Do you get all pumped up about new “toys” for your blog? I certainly do – and even as an experienced blogger, I know that I can quickly find myself racing for a big “buy now” button at a moment’s notice. New WordPress themes, fancy plugins, and other add-ons come to the market everyday, and most of them are pretty rad. However, all-too-often you’ll bump into products that aren’t equal to the hype – and focus way too much on the affiliate resale of the same. Here’s a few tips on shopping smart while finding add-ons for your blog:
- Stick to safe neighborhoods. Thousands of people and businesses publish WordPress plugins and themes each year. Some folks are motivated to build great stuff, others more or less motivated to make a quick sale. A little practice can help you measure the merits of individual products on your own, but I’d recommend starting with a reputable marketplace like Code Canyon to get started. Yep, that’s my affiliate link. Highly recommended place to start.
- Put an age on it. This might sound obvious, but the word “new” is right up there on the list of abused terminology in marketing. That theme or plugin may have a killer sales page that screams fresh, but if it ain’t actually built for a modern WP blog, it’s not much help. Make a point to “date” your potential new purchase, and check to see if it works with the most current version of WordPress.
- Dig around. Any demos or examples (beyond that sexy sales video)? Any FAQs or forums? Or do you feel pushed towards that Buy Now button, with only your mind’s eye to demo the new add-on in action? If the plugin or theme product page is all about the pitch without showing you how it works, hang on to your wallet. Great products will show you “what’s up” before the sale.
- Ask around. Even if you don’t have any friends or contacts online, you still have Google. String together a few queries (“does Plugin X work” for example) and let your favorite search engine do the work. Bonus tip: if most of the search engine results are shallow “reviews” for the product, hesitate hard. I tend to find the most awesome plugins have some pretty heavy developer conversations going on, as opposed to indirect pitches. Look for authentic users actually using the new plugin or theme!
- Focus on your goal of a better blog. There’s a time and place to worry about if/when you can make money recommending your new plugin or theme to someone else. Right now isn’t that time. Instead, focus on how you will actually use the new product to add value to your blog for your audience. After the initial rush of “dang, that’s cool!” passes, you want to be sure you’re able to use the product for yourself, first and foremost.
It shouldn’t have to hurt when you go hunting for new additions to your website, and with a little savvy you can be sure to buy better stuff for your blog. No plugin or theme for your WordPress blog is going to be perfect, but there are a lot of really good developers out there working hard to get as close as they can to awesome. As a start, I’d recommend checking out Code Canyon (part of Envato) for a look at just what I think an awesome software marketplace should be. It’s a playground for bloggers – have fun!