This morning, I received my first financial support for developing the WordPress plugin Print My Blog on Open Collective. Upon seeing the email informing me of that, I’ve had a whole host of feelings… yes, from a donation of $20. Here they are…
This came first. This was the first ever donation I’ve received. So regardless of its size, I felt unreasonably excited over it.
It feels a little like winning an award at school or something. I didn’t even want to open the email to see the exact amount.
The “business model” of the plugin has been this: give away the best product and service I can (in the limited time I have between actual work and family etc) and not charge for anything, just ask people to make donations afterwards if they’re satisfied and want the plugin to be developed further.
Until this moment, I wasn’t sure if it was working. Plugin usage has grown moderately (100 active installs in 3 months), and a few good reviews. but no actual income. So this was a positive change and suggested the idea might have merit.
This meager $20 filled my head with ideas of making this a sustainable side project.
So far the software isn’t too polished. I’ve really only been working on things as users request them, in order to try to wasting time on unused things.
That’s been pretty good, but it means the software isn’t a masterpiece yet. Specifically I worry it won’t work very well with all the thousands of plugins and themes I haven’t tested it with.
It’s a little hard to be paid for something you know isn’t “there” yet. I have a long to-do list regarding it.
Suddenly my head started racing with how to encourage more donations and users etc.
Then I realized how far away this is from sustainable. In order to have this bring in the income I’d like, it needs about 100 times more donors (each month!) Considering how much work this first $20 was (I’d guess it’s been 20 hours in total, so that’s not a great wage) that doesn’t seem too likely.
The platform I’m using, Open Collective, aligns well with my ideas (it encourages transparency in order to encourage donations). But I also realized that it’s fees a rather high: almost 16%. In contrast, PayPal charges about 3%.
So that’s got me thinking “if I get more donations, that 16% will become a pretty big waste”, and wondering how I could save that money. (So I’ve looked into alternatives like Patreon, or self-hosting a website and use GiveWP, or writing my own software from scratch to work with Stripe. My thought right now: just continue with this until donations become more substantial, like 10 times more per month).
Rather than comfort this has brought a dizzying amount of things to consider: expenses, needed features, how to market it better, etc. Phew!