How to submit and promote your WordPress plugin

WordPress development can make a living for you.

There are several aspects of WordPress development – Themes and Plugins development.

Once you get your hands dirty in development, you need to get things on the Internet, promote, and maintain value as a WordPress developer.

You’ll learn how to submit and promote your WordPress plugin in this write-up.

Submission part covers adding a plugin to the WordPress Plugins Directory while promotion helps you effectively market your WordPress plugin.

What is a WordPress plugin?

A WordPress plugin refers to a piece of software that consists of PHP functions. A plugin can be integrated into WordPress which helps us extend the WordPress functionality. You can find lots of free plugins on the WordPress Plugins Directory, including for widgets, posts, and shortcodes.

Plugin development requirements

WordPress plugin development requires skills in the following domains.

  • WordPress coding standards: A set of guidelines for WordPress developers, contributors, and community. Coding guidelines ensure the use of specific instructions for seamless coding experience, easiness, and baseline for the WordPress community. Learn more about WordPress coding standards.
  • Programming languages: PHP mainly powers WordPress. To develop a WordPress plugin, you must get a good grasp on PHP, along with CSS and JavaScript.
  • WordPress directory structure: Before developing a WordPress plugin, get familiar with the WordPress directory structure. You’ll need to know about files and their respective directory locations in WordPress.
  • SQL statements: A WordPress plugin communicates with the database. Along with covering programming languages, using SQL statements properly is mandatory for seamless development. For those who don’t know about SQL, it refers to language used for dealing/communicating with the database.
  • Creating tables and shortcodes: Shortcodes provide flexibility in WordPress plugins. A shortcode represents a structure of code, data, or content that you can easily insert into pages and posts by calling the shortcode name.

Developing a WordPress plugin

While it requires a detailed write-up to create a WordPress plugin, the following lines outline an overview of the steps involved in WordPress plugin development.

  • Set up an environment: Set up your lab before starting to develop a WordPress plugin. It consists of tools required for development, as well as the environment for testing your WordPress plugin. Here is a list of tools you need to set up for WordPress plugin development.
  • Create plugin’s essential files: Proceed to create the plugin directory in the plugins folder. You’ll also need to create essential files for the new plugin, such as a Read me file.
  • Code your new plugin: It requires coding knowledge (PHP, JavaScript). At this stage, you need to add code to the plugin files.
  • Export and install the plugin: Once you finish coding your new plugin, you’ll need to test it on a live website. Before you proceed, make sure to export your plugin for seamless installation.

How to submit your WordPress plugin?

After you finish a WordPress plugin, the next step deals with submitting it to the WordPress Plugin Directory.

Before submitting, keep in mind the following key points.

  • Submitting a WordPress plugin doesn’t need investment. It asks for the basic skills and directions by WordPress guidelines.
  • The place to submit your plugin to is the WordPress plugins directory – an official resource that features free plugins for the WordPress family.

STEPS

STEP 1: Read WordPress guidelines

Before you proceed to submit your WordPress plugin, it is important to read the WordPress guidelines.

Guidelines ensure following benchmarks for submitting a WordPress plugin, including:

  • A WordPress plugin must comply with licenses, such as GPL and GPL2.
  • Developers are responsible for the actions taken by the plugin.
  • The plugin directory should contain a stable version of the plugin.
  • A plugin should never collect a user’s information without prior permission.

STEP 2: Create your WordPress.org account

You need to create your account on WordPress.org. The process takes less than 5 minutes.

To create your account, go to WordPress.org, click on the plugins, and click on Register to proceed.

STEP 3: Create essential files for your plugin (PHP, Read Me)

A Read Me file contains basic information about your plugin such as Author, URL, and License information.

To proceed, you should always use the officially suggested format for the Read Me file. Just put in the plugin information in the Read Me template.

After you create a Read Me file for your WordPress plugin, make sure you validate it with WordPress official validator.

Similarly, your plugin package would contain PHP files as well. For a basic WordPress plugin, the package includes two files – a Read me and the main core PHP file of the plugin.

