The Ultimate Guide to Getting More Plugin Downloads

When releasing a plugin on the WordPress plugin repository, you’re guaranteed to get some downloads. Most likely, you’ll spike right away when you’re in the newest plugins section, but then what?

Without a proper marketing plan, your downloads are likely to dip to just a handful a day. If you’re interested in selling a premium upgrade, you simply won’t have a large enough audience to become profitable.

WordPress.org used to have a small section on how to promote your plugin, but it has since been deleted. That’s why I’ve put together this guide.

In this guide, you’ll find a simple and repeatable plan for promoting your plugin. You can use this approach over and over again to drive new downloads.

Also, I’ve got a wide variety of additional promotional tactics you can use to enhance your downloads.

So without further ado, here’s your go-to guide for promoting your plugin and getting more downloads!

This is the “Ultimate” guide for a reason.  Why don’t you bookmark it so you can come back later?

A simple content marketing plan

If you’re new to content marketing, don’t worry. This plan is easy to follow.

While there are lots of additional tactics explored later in the guide, use this as the backbone of your promotion efforts.

Announce your plugin

The very first step is to write a blog post announcing your plugin.

The goal of this post is to simply explain what your plugin does and why you made it. It doesn’t have to be long, 300-800 words will be fine.

Even if your plugin has been out for a little while, if you haven’t written a post like this before, go ahead and write one now. Once you publish the post, you’re ready for the next step.

Share on social media

With the announcement post published, you can share it on your social accounts.

If you’re not on all of the platforms yet don’t worry, you can start with even just one.

What will happen is that you’ll get a small boost in your downloads, but likely only on that one day. Your social network promotions today probably won’t influence your downloads tomorrow or any time in the future.

The problem is that you’ve got nothing else to share. Just keep that in mind for now…

Tips for getting more traffic from social sites

If you’re not sure which hashtags to use, check out RiteTag. It’s an awesome and free tool you can use to find which hashtags are actually being viewed and retweeted.

Ritetag

In addition, you don’t want to just share it once! Schedule out a series of social shares with a program like Buffer or Meet Edgar.

Share on niche social sites

Virtually every niche has small social sites that focus on news and updates on one topic. WordPress is no different.

The best site to also share your plugin announcement post on is ManageWP.org. It’s quick and easy to create an account, and the community there is great.

ManageWP.org

It’s important to note that you’re not promoting your plugin’s URL on wordpress.org. You’re always linking to the announcement post.

Here’s why…

Start building your email list

When you send visitors to the announcement post, you get to provide a little bit of background info on the plugin. Anyone who is interested in downloading it will then also view the plugin’s page on wordpress.org and try it out.

The other major reason for linking people to your site is that you can get them onto an email list. You can add email optin forms to your site using a product like OptinMonster or MailOptin. You’ll want to get this setup before you start promoting your blog post so you can capture as many emails as possible.

So, let’s do a quick recap:

You start by publishing an announcement post about your plugin. Then you share it on social media including niche social sites. This drives downloads for your plugin and you also capture a small percentage of your site visitors on your email list.

Now, the dust settles and you’re left with more downloads than you started with and a few people on your email list. What’s next?

Simple, you do it again.

Rinse and repeat

All you need to do is publish another blog post, and you can repeat the whole process again boosting your downloads. Unlike the first time, you now have an email list you can email when you publish your next post.

Each time you publish a blog post you’ll get a download boost and more email subscribers which leads to even more downloads next time.

You’re probably wondering now, what do I write about? That’s easy too 😉

What to write about

You want to write articles that are going to be interesting to the WordPress users that will use your plugin. That means you can basically just write about your plugin. Here’s how to keep it from being overly promotional.

Every time you update your plugin with a new feature or even an enhancement, use that as the basis for your next post. For instance, imagine you have an image gallery plugin and you just added a lightbox feature. That’s the topic of the next post.

Now, you don’t want to write a post like “My Plugin Now has a Lightbox Feature” because that’s not interesting to anyone unfamiliar with your plugin – and that’s the audience you’re writing for!

