Studio Wombat’s 2021

At Studio Wombat, we believe in transparency. We want to reassure customers that we’re in it for the long run. That kind of trust needs to be earned, and we hope transparency about our numbers and plans for the future will get us there.

Before we dive into this year’s “year in review” post, you can read our 2020 transparency report here.

The year in facts

  • Sold 3,809 plugin licenses, compared to 2,604 in 2020. That’s a 46% increase. We have now sold 8,732 licenses in total.
  • Sold 710 lifetime licenses, that’s 18.5% of this year’s sales.
  • Released 0 new plugins this year. We sell a total of 5 plugins now.
  • Released an Extended version for Advanced Product Fields (APF).
  • Released 3 add-on plugins, complementing our Advanced Product Fields plugin.
  • Released 46 plugin updates. Each plugin is updated on average every 1.5 months, except for our APF plugin which receives an update every ~3 weeks.
  • November 2021 was our best month (and all-time high) thanks to Black Friday.
  • Our free plugins now have a combined total of 419,456 downloads from the WordPress plugin repository. They are actively installed on 34,000 websites. Advanced Product Fields is leading the race with 20,000+ active installs on 31 December 2020.
  • The average review rating for our plugins is 4.78 out of 5 stars.

What we’ve accomplished this year

This year was very important because we’ve made a shift from working in the business to working on the business.

In previous years, the Studio grew because we launched new plugins. That meant we were pushing a lot of code but didn’t actually work on other aspects of the business.

We’re still spending the majority of our time coding, but this year we made time to look at the bigger picture. We’re trying to figure out how to grow in different ways, not just by launching new plugins (though that remains a part of our envisioned growth trajectory).

Here are some of the major things we accomplished this year:

Website relaunch

The previous site was basic, outdated, and lacked the feeling we wanted to convey through our brand.

At the beginning of the year, we hired a designer through 99Designs, which was a disappointing process we don’t recommend.

Their platform works by launching a contest: you submit a description of what you’d like, and designers who are interested can submit their design based on your brief. You pick a winner who is awarded with the money you paid to 99Designs.

The problem is the price is too low. We paid ~$1,000 USD for a homepage design, including a logo, 6 sections, and illustrations. Before awarding the money, 99D also takes a cut. Moreover, a designer might be working for free if they don’t win.

Needless to say, the contest yields some bad designs. We got 12 designs, and 11 of them contained odd illustrations or simply didn’t reflect the design brief. Here’s an illustration one of the designers came up with:

Odd wombat illustration
Wombat heads on human bodies ???

Don’t get us wrong, we don’t blame the designers. There’s simply not enough incentive for them to give it a proper go.

Luckily, one designer understood what we wanted and delivered an awesome design. He got the 99D award, and we hired him for all additional work.

At the end of March 2021, the new website was launched without any downtime.

Introduced subscriptions

You’ve read that right! Before 2021, we didn’t have subscription plans. If users wanted to renew their license, they had to do it manually by reaching out to us. Needless to say, we didn’t get many renewals. This year, we finally introduced automatic subscriptions, and we can’t wait to see what the effect of compounding yields! We’re counting down to June 2022, which is when our first subscription was sold.

Our first permanent hire

With Studio Wombat growing, it was clear we were spending too much time on support. In some weeks, 40% of our time was spent on coding and a whopping 60% was spent on replying to emails.

We love doing support, as it is one of the few ways we can speak with our customers and understand how they perceive our products. Unfortunately, 60% of our time was way too much, so we had to do something about it.

We hired our first (freelance) employee to help with support. It required a shift in our mindset as we were no longer keeping 100% of the profits. We can’t believe we waited so long to reinvest part of our profits back into the business. Hiring someone to help with support has been the best thing we did all year!

Revamped documentation

Our previous knowledge base was nothing more than a collection of a few articles. It didn’t have a proper search, analytics, or logical categories. Since we were launching a new website, it was high time to tackle the documentation portion of the website as well.

We searched for something easy that has analytics and a search built in, and settled for Heroic Theme’s KB plugin. With some template tweaks that match our new design, the new knowledge base was launched.

This has been such an improvement, and we learned a lot by switching!

Focus on SEO

This is the first year we started focusing on SEO. We hired a writer to help us with writing valuable blog posts. Sadly, we lost track of this project in the middle of the year, and no posts were written after that. We’ll have to double down and start this up again!

Stagnating instead of growing

When the COVID pandemic started in 2020, Studio Wombat thrived. The widespread lockdowns forced many businesses to sell their products online. The whole WordPress and WooCommerce ecosystem benefited from this shift, and plenty of businesses saw tremendous growth numbers. So did Studio Wombat.

This year was different. While Studio Wombat is still growing in many aspects (as proven by the numbers at the top of this post), the rate of growth declined drastically in comparison to last year. In terms of monthly profit, our business even stagnated for a large part of 2021. Whether or not this is due to the pandemic “settling down” is anyone’s guess.

Goals for 2022

Double down on SEO

Studio Wombat relies heavily on traffic coming from the WordPress plugin repository. While that’s been working great for us so far, we don’t want to put all our eggs in one basket. We want to focus on bringing in extra traffic through SEO. To do that, we’ll need to up our content game.

We already started with this in 2021, but we lost focus. We have to step up our game!

Launch at least 2 new plugins

We’d love to add some more plugins to our tool belt. We’d like to develop at least 2 new plugins that we can add to our offering. One is already in progress!

At least 1 acquisition

Last year, we wanted to look into acquiring existing WooCommerce plugins. We had a few chats with people willing to sell, but unfortunately, it didn’t lead to an actual sale. This year we hope to make one acquisition!

Wrapping up

2021 was an eventful year for Studio Wombat. We went from working in the business to working on the business. While we didn’t see a continuous growth in terms of MRR, we still grew nonetheless!

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