STEP 4: Submit your plugin

Finally, you’re good to go for the next step. Once you completed the above steps, you can submit your plugin for manual review.

Proceed to log into your WordPress.org account and click on Plugins. On the next page, head over to WordPress Developer Center and click on the Add Your Plugin option.

Next, fill in the required information carefully and click on the “Send Post” button at the end.

Upon approval, you’ll get an email that contains credentials for the subversion repository.

STEP 5: Subversion repository

Subversion refers to the Open Source software used to manage your plugin. You can use a command line or GUI interface to manage your subversion repository, that holds your plugin files.

If you’re a Windows user, you probably would like to use the GUI interface for subversion management, known as Tortoise SVN.

Proceed to download and install the Tortoise SVN software.

STEP 1: After installation, head over to a local directory, the one you want to choose as your SVN repository. This directory will be used for managing your cloud repository, such as for storing downloaded files.

STEP 2: Next, Right-click on the directory and choose SVN checkout. You’ll see a dialogue box.

You can see a field titled “URL of Repository”. In this field, you can enter the URL you’ve received in the plugin approval email. Similarly, enter the address of the local directory in the Checkout Directory field.

In the same manner, entertain the options on the dialogue box and click on OK to continue.

The software starts downloading files from the online repository, helping you manage your plugin on the cloud.

You can make changes in the local directory, and the tool automatically updates your online plugin repository.

STEP 3: After the download, you’ll see new directories in the local directory.

Place all your main files in the /trunk/ folder. Similarly, use /branches/ for major, and /tags/ for minor updates. You’ll need to update these folders at the time of making changes to your plugin.

Now you can make changes to your subversion repository, such as uploading your plugin files.

STEP 4: To get started, select all files and folders in the /trunk/ folder. Right-click and choose the Add option. Similarly, you can again choose SVN Commit from the Right-click menu.

STEP 5: Next, specify a short message for your plugin version. On the same dialogue box, you can also select the files for tracking purposes.

STEP 6: Once completed, proceed and enter your login information for the WordPress repository. You can see the success message on upload completion.

Your plugin is now publicly available on the WordPress Plugin Directory.

Next, you need to add revisions to the tags directory. It helps you get your plugin published successfully.

STEP 7: Right-click on the white space inside the local /trunk/ folder and choose Branch/tag in the Tortoise SVN menu.

You’ll see a new dialogue box appeared.

STEP 8: In the “To Path” field, change the value to /tags/version-number. (Place /tags/version-number at the end of the field)

Next, select “Specific version in Repository”. (Radio button)

STEP 9: Proceed to enter your username and password. You’ll see a confirmation message on process completion.

STEP 10: Finally, you need to update your tags directory. Go to it, right-click and choose SVN Update. It helps you download revisions from the remote repository to your computer.

You’ve completed uploading your WordPress plugin and making it available on the WordPress official plugins directory.

The Tortoise SVN provides options to upload your plugin. For a complete walkthrough, head over to this tutorial about uploading your WordPress plugins with Tortoise SVN.

How to promote a WordPress plugin

Successful promotion boosts your sales and revenue. In order to promote your WordPress plugin, you need to learn or master Content Marketing.

Skills required for promoting a WordPress plugin

  • Content writing
  • Social media management
  • Influence marketing
  • Email marketing
  • Content strategy and Guest postings

Road map to market your WordPress plugin

STEP 1: Finish developing and uploading your WordPress plugin.

STEP 2: Create content on a regular basis. If possible, it is better to build a separate blog for the plugin. Read this awesome tutorial for more information on building your business blog.

STEP 3: Run paid ads on top platforms such as Quora, Facebook, and Twitter.

STEP 4: Let the world know about your plugin by publishing Guest Posts on relevant high-traffic websites, such as Entrepreneur, Forbes, and Thrive Global.

STEP 5: Search for influencers to market your WordPress plugin. You’ll need to use the Email marketing tools for the purpose, such as Aweber or Convert Kit.