At the end of each year, I like to take a look back at the last 365 days and review how my business has progressed throughout the year. Overall, 2014 was an exceptionally good year for me with many different highlights.
Open source software stands at the very heart of my business and encompasses many of the core beliefs and ideologies that I choose to follow in my business practices. In much the same way that I believe open source software dramatically benefits all of those involved, I also believe that open businesses can have a significantly positive impact on everyone involved. It's for those reasons that I choose to be 100% transparent with my business and reveal actual statistics related to revenue and expenses.
I am an open book when it comes to my business; if you have any questions about numbers or how I run my business, do not hesitate to ask.
While it may not be abundantly clear when you look at this website, I have an exceptionally talented team of people that work along side me every single day. This year we have grown the team by adding several new permanent members and we have strengthened it even more by moving a couple of part-time team members to full time positions.
Andrew Munro co-founded AffiliateWP with me and has now moved from a part-time contractor for support and development to a full time salaried position. His main focus is on AffliateWP but he also spends considerable amount of time in Easy Digital Downloads and is the mastermind behind the recent rebrand on this website.
Sean Davis joined the EDD support team part time in July and quickly moved to a full time, salaried position in August. He is now the support manager and theme wrangler for Easy Digital Downloads.
Rami Abraham joined up with Andrew and I to help lead support for AffiliateWP part-time. If you open a ticket for AffiliateWP, it's likely Rami you'll talk to.
John Parris joined the Easy Digital Downloads support team part-time three weeks ago and is doing great, great things.
The following also deserve huge amounts of credit for everything they have contributed to the team and the projects we have undertaken together:
- Dan Griffiths - a prolific EDD extension developer and active EDD core developer,
- Chris Christoff - a prolific EDD extension developer, unit testing maven, and resident Mnt. Dew aficionado
- Sunny Ratilal - the mastermind behind the EDD website and on-leave EDD extension developer
There is no way that the accomplishments of EDD, AffiliateWP, Restrict Content Pro, or many other projects around here could have been even half as successful if it wasn't for these fine individuals.
Revenue for the business
Throughout this year the business has seen steady growth that has resulted in more than doubling the revenue of last year. For 2013, Pippin's Pages, LLC, had around $360,000 in revenue. For 2014, we blew that number away and brought in over $782,000.
I will get into the numbers for each project below, but to quickly summarize, EDD more than doubled it's annual revenue from extension and theme sales, and AffiliateWP took off much stronger than anticipated.
Revenue for the business comes from primarily three websites:
- Extension and theme sales
- Priority support subscriptions
- Plugin sales (Restrict Content Pro, Sugar Event Calendar, and more)
- Site memberships for access to premium tutorials and a few plugins
- Plugin sales
Additional revenue for the business is generated through plugin sales and affiliate earnings from other plugin shops and websites, such as Ninja Forms, FacetWP, WP Sessions, Code Canyon, and more. I also perform occasional contract work for various long-term clients, such as CG Cookie.com, that accounts for a small percentage of the business's revenue.
Site memberships for PippinsPlugins.com
Over the last year, the membership side of this website has definitely lost some of its focus, though that's something I'm working on revitalizing and pouring more time into for 2015. Even with its lack of focus, however, the memberships stats for 2014 grew from where they were in 2013.
2013 saw $15,969.45 in earnings from membership payments, while 2014 saw a nice jump up to $20,143.20.
2014 saw just 7 premium tutorials published, but there were numerous updates to past tutorials to help bring them more up to date and ensure continued accuracy with changes to WordPress. In 2015, I hope to dramatically increase the number of both free and paid tutorials that get published here.
Easy Digital Downloads
This was a great year for the little blue monster. Easy Digital Downloads passed the 475,000 downloads mark. While we didn't quite break the 500,000 mark I had hoped for, but we got close.
During 2014, more than 54 extensions were released for Easy Digital Downloads, making the plugin more powerful and more accessible for thousands of users from around the globe.
We totaled more than 7,700 sales through the Easy Digital Downloads website, with gross earnings of ~$475,000. For those 7,700 purchases, we delivered more than 26,000 plugin file downloads.
