An Interview With Mike Stott Of Epic Plugins. As He Begins His 12 WordPress Themes In 12 Months Journey. Now That Is Epic.
Yes you read that right. One developer namely Mike Stott of Epic Plugins & Epic Themes, is undertaking what can only be described as a mammoth task, truly mammoth.
Anyone who designs and builds WordPress themes will know that this journey of 12 WordPress themes in 12 months is HUGE. Mike recently reached out to me via email to tell me about his undertaking, I have to say it more than peaked my interest.
With that Mike very kindly agreed to me interviewing him for my little old blog WPin. So join me as Mike answers my questions.
Q. Tell people a little about yourself, who you are.
I’m Mike, 33, from Manchester, United Kingdom. I started out as an accidental author and was working in a Finance job. I wrote a book (tips to get worse at call of duty) during my notice period at an old job.
The book did well (by expectations). This led me to create a website (using WordPress) for eBooks (in early 2012). I learned WordPress development through setting up this website. When WordPress ‘out of the box’ didn’t do exactly what I wanted to do. I reached out for help.
I used a freelancing website and someone built me a WordPress plugin. I didn’t have enough money at the time to pay for the cost of the plugin quoted (over $1,000). So we entered a ‘joint venture’ agreement.
They sent me the code. I curiously had a look and asked the freelancer for a simple ‘bare bones’ plugin.
From this ‘bare bones’ I was able to see how a plugin worked. So I wrote my own (pics mash) and released it on CodeCanyon at the time. It sold copies. I developed more. I eventually had 9 plugins for sale on CodeCanyon (via my own account) amassing over 3,000 sales, before moving them away from CodeCanyon to purchase directly from my website own website EpicPlugins.com.
Q. Tell me about EpicPlugins, how did it come to be?
Epic Plugins was created as a way for me to have a demo website for the plugin(s) I had on CodeCanyon. As I released more and more plugins it got harder (and time consuming and added domain costs) to setup and run a stand alone website for each plugin release.
The first blog post is here: What is Epic Plugins? In July of 2013 I acquired the original plugin that was developed originally for my eBook website (which alone had gone on to sell over 3,000 copies on the original developers account namely the Social Gallery Pro plugin.
The acquisition effectively lost me $33,000 (since if I would have paid for the original development vs the cost of acquisition). You can read about more this on a blog post I wrote called ‘how losing $33,000 was the best thing to happen to me.’
Following on from the acquisition I kept managing the plugin portfolio growing it to 28* plugins and 5* themes as at the end of 2015 which I covered in an article here.
Some of the plugins in the list have been discontinued. Some of the themes have been put into the ‘not advertised on the site’ and not supported. I officially have 3 WordPress Themes currently for sale.
Q. 12 WordPress Themes in 12 months, that’s a lot of work. Why have you decided to set yourself this challenge?
I wanted something bold. Something worth shouting about. It’s a lot of work sure. Having a challenge like this will help to focus me. It will make sure I can see what works and what doesn’t with WordPress Themes.
As a developer there’s a lot of things you can try for more sales of your products. I want to share that knowledge. There’s also a lot of freelancers out there who I’m sure could develop, launch and market their own themes.
I also own Epic Themes and I want to build up the theme offering. I find that WordPress Themes are generally easier to support and can be sold for a higher price than a WordPress plugin.
Q. What can customers expect from your 12 WordPress Themes in 12 Months challenge?
A great question. As I think through the blog story and what I’ll be sharing it’s certainly slanted towards people who also develop themes or want to develop themes.
Customers probably don’t want to know about theme development. They just want a cool theme. That’ll be the end product of the challenge.
Each month customers will be able to download (or purchase) the latest theme release. For any customer who follows along with the challenge (sign up with their email on the landing page: ) I’ll be sending out special discounts and offers along the way.
Any early adopters will be able to grab all themes in the 12-in-12 challenge for $29 initially pre-orders being taken here Epic Themes 12 Themes In 12 Months Bundle.
This price will rise as each theme is developed and launched, so if you want to be ‘in on the ground floor’ then pick up a pre-order / subscription to the product.
All products are billed annually to covered continued development of the themes and support. Subscriptions can be cancelled any time.
Q. Are you worried about theme quality, what with such a tight timescale in place.
I’m not worried about the quality of the themes. I’m worried about the timescales though. But I have a plan. The themes will build on each other (so the first theme will be the most basic theme). This has been confirmed to be the ‘epic blogger’ theme and will be a theme which gives you a great looking blog.
