The WP Minute+

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In a recent episode of the WP Minute+ podcast, Matt Medeiros sat down with Kim Coleman, co-founder of Paid Memberships Pro, to discuss the often-challenging topic of raising prices for WordPress plugins. Kim shared valuable insights into why WordPress companies should consider price increases, how her team prepared for the change, and the market's reaction to the move.

Kim emphasized the importance of finding the right balance between providing value to customers and ensuring the long-term sustainability of your business. By carefully considering pricing strategies and communicating changes effectively, WordPress companies can successfully navigate price increases while maintaining customer loyalty.

As the WordPress ecosystem continues to evolve, plugin and theme developers must adapt their pricing strategies to remain competitive and support their ongoing development efforts. Kim Coleman's experiences with Paid Memberships Pro serve as a valuable case study for WordPress professionals looking to make informed decisions about their own pricing models.

Key Takeaways for WordPress Professionals:
  • Regularly evaluate pricing against inflation, market competitors, and your target audience
  • Slowly increase prices over time to avoid a significant jump that may deter customers
  • Align pricing with the value your product provides and the type of customer you want to attract
  • Experiment with different pricing models, such as introductory pricing, to find the best fit for your product
  • Communicate price changes to customers in advance, honoring legacy prices and offering a grace period
  • Consider offering an enterprise-level plan to cater to larger organizations and agencies
  • Diversify your marketing efforts by attending events outside the WordPress community to reach a broader audience
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Matt: Hey, Kim, welcome
back to the WP Minute.

Kim: Thank you for having me, Matt.

Matt: You are the the
leading return guest.

You're the, you're the all star.

on the,

Kim: try to keep doing cool stuff
so that that stays the case.

Matt: The other day I, I tweeted out,
I forget what day it was, but you

know, prices going up everywhere.

Food, water, everything.

And streaming services, my God.

And I actually want to dissect
that in a moment here, the

software streaming services.

and I was like, man, I don't see anybody
really going up in the WordPress world.

And even my day job at gravity forms,
we've held the line really long.

I mean, they still have the
developer license and we're

rolling out gravity SMTP.

We're wondering, okay, like how
do we turn this into a, we want to

turn this into a secondary product.

This can't just be for free.

We can't continue free.

And then I saw that you
were raising prices.

My brother's been, a happy customer
for many years running, thetraderisk.

com, his daily, finance, Non advice,
newsletter slash membership, so check that

out if you're interested in that stuff.

But you just raised, I got
the prices up right now.

You have a free plugin, which
everyone knows and loves.

Your standard plan is now 3.

47 for the year, plus plan 5.

97 for the year.

And my favorite plan, which I
should, I, I want more plugin

developers and theme authors to do
is have an enterprise plan at 5, 000

plus, like here's the floor, Mrs.

Enterprise customer.

Who's about to throw lawyers and
a purchasing department at me.

It starts at 5, 000 and we
scale up depending on how

much headache do you give me?

So all of that is to say
you're raising prices.

Fantastic.

Insert.

Clap, audio and the post edit.

why did this happen?

You have a whole sheet of notes,
but why did this happen for you?

Kim: Yeah, we, it's two years in
the making, increasing these prices.

The previous increase was the
introduction of that standard

plan, which was formerly 247.

So that saw about a 33,
30 percent increase.

And plus, formerly it
was 347, jumped to 597.

So, that's pretty cool.

Bigger, bigger jump over 50%.

I think if I do the math on that, and
it kind of coincides with the philosophy

that you should always be experimenting
with pricing, always be looking and

reevaluating against inflation against
other players in the market, and

against where you really want to target
and the best buyer for your product.

So it kind of was a factor of all those
things and least of which was our new 3.

0 version where we pulled some of our
paid products into the core plugin.

So we just made the core product itself
even richer, even better to start with.

So we can dig into any of those areas, but
really in the spirit of experimentation,

this is the first phase of some other
pricing changes you're going to see

from us this year and next year.

Matt: The free plugin.

I can't remember, the core
plugin and 29 free add ons.

Was that always the case?

The 29,

Kim: The free add ons keep increasing.

We move some out of paid tiers as
they become more user friendly.

A lot of what divides what's in core
and what's an add on feature for us

is how much support and developer
experience and technical know how

you're going to need to use it.

So, and 29 is also because we release
all of our integration plugins.

for free as much as we can and as
much as possible in the WordPress.

org repository.

so it increases as we
add new integrations.

the newest ones are the Google Analytics
integration, which has fully commerce

tracking, and custom dimensions tracking.

So you don't have to use a product
like Monster Insights for that.

And then also an integration with the
Kismet to help prevent spam checkouts.

So those are two additions
to that free tier.

Matt: how much of the low cost
of plugins and themes is because

developers, let's face it, most of
the folks who are starting these

pieces of software are developers.

There are.

They happen upon building
a business, right?

Oh, that I built this thing.

It's kind of cool.

People started using it then, Oh,
you should actually monetize this.

Cause that's what everyone
says you should do.

And then all of a sudden they find
themselves three years down the road

with a business and they're doing
taxes now, and there's all kinds

of craziness running a business.

How much of it is this the low price
because they're afraid to raise the price?

They they're not really they weren't
really built for this and they're kind

of afraid to say oh, man Try to bring my
29 plug in to 79 now How much of it is a

fear factor or is there another element
to why prices are so low in WordPress?

Kim: I think in general people peg their
product against other products that

aren't necessarily related or necessarily
as feature matched or feature rich.

So if we say like, oh, across the
board, no one wants to pay more than

59 for a plugin, that's ridiculous.

Well, some plugins are one line of code.

And some plugins like ours are thousands
of lines of code and do a lot more and

add a lot more value to the end user.

So I think they just look at what
they think the, the top threshold

is that they can get someone
to buy it and they stick there.

and often they're a small team.

So 59 and you get thousands of
customers in a year, that's a big deal.

Really good wage for a small team or a
single founder with a couple freelancers

working for them So often I think they
look at it as what's sustainable for me

What do I need to make and they stop there
and they just don't want to think about

it anymore I also think it takes time to
get into a pricing model that will really

fit you and fit your product So early on
you have no clue you put a tag on it And

if you're not looking at that every couple
of weeks, every month early on, then

you're going to let that big gap go by.

And then that fear sets in
because you're like, wow, it's

been this price for three years.

