🎙️ Episode #5

Diversify or Die? How to Take On Multiple Product Verticals as a Solopreneur (and Win)

Solopreneur Patrick Posner

Show Notes

Solopreneur Patrick Posner’s success proves that diversification is an effective tactic to gain more customers and generate more sales. Hailing from Berlin, Germany, he’s built an impressively successful one-man business by diversifying his product portfolio to accelerate both audience and business growth. 

His current catalog comprises six offerings, including static website generation, content protection, QR code creation, age verification, and document library security. Patrick is also the brains behind Simply Static — his flagship product — which is credited as the most popular static site generator for WordPress, boasting 40,000 active installs and over 500,000 downloads. 

It comes as no surprise that he’s an authority on static WordPress, and he regularly publishes tutorials about WooCommerce, WordPress, and his own plugins. In this episode, Patrick shares actionable tips and tactics to help ambitious solopreneurs juggle multiple products to expand their portfolios.


Thanks to Patrick for joining us and providing such valuable insights into how solopreneurs can juggle multiple products to grow their portfolios. Join us next week with Vito Peleg to chat about building a solid foundation from which to launch a product successfully.

plugin.fm is brought to you by Freemius, your all-in-one eCommerce partner for selling software, plugins, themes, and SaaS. If you enjoyed this episode, head over to plugin.fm to check out previous episodes.

Chapters & Episode Notes

0:00 – Intro

2:03 – From WordPress Enthusiast to Successful Plugin Developer: Patrick Posner’s Journey

5:42 – Thriving in Variety: Effectively Managing a Portfolio of Plugins

10:40 – Efficient Feature Development and Productivity Hacks for Plugin Management

13:45 – Lessons Learned: Simplifying Product Choices and Early Marketing Strategies

19:50 – SEO Insights and Navigating the Long Game of Content Marketing

21:45 – Reviving a Fallow Asset: The Journey of Simply Static and the Rise of Static Websites

32:30 – Building a Strong Foundation: Research, Tutorials, and Productivity Tips for Success

38:30 – Striking the Perfect Balance Between Growth, Delegation, and Personal Branding

42:17 – Empowering Solopreneurs in the WordPress Ecosystem: Mastering React, UI/UX Improvements, and Seizing Opportunities

47:19 – Outro


Patrick Rauland: How much of your growth do you think is just like tutorials?

Patrick Posner: I think at least 80 percent. I would say it’s like 80 percent.

Patrick Rauland: Hello everyone and welcome to the plugin.fm podcast brought to you by Freemius. In the show, I chat with inspiring product makers about their experiences and entrepreneurship, life, and everything in between. On the show, we want to uncover actionable practices and strategies that you can use to succeed on your own business journey.

My name is Patrick Rauland, and today I’m going to be sitting down with WordPress solopreneur and my namesake, Patrick Posner, from Berlin, Germany. Patrick is a super experienced developer and self-proclaimed one-man show who builds, maintains, and sells WordPress plugins. He also plays bass guitar and is a dad to the fluffiest dog (his words, not mine).

As a solopreneur, Patrick is no stranger to diversification as a means of audience and business growth. He currently has six (yes, six) products in his portfolio, offering static website generation, content protection, QR code creation, age verification, and document library security, just to name a few. His flagship product is Simply Static, which has over 40,000 active installs and over 500,000 downloads, making it the most popular static site generator for WordPress. That is a pretty diverse portfolio right there, and it makes me wonder if it’s something of a juggling act for a one-man team.

Well, we won’t have to wonder much longer because that’s what we’re getting into today. Clearly, Patrick is succeeding as a solopreneur by taking on multiple verticals. But how does he do it? What does he prioritize, and what does he postpone? What growth strategies have worked for him, and what would he rather forget?

If you’re after actionable tips and tactics to grow your product portfolio as a one-man army, then you are listening to the right show. Patrick, welcome to the show. Great to have you here. 

Patrick Posner: Hello, hello! Glad to be here. 

Patrick Rauland: Yes, thank you. Thank you for coming. We’re happy to have you here. So, I’m excited because you’re an experienced WordPress developer, a solopreneur who builds products, and you do a bunch of different things. But tell us, you know, before we get into the specific products and how you manage them, how did you get into development and what drew you into those niches?

Patrick Posner: Yeah, sure! Happy to give a little introduction to myself. So, I’m working with WordPress professionally for about 10 years now. I actually started with WordPress at university. We had a module where we covered content management systems and workflows involved. As a particular example, we used WordPress. We started by learning how the system works and started modifying themes. And even better, just a tiny little plugin at the end of the course. And yeah, that hooked me on WordPress, and I never touched anything else again.

