Building a Business Around WordPress: The Plugin Developer

Yesterday I posted about how you can build your own business around WordPress. Over the next few days you’ll get to meet a few people who have made that happen. Today it’s Seth Shoultes. Seth is the developer of the Event Espresso WordPress plugin. He only gave up his day job in December so he’s right in the throes of a fledgling WordPress business. Event Espresso is a wonderful event management plugin that forms the basis of Seth’s company. As well as the core plugin there are a number of different extensions to functionality, including Groupon integration (me = massive Groupon fan).

event espresso logo

That’s enough from me. Here’s what Seth has to say:

1. What did you do before working with WordPress?

Before working with WordPress I worked in construction and did website design on the side. I usually created websites using static HTML and sometimes a Content Management System, depending on the clients needs. Throughout the years, I used several different types of CMS soltution on client websites. I even created my own simple solution at one point in time, that was used on about twenty of the websites I designed.

2. At what time did you realize “Hey, I can make money out of this!”

I started realizing the potential that plugins could make money shortly after I released the predecessor to Event Espresso (Advanced Events Registration) onto the WordPress.org repository. I started getting overwhelmed with support emails and questions by users. I made several customizations for people that I eventually packed up and sold a support license for the modified version as Event Espresso.

3. When did you take the big step from your day job to working for yourself? Was it a difficult decision to make? How did it feel?

I took the leap of faith on December 1st 2010. It was a very difficult decision to make. One that took several months of planning and many hours of discussion with my spouse and several close friends and colleagues. The entire process was a little stressful, but very elating to finally walk away from a full time dead-end job.

4. What is your typical work day like?

Other than taking my son back and forth to school and running errands for my wife. My typical work day consists of answering emails and forum posts, then working on new features for Event Espresso.

5. How has working for yourself changed your life?

Working for myself has been very beneficial. It gives me full control of how spend my day. If I need to take a little time to spend with my family or stay home with a sick kid, then I just do it. I don’t have to call anyone and ask permission.

6. What are the downsides to working for yourself?

I am very lucky in the fact that there are very few downsides to working for myself. The only major downside I have at this time is the long hours that I have to put in – mainly because my time management skills are little lacking. There is the stress factor of hoping that the business continues to grow and doesn’t come screeching to a halt someday.

7. What are your favourite apps and tools for running your WordPress business?

I have a few tools I use everyday. Google Apps is a huge part of my day-to-day operations. My favorite dev tools is Dreamweaver and my favorite Subversion client for the Mac is Versions.

8. What’s the best advice you could give to someone who wants to start their own WordPress business?

If you have an idea for something that can save other businesses time and money take the time to develop it and nurture it into fruition. It helps to start out with a free version of your plugin or theme and expand upon it from there.
Don’t get discouraged when the suggestions, support requests and a few complaints come rolling in. Just keep your head down and keep moving. Once you are ready to release the premium version of your plugin or themes make sure your forums and delivery methods are all integrated and working well.

Seth and his family9. Five years from now, where do you think you’ll be?

Hopefully I will be managing Event Espresso part time and spending more time with my wife and kids. Maybe even helping my wife to expand her crafting business :)

Thanks to Seth for agreeing to be interviewed :) Hopefully you’ve picked up a few tips for your own business.

Tomorrow: The Consultant.