How can I possibly raise it
double, like double people

are going to freak out on me.

when you really should have
been slowly increasing it.

So you might be at triple or
quadruple that initial price

a few years down the road.

Matt: Yeah, you know and I was
saying this at the top of the show.

I mean streaming services This is the
last this is the last service or business.

I It's the only, it's the one that
really gets me when I see like

Netflix go up another dollar, Spotify
go, you got, you don't need it.

I would love to know the backend
margins of these streaming services, or

maybe there are, maybe they're losing
money because they're plowing so much

money into the content side of it.

So we kind of win with that, I
guess as consumers, but I, that's

the one that really drives me nuts.

And I think.

people who are building plugins
or themes or a SaaS business

that's powering another business.

That's okay.

That one makes sense.

Raising that price makes sense.

if somebody is listening to this, they
have their, their plugin business.

What was it that triggered you to say,
okay, it's, it's finally time to do it.

Like, was it the economy?

Was it the inflation?

What was it that was like, okay,
it's finally time three years since

we've done this, let's do it again.

What was it that really pushed
it over the hump for you?

Kim: I think launching 3.

0 was like, get that out the door.

And then we'd look at things again.

And we did a lot of thinking
toward the end of last year over.

Who do we really want to
design this product for?

What is the direction of this
product and who does it fit best?

And as much as we're fully open source,
we have all of our code on GitHub.

Everything is technically free to use.

the person that we're really designing
toward, the person that years from now

we'll be using our product and succeeding
best with it is someone that wants to

get paid through their membership site.

It's someone that wants to invest
in their business and create a

serious online membership and
the online subscription portal.

and those people have money
to invest in their business.

So, even though they're a DIY
or they're looking at this as a

long term relationship with us.

And I think by increasing the price, we're
getting more of those focused buyers on

the product rather than like the person
that's just kind of considering it

and just going to disappear in a year.

a lot of our value is provided
in that first year of membership.

Yep.

So when we work with you through
support within three months, you

should be pretty stable and your
sites launched maybe sooner than that.

and then year two is just gravy.

You're, you're iterating on your business.

You're generating your
content and you're growing.

but we see a lot of people drop
off on year two and a lot of it

is because their business failed.

So I think we're trying to tackle
that from the front end to say,

If you're ready to invest in your
business, a larger chunk of money.

And really commit to it then
I think you're more successful

year two and we have less churn

Matt: I'm going to try to set
the stage for this question.

It's going to be a little bit long.

So bear with me.

In the age of AI, I think investing
in humans is the most important thing

somebody can do to really bring out
that brand, the human in your brand.

Not saying you specifically, Kim, but
for anyone listening that has a plug in

business or a theme business, whatever.

I constantly see, especially in the
creator side, I made this comparison the

other day, and I don't want to put you
in any hot water, especially if you have

add ons, but beehive, the email platform
versus convert kit, the email platform.

I see beehive like the typical
startup bros, the content that's

coming out, the brand that they,
that they portray startup bros.

Look how much money we raise.

They just raised prices as well off
the back of whatever, 30 million or

something like that, that they raise.

I forget what it is.

And it's this constant, like, look at us.

Securing the bag right as founders and
you just know that at the end of the

day They're just gonna sell to whoever
is ready to buy them for it's gonna be

their song story of a billion dollars or
something Insane and congratulations to

them But the content and the connection
they put out is look at us build this

platform that you all love or care about
I see people perceived to love only to

get sold at the end of the day, you know,
and that's what blows my mind is that

people should be investing in brands
that put that customer first convert kid.

I see it much more on the creator side.

They just launched like a podcast
studio that any of their customers can

use in Ohio or something like that.

Different, two different stories.

And both you and Jason have been around
since the dawn of commercial plugins.

And you continue to put that
customer first and foremost, back

to your thing about these customers.

We lose customers because they go up.

They, maybe they go out of business.

This membership thing was too hard.

How are you positioning to, to
solve that now that you've got 3.

0 out the door and your notes,
you have already working on 4.

0 in the, in progress.

How are you, Because that's
a whole other animal.

How are you getting that customer first
and foremost to say, we want to make you

the most successful at your membership?

How are you positioning yourself for that?

Kim: Yeah, so the the big things
coming are We're definitely

focused on the front end design.

So I think that's going to support people
these people are the first time often

they're creating a website and working
online They get very hung up on design and

appearance of things when that's the case
Misdirected what they need to be doing

is content and delivering value creating
their courses and doing the things that

are going to get people to pay and keep
paying them for their membership site.

I joke that like ugly websites are
successful websites because a lot

of it isn't what it looks like.

It's that people are getting the value
that you said you were going to provide

them to challenge that recurring fee.

So we're going to do front end work.

It's a long time coming.

we often thought, you know, themes
would handle this and themes would

style forms better and themes would
do this, but it's not the case.

So we're getting very opinionated.

I think you'll see in a lot of what we
do, taking a lot of things in house.

we can say we integrate with all these
platforms, but in reality, that's

another point of failure for people
without, their own skills and developers.

So even things that we thought
we would just provide working

with recapture for abandoned cart
recovery, we're going to take that.

Or how can we make things
like that in house because we

know that we can control it.

We know that we can make it more
seamless and we don't have to

rely on the other partner to do
some contribution of that code.

So I think that will just make things
a lot easier for that DIY creator.

we're also looking at how our 4.

0 version could function not only as a
membership and subscription platform,

but kind of as a one time payment,
transactional, Purchase environment.

So we look at memberships as a
subscription Platform, but we're as

integrated with gateways as WooCommerce is
so if you think WooCommerce is challenging

to work with and to develop for It's even
more challenging for memberships because

we have subscriptions built in but we have
the ability to take one time payments,

too So a lot of our users are saying
they want to be able to sell recurring

memberships but also sell one time things.

So, we're looking at that as a way
for people who just don't know how to

deliver value on a recurring basis,
but they can create one time info

products and still have a community
and audience of members on their site.

so definitely looking at those two pieces.

And then also, because we're focused on
helping people get paid, we can focus more

on, On the things that help our members
get paid from their members so looking

at like I said abandoned cart recovery
is one point there churn and all kinds of

things like that So helping them be more
successful by avoiding shooting themselves

in the foot with rookie mistakes.

Matt: Yeah, I don't envy the
position you're in having to serve

so much for a customer, right?

Cause you know, the, the seasoned
WordPress person, probably the person

listening to this episode is like,
Oh, it's just a membership plugin.