Once I graduated, I started my first job in a little agency and worked with WordPress as well, setting up basic client websites, doing some kind of… I’m not sure if I want to call it design, but it was like web design, more or less. And later switched to a development job at MarketPress. MarketPress is the biggest WordPress product company here in Germany, doing over a million per year in revenue, selling specifically WooCommerce products. And I built one of the major flagship products back in the day, and it’s still available today.

On the side, I started making my own plugins, kind of like a hobby project. I never really imagined to make more than a couple hundred bucks or so working on that. But it quickly took off, and I decided in January 2021 that I want to go full-time into building plugins for a living.

Patrick Rauland: So, you’ve only been doing plugin development full-time for two years? 

Patrick Posner: Yeah.

Patrick Rauland: Wow! So, you’ve got a lot done in two years. 

Patrick Posner: Yeah, that’s true. I mean, the content protection plugin, I already worked on it for like four to five years, but it was just a side project. So, I really focused on developing in 2021. 

Patrick Rauland: That’s very cool. Did you make money on your first plugin when you decided to go into plugins? Did you just sort of make money with your first try, or did you try to make money on a plugin and it didn’t make anything?

Patrick Posner:  Actually, my absolute first plugin was kind of successful. So, I got like, I know, two to three hundred bucks a month from that particular plugin. The plugin itself doesn’t exist anymore, but not because it doesn’t make any revenue. It was just too support-heavy at that time. Yes, it was a plugin for WooCommerce, and it was like another table plugin. I mean, today there are like hundreds of plugins that do something similar, like an order table for WooCommerce, but at that time, it was one of a few. But it was just too support-intensive to handle as a side project.

I had a couple of bets that weren’t really successful, and I think it’s normal. So, you have an idea, you build a little prototype, you throw it to the repository, and you see what happens. Most of the time, nothing happens. But sometimes, there is something, maybe a willingness to pay or at least a huge amount of support, which indicates, “Okay, there’s some kind of interest in the product you have developed.” 

Patrick Rauland: Very cool. I love hearing all that. So, let’s talk about your different products. I think many people focus on one or maybe two or three products, and they kind of only expand their portfolio of plugins once they’re in a position to, once they’re making a ton of money and they’re in a position to hire. What made you expand that product portfolio?

Patrick Posner: Yeah, it’s a pretty good question. So, I think both are valid paths. It’s good to have one product and put all your effort and time into it to grow it. But the main problem for me was always the risk behind it. So, let’s say you have one product, and you believe it’s the absolute best product you will ever make. But maybe no one’s really interested in that. So, from my perspective, it’s way less risky to have multiple products and have multiple bets on the market. So, you have like, “Okay, even if, let’s say, something in the ecosystem changes,” in my particular case, maybe WordPress would improve their password protection, building like you can have multiple passwords and basically everything my product offers. That would be a huge risk on my side if I would concentrate completely on that particular product. But now that I have six main products, I can, yeah, I’m kind of calm about changes in the market. So, I always know, “Okay, if someone builds a competitor with a huge budget or something changes in core, I’ll be safe. I can always concentrate on one of my other products and grow further.”

Patrick Rauland: I love that! I’m a big fan of it. I’m a personal finance nerd, and obviously a big fan of diversification. There is something about it. I also do a lot of marketing stuff, and I help companies do SEO and stuff like that. And there are these big, so just as an example, there are these big SEO changes where this page, because of all the internal linking, is ranked really high. But then Google changes their algorithm, and you used to be getting 50,000 visits, and now you’re getting 5,000 visits, and your business can just turn off. I think that could theoretically happen in the WordPress world. Theoretically, the wordpress.org plugin directory gets a search change, and like one of the plugins could just, like, instead, it used to be ranked number one, and now it’s ranked number 11, and you get a tenth of the traffic or whatever. I think that’s really smart, just to know that you don’t know what’s going to happen in the future. WordPress core will change and include some functionality of one of your plugins. The WordPress search functionality will change. Google and regular search engines will change. Whatever. Anything could happen. But you have six pretty stable products that if any one of them fell, you can still rely on the other five. I love that. Yeah, very cool.

Okay, so you are still doing… so it’s not… so you’re doing all these… you’re making these six plugins. You’re maintaining them, that means you’re developing them, you’re supporting them, and you’re probably also doing some marketing for them. How do you juggle all those responsibilities? Is it Monday is plugin one, or is it Monday is marketing for all of your plugins? How do you juggle that many responsibilities now?

