Free plugin developers often feel that they have nothing to gain from their hard work, but in reality, nothing could be further from the truth.
Free plugin development can lead to many things – you only need to ask our own CEO, Vladimir Prelovac, to understand that. He started developing free plugins in 2007, which led to a book deal, premium plugins, and of course ManageWP.
Vladimir would be the first to tell you that all of this was borne out of a simple desire to boost WordPress’ functionality with plugins that he made freely available to the WordPress community.
With that in mind, I am very excited to announce our featured plugin developer today – a chap who has built up an entire career out of WordPress development.
Introducing Austin Passy
Austin Passy is a WordPress designer, web developer, photographer, the organizer of WordCamp LA, sports nut, and LA Dodgers fan. And in-between all of that, he has of course been able to develop a few plugins.
Austin blogs personally and is also the man behind Frosty Designs. And he very kindly took the time to answer a few questions of mine recently, which reveals his straightforward (and effective) approach to plugin development.
What drives you to develop free WordPress plugins?
I usually build a plugin for myself, then release it for others to enjoy!
Where do you find inspiration for the plugins that you develop?
I find it in everyday life.
I might be building a WordPress theme or plugin, which might register an idea, and that will spin off into hours of coding for a little plugin.
What is the secret behind the enormous number of downloads that your plugins receive?
There is no secret. Just make a good plugin that people enjoy. Also, it helps to subscribe to your forum’s RSS feed and respond to issues and feedback to make the plugin better.
Out of all the plugins you have created, which is your favorite?
I think Custom Login was my first plugin – it’s hard to remember now. But it has to be my favorite. I install it on all of my sites and clients’ sites.
It’s so popular (with over 100,000 downloads) that I made a pro version.
What plugins would you recommend for our readers that they may not have heard of?
I’ve been trying to keep a list of my favorites, and now that WordPress allows favoriting, you can see my small but growing list on my profile.
Here’s the list at the time of writing:
- Pazzey’s Store Locator
- Gravity Forms WYSIWYG
- Domain Mapping System
- WP-Orphanage Extended
- CPT-onomies: Using Custom Post Types as Taxonomies
- WiziApp – create your own native iphone app.
- Profile Builder
- Custom Login
- WordPress SEO by Yoast
If you could sing the praises of one other WordPress plugin or theme developer out there, who would it be?
I’m a fan of beards, so I am going to go with my buddy Michael Fields.
Is there anything WordPress-related that you are developing in the pipeline that we can look forward to?
I’ve got a few big projects that keep starting and stopping. It’s hard to find free time to build them. I need an investor to continue.
There is a photography proofing system, a presentation of which you can see below:
I’m also working on a mobile ready restaurant & menu management website.
First of all, my sincere thanks goes out to Austin for taking the time to answer my questions.
It is clear that Austin keeps things simple, and doesn’t overcomplicate his plugin development process. The best plugins are usually borne out of a personal desire for functionality that is not yet supported by WordPress (or plugins). If you develop for yourself, there are likely to be plenty of others like you who will also love your plugin.
Furthermore, once you have developed a successful plugin, you can leverage the power of your user base by listening to their ideas and feature suggestions.
Finally, we can see how Austin started off developing free plugins, and was eventually able to leverage the user base he built to release a popular premium plugin. Furthermore, all of the experience he has in plugin development aids his web design business.