It's just a member.

It's just a membership plugin to you
and I, who kind of know this stuff.

And we know where it slots in because
we have our solutions maybe for front

end and forms and all this other
stuff, but your customers come to you

and they're like, ah, I don't even.

Like, what's this WordPress thing?

They said I should use this and
you have to solve for so much

theme in front end is huge.

And you guys started tackling with
your own theme probably like what?

Six ish years ago, roughly.

Kim: Yeah Member Lite we've, we developed
as a classic theme, it has some hybrid

theme features and now the theme landscape
in WordPress is very confusing because of

site editing and full site editing block
themes and all of that, so we're still

looking at that as an option, but the page
builders themselves, Elementor is still

king of our user base, and I think we
want to do more for Elementor for sure.

Matt: yeah.

so that was, that was going
to be my next question.

Were you, are you going to get
into looking at creating the,

a block theme, like full on

Kim: have one kind of in progress.

We started with Tammy Lister,
Focused on that individual

creator, building community.

A lot of our users choose to use the
BuddyBoss platform because the theme is so

elegant and simple, but it also comes with
a lot of baggage because not everyone is

building a full community site and wants
messaging and wants the directory things.

So we're trying to feel it out and feel
which would be the right theme direction,

not replicating BuddyBoss's features
too much, but some of the profile

pieces that people like that just make
them feel like their website is more

professional, more professionally created.

Matt: Yeah.

And this is.

I mean, this is why you
raise prices, right?

Because there's, there's, there's
just so much under the hood.

One of the notes you have, one of
the bullet points you have written

down here is being seen as expensive
pricing compared to similar products.

You and Lifter LMS have, strict, do I
call it strategic partnership or partners?

Kim: we, Jason and I own 50 percent
of the Lifter LMS product, so

Matt: How do

Kim: in bed together.

It's for real.

Matt: It's for real,
they're in bed together.

How do you differentiate
yourself as you mature PMP?

Because I always saw LFTR as,
the high, the lux version of LMS.

How do you, as you mature and push 3.

0 and future versions of PMP, how do
you ride alongside what you all are

doing with LFTR at the same time?

Kim: That's a challenge and, and I think
it's more interesting for me watching

what MemberPress is doing because
they're doubling down on courses a ton.

And, and that's a historic thing.

People conflate membership
and course, together.

which is confusing, I think.

Yeah.

For us as a business because we don't
complete membership and course together.

It's really hard for a course A course
creator to justify recurring subscriptions

You can't churn out courses all the time.

And once a course is taken it's
hard to justify Why do I keep paying

you like I took all your courses?

Why am I going to keep subscribing?

So it's interesting to me to watch where
member press is taking their product where

paid memberships pro is more focused on
the member itself On the association the

community site which may have an aspect of
e learning But not as the core delivery.

so that's an interesting thing.

Lifter's interesting too, because they
don't have their repos public right now.

So they are open source, but a
lot of their code is not publicly

available on GitHub the way ours is.

So I think Jason and Mai's influence has
been dumped more into the core product.

Think about ways, that we can become more
open source and more open, through that.

So they are one of the
most expensive luxury LMS.

And it's, again, they have the very robust
free open source plugin, more complete

than any others that are out there.

I think, you know, I haven't
used Sensei much, but it's a

shell of what Lifter LMS does.

LearnDash has a premium only product.

So, there are other ones in the
repository that are popular LMSs.

I think the most successful e
learning sites, the huge e learning

sites are using Lyft or LMS or
LearnDash for their products.

So yeah, I don't know.

It's interesting to be in
two conversations about

pricing with two products

Matt: I was going to say, like,
yeah, does it influence you at all?

Does it come into play or is it, do
you just like mentioned to Chris in

like a, an executive meeting and say,
Hey, like, here's the direction we're

going in, happy to see like where
you go, but like, here's where we're

firmly planted in this direction.

Does it influence each other at

Kim: Very much actually.

And what's been cool is that we're able
to run different experiments in different

products and get different results.

The results kind of simultaneously.

So lifter right now is running an
introductory pricing, strategy.

So they are doing that 50 percent off your
first year and not in the way that it's

like a FOMO, scarcity four hours left.

it's more introductory pricing.

It's we want you to choose this
platform and let price not be

a barrier for you in year one.

Become successful.

We know that in year two, we'll
have proven our value even more to

you and you will pay the full price
on year two upgrade or renewal.

that gets a lot of flack.

Carl's, your boss at Rocket Genius,
has given that form of pricing a lot of

flack, but it's something that's been
really working for the Lifter product.

Because they had such a high tier,
their top tier was 1, 200, for people

to get in at that price was really
challenging, and a lot of the add ons

in that tier are important add ons.

ways to offer advanced quizzing
formats, protecting downloads is

coming, delivering advanced, I
said, quizzes, forms, custom fields,

playback on video, timing of things.

A lot of those are, are essential
to a course, but it was a

prohibitively expensive price point.

So it's interesting to watch
that introductory pricing.

It's something we'll probably end
up doing, with Paid Memberships Pro.

Because it aligns with our mission,
to help as many people as possible

get in, get on board, get set
up, and start a business that's

paying their salary or more.

So, yeah, we're, they're watching, some
ad, we're doing some Google Ads work.

You connected me with someone in
your company to, to talk through

that, which was really helpful.

so they're watching our Google Ad,
Google paid ads work, and we're just

sharing all of that back and forth.

Matt: Cool.

Yeah.

You know, I think.

As a user, you know, the other day, the
fine folks at, Publish Press released

a, like a Kanban board update to their
content calendar plugin, and I love it.

it makes sense, and, you know, I,
I gave them just a little flack.

As an end user, there's a constant,
upgrade now bar at the top of the thing.

And I totally get it, like,
there's nothing wrong with it.

But as a, as a user and somebody who, who
kind of like thinks about products a lot,

I like, that's fine, as long as I can
dismiss it, because I feel like if I'm

using it as, number one, I feel like it
just screams at me all the time, like when

I'm using it because of the color pattern.

but if I'm, if I'm putting it on a
customer site, it also feels like,

Oh, you're using this thing that's
constantly telling me I have to buy it.

So there's a sense of urgency.

It's just a inside baseball thing.

But from a product perspective, I
like something that once I get to

a certain point, I, I can't do the
thing I need to do unless I upgrade.