Patrick Posner: I mean, I would love to have a dedicated plan on when it’s time to do support, when it’s time to do marketing, which product on a particular day. Most of the time, I’m doing that by iterating on a weekly basis. So, I start with, let’s say, Simply Static next week, and that dedicates an entire week to Simply Static, as long as there isn’t something important that needs to be done right now, like a security vulnerability that needs to be patched or something like that. But I usually do one product a week and switch context next week. And I do support daily, marketing weekly, and development weekly. So, I usually try to have a 50-50 differentiation between coding and marketing. So, before I release, I usually have a little backlog stacked up with features I already built but haven’t released. Yeah, I release them as soon as I have some marketing parts ready. So, that can be a little tutorial blog post, a Twitter post with a little video showing the new feature. And I try to time that as organically as possible to make it like, “Okay, so there’s a feature, and then there’s a marketing post.” So, it’s not that structured behind the scenes, but at least I want it to look like that.

Patrick Rauland: I was not expecting that answer. I like it. Is that? That seems hard to do. Where basically, you know, if you really want to work on your static website generator, you basically have to wait like five weeks for it to come back around to the point. You have to wait a month, so really you’re working on each product every month and a half. You’re spending a week on it. Are you okay? Then I want to know, are you shipping new features? Are you almost always trying to get it complete within a week, right? Because otherwise, you, like, you know, a month and a half later, you’ve forgotten where you are. I can’t. I think that’d be really hard to do.

Patrick Posner: That’s true, so I try to break down each feature into a package that can be done completely within a week. So, with development, testing, writing, updating the docs, writing tutorials, everything needs to be wrapped up in a week. And if not, it’s true, it’s hard to get back to it in, like, five weeks from now, not even knowing what was a major feature I wanted to build. Yeah, it’s that time. So yeah, I try to wrap everything up within a week.

Patrick Rauland: I can totally imagine building a feature in a week. I can definitely imagine, you know, on day one, you have your idea, and you’re looking at the coding and you’re looking at the files, and you’re like, ‘Alright, I can add this. I can add this method here. I can do this.’ And day two, maybe you get most of the work done. And then day three is like debugging and error checking and some stuff like that. But then it’s like, I mean, you really feel like it’s Monday’s planning, Tuesday’s doing, Wednesday’s cleaning up, and then Thursday, Friday is, you know, documentation. Yeah, and maybe a little bit of marketing just to show the feature that came out. That sounds tight. Like, I guess I’m shocked. You must get a lot done in a week to make that work.

Patrick Posner: That’s true.

Patrick Rauland: Are you a productivity guru?

Patrick Posner: Absolutely.

Patrick Rauland: Do you get up at 6am with a cold shower or something?

Patrick Posner: Not in that way. So, I’m really not a morning person, but I try really hard to optimize my productivity. From time tracking to using a Kanban-like structure, automating a lot—from support to documentation. If I push to GitHub, it automatically runs tests against my code and creates a new branch if there’s an error. It also notifies me via Slack if something is broken or needs my immediate attention. So, I put a lot of automation and processes in place to make it work, even if it’s a tight schedule, without extraordinary efforts.

Patrick Rauland: I mean, when do you do that? When are you also developing, writing all this automation, and error testing?

Patrick Posner: Years ago, I rarely switched my toolset, so I still use, for example, Trello, for my project management. Even though there are things like Notion and all the other cool tools, I simply don’t have the time to really learn these and get productive with them. So, I stay with Trello, even if it’s a little buggy and outdated. And yeah, but it works, so I know the roadmap, I know how to set estimates, frame it in a timetable, and things like that. There’s also a lot of automation combined with Trello, from Slack to Zapier to GitHub.

Patrick Rauland: Very cool, alright. So, if you had to look back, what would you have done differently? Is there anything you would have done differently, like your schedule, your products, anything like that? 

