preparation to submit the plugin in WordPress.org plugin directory. We were going for the fermium model-free plugin and then paid add-ons to extend features. The plugin was approved in Jan 2019.
- We created an online demo and ask to enter an email to see it. I would say about 50% of people who downloaded the free plugin, come to the website first to see the demo. From there we have collected 22,000 contacts (we recently cleaned the list to make sure they are all real users).
- For marketing, this list is huge and nicely organized in the marketing system (we use Mautic, a popular open-source software installed on our server ready to be used). We may have sent 5 emails to users so far. We really haven’t started to monetize from the list we have.
- We have created a YouTube channel and uploaded I think about 10 videos that get decent views from users. This an area to be worked more to get more users in the WPSchoolPress community.
- We rank on the first page with on-page SEO we had done a while ago on the website for all relevant keywords which bring a lot of organic traffic daily.
- We are not active on the FB page where we should have been.
- We did create a blog on our site and posted two blogs in the last 2 months.
How does the business currently acquire customers and what is your breakdown for marketing costs?
We have just been fortunate to get first-page rank, high interest in the plugin in general, high download rate, low competition. So far, we have just been banking on that as our primary focus was not marketing but keep building more add-ons. We were getting a high download rate, so we wanted to focus on building add-ons in the last 6 months rather than any marketing. And meanwhile, grow the community around our plugin so down the line, we sell our add-ons to them.
Apart from building new add-ons, none of the things cost anything to us to acquire new customers. The first-page rank brings us free traffic and users. Also, plugin being free in WordPress.org means it attracts additional thousands of views each day. It also helps that we are the only plug-in in the entire WordPress.org plugin directory. Early entry in the market is clearly paying off. More and more schools are going to want to digitalize their operations and we stand to rip the benefit of it. Therefore, it was more imperative for us to build paid add-on to expand the feature set of plugins than to market as anyways we were having more than decent incoming free traffic.
What marketing channels are most profitable for the business?
- Organic traffic
- WordPress.org plug-in directory
How many people does it take to run this business?
Just one person with WordPress development experience can easily manage the entire business.