Instead, write an article like “How to use Lightboxes to Improve Your Image Galleries.” That could be interesting to anyone who uses galleries on their site. In the article, you could explain what lightboxes are and how they help, and then you would show how to add lightboxes with your plugin.

This way, the article isn’t too promotional, but you also get to show off your product to readers.

Make sense?

With this approach, you’ll always have something new to write about as long as your plugin is in development. Even better, you’re also keeping your email list up-to-date with all the latest features in your plugin.

This is a rather simple, but productive content marketing plan you can put to use right away. Feel free to customize it to best fit your needs and experiment with different types of content.

5 additional ways to increase plugin downloads

With the content marketing plan in place, you should be able to grow your user base consistently and I recommend you use it as your marketing backbone. However, there are some other great tactics you can employ right away to promote your plugin.

Let us help promote it

We recently started offering a few promotional services on the Compete Themes blog.

We can write a 1,000-2,000 word in-depth review of your plugin and publish it on our site, or include your plugin in one of our high-traffic list posts.

Promote Your Plugin

If you want a download boost from one of these content services, you can get in touch here.

Do SEO for your plugin page

Every plugin gets a page on wordpress.org which is an extremely authoritative and high-ranking website. This can be one of your most valuable marketing assets if used correctly.

With proper keyword research, you can uncover all of the terms that people are searching for when looking for a solution like your plugin. All you need to do is include these terms in your plugin’s description and you’ll rank for them. That means more traffic coming to your plugin from Google every single day.

SEO is so valuable because of its consistent ability to drive traffic (and downloads), so don’t miss out on this marketing channel.

If you’re brand new to keyword research, you’ll love this keyword research guide. It’s written for blogs, but can be easily adapted for optimizing a plugin page on wordpress.org.

Write guest posts

With the content marketing plan above in place, you can publish new content regularly to increase downloads. However, it may take some time to really get things going since you’ll be starting with a small audience.

If you want to jumpstart your content marketing, it could be a great idea to publish a few guest posts. Getting published on a site with an established audience will give you a nice download boost, but remember – link back to your site too not just the plugin! You want to use your guest posts to get new email subscribers so that future posts you publish will have more impact.

Publish your plugin on a marketplace

While you can simply sell your plugin on your own website, there are some great marketplaces you can use to boost your sales and downloads.

If you’re not sure where to list your plugin, check out this list of 8 marketplaces to sell WordPress plugins. Choosing the right markeplace could easily increase your plugin downloads more than any other tactic here.

Conclusion

If you’re new to internet marketing, it can be a lot to wrap your head around. Content marketing, in particular, can be especially confusing.

I hope the plan above helps to clarify things and show you how you can routinely drive new traffic and downloads to your plugin. And if you want some additional help, make sure to get in touch with us about promoting your plugin.

If you have any questions or want some more tips about marketing your plugin, post a comment below!

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24 Comments

  1. Sreejesh Sreejesh

    Thanks for the detailed guide. You didn’t miss any single thing that I could remember. I was wondering if you have a plugin for making resource pages like this. Please let me know.

    • Ben Sibley Ben Sibley

      No plugin for it, just put it together from scratch 🙂

      • Sreejesh Sreejesh

        Thats looking very professional. I thought there is some landing page plugin.

  2. Kirsten Lambertsen Kirsten Lambertsen

    Great post. Thank you so much. It helped me a ton!

    I didn’t even know I could embed a YouTube video into my ReadMe file on WordPress.org/plugins. I just added our tutorial and am excited to see what happens.

    Just FYI, you have to use the “hard” url of the video (the one up in the browser’s URL window) – you can’t use the shortened URL that you get from the “Share” tab on YouTube.

    Thanks!

    • Ben Sibley Ben Sibley

      Thanks for the tip Kirsten, glad you found the post helpful.

  3. katrina kaif x katrina kaif x

    I blog frequently and I seriously appreciate your information.
    Your article has truly peaked my interest. I’m going to book mark your site and keep checking for new details about once a
    week. I subscribed to your Feed as well.