Patrick Posner: Specifically, two things I would tackle differently. The first one, choose goddamn simpler projects. I mean, I love my products, so I love being nerdy about password protection and encryption, and static site generation. It’s all cool, it’s fun. But I mean, yeah, if I see there’s a timeline plugin, and this little timeline plugin maybe took like 10 hours to build, and maybe an additional 20 hours to polish with different display options and some other neat features, and people buying it like crazy. And that compares to, for example, my password protection plugin, which has military standard encryption and a lot of internals that are quite complex. From regex patterns to maintaining sessions without using the actual login methods provided by WordPress. And it’s complex, and it’s also sometimes pretty hard to debug an actual issue. So, if a customer comes to support and asks, ‘Okay, my password isn’t working,’ it’s not like, ‘Oh yeah, you maybe had a typo in your password.’ No, it’s never a typo. It’s almost like, ‘Okay, have you checked your caching setup? And what about your browser cache? And maybe your local session storage was just blocked? And have you looked into your firewall and all of that?’ It’s way too complex. So, if I would start again, I would start with a simpler product, and maybe something more visual where people immediately get a benefit. So, it’s easier to market and easier to communicate the idea behind the product. Number two is marketing. I mean, it’s a cliché, but as a solo developer, instead of doing marketing, you build another feature and another feature and another feature. And yeah, maybe I should have spent way more time at the beginning doing marketing things, like writing tutorials, doing something on social media, at least something, from posting a screenshot or uploading a little YouTube video. Things like that, so people really enjoy following the journey of a hackerpreneur or smaller startups. And I should have leveraged that benefit way earlier than I’m… I mean, I’m doing it now, but kind of late. So, I’m a bit out of the early startup solopreneur. Yeah, yeah, so it’s not like, ‘Hey, I made my first $100 MRR this month or so.’ So, the milestones are pretty bigger, and it takes way more time to reach another milestone. And people don’t get excited if you say, like, ‘Okay, it took me four years to get to, like, $20K MRR.’ I mean, it’s impressive to get to $20K MRR, but yeah, people will lose focus if you need like two or three years to get that. But jumping from $100 MRR to $200 MRR, and celebrating it on social media, people get excited and want to follow the journey and recommend your products. And that’s something I should have started earlier.

Patrick Rauland: Is that so? Is that where your marketing is succeeding? Is it with developers and WordPress enthusiasts? People who are interested in following other people’s journeys and choose your product because it is the perfect, bespoke, crafted solution for them? Is that who you’re marketing to, as opposed to the person who just starts a WordPress website, searches for you on wordpress.org, and then buys the pro version?

Patrick Posner: I tried it at the beginning, specifically marketing to the actual customers of my product. Things like how to set up password protection in WordPress. But the competition, especially in organic search, is pretty high. Let’s take WP Beginner, for example. WP Beginner has a tutorial for… I mean, it’s a wonderful website, and I learned a ton from it at the beginning. But it’s a huge, massive website covering all topics related to WordPress for beginners. So, chances are that people finding my specific article about password protection in WordPress is not that high. Maybe I’m on the second page, maybe I’m in ninth place or so. But most people choose the first or second or third search results.

By getting a step earlier and kind of not really marketing to other developers, but letting them know, ‘Hey, I’m the guy with the password protection plugin,’ they can recommend it to their own customers or people they know. So, a huge number of my customers are agencies, and word of mouth is a pretty big factor for my sales. Agencies talk to each other and recommend my products. I’ll have one day where an American buys my product, and the next day, someone from Sweden gets a recommendation from the American who bought a product yesterday. It’s a pretty small world, but it works better. It’s a community. It’s also easier to reach a certain visibility, so you don’t compete with these giants, these giant knowledge bases. Instead, you have more of a buddy relationship where you recommend products from other friends and developers and grow together.

Patrick Rauland: Is that something? Okay, so this is fascinating. Did you do SEO research before? Did you write the article on how to reset passwords in WordPress and see that it wasn’t ranking well? Or did you do all the SEO research and realize it would be really hard to compete with a big WordPress news site like WP Beginner? I’m just super curious. 

Patrick Posner: Kind of like an SEO nerd, at least for a developer, I’m like an SEO nerd.

So, my first job, as I told you earlier, was in an agency, specifically an SEO agency, and I learned quite a lot during that time about how SEO works and how to do keyword research and all of that. So, I started my tutorials from the beginning with a keyword research tool. In my case, it was Ahrefs. So, I know exactly that “password protection for WordPress” had X amount of search volume and that there are websites A, B, and C ranking for that. They might be pretty big players, and I have to catch the long-tail phrases to get some reach. It takes a lot of time for specific keywords to generate a substantial amount of traffic, especially for the password protection plugin. It’s not as competitive as my other products.

Patrick Rauland: What’s interesting is that besides your productivity skills and project management skills, you also have these SEO and research skills that helped you make sure you did the research to realize that this one marketing channel that everyone talks about, SEO, could work. But it’s a very long game, and there would be a lot of competition. I love that you also have skills that prevent you from going down the wrong roads. That’s really smart. I love that.