And that I don't mind because if I'm
being successful, like looking at you

have your free plug in free core plug in.

And then if I look at the
standard, I might be looking

like, oh, well, I'm finally at a
point where affiliate tracking.

Yeah.

Is useful to me or membership cards.

I need that.

Or if I go into the plus plan,
I can do invite only membership.

A lot of people come to the site,
you know, on the, in the context

of, Oh my God, you're so expensive.

They look at it and
they go five 97 a year.

I can't afford that.

Well, you don't need it yet, right?

You just don't need all these
things unless you do, but

if you're just starting out.

The free one is going to do it for you.

And until you get to, okay, I
finally need sponsor or group

accounts because I'm selling so
much that that's finally come up.

And Oh, by the way, if you're
selling a group account, five

97 for the year is probably.

What you're charging that one
seat for, you know, minimally

to get access to this stuff.

So I like this, I don't need it until,
until I'm like forced to get it kind

of a bad way of saying it, but I
don't need it until my business is

succeeding and then I'll happily upgrade.

I think that's the
smartest way to get there.

No direct question, but just more of
like a statement of how I use software

and how I like it to be developed.

Kim: Yeah, I mean, there's
a lot of intention there.

There's, if I look at the add ons
that are in standard, I think to

myself, what type of site is this?

What are they probably
charging people like you said?

What are their goals?

Where are they going next?

Can they afford that?

And as long as we can justify all of
that in our conversations internally,

then we can feel that the price is fair.

And the same goes for the PLUS plan.

As it becomes more expensive, the type
of site at that tier is like a large

scale thousand member PLUS association.

I hope that they're making
way more than 597 a year.

that that's a fraction
and a no brainer to them.

Still, it should be a no brainer, for
all that they're getting under one hood.

piecing things together creates
a nightmare, locking yourself

into a SaaS product that's going
to tax you more as you grow.

That's how all the email
marketing platforms work, right?

I was so successful, my email
list grew to a thousand people.

I'm paying a lot of money a
month to a product like Beehive

or ConvertKit at that stage.

That's not the case with
open source software.

So, we have to kind of think, who are
we also competing against outside of the

WordPress space, and how do they price
things, and how do they tax people or,

or increase the price as growth happens.

and, People don't realize that I
think from day one, but hopefully

they, you know, five years in
when they're very successful.

I hope they think back like,
wow, I'm still only paying 5.

97 a year for this thing.

And I'm, we have sites making
millions of dollars a year.

We can see in Stripe Connect
how successful they are, and

they're not paying us any more
than the site that just starting.

Matt: Let's just take an aside.

Let's define, we started to,
but we kind of got away from it.

Lifter LMS, certainly in
the definition, it's an LMS.

You, you want to run a course, a highly
specific course certification, curriculum,

lessons, quizzes, all of that stuff.

Paid Memberships Pro can be used
for memberships and it's not just

Hey, I want to sell a course.

Hey, I want to give you access
to, some protected content.

How else are you seeing people use it
beyond the internet marketing space?

Are other brands or things
that we've never heard of

using it in a different way?

Kim: we see association type sites where
it kind of picks among all of those.

professional organizations, a bar
association, if you, if you could

think to that, a trade association,
homebuilders of Pennsylvania.

They don't, they're not our
customer, but it is an example of

a different type of membership site
that's not strictly content driven.

we do have some people that are creating
paid newsletters, through our system.

So that is something you can start
to do now, I think, with ConvertKit,

charge for, for your newsletter.

But we often see that that's just
one piece of the puzzle and there's

no home for people to come back to.

So I think.

A membership site works best when you
have content that you're delivering

of different formats, and you
want to protect it under one roof.

Matt: Do you have anybody, do you have
anybody using it at like reselling

the membership functionality?

Kim: We do.

We have a multi site add on
that lets people sell and create

a site as part of Checkout.

So, people have set it up that
way that they, it's almost like a

WordPress, maintenance or hosted,
managed WordPress under one hood.

So people could, buy and purchase
their site at Checkout automatically

gets created for them, is one way.

We do have an affiliate program ourself.

We like that.

Better when the customer is
the buyer of their own license.

So, we haven't done things like
white labeling, and stuff like

that, but it's been talked about.

Matt: Yeah.

yeah, I think it's
important to clarify that.

You know, the different the two
different like use cases and the paths

that one can go down, and the reasons
why, you know, you should use it.

I think Lifter has, I was
just looking the other day.

I don't know, I think, was it like
video chapters or something like that?

So if you're embedding videos,
I think there's an add on to

like enhance, like video stuff.

And that's the kind of thing that I'm
like, okay, this is like full blown.

Like you're teaching a course,
you need all of that stuff.

That's lifter.

And then if you need the membership,
for content, for recurring payments.

You don't need to be teaching somebody
this in depth course that's paid

memberships pro, at least in my head.

Kim: I mean you could
use the two together.

We have like a streamlined compatibility
now that was something we developed.

So, people use us alongside LearnDash.

People use us alongside LifterLMS.

it's tough.

Choosing your software mix is tough.

It'll always be a problem with
WordPress when it's the DIY

person searching the repository.

Reading top 10 plugins for xlists
and getting really confused.

we often see people like install two
membership plugins when you don't

need to like there's conflicts that
people create because it's It's

hard to identify where one plug in's
functionality ends and another begins.

And then we see plug ins kind of all
calling themselves a membership plug in.

an example of that was the WP User
Avatar that rebranded to ProfilePress

and now is a, is a membership plug in.

And, it was a largely
used Avatar only plug in.

We recommended it, and then all of a
sudden they were like, we want to be a

membership plug in, so we're going to add.

Call ourselves profile press and
add some features in and it was

just a strange experience, but
we're still seeing it happen.

Matt: Yeah.

that another great segue into another,
section we can talk about consolidation

competition in the market we talked
about, or you mentioned, sensei,

from automatic and automatic product.

What, what's your thoughts?

What's your feelings on
competition in the space?

We just said, it's hard to pick the stack.

It can get confusing for an end user.

There's a lot of choices at the same time.

Probably not a lot of competition
when you look at the real world and

you zoom out and you look at SAS
marketplace or software at large.

What's your thoughts on competition?

What's your thoughts on
competition from the mothership?

How do you think about it now versus
maybe when, you know, 10 years ago

when the market was like super hot
and everyone was launching something

every other day, do you have a shift?

