In episode three of the Lo Cost Marketing Podcast I interview the creator of the CommentLuv plugin, designed by software developer Andy Bailey. Andy is from the north of England. The main topics discussed were some advice for people just getting started in software development and also some of the biggest challenges that a developer faces.
Andy got started online with affiliate marketing but says he was not taking it particularly seriously. It was not really until CommentLuv was created that his entrepreneurial journey online started.
So I begin to ask Andy about some of the mistakes that he has made online.
Andy says “You are not going to become successful at anything unless you make mistakes. Probably the biggest mistake that I made along the way was trying to get everything perfect before releasing products.
If you have something that works and the code does everything that it is supposed to do then get people to buy it. If it works and is popular then you can always refine it by paying a designer to make the user interface better, pay a copywriter to make it a lot better, or get a proof reader to check it depending on what it is that you have created.
You could say that analysis paralysis was my biggest mistake and I realised that at some point you just have to realise the thing.”
Perfection is a huge problem for a lot of entrepreneurs and I’m sure that there any many really good quality products out there that the world has never seen, simply because the creators have been too afraid to release it to public.
I then ask Andy about some advice for software developers who are just getting started.
Andy says “Get feed back early. What you think is going to be the next best thing, probably isn’t. As an eningerr of code, somethings that you think are really excellent other people are not interested in.
Do the so what test – just imagine explaining your product to someone and having them reply to you with – SO WHAT!
Ask yourself – does it provide a solution to a problem? Does it make something easier, quicker or faster? Get advice early (whether if it is just some newbie or an expert) to give you feedback on your idea, then your code and then its execution.
You can’t get enough feedback, even if it just to tell you that it is crap. But don’t take it all as gospel truth and take everybodys word for it either. I’m lucky to have a core group to beta test my stuff, and they are not afraid to tell you the brutal truth, unlike friends and family that may be concerned about hurting your feelings.
Don’t be afraid to hear the truth, don’t take it personally either as all feedback is good feedback.”
I can totally relate to what Andy is saying here even though I am not a developer. Sometimes you really need honest feedback from people instead of polite feedback. In my opinion you are far better off knowing the truth than feeling good if someone says that your work is really good.
Remember it matters not how good you think your idea or product is, simply because it is the market place that determines what is a success and what isn’t. First look for a common problem and then work out how you can provide the solution.
I then ask Andy what he considers to be the biggest challenges of being a software developer, and his answer was not what most people would be expecting.
Andy says “The biggest challenge for a developer is dealing with humans. When you write a computer program it will always do what you tell it to do, if it didn’t work it is because you didn’t do it correctly. If you did it correctly it will work.
That is what I love about code. If it works it is because you made it work, barring all other external influences.
The thing with dealing with humans is that they are so ambiguous. When you write something they could take it completely the wrong way. It is quite frustrating if you don’t catch yourself as a coder to communicate with someone with completely zero experience with blogging. Stuff is so easy to install now – you just press a button and you have a WordPress blog.
But back in the old days when I started, to get a blog online was quite a task. You had to get FTP, you had to extract zip files, you had to install databases, you had to be at least this smart to even get a blog – which eliminated a lot of support tickets.
But now people can push a button and they have a blog. They then install a plugin and they go – ooh what do I do now? They then send you an email asking you how to send an email – well done you just did!
Thats the type of questions that you can get from some people and it was quite frustrating in the beginning. Now I have learnt that that is just part of releasing stuff. You have got to be able to help people even if they are just starting or beginning, because if you don’t help them then what is the point of releasing plugins if you are not willing to help people to use them.”
I can just imagine how busy a support forum would be for a plugin that is as popular as CommentLuv. But like Andy says, as a developer you would have to expect it and be prepared to help people to use your plugin. If your not willing to help people then you would need to look at hiring people to manage this for you.
Otherwise you may as well not even bother if you aren’t prepared to offer support for your plugin.
I then ask Andy what CommentLuv is, what it does and how he has monetized it.
Andy says “CommentLuv was started just for me on my first blog as a way of saving time because i didn’t want to have a blogroll, or maintain a blogroll, and it was the best way for me to reward the people that mattered the most to me, which were the people who communicated on my posts and were my readers – and I really wanted to reward them.
CommentLuv came about because I wanted an automatic way to reward the people that commented on my site. it works by grabbing the feed, which is the latest post from their site feed URL, when they are leaving a comment and it leaves a titled link to their own blog at the end of their comment.
As it grew and as it developed, and as more and more people used it, it has become a massive plugin that is free and anyone could use to encourage people to comment on their WordPress blog.
It provides a really convenient link for that anybody that comments on your blog, which people can click on and go straight to their latest post. And also other readers that come to your site can see what your community is talking about. The people that did comment on your site can also get their posts out there in front of other people.
And also there is the big old thing that you reward the people that comment on your site, plus other readers have something else to look at is related to your post. Plus the people that commented on your site love to come back again and comment again because they get more exposure as well.
The way that I monetized it was that after 2 years as a free plugin people were asking me for a lot of different options such as extra URL’s, more posts to choose from, do follow, sharing it on Twitter or Facebook etc. To monetize it I just created a premium version of the pluglin which just takes the free version and bolts on lots of extra stuff that people were already asking for.
I charged a premium price for the premium plugin. People can still use the free version, but if they want some more ways to reward their readers, more ways to incentivise people to share their posts, more ways to make them go viral, and also to protect themselves from spam then they can pay a premium and get the premium version.”
As you can see below this post I use the premium version of CommentLuv and can honestly say that I would never even consider using any other commenting system. You get what you pay for and I strongly recommend people to at least give the free version a try.
I then ask Andy what other projects online that he is currently involved in?
Andy says “I am heavily interested in PPC and CPA at the moment and I’m developing different sites. I have got a lot of fingers in a lot of different pies but If I wasn’t getting paid for it then I would be doing it anyway to pass the time.”
I then ask Andy what plans does he have for the future online?
Andy says “I’m just developing a plugin now that fills a need that I have found myself needing due to my interest in CPA lately using Google Ad Publisher DFP. I”m writing a plugin that will integrate that with CPA networks and be able to target specific types of ads with specific types of categories, and automatically show them based on geographic location and demographics.
Personally I am just going to just use it for myself because it will save me time, but if it works out well I might partner up with another guy by the name of Jonathan Smith, to see if we can realise it as another premium plugin.”