So, I do want to go on. In the WordPress plugin directory, I think you might have closer to 800,000 downloads for all of your WordPress plugins. You’re clearly doing something right. Out of the six main products, two of them are about static websites, with Simply Static being the most popular and then there’s also Simply CDN. So, what took you into this static website niche?

Patrick Posner: Sure, so let’s get back, like three years, and if you ask the same question, I would have said, “Okay, what the hell, static websites? Is it like 1999, and we built all of our websites with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript?” Fast forward, a couple of years ago, I had a client project, and they booked a TV commercial, and we had to make sure that the website wouldn’t go down during that commercial. We didn’t really have the possibility or ability to adjust the server setup. So, the server was set, and there was nothing we could have done about it. Then, I started researching and found out that there are a couple of tools that you can use to make WordPress a static website. There were a bunch of software service projects doing that, but because of GDPR, most of them were just not a good fit for that project. So, I looked more into plugins, found a couple, but all of them were mostly unmaintained. The most popular one was Simply Static, and I thought, “Okay, being a WordPress developer for about 10 years, I should be able to make it work. It can’t be that hard.” I downloaded the plugin, and with about one or two hours in, I patched it and made it compatible with PHP 7.2 or somewhere around 7. We used that, and it worked incredibly well. The server didn’t have any kind of hiccups with delivering the static site, and we had like one and a half million unique requests within like two or three hours. Yeah, that somehow saved the client project, even with a very little budget for server setups and things like load balancing and so on. So, we just shipped the static site, and it worked very well.

After that, I contacted the original developer of Simply Static and provided him with the patch, and we got into a little discussion about the future of Simply Static and what he had planned. He told me that he really, wait, he has the third child also coming in a couple of weeks and doesn’t even have an actual laptop, MacBook, to even open the code and work on it. He isn’t even a developer anymore; he’s doing consulting now for a pretty big Fortune 500 company, but in a totally different area. I asked him if he would be okay with me adopting the plugin, and he said, “Okay, yeah.” So, we transferred the ownership from the WordPress Arch repository to me, and the first thing I did was patching the outstanding issues and growing from there. So, I started with educating why you want to be using a static site, what are the benefits, telling people it isn’t that hard, so you don’t need to be a developer to use Simply Static, and what you can do with it, and how flexible and robust static sites are. I adopted the plugin with about 10,000 active installations, and fast forward two years later, we’re about to hit the 50,000 active installations in a couple of weeks.

Patrick Rauland: I mean, the cool thing about that story is that it was a fallow asset. It was just like there was a tool sitting on the floor, and you’re like, “Why is no one using this tool?” And then you ask the developer about maintaining it, and you just decided to take it over. I love that it already had a base. It already had the core fundamentals. You just started adding on to something that clearly people needed, right? Like, they’re already 10,000 downloads. Yeah, but no one was maintaining these plugins, so you just decided to maintain one. I love that. 

Patrick Posner: It’s also a pretty good indicator. If you Google, for example, “Simply Static” today, you will obviously find a lot of tutorials for me and things like that. But before I adopted the plugin, I Googled “Simply Static” quite a few times and noticed that there are a lot of “how to make it work” strategies on Stack Overflow and Reddit. People there were like, “10 folks, all of them are also unmaintained,” but every one of them patched a single thing they faced. That kind of motivation, people providing patches online, is a pretty good sign that there is a huge demand for such a solution.

Patrick Rauland: So let’s keep going with that journey. So give us the play-by-play, how did you grow Simply Static from when you just took it over? How did you grow it, marketing-wise and support-wise? Any marketing campaigns that come to mind or support issues?

Patrick Posner: I think the number one factor for growing a plugin, especially a plugin like Simply Static, is to make it simple for non-developers. Remove any kind of jargon about the entire static site generation process. Make it easy to use, easy to understand, and keep it updated. Push updates on WordPress regularly, so there’s never a “last update: six months ago.” It should always be updated to the latest version of WordPress. Even if it works with the current version of WordPress, people are asking and demanding, like, “Hey, is this thing working with the latest version of WordPress?” I get the question, and I update like two days later when the official WordPress release comes. Two days later, I increased the supported number in the WordPress repository. Within that 20 to 24-hour timeframe, there are like five people asking, “Hey, have you checked it?” And for sure, I’ve checked it. I always test with the alpha version, the beta version, the release candidate to make sure everything works as nicely as possible once the official version is out. But sure, people are asking about it, and you should make sure that these questions, in the best case, never come up, or you have an immediate answer for everyone, so that you can say, “Okay, yeah, it’s working. We’re updating tomorrow.”

