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Colin Devroe

Reverse Engineer. Blogger.

Thanks to everyone who helped make Barley for WordPress a reality

November 27, 2013

Inspired by Shawn Blanc’s post wherein he thanked the people that helped make The Sweet Setup a reality I thought I’d take a few moments to thank everyone that helped make Barley for WordPress, our team’s inline editing plugin for WordPress, a reality.

A plugin of this scope has no one author. It takes an entire team of people dedicated to making something truly great – and that is exactly what we have at Plain. So thanks to Kyle, Jeff, Tim, Chris, and Jakub for coming in early and staying late over the last few months to completely flip our little product upside down.

Beta Testing

To ensure that Barley for WordPress would work for the most number of people we began seeding beta copies to numerous people. Beta testers are a rare breed and finding good ones can be tough. They are willing to take time out of their already busy day to try your product, sometimes on their live sites, and then take the time to report any problems back to you. This sometimes involves sending code back and forth, themes, bug reports, and it can be frustrating. It is a very thankless job most times. Here are just a few people that were instrumental in beta testing Barley for WordPress.

This list is actually a bit longer. Really, honestly, thanks to anyone that even considered trying our plugin on their site while it was in beta.

Next, we wanted to ensure that Barley for WordPress would work as well as it possibly could in the leading theme foundries excellent WordPress themes. To do this, we reached out to the theme foundries and they went above and beyond in helping us. Some of them gave us exclusive access to their libraries, worked with us to fix small little issues, and even went so far as to suggest code changes for our plugin. Thanks to the following theme foundries:

It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, our team highly recommends the work of the above teams. The themes are amazingly well done, professional, and all great people to work with.

Mentorship

Although this isn’t the first product any of our team has worked on, it is our team’s first premium product for the WordPress community. As such we reached out to people we respected to make sure they thought what we were up to smelled right. Thanks to the following people for allowing us to bend their ears on Skype or via email, sometimes for a long time, going through our ideas.

Marketing

Now that we had a plugin that worked well across many different themes, in a number of environments, and we think we had the business model that seemed right, we needed to figure out how best to tell people about it. In addition to the tens of thousands of people we have in our email list for Barley, we wanted to reach the WordPress community in a whole new way.

This all started with good messaging. Our copywriter Melissa Haertsch was pivotal in taking our thoughts, intentions, and words and getting them into a few pieces of coherent marketing. First, a press release that we’d send off to the few tech news sites and WordPress blogs. Second, was a newsletter to all of our current customers and email list. Third was a promotional video script and a full video walkthrough on how to use our plugin. We’d be nowhere without Melissa’s pen. And our promotional video came to life by the fine hands at Black Box Films. You can see from The Making of the Barley Promotional Video, we take our videos seriously.

Trying to separate ourselves from the pack, we decided to partner with Pagely, a manage WordPress hosting so
lution, to bring our plugin to their customers in a new way. Customers of Pagely can get the plugin without ever needing to figure out how to install it. It is a great experience and it was great to work with Pagely on this as they take the vetting of the plugins that can run on their platform very seriously. We look forward to working with more hosting providers in the near future.

Once we had all of these bits, we reached out to the fine people at The Next Web, WP Tavern, Post Status, Shawn Blanc, and others. Some of those whom we reached out to either A) didn’t have time to cover it, or B) didn’t want to. This will happen and it is totally OK. If this happens to you simply do not sweat it.

A note about working with news outlets: Yesterday on Twitter Brian Krogsgard, of Post Status, remarked that there was a lot to learn from how we handled the marketing of Barley for WordPress. Believe me, we still have a lot to learn yet, but here are some really quick tips that could help you if you are looking to get covered in the tech press.

  • Involve the tech press early in your process
  • Keep them up-to-date on progress
  • Send them a complete Press Release that has all of the following if possible
    • A thorough description of the product
    • A media kit with screenshots, logos
    • A video or several videos to show your product
    • A beta of the product or a place to easily test the product
    • A clear person to contact for more information

  • Send them the Press Release at least 4 business days prior to launch
  • Follow up with them 2 days prior to launch
  • On the day of launch, thank them for covering it and point to their stories
  • Offer to help them in anyway you can
  • Pay it forward
We couldn’t be happier with the response to Barley for WordPress so far. Thanks again to everyone who helped us make it a reality. We’re looking forward to making continuous updates to the plugin and we hope everyone loves it.