Why I Built WP Updatr, What Is It?

On Nov 18, 2020, I released WP Updatr into the ‘wild’ and shared a project I had been working on for the last couple of months on Twitter.

I feel like I received a fair response considering 1) I haven’t been very active on my Twitter account and 2) I’m not even sure how many developers of the 1 000~ followers I have, would be interested in something like this.

The problem I found was that I haven’t been communicating a message as to what this nifty tool can do for you. My ‘one liners’ to sell something still need quite a bit of polishing.

So lets cut to the chase – What is WP Updatr?

WP Updatr is an update service for WordPress Plugin & Theme Developers.

We’ve all built something new and pushed it across the finish line, before the next step comes in – you need to be able to provide updates for the product if you’re not going to host it on WordPress.org.

You can build your own license server – there are hundreds of guides online on how to do this, but realistically, it takes time, it’s not always scalable (depending on how you build it), and there’s always the risk of bugs that will prevent a specific version of never receiving an update again.

This creates more work for you and a poor experience for your customer.

WP Updatr works has three parts to it:

Platform: The system itself that handles your updates. You’ll be able to create a product, monitor API keys and usage, and release updates for each of your products through your dashboard.

There’s a free plan available so that you can give it test run and see if it works for you – no credit card required.

WordPress Plugin: The WP Updatr WordPress Plugin will be installed on the website that you sell your WordPress product on. It integrates directly with Woocommerce, Paid Memberships Pro and Easy Digital Downloads.

You’ll be able to link up a product in your chosen ecommerce plugin. From there, any purchases for that product will generate a license key in WP Updatr which your customers will use in your plugin to receive updates.

Update Script: This script is added to your WordPress product. You’ll need to build in a setting where your customer can store their API key. Followed by that, you’ll call the class provided in the script with their API key which will help for validation purposes.

Getting set up can take about 5 minutes once you’re familiar with the system. Releasing an update will take under 30 seconds and the best part is that you don’t have to touch any code or hope you don’t mess anything up along the way.

Pricing scales as you grow. Your plan will grow as you sell more licenses, but we’re only billing you after 200 active licenses. The average plugin sells for about $50 (from what I’ve seen).

You should be generating about $100 000 in sales before you have to sign up for my $47 a year to use WP Updatr, so it seems fair.

Hosting an update server will cost you $10 a month (Digital Ocean), totaling $120 a year. That’s if you don’t choose to use a service like ServerPilot to handle the PHP/MySQL setup, otherwise it’ll be more. View pricing on the WP Updatr Website

Releasing updates is stressful enough – you don’t want to break people’s websites, you hope you’ve tested everything and there’s no errors. Don’t add more stress to the process by handling the update yourself too.

I saw a Tweet not too long ago where someone said (I can’t remember who at the time of writing this) that if you’re going to use a third-party service, you add risk, but if you build it yourself you’re adding 10x the risk.

I’ve been fortunate (and grateful) to have had some great feedback on this project from friends and colleagues from Paid Memberships Pro. If you have any feedback for me, drop me a tweet? I’d really appreciate it.

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