Another important point is content. So, after adopting the plugin, I started writing a lot of tutorials. I’ve done quite a lot of keyword research before, and I noticed that things like “how to make forms work on a static website” is a pretty popular keyword combination. But no one ever wrote a really good article about it. So, there are places where someone answered on Reddit, “Hey, yeah, there are external tools, and you can use them.” Okay, but which tools are available, and how do they work? I started covering everything related to static websites that is important to the end-user. How forms work, how search works, can I use Google Analytics, do I need a special plugin to make GDPR work on a static website? What about basic things like, does YouTube work on a static website? I mean, sure, it works, but people are asking. I mean, sure, it works, but people are asking about it. Yeah, I’m not sure. I mean, it’s called static, so I think text works. Maybe images, but videos are not really static, right? So covering all of these topics within tutorials really boosted the audience consuming news about Simply Static and all things static. And people reaching out to me suggesting things like new integrations, other services I never really heard of. So, I mean, there are basic things like GitHub. Okay, you know GitHub as a developer, but there was someone suggesting Sinatra or so. I think it was Sinatra, and I thought, “Okay, let me Google.” Ah, okay, yeah, another deployment platform. I understand. So there’s so much communication involved, and that’s one of the main reasons Simply Static has grown so fast. It’s because of the tutorials, the community behind it, and being active on WordPress.org and in the community around it. Which means GitHub is also a huge communication platform for Simply Static. Forums are a huge communication touchpoint for me. Reddit, sometimes, you need to be careful replying within Reddit, especially if you are the developer behind the tool someone is asking about. So people can get a little bit toxic there. But all in all, it’s cool if someone finds a Reddit post and says, “Hey, there’s a developer providing an answer to the question I asked, and he’s helpful. He’s there, he monitors different channels, and quickly replies if I ever get stuck somewhere”.

Patrick Rauland: That’s awesome! Yeah, I was looking at your site, and it looks like you have more than 175 tutorials. Now, let me ask you this: What percent of your marketing is that? Like, these tutorials clearly show that you understand SEO and the long tail, and you’re also preventing some support. But how much of your growth do you think is just tutorials?

Patrick Posner: I think at least 80 percent. I would say it’s like 80. So the other channels are growing more and more, especially social and video. But okay, my number one success factor for all of my products is organic search is SEO as tutorials.

Patrick Rauland: Incredible, incredible! Alright, so, if someone is listening to this podcast right now and they want to make tutorials, what advice would you give them? 

Patrick Posner:  So, before writing the first line of code, spend some time with the community you’re trying to reach. Let’s say you build a tracking plugin, something like GDPR-friendly tracking for WordPress. There are a bunch of competitors you should know about them, obviously, but spend some time with the community, learn what people are asking for, which problems they face, bring in recommendations, listen carefully, and build a reputation around that niche. That can be done by having a blog, being involved in the community on Twitter, within forums, anywhere, and slowly build something up on that research.

Try to spend some time writing tutorials. I know it’s hard in the beginning to sit down and write a tutorial about whatever you like to build as a plugin, as a theme, or as a WordPress product in general, but it’s absolutely worth it. So, if you spend, let’s say, three months writing tutorials, just one tutorial a month would be a good start to have something to show to people. Take your time, do the research, and if you feel comfortable, you know the topic, you know the problems people face, and you have the answers, then sit down and build an MVP. Once you have set the MVP, don’t push for a big release and submit it to Product Hunt and all that stuff. Start with a simple MVP and actually talk to people from that audience you were involved in and try to convince them to be a beta tester. So, you have like three to five, maybe ten, maybe more (the more the better, right?) and try to get some beta testers and get their feedback. Revisit your MVP and make it more stable, more robust, more appealing to the community and to your potential customers.

Patrick Rauland: All the tutorials are great, but also try to find the community, try to find beta testers in that community, and maximize that. Well, I think you said one tutorial a month. How long, you know, if you’re getting started, how long does the tutorial take? Is it gonna take you like 20 hours, a week? 

