2018 year in review

A huge year in review for Pippin Williamson.

There are transparency reports and annual reviews, and then there’s Pippin Williamson’s annual review. Pippin has been writing these since 2012, and in that time Pippin’s plugins have gone from being worked on wholly by him and sold through his own site and CodeCanyon, to Sandhills Development, a multi-million dollar company with 19 employees.

Pippin’s annual reports are fascinating because he’s incredibly candid about what did and didn’t go well, the real numbers and problems in the business, and the personal challenges that come with all of this. This isn’t “showing off”; it’s a thoughtful reflection on both the business and the personal impact this has.

I’d thoroughly recommend taking the fifteen minutes needed to read this 6,000 word post, but here’s a couple of business points which stuck out:

  • The overall business picture at Sandhills is excellent, with $2.7 million in product sales and AffiliateWP and Easy Digital Downloads bringing in the vast majority of that. Profit was up nearly 100% this year.
  • Easy Digital Downloads has been through a lot of pricing changes over the years. This year it saw a decline in sales, and made a loss. Pippin doesn’t have a firm answer on why this is, but cites “unintentionally out-priced our average customer” and “tougher competition than ever before”. Fixing this was a big part of 2018.
  • Content marketing is working for them! We see this with our clients too at Ellipsis – drop me an email if you want in on this, alex@getellipsis.com 😉
  • AffiliateWP is doing really well. It gets less of a mention because of this, but this shows the value of a fantastic product/market fit, strong demand, and having the best solution available.
  • WP Simple Pay was acquired in October, and it looks like it’s working out very well for everyone. I bought this around then, and look forward to seeing how the product is improved.

The post then moves on to the personal, and you should read the post rather than my commentary on it: Pippin talks about a fire nearly destroying his childhood home, and about struggling with burnout this year.

On top of these, a string of acquisition offers combined with the departure of a long-standing team member lead Pippin to question if he was seeing “the initial signs of the demise of my company”. He says he barely slept and was deeply worried about the future of the business. I’ll leave you to read the rest of this; I’ll just add I have a huge amount of respect for Pippin for writing this, and I’ve no doubt others will take solace from the story. I can also recommend Matt Medeiros’ video where he picks up on some of these themes.

There’s been an outpouring of admiration and support since Pippin posted this on Monday, and that’s heartening. For a third time, I’ll recommend you read this.

This post first appeared in MasterWP, a weekly newsletter for WordPress professionals.

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