Do you feel much more grounded these days?

Do you feel much more confident,
in where your position is?

Kim: I, I think I don't, I, I
think, it's, it's a challenge to

understand where automatic is going,
where, you know, this whole move

toward agency stuff is, is curious.

Um, I think it's, it's a challenge to
understand where, you know, this whole

move toward agency stuff is, is curious.

Growing to something more and it
feels like something that gets started

and then kind of punted to be looked
at later, which is interesting.

I, I then the whole, like, if
you got me onto the wordpress.

com wordpress.

org plugins listings thing, I think
that has created confusion for users.

we saw that conversation about
search ranking and seeing.

com results come up, they're
still coming up for me before.

org rankings, which.

is I don't know.

It's gonna keep happening.

So, I guess I'm, we're starting to
look outside of WordPress and the

competition within WordPress and
look, like you said, look outside

to the grander scale of things.

I don't know.

Matt: The,

Kim: be nice when you look at like
a product like WooCommerce, it was

just right time for it to become the
e commerce platform for WordPress.

And now there is no one.

Membership plugin for WordPress
and, and who can make that decision?

Who can make that call?

It's really a challenge.

There are enough users for
all of us to go around.

I don't think a membership
plugin will ever reach the

scale of WooCommerce itself.

Matt: Yeah, there's a, an
interesting thing happening in

the, in the podcasting world.

Cause I world, cause I follow that
still really closely, for obvious

reasons, but I, I also really just
like, I love open source for WordPress.

I love open source for podcasting.

I think the two are very
important for humanity.

but Spotify, they acquired
anchor many, many years ago.

and they've, and then they rolled
that into what they called Spotify

for podcasters, where you could
go and record your podcast,

just like you could with anchor.

With Spotify and they
just killed that off.

So now the industry is like.

Cause that was like the
automatic solution, right?

That might be, that might have been
like the sensei in the LMS world.

Like, Oh yeah, it's, it helps you
create a membership, but it's nowhere

near what you're going to do with paid
memberships pro or lift their LMS.

And certainly nowhere near
if you combine the two.

So it was always largely looked at
like, ah, yeah, I did this thing.

60 percent of like what other
podcast hosting companies could do.

And then you have all the different
fragmentation of podcast hosting

companies, largely just doing RSS feeds,
but there's, there's, there's They

all have like their little accessory
features that go alongside of it.

So the experience is, is different.

but now the industry is like, who
the hell is going to take over?

Like the, the free version of, of
podcasting, because that was as much

as everybody, you know, railed against
Spotify and what they were doing with

podcasting and trying to own podcasting.

That was also a huge on ramp for like
amateur podcasters to be like, okay,

this thing's free and I can record here.

And that got people into the space.

Sort of like what Automatic
could, should do, right?

It'd be like, oh yeah,
we'll help you get in.

And then, by the way, here's
paid memberships pro when

you want to go up, right?

When you want to move up.

so now the, the podcast world is, is in a
bit of like, what, what, what is going to

happen now that the free thing is gone?

That we, that we all kind of needed.

you know, and, and I see it with
Automatic, with the agency stuff.

Yes.

One of those things too, where I was
like, For years, why doesn't Automatic

in WordPress work more with us, right?

We're the ones building it, but now
that they have that suite of, of

plugins, you know, you can probably
assume that if they're walking into

an agency, they're gonna be like
WooCommerce, Lifter, like these are the,

Jetpack, these are the things you'll,
yeah, Sensei, I said Lifter, Sensei,

Jetpack, these are the things you're
gonna use, and now that becomes, all

right, well, that's a little scary.

For us indies that are out there.

you know,

Kim: with the awesome motive products,
you know the incest of recommending each

one to each other, you know, it's like um

Matt: Can that be the

Kim: okay.

I get it.

I totally get it, you know And stellar
and and the liquid web brands like I

totally get it It's just it's where
we are now And I think it took it took

me a while to wake up and see it and
now that I do I think my relationship

To WordPress itself is changing.

And I'm, you know, I'm like,
now we're business people.

We're not open source community people
hanging out in the hallway, you know?

And that's okay.

It took, we had to get here.

It's an evolution and may swing back.

We don't know.

I don't know.

Matt: So how does that change your,
how does that change your perspective?

This recent article from, make or
blog posts from the make team talking

about the decline in, WordPress
events, fewer and fewer unique users.

How do you see yourself connecting
with the community that, you know,

like you said, we used to all just be
in the hallway together hanging out,

but now things are getting a little
bit more serious again, consolidation.

Maybe less competition.

So now we all have to.

Start getting a little bit
more serious with this stuff.

How does that change your perspective?

Like, do you, do you feel
different going to those events?

Do you think like now you kind of
step outside the WordPress world

and go to like other events or do
other marketing initiatives that

aren't traditional to WordPress
without giving away the secret sauce?

Kim: I think that would be, we are
looking at other events to attend and.

Sponsor.

We're looking outside of sponsoring
WordPress events themselves

and, and looking at, you know,
other places where people that

use our product are hanging out.

you joke a lot about the size of the
WordPress news audience, and it's a finite

group of people that care and want to
listen to and consume what you're doing.

I think the same is true
within the community.

If they don't know about Paid
Memberships Pro yet, that's okay.

I don't think that they're out
there building membership plugins,

or building membership sites.

So does it make sense for us to
always be a part of this anymore?

I don't know.

I think I'm getting to a place where maybe
I bring a tinge of bitterness that the

newer entrants to the WordPress community
don't need to hear or be a part of.

And I'm, there is a youth in WordPress.

There is a growing number of people.

I'm in my 40s.

There's people in their 20s that
show their enthusiasm In more

ways than I can today provide.

when I look at international camps and,
you know, in Asia, the vibrant communities

there, I think it used to, it's migrated.

We used to have this young WordPress
community in the United States.

I don't think we're here anymore.

I think we're more
international and that's good.

That's like another evolution
that I'm happy to see happening.

And it doesn't necessarily
include me or disclude me.

I can participate it at will when I want.

And I can step back too and let the.

The new generation not be
tainted by my bitterness, right?

Matt: You know, I, at the beginning
of the year, I, speculated that

we would see a new entrant into
the, into the WordPress community

and those that are non developers.

And just so happened, this kid, young
kid named Mark Zemanski fell into the WP

minute, Slack, and he was a, he's a guy
that started in WordPress with Elementor,

I don't know, five or six years ago.

he live streams a lot.