Patrick Posner: Not even close. So, right now, I’m writing a tutorial in about like two to three hours, but I’ve done the research already. So, I usually do like Sunday is for research. So, I sat down on a Sunday and I think like, “Oh, maybe I should write an article about videos on static websites” and then do the research to see what tools are available. Maybe trade and create a test account and playing around with it a bit and noting everything down. So, I have like, it’s not really a draft, it’s more a collection of ideas and links I like to mention. And I’m doing that not for a specific tutorial, but for an entire set of tutorials. So, it can be one article for some aesthetics, one for password protection, one for file protection, and I collect them in a specific folder. And then I set a specific day in a week. Most of the time, it’s like Thursday or Friday, and I pick one and start writing the article. And I usually need like two to three hours to write, like, a 1K-word post. And I have some help reviewing the article and making sure the grammar is correct and the message I like to give to the potential readers is communicated in a structured and meaningful way. Yeah, so there is someone helping with that. Otherwise, it would take, I think, at least five to six hours to make it a releasable article.

Patrick Rauland: I feel like there was some secret productivity trick. It’s working Sundays or, you know, doing, and maybe it’s like not work-work, right, but it’s like you’re at least doing your research on a particular topic, which I still consider work. So, can I ask, how much time are you spending on Sundays on your computer, let’s say? 

Patrick Posner:  on average, I would say like three to four hours, okay, mostly in the morning. So, starting from like 8 A.M to 12. And it’s really for inspiration, for idea generation, nothing involved with coding something or doing support or anything like that. Just inspiration, reviewing my own business strategies, so that there’s a path I like to follow or maybe I need to adjust something or an idea that maybe hasn’t worked or had worked and I never thought about pursuing that particular idea. Something changed in the market. I always do, like, listen to podcasts while researching and get some inspiration from that but I try to limit it to about three to four hours, otherwise my wife would, like, so 4 hours maximum.

Patrick Rauland: I get it. Some people are very strict about not working on the weekends. I’m a big fan of, I will usually spend 30 to 45 minutes just on my priorities for the week. Here’s the three things I need to do Monday, here’s the three things I need to do Tuesday, here’s it like just getting that out on paper means that on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, I’m flying because I’ve spent the time on Sunday doing that. So, it’s interesting. If you really want to grow your business, that’s something you can choose to do. That’s an option for you. Cool. So, your business is growing. I mean, there is a point where you can’t run all of this by yourself, and you may have to. You may, you may not be able to be a solopreneur forever. So, what is the business? What does the future look like for, uh, Patrick Posner?

Patrick Posner: It’s a pretty good question. So, I mean, I have like a little cheat code already applied. So, while I’m actually doing all of the work myself, so I’m doing support, I’m doing development, I’m writing tutorials, I have some help for specific tasks. So, I have someone helping with development, especially for Simply Static, covering bug fixes and things that are way too time-consuming to track down for me. On a usual week, I have someone proofreading my tutorials and also writing some parts of it and doing some kind of keyword research. So, I mean, for me, it’s always important to actually know how to do it, and I really love the flexibility of being a solopreneur, doing all of that. But it’s true, so you can’t do that forever. So, I get help for specific parts. I don’t ever give up control completely. I just onboarded someone now helping with customer support. I still review every ticket, but maybe in a couple of months, I don’t have to. So, I think the way for me to grow the business is to optimize the processes, expand my network, and maybe just maybe giving up completely on some tasks. For example, customer support or maybe content marketing. But I’m not really sure if, when you have kind of like a personal brand, if you can give up on content marketing completely. So, it’s just not the same if, like let’s say, I would record videos and in a couple of months, there’s some other guy doing the videos for me. It’s hard. So maybe customer support would be a good starting point. I don’t really think I would give up completely on development even with, like, I don’t know, 200k MRR. I still like to sit down someday and do some coding and debugging and improving some existing workflow things like that. But yeah, we’ll see.

Patrick Rauland: I love that you know what you want to do and what you don’t want to do. And I think all of us should design our businesses so that if, you know, if you love, and it sounds like you’re incredibly good at tutorials, so maybe, and it is part of your personal brand, so maybe it makes a lot of sense to, like, as a business grows, maybe you can get a part-time developer to help you with more bug fixes or more customer support people, or someone to help you with non-content marketing, right? Brand marketing stuff like updating your logo and your website, stuff like that. But it’s cool that you know what you want to do, which is probably tutorials and development because you’re really good at those, and the tutorials are pretty public. So, I love hearing that. That’s great.

Patrick Posner:  I think that should be the way to grow for at least the next few years. Maybe we do an updated version of that in like five years from now, and maybe I’ll be just another CEO by then, but I don’t think so. So, I see myself writing tutorials and coding and explaining concepts for quite a while.