    • Ben Sibley Ben Sibley

      Thanks Katrina! We publish every Monday, sometimes Tuesday 🙂

  4. Solwin Infotech Solwin Infotech

    Really very interesting and helpful post. Thanks for share. Keep it up.

  5. Aksam Zarook Aksam Zarook

    Thanks for this great guide. You’ve covered so much tips and ideas. Ive come across great plugins in wp repo with not as much downloads as they should have. Im bookmarking this. I have a feeling ill be coming to this page often very soon. I’m web designer/developer and make custom plugins for client sites all the time but only now seriously thinking about submitting one to wp repo. I have many ideas and experiences for which I’ve not found a ideal plugin in repo.

  6. Softound Softound

    Hello Ben,

    Thank for your detailed article about promoting plugin, i will follow all your tips and recommendations, and have subscribed newsletter to get your tips 🙂

    Once again thanks.

  7. Alexis Alexis

    Great article mate!
    You really did a good and helpful job. It’s a complete and detailed guide with good ideas and thoughts that worth reading and implementing!

    Thumbs up!

  8. Krinal Mehta Krinal Mehta

    Thanks for the comprehensive guide. I will be creating a task list from this, and start executing items one after the other. My plugin is live in WP repo, but didn’t get that initial boost, probably because the description section wasn’t content rich. What’s the best way to promote premium version? Do I add a section about it on wp repo and link to purchase page, or there could be a better solution? I personally like every bit Yoast is doing.

    • Krinal Mehta Krinal Mehta
    • Ben Sibley Ben Sibley

      Congrats on the plugin! One thing that helps a lot is optimizing the description for search engines. Figure out all the words people will use when searching for your plugin, and make sure to include these terms throughout your plugin’s description.

  9. Raj Kothari Raj Kothari

    Great article. I really liked your logo ideas

  10. marie marie

    Thanks for all this informations. its really interesting, you have covered all ideas
    I will use it to promote my new plugin but is not on wordpress is on codecanyon, http://webmatiq.com/lightpost-wordpress-lightbox/

    • Ben Sibley Ben Sibley

      Glad you liked it Marie 🙂 Maybe you can submit a “lite” version to wordpress.org as well.

      • Marie Marie

        Thanks @Ben, i’ll think about it, i don’t know if it’s allowed by Codecanyon.

  11. Vishwajeet Kumar Vishwajeet Kumar

    Great post on how to promote a WordPress Plugin. You have mentioned here some proven techniques to get started. Thanks again for sharing to with us.

  12. Roberto Smith Roberto Smith

    A great piece with some really useful info for those just starting out with an awesome idea for a WordPress product.

    Very detailed and covers a heck of a lot of tips on promoting plugins.

    Just thought I’d throw my hat in the ring with my site wpin which has a no affiliate links policy for submitting premium WordPress themes, plugins, services and more.

    It’s free to use and since rebranding counts some great themes and plugins.

  13. Sharon Hamlin Sharon Hamlin

    Hello Ben!
    Thanks for your really useful resource. I know many of it but something I missed out which your article solve that.By the way I’m bookmark it for further information.Recently I launch a plugin. I would request you to see it
    https://codecanyon.net/item/mi-logo-slider-for-visual-composer-wordpress/19182879

  14. Attila Abraham Attila Abraham

    Love the way you write! I have already bookmarked your site and I will start using the mentoined techniques on my “Cataloggi” eCommerce Product Catalog plugin. Thanks for sharing this great information!

  15. Fernando Fernando

    Thank you! This guide is just what I was looking for my new plugin in WordPress repository.
    For interested people, my first plugin is simple but I think it is useful for all blogs. You can see it in https://wordpress.org/plugins/reve-dynamic-widget/

  16. Frank Faraz Khan Frank Faraz Khan

    You did the great research on it.

    Thanks so much sharing this knowledge with us.

    Frank Faraz Khan 🙂

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