Of the 7,700 sales, ~670 were renewal purchases. The renewal rate was significantly lower than I would have liked, but we addressed it during September and managed to more than triple our average renewal rate, meaning next year will have substantially better renewal rates. You can see that very clearly in the graph below:
Of the ~$475,000 in gross revenue, more than $218,000 was paid out in commissions to team members and 3rd-party developers.
An additional $14,000 was brought in through priority support subscriptions, bringing EDD's total earnings to nearly $490,000. Not half bad at all considering last year EDD brought in $191,000. That's a 2.5 fold increase, give or take.
Restrict Content Pro
As one of my oldest large plugins, I'm happy to say that Restrict Content Pro is still going strong. It hasn't had nearly the focus this year that Easy Digital Downloads and AffiliateWP have, but it's still very much alive. Over the last few weeks I've been working on some major improvements that I'm very excited to get shipped out sometime in early 2015.
For 2014, RCP earned ~$134,000 via ~2670 sales. The add-on payment gateways and a couple of other misc add-ons earned an additional $4,000-$5,000, bringing RCP's annual value to around $140,000.
Restrict Content Pro is very much still a center piece of my business and my goal for 2015 is to make it even more of one. While the plugin has continued to do exceptionally well, I believe with a little more work, I can more than double the revenue that RCP generates, while also making the plugin dramatically better for everyone that uses it. The relaunch of this site's brand is just one of the many steps involved with really pushing Restrict Content Pro forward.
This is the newest of my large plugin projects but is already a major contributor to the annual revenue of the business. AffiliateWP started in April 2014 as a joint effort between myself and Andrew Munro, one of the main team members that I had already worked with for more than a year around the Easy Digital Downloads ecosystem. The plugin quickly took off and is now part of both mine and Andrew's daily focus.
Since launch, AffiliateWP has pulled in $120,000 in revenue with over 1,400 licenses sold.
The rapid growth of AffiliateWP has been awesome. It's definitely the plugin that has been the most successful in the least amount of time for me. Here's a visual of the sales growth it has seen this year:
Other commercial plugins
While the three above are the primary revenue streams for the business, every commercial plugin owned and maintained by Pippin's Pages, LLC contributes to the total revenue the company brings in. Here's a quick break down of their approximate earnings this year:
- Easy Content Types: $19,400
- Fullscreen Background Images Pro: $6,100
- Love It Pro: $694
- Sugar Event Calendar: $11,100
- Frontend Registration and Login Forms: $1,800
- Simple Notices Pro: $272
- Advanced Search Short Code: $616
- Plugins on Code Canyon: $5,250
Total revenue in 2014 from non-primary plugins: ~$45,232
No one of these plugins contributes anything near the three primary plugins mentioned above, but put them all together and they account for a pretty sizable chunk of revenue.
Major business expenses
While the revenue for the company was splendid this year, that kind of growth comes at a cost. In order to get to where we did this year, significant funds were invested directly back into the business. Here's a quick break down of some of the major expenses the company had this year:
- More than $20,000 in affiliate commissions
- More than $218,000 in commissions to EDD extension developers
- More than $90,000 in contract development / support work
In total, more than $316,000 was paid out to affiliates, 3rd party developers, and contract workers.
One of the major business expenses that many people often neglect to look at is the cost of merchant transactions. For all of the sales processed in 2014, Pippin's Pages, LLC paid more than $25,800 in merchant processing fees.
Additional expenses included more than $3,200 for accounting and tax filing services, $24,000+ in airfare, hotels, and other travel expenses, $12,000 in advertising, and $29,700 in additional expenses, including web hosting, internet service, office furniture, software licenses, and computer equipment.
At the end of the year, Pippin's Pages, LLC, did have significant profit, which is all getting used to build up a strong reserve fund to help guarantee the salaries of all employees and also contribute to future business investments.
More important than any of the numbers about revenue or sales is the number "1"--the number of new members my wife and I introduced to our little family this year. Nora Lynn Williamson was born on the 26th of October and is a happy, healthy baby. Molly, Eliza, and Nora are the reason for everything I do. It is all for them, each and every day.
Here's to a great 2014 and an even better 2015!