He let you co host with me at work.

We'll be live streaming, actually
think tomorrow or the next day.

And, he's a guy who came in never cracking
open a code editor, didn't have to, you

know, edit functions, PHP, like you and
I had to do, or probably still have to

do on some of our sites, never even saw
that and just came in through Elementor.

Now he's a, he's using, he's using
bricks and I know there's a lot of fan

favorites in the, in the page builder
world, but there's like this reality that.

You know, just like when our parents
or grandparents used to say, like, I

used to walk to school, like, well, we
don't need to walk to school anymore.

Right?

And there's these users that are
like, I don't need to write code.

I don't want to, like, I want
to enjoy using WordPress.

Just let me enjoy using WordPress.

Isn't that half the battle?

Yes.

So just let me use my element or my
bricks or my beaver builder, whatever.

And let me just do my thing without
having to do it the hard way.

And I think that's a reality.

That's what Gutenberg and site
editor as much as we're using.

Pulling our hair out
about it at some levels.

That's what that's getting to in a
slow, tires tirelessly aggravating pace.

but that's what people want, man.

And we just have to embrace it and,
and work with it because I think,

like you said before, when you see
Elementor, Just by the numbers.

Everyone's using it.

You go.

That's what the market wants.

So I'm going to support it.

I'm sorry It's business and this is
how we're gonna work So again, yeah 100

percent I agree with you There's this
whole new wave of people coming in that

are experiencing WordPress for the first
time and they're not doing it like you and

I used to do it, but so what we can we can
help them right and we can share with them

Like the most positive side of it, which
is the open source side of it to a degree.

Kim: Yeah, I mean Speaking of page
builders chris badgett's wife built

a website and from the from start
used the site editor used The block

editor and chris observed her having
zero friction Building her website and

it looks great and it does what she
wants and she's capable of editing it

and she's not afraid and that's the
experience that we're not having because

we've had to like learn something new
and change is hard and You know, it,

it happened without our input, you
know, all, all of these things that we.

We as I say we like you and I and
people who have been in WordPress

for 15 18 years are feeling about the
direction It's not what's the end user

like Mark or Sam are experiencing.

So we have to just accept that that's okay

Matt: Yeah You DHH from
Basecamp or 37 signals.

I forget what they call themselves now.

He put out a pretty good piece, whether
you like the guy or not, but he put out

a good thing, a good piece about open
source and pretty much says like it's

open source, it doesn't mean that you
have a say in, in absolutely everything

or the, or the complete direction.

And I agree with that.

And I, I'm still
struggling, still wrestling.

Cause I have this debate
with Mark all the time.

I'm still wrestling with.

How to portray this without sounding, too,
commercial, it's not that even the right

word, but it's almost like, I love word.

I love WordPress because it's open
source and I love open source because

we, we, we can have a say in it.

It doesn't mean that we'll get accepted.

So on one hand, I love the fact
that I, I can have a say in it.

The other hand, I know that I'm not
going to obviously get everything

that I can, that I'm asking for.

But at the same time, I'm
not ultra worried about.

Like the automatic mothership thing,
because at the same time, like I'm reaping

the benefits from open source as well.

So it's almost like respect, open
source, take from open source

and give back to open source.

I'm like at this like trifecta thing
right now where like, you can, you

can still reap the benefits from it.

It's, it's okay.

But as long as you respect it and
give back at some capacity and then

take Stuff away from it, which a lot
of us do like we're selling websites.

We're selling plugins.

We are gaining from it You know,
but we just can't have everything.

I don't know at the end of the day
It's this weird thing that we're at.

Kim: I I think to peace with that is
necessary, and, and something I think

Jason struggles with, when he, he feels
like sensitive about it, and he gets

emotional about it, and it's good, he
should, and in our kitchen we have, you

know, conversations that are hard, and
it's somewhat sad, and it's interesting,

and he'll, he'll want to go public with
things, and, and post things on Twitter,

and I'm very much like, You know, no, I
think it was Eric who posted recently on

the WP minute site Like that this like
clickbait and this like needing to be

outraged like it just has to end From the
bigger voices in the wordpress space The

negative criticism like let's just like
tone it down a little, you know Accept

where things are and the direction they're
going or stake a, put a stake in the

line of the sand and go change something.

Like you can hook into
WordPress in so many ways.

Most of what you're upset
about can probably be fixed

with your own custom code.

And if enough people come along
board with you, then maybe it

becomes part of core eventually.

Like that's what you said.

That's the beauty of it.

Take what you want from it.

Build off of it.

It, it's yours to do that with.

sitting around feeling sad and sour
grapes is, is not where you should be.

That's a sick way to live.

Matt: and it's hard because
we're probably I mean product

space is super opinionated Right.

And then you mix in social
media and it's like, we're all

building products to some degree.

Like we're all branding,
marketing, building a product.

So it's very easy for, you know, I say
a lot of us, but a hundred, a hundred

ish people who actually like jump in
and say things, you know, on Twitter.

it's very easy for us, you know, to
do that, because we, you know, we

are very opinionated, but I think
we're at it's such a monolithic

piece of software and
community community now.

It would really take something massive in
order for people to really revolt, right?

People revolting about, you know,
how the Gutenberg block sidebar hides

the typography unless you expand it.

Like, why isn't that just
open all the time, right?

But you can't, we're not going to win
those arguments and that's not the thing

that you're going to just like die on
a hill for, you know, eventually it's

going to get fixed, you know, it will.

So just like, let's all just move on.

And I think it would
take something massive.

It would have to be something massive.

And that is the safe, that would be the
safeguards of open source at that point.

I don't know what that massive thing is.

I have no idea.

It would have to be like open AI,
like an open AI integration into

core WordPress where you'd be like,
wait a minute, what the hell is this?

You know, I, I don't want this in
my, in my WordPress or it'd have to

be something massive to really have.

People stand up and revolt or
change things in WordPress.

So the little stuff

Kim: I mean, from the hosts and
the products, the users, every

angle has people championing
and, and pushing it forward.

not just the project itself.

So, yeah, I agree with you.

Matt: did you have anybody complain
about price increase when you raised it?

Kim: One person email we well, this is
the graceful way to increase prices.

Here you go the 30 second pitch
we email people in advance.

We let them know the
date that it's happening.