Patrick Rauland: I think in five years, we’ll have to do this podcast again, but on your beat, on your island, on your private island. 

Patrick Posner: That would be so cool, right?

Patrick Rauland: Yeah, I’ll invite myself five years from now to your private island, so we can do an update. Final real question here. As WordPress matures and business opportunities keep growing, look, there’s still lots of people entering the WordPress ecosystem, lots of solopreneurs developing themes, plugins, etc. What is your advice to those solopreneurs starting out, and how do they, how do they, how do they take that forward? How do they grow their own business in the WordPress world?

Patrick Posner: So, I think many people will hate my answer, but learn React, learn JavaScript deeply. So, it’s really, I know it’s frustrating and I know it’s hard, and I know it’s so different from what we’ve done for years within the WordPress space. But once you get into it, it’s really rewarding. It’s so easy to make a state-of-the-art user experience with React when building like a WordPress plugin or even a theme or a block suite or whatever. It’s a huge benefit, so I think UX is more important than ever. And that’s one thing that’s important, but it’s also a huge chance for people getting into that space, because we have a lot of popular products that are clunky, that are outdated. They work, yes, but it’s just the whole experience with the block editor feeds off. If you have to copy and paste shortcode parameters, and you have to, like, I don’t know, some off-site documentation telling you to drag a sidebar widget, and we don’t even have widgets anymore. So, I think it’s a pretty good time to get involved in the space and start with React first or with JavaScript first, maybe choosing something simple. I mean, there are a lot of uncovered ideas that aren’t any cool products that are optimized for the new era of WordPress. Thinking of basic things like form replacements, for example. So, there are a lot of cool glossary plugins out there, but they are shortcode-based, they were all created five years ago or so. And if you can build something like that with a pretty decent UX and with a pretty good integration of the block editor, it’s a pretty surefire way to get some reach in the repository. Another important thing is to write about your story, write about your product, write tutorials obviously. And if you can combine both, so working with some new tools WordPress has to offer and sharing your journey on the go, I think the chances are pretty great that you will be successful with your idea, even if you picked a non-new niche. So, let’s say I bring that example, but keep in mind not to follow that particular example. So, let’s say forms. I mean, forms is one of the most crowded spaces, but we see tools like WS Forms, which is kind of huge and popular right now because of a pretty decent and well-thought-out user experience compared to things like Contact Form 7. And I think there are many spaces solopreneurs and smaller teams can enter right now that are more mainstream but haven’t been covered in a way that is good enough for the new WordPress admin UI. Yeah, which isn’t covered good enough from the existing product market.

Patrick Rauland: Well, I’ll add two things to that. I was just using a plugin. This was maybe last year, but it was a major plugin, and there was a spot where you could add some text above an area, and I was shocked that you had to manually type in the HTML. I think WordPress has like, because of its free and open-source nature, and people are forking things or adding stuff, or they just make it for one project and then they stop supporting it, there’s a lot of assets out there that you can start with and then improve upon. So, I love that advice because I think there’s a lot out there, and there are definitely some huge opportunities for UI/UX improvements.

Patrick Posner: And not only for plugin developers, right? So, the same is true for the, oh no, will the theme shops go out of business next week? No, they won’t go away anytime soon. So, check out block themes, check out the whole economy around block patterns. There’s a lot of cool stuff coming in the next releases, in the next weeks, in the next month, and if you can leverage that right now and explain the concepts to your users and customers, I’ll show you, you win, and it will not take like 10 years from now. We’re talking about like, if you are consistent and you push regular updates, I think you can, if you start now, you will see some success in the next year or the year ahead.

Patrick Rauland: Love it. Patrick, thank you so much for being on the show.

Patrick Posner:  Thanks for having me.

Patrick Rauland: Awesome! Yes, so on plugin.fm, we love sitting down with exceptional product entrepreneurs and business owners to share their unique stories, as well as actual tips and strategies based on first-hand experience. Listeners, if you enjoyed this episode, please head over to plugin.fm to check out all of our previous episodes. plugin.fm is brought to you by Freemius, your all-in-one eCommerce partner for selling software, plugins, themes, and SaaS (Software as a Service). If you’re struggling to grow your plugin revenue, send a note to [email protected] to get free advice from the Freemius monetization experts. That’s all from us here today. Thank you so much, have a great day! Bye.


Get early access to the new episodes

Subscribe to Our Newsletter!