Eventually we all hear this request
If you visit a WordPress or WooCommerce facebook group, you're likely to hear a request for a plugin that does everything. My answer often disappoints them. It doesn't exist. And if it did, you still can't afford the WordPress plugin you want.
Let's start with a request. See if this sounds familiar.
I have a question for you guys. I'm looking for a plugin that will let customers do custom quoting, based on several variables, which then translate to calculating a cost, which then needs to get put into a pretty nice looking invoice, which is sent to them, but has a time-sensitive component to it, such that the people have to sign and pay the deposit within 3 days, or the invoice/quote is no longer valid.
Once they sign the quote, they need to be able to pay the deposit using my specific payment gateway that you've never heard of, and from there, get routed to a custom section of the website that only they can see, where they get access to a private repository of files, which are tracked to see if they've really downloaded them, and a private forum – which needs to notify me when someone posts.
I don't want to string together a bunch of plugins. So I'm hoping you'll know which one is right for me.A made up example. But it's less extreme than some of the requests I've gotten.
A plugin isn't a system. And a system is not often a single plugin.
The first thing that happens, as you read that request, is that you're hearing someone talk about a system. And a system is rarely just a single plugin. That's why I can tell you that it likely doesn't exist.
But if you were going to buy a system to run your business, you would expect to pay a lot for it, right?
Before you answer that, let's talk about the TV show, Property Brothers.
Have you seen the Property Brothers?
Sometimes, if I'm lucky, HGTV has a marathon of the show Property Brothers. If you've never seen the show, let me explain how it works (and you'll see why I'm bringing it up).
- Brothers (a real estate agent and a general contractor) meet with a couple.
- The couple tells the brothers what they want – describing their dream home.
- Drew (the agent) then takes them to their dream home.
- The couple loves it. Until they find out the price – which is way past their budget.
- Drew uses this strategy to introduce Jonathan, who can fix up a fixer upper.
- Drew shows them fixer uppers that they pick from.
- Jonathan (contractor) goes to work and does tons of renovations.
- The couple loves the result which comes in under their budget.
The thing about the show – and it's a great show to watch – is that the agent always shows the initial (perfect) home to their customer to highlight that what they want, and what their budget can afford, don't match.
Drew says it in different ways, but he basically explains that their desires are unrealistic.
A quick side note – if you show me my perfect dream home, with my wife there, and this is after I have told you my budget, and she loves it, only to find out that it's 100% more than our budget, I would likely want to punch you. In the face. And I'm not normally a violent person. It's a shock that Drew doesn't get punched more.
You can't afford the WordPress plugin you're dreaming of
When you watch the show, you realize that we all have dreams of a perfect solution and those dreams aren't shaped by our actual budgets.
That plugin that does everything you ever wanted? It doesn't exist. And if it did, if someone built it, it would cost you thousands or tens of thousands of dollars.
The reality is that everyone walks around anchored on some ridiculously low pricing for plugins. They should all be $45 or $99 or something. Even if they're single-handedly running your online business.
It's a little like how people think about spending money on hosting.
So what should you do?
You have two different approaches when you can't afford the WordPress plugin that you've been dreaming of.
The first approach is to match what they do on Property Brothers. You grab a few inexpensive plugins, hire a developer, and have them write a bit of custom code to make everything work together.
The problem with that approach is that you likely don't know who to hire. And if you hire wrong, which happens a lot, you might end up spending some money and never getting what you wanted.
I was on the phone with a guy a couple weeks ago who had gone thru 4 developers and each one had failed to do what they wanted done and disappeared. But also, this site owner kept going back to Fiverr to find their developers.
I recommended they talk to a development agency I know and trust, but they really liked spending a few bucks – hoping to find a perfect fit.
If you hire right, the first approach can work for you.
But there's a second approach that I often recommend. It's a strategy you may not like but has worked out very well for me, and for many of the folks I've helped. Here it is – when you can't find or can't afford the WordPress plugin of your dreams, change your dreams.
I know that sounds heartless. But it really isn't. If you hire someone to customize your plugin, and it works for a bit, but then it breaks, and your developer has ghosted you – you're really stuck. But if you lowered your expectations and used the plugins as they were created, and adjusted your scope down a bit – you might be making money right away without any issues (and with the support for your vanilla installation).
Don't let your dreams stop you from what you can achieve!
I once joined a company who had built a tiny little junior product for their down-market customers. It had 1/100th the feature set. But it was for a different kind of client that had 1/1000th of the needs that our flagship product supported.
Almost every week the salesperson would come up with a new feature that they needed to sell the product. And almost every week I would tell them to go sell what we had, and then we'd think about adding more features.
You can guess what happened. The more we sold what we had, without making it harder or more complex, the more comfortable we got with selling it as it was. Instead of how it could be. And customers never had trouble figuring out if they needed our tiny product or our serious product.
It's easy to get caught in the trap of adding more and more features to your “need” list instead of thinking of it as a “nice to have” list or even a “distracting” list.
In the end, even if you can't afford the WordPress plugin you were dreaming about, there are a ton of plugins you can afford that will make your dreams come true.