We honor legacy prices We sometimes run a
sale But this time we didn't to get people

in as if they can at the current price
Before the prices go up and if people ask

later, we usually give them the old price
So those are just like the most graceful

way to increase prices Go to sleep
at night without feeling like an ass.

so some one person emailed and said you
highly overestimate the value of your

product one person And I was like, I think
we highly underestimate it, you know, i'm

thinking we didn't write them back We just
let them their email go into the trash,

you know, so no not so far there's always
a lull after a price increase and a lot of

that is just like The way people buy and
the way people make software decisions.

So, sure there's people that
come to the site, see the price,

check out, immediately go.

A lot of people begin at the free level,
10 percent of them upgrade to a paid plan.

I think it's about 50 50 whether
people buy just outright or

sign up for the free first.

those are weird numbers that don't
make sense in the way that I told them.

but there is always a lull
because a lot of people are

making these decisions slowly.

They might have, other stakeholders
involved that they're getting on board.

So if two weeks ago they went to the
pricing page and they were one price, and

they come back to buy, it's different.

They begin those conversations.

They begin that mental wrestling again.

So there's always a lull right after.

It's about a week long.

We're not even.

A week out.

We're almost at a week from,
from it, having done it.

So, we'll see long term if we
stay at this price and how long we

stay here, but, no major pushback.

I'll say just the, the fear
and uncertainty that me and

Jason have after doing it.

Matt: yeah, yeah, yeah.

Do you, do you, have you both identified
a seasonality to the business?

I mean, you guys have
been at it for a while.

I don't know if you've seen a significant
pattern, holidays, new year, summertime.

Kim: It gets quiet after Black
Friday, which is a natural time.

May is usually slow.

we've insulated ourself from seasonality
by running seasonal sales, which we

have some articles on our site about.

but we're stopping all sales until Black
Friday, unless things go terribly wrong.

But, we have enough recurring revenue
to, to keep the cash flow fine.

But, we, we would use those sales
to perk up quiet months that we

saw in the year pre, previous.

So it's pretty regular now,
except for that outsized November.

I don't know.

I guess when you're an international,
serve an international audience,

seasonality isn't as big of a thing.

Do you see it at your, at your company?

Are you into the numbers?

Do they let you see that stuff?

Matt: No, I don't see.

Kim: Okay.

Matt: Guy with microphone
does not get access to,

Kim: Reports.

Matt: reports.

but no, I mean, I know about, I've
only been there just over a year, but

obviously Black Friday is massive.

that I know.

but I don't, I'm not privy to any of
the sales logs or anything like that.

He would show me if I asked, but
I don't, I don't want to know.

I don't want to slip up if I ever get
captured, by some other form company.

I don't want to be the guy
that knows any information.

you have this bullet point on
the, on the end of your document.

By the way, if you don't mind, I'll
copy and paste this into the show

notes because I think there's a
lot of other great takeaways here.

but planning ahead for
introductory pricing.

let's break this down.

Avoid the always on sale look,
which I think you just mentioned.

Avoid the always on sale
look for false, scarcity.

is that something that you, You tried
and that's basically like first year 97

and then next year is one 97 customers.

Like what the hell just happened?

I thought it was 97.

is that your take on false scarcity?

Kim: Yeah.

The false scarcity to me is
the, the countdown timers.

Matt: Oh, okay.

Got it.

Kim: like

Matt: Get it before it

Kim: FOMO and creating the,
the need to buy now that we

know isn't real, but it works.

And.

You know, we see it slapped on a
lot of products that get acquired

and and it must be working right?

But we are going to try an
introductory pricing at some point.

That's what lifter is doing right now.

We used to be more expensive the first
year and cheaper the second and we went to

the same price every year, as, as well as
your first year, so now we're going to try

the inverse, less your first year, more in
the second, and that's just that alignment

to letting people get in who need it and
can't yet afford it, who are just starting

out, and that's what our mission is aimed
at, so the people that want to grow, and

in year two, they should have proven And
they should be grown enough to justify

the full price renewal of the product.

So it'll be curious to try it.

It's an experiment we haven't done.

And why not try them all?

Matt: And that's where you have, you have
step one, get people started for free,

which is obviously your free plugin.

Step two, make it as inexpensive as
possible for people to get support plus

additional add ons and aimed at growth.

And you feel like.

Where you're at now with that pricing,
that's you've accomplished step two.

And then step three, charge them full
price once they have proven their model.

And that's, is that your, is
that the, 597 a year plan?

Or are you just saying, Oh, look,
now that they're here, we're just

going to charge them full price.

So are you, are you going
to change the price again?

Is that what you're

Kim: I don't think we're doing it until
January next year is where we're thinking.

We'll get through one full year
of these full price prices.

And then in January of next year,
consider a first year, 170, what is it?

172.

50 or something.

I don't know.

Doing the math.

Knocking them half price
first year and then bump up.

Yeah, we'll try it.

We'll see.

There's lots of ways I mean we have never

Matt: for the listener, for the
listener, you can't see Kim, but

she's actively thinking about it and

Kim: I know i'm like It's good.

I it's always on our minds to to
look at it again to reevaluate it a

lot of places do like an extensions
model in it and add ons model.

It's not one we've considered trying
But who knows we are going to start

selling like add on license keys,
which we haven't in the past offered

We've just been like buy another plan

Matt: because Chris

Kim: different email

Matt: Right.

Chris does that you can get,
you can get, and he has, does he

have, obviously he has success

Kim: he does the ala
carte, or bundled options.

He also does lifetime deals.

That's something we haven't done
But I think for black friday,

we're going to consider doing one.

Matt: Mm hmm.

Kim: I don't know You We don't know.

You never know until you try it, and
then you, you know better for what

you can try again in the future.

Matt: Last question.

I want to talk about this enterprise plan.

Mm hmm.

Talking about that, how did you come
about to the 5, 000 plus price tag?

do you get a lot of enterprise inquiries?

Do you ever move anyone into enterprise?

You say, hey, look, you're on this
plus plan, you're doing this thing.

Let's just move over to enterprise.

How does that look to you?

Because that could be a, a massive
driver, for the business, revenue wise.

Kim: Yeah, we, it's mostly a, a way to
open conversations, and it largely turns

out that they aren't, An enterprise
customer, largely their agency's

speculating on whether they take
PaytonMembershipsPro as the membership

plugin they only use and install.