Q. How will your workflow work? Compared to if you had more time?
A theme every four and a bit weeks is a big ask. My workflow is roughly the following. We are just at the end of week 2.
- Week 1 – setup the folder structure, decide on what theme to create, add to the blog including a debrief of the prior launch (from month 2)
- Week 2 – confirm with the Outreach program / touch base / make sure they’re still OK to promote the next product on time
- Week 3 – development week as well as increased blogging
- Week 4 – launch preparations, launch emails, launch coupons, affiliate contests
- End of week 4 – launch!
• add outreach partners to http://outreachlistwp.com/the-list/ (up to 33 sites by the end of this week, up from 20 at launch). Each Monday I add (and schedule) 2 websites a day to the list (except Sundays) which will give an ever growing resource.
• Keep my buffer queued with posts about the project, about the outreach sites and WordPress in general
• Weekly update emails to people who are following along with the project interested parties can sign up here for updates.
• Support and updates to my existing plugins and themes
• Other work (in particular on Zero BS CRM)
- Transparency report over on the epic plugins blog.
Q. Is there any theme framework you are working with to streamline the process?
Only a CSS framework (twitter bootstrap) and font-awesome for the web icons. I’ll be using mostly WordPress core features rather than re-inventing the wheel.
I have some code from my other themes which I’ll be using in the themes, but this is just snippets and useful helper functions (such as a social share button set) rather than relying on plugins.
Q. What types of theme can we expect? By this I mean will they all be blogging themes? WooCommerce Themes etc?
That’d be giving a little too much away. The first thing will be a blogging theme. It will be a free download. They won’t all be blogging themes though.
They’ll be a mix covering all uses. Such as a cool business theme and even a WooCommerce theme. I’ll be posting ‘coming soon’ blog posts when each theme is announce so make sure you follow along with the blog (by signing up to the newsletter).
Q. Will there be any special offers in place on your themes or indeed any surprises?
I touched on this above. I’ll be sending out special discounts and offers along the way. Any early adopters will be able to grab all themes in the 12-in-12 challenge for $29 initially you can pre-order here.
This price will rise as each theme is developed and launched, so if you want to be ‘in on the ground floor’ then pick up a pre-order / subscription to the product. Although the first theme will be a free download, latter themes will be premium (and increase the price of the 12-in-12 bundle).
I’ll also be running affiliate contests for the premium launches. This will be via the theme affiliate program here.
As for surprises? I’m a theme AND plugin developer. Sticking to the guidelines means that any specific features should be ‘plugin territory’ so you can expect a few surprise WordPress plugins along the way.
The themes will be integrated with the plugins (and they’ll come packaged with the theme). They’ll also work quite nicely stand-alone.
Q. Do you have a newsletter people can sign up to for updates?
Yep. Any of the forms on the blog posts add you to the list about updates you can also sign up on the project home page here.
I send a weekly summary email to the mailing list as this project progresses.
Q. Will you be updating your challenge warts and all?
Absolutely. The blogs and de-briefs will be shared on the epic plugins blog. Under the category 12-in-12.
Mike is a WordPress Developer who founded Epic Plugins and Epic Themes.
He is taking on a project to develop 12 WordPress Themes in 12 Months. A mammoth task indeed.
My Take On The 12 WordPress Themes In 12 Months Project
There can be no question that Mike has his work cut out, none whatsoever. Mike has been very candid in his answers and I thank him for taking time out to talk so openly about the theme project.
Do I think he will pull it off?
There’s no doubt in my mind Mike is up to the challenge. His enthusiasm for the 12 in 12 project can be seen in the answers he has given, as well as our email conversations.
As a consumer of WordPress themes and an avid reader of WordPress related fare, I’m really excited about this project, I believe it’s the first time this feat has ever been attempted, for that Mike is to be applauded in his endeavor.
I’m rooting for him, I don’t think it’s a case of (in my opinon) I hope he pulls it off, it’s more a case of when he pulls it off.
One things for sure, it’s going to be incredibly interesting from a consumer point of view and I’m sure you WordPress developers out there will be watching and reading with great interest on how this pans out.
Again, I thank Mike for taking the time out (which I am sure he is pressed for!!!) to answer my questions. It’s great to see something a different in the WordPress world and I’m sure you will all join me in wishing Mike all the best.
I’d advise you (whether you’re a consumer or developer) to sign up to Mikes email newsletter available on his blog here to get updates on how the project is moving along. And of course to benefit from the first WordPress theme being released for free!!
P.s. I will be reviewing the first theme. How can I not?!?