And in those cases, it makes more sense
for them to either be an affiliate

or to pass on a discount and let
their customers sign up directly.

It's really hairy when, developers
own the license for people's sites.

Unless they have had like established
long term business together.

It it's hard for me to recommend that.

as interesting as that is, it does
serve as a decoy price and maybe

becomes a lifetime deal in time.

but it exists to say like, yes, we can
be used on large scale associations.

You know, then an enlisted association
of the national guard uses paid

memberships pro across all of its
member states, they don't pay us 5, 000.

They pay one of our developer
partners to maintain.

Their websites and their, their things,
and they pay for a subscription for

their license keys individually.

so it, it really is a conversation
to say, what are you doing

with paid memberships pro?

Oh, you're really an agency.

Should people be buying
their own licenses?

Should you just start buying a la carte
licenses and what would that look like?

I can't talk about it yet, but there
is a dominant, predominant, well

known, WordPress agency that's going
to use Paid Memberships Pro and was

otherwise considering building in house.

And they were like, are we an agency?

I was like, are you going
to support this customer?

Yes.

They just need a license
and let them use it.

So, I love having those conversations
because it's, it's where we

learn about the really cool
implementations of our product.

Matt: Yeah.

I mean, and again, for, for those
listening and hearing enterprise 5, 000

plus, like if you're a plugin developer,
I can absolutely tell you that is the bare

minimum price for, as somebody who worked
at, Pagely before they were purchased

by GoDaddy and got a lot of experience.

I mean, I got some experience in
enterprise at my agency, but certainly

at Pagely, it was all, that was all I
was selling into was the enterprise.

minimum plan was 5, 000 a year
because every single purchase was,

Oh, marketing person at some company.

Oh yeah.

I love it.

Want to buy it?

Okay.

How much is it?

And you're just like, you're talking
to them and they're like, okay, yep.

Okay.

Sounds great.

And then.

They're like, we'll, we'll, we'll buy it.

I'll send another email
like next week or whatever.

And then that email next
week is the legal team.

It's the I.

T.

team that wants you to pass, some
kind of like security sanity check and

you're filling out Excel spreadsheets
and you're like, what the hell is this?

and I think that every plugin touch
something in enterprise should have

this reserved enterprise price.

Even if you're not, Advertising it, you
just have it because you're not going to

want to go through all this other stuff.

And you actually might lose some,
like, if, if you find it interesting,

you might lose business if you don't
have that kind of solution advertised.

Cause they might, because
sometimes even at five 97 a

year, an enterprise is just like.

They find that in the loose change drawer.

Like that's nothing, right?

500 nights, they won't even work with you,

Kim: Yeah.

I mean, at the.

Matt: bigger.

Kim: Outside of the WordPress
space, the products we compete

with are 100, 000 plus a year

Matt: yeah.

Easy.

Kim: hosted software solutions and
people dislike them and migrate to us

because they're just outdated dinosaur
products, you know, and, and they don't

work the way that they need and they're
not extendable, but without a price

like that on the, on the table, it's not
obvious that this product is for them,

you know, When they see 597 DIY, get
it, do it yourself, they're like, Oh,

you couldn't possibly manage my thousand
member organization, Chamber of Commerce.

Like, yes, we can.

You know, our site has 160, 000 members.

You can, we can manage your
thousand member Chamber of Commerce.

it's just, it, it's hard for people to
say, see that an open source product

and something WordPress on a blogging
platform could, could batch something

that would be in those six figures plus.

Matt: I said last question,
but I want to hit this one last

bullet point, on your list.

you have Jason's sabbatical,
sabbatical, and Kim plus David's

brutal push for beta release.

So, I can't let you go without explaining
Jason out sipping cocktails, while you

and David are brutally pushing for a

Kim: Yeah, so I, you know, I'm the
get shit done person in our group.

team, and, and Jason gets a lot of
stuff started, and he thinks about

things, and he thinks about new
things, and he starts things, and

I'm just like, why isn't this out?

Why isn't this launched?

You know, clean this up,
fix this, get this done.

So it was an interesting time.

Jason went on sabbatical at the
mid November, early November

through the end of 2023.

he actually was not sipping cocktails
maybe some nights, but he just took

his time to read books and heal.

I think he was really getting burned out.

At the end of 2023.

and we had been developing 3.

0 for over three years.

The first commit was like
June, 2021 or something.

It was like, no, it had to
have been earlier than that.

I don't know.

I can get you the real date.

And I took that time to work with our lead
developer and just say like, what's in,

what's out, what do we have to get done?

And we just, by the end of, even before
Jason's sabbatical, mid December,

we had a working beta version of 3.

0 to share with our community.

Of people and it was Just really
fast decision making, really fast

code review between David and I.

I would do a PR, he would approve
it and merge it within minutes.

I would say, it's up, it's ready to go.

and we just kind of got really
hyperactive on it and, and we

got a beta release out the door.

So that was a fun time for me to
work that closely with David because

I didn't really in my day to day.

So I just moved aside all my
marketing tasks and focused on

my development tasks in the team.

So it was good.

It was like.

Jason's not here.

We can make the decisions.

And that came up a lot.

But when he came back, he said
everything in right that it would have

been in the way that he wanted to.

But it was grateful that he didn't have
to go through that period with us, I

Matt: Yeah, yeah, sure.

paid memberships pro.

com.

You can check out the new pricing live.

Don't complain about it.

It's there.

It's 347 for the year.

And look, like I said, so many
of us can use it for free.

It's a fantastic plugin.

Been in business now

Kim: 13 years.

July 5th, I think, is
our, is 13 year birthday.

Yeah,

Matt: that's fantastic.

Kudos to you and, the team
for surviving this long.

It's, it's, your praises are not sung
enough, in the, in the WordPress world

for, for meeting the decade mark alone
is, is something that I think we should

all celebrate more across the community.

Paidmembershipspro.

com, Kim Coleman, where else
can they go to say thanks?

Do you have any other socials
that you want them to go to?

Kim: I always forget
what my ex account is.

ColemanK83, I don't know.

I'm on it less and less lately.

Election year's got to
tune that thing out.

Matt: Oh yeah, you're gonna

Kim: yeah.

Just come to PeytonReichesPro.

com.

Complain about the price.

Go ahead.

I don't care.

Matt: Send all complaints,
paymembershippro.

com.

Thanks, Kim.

Thanks for hanging out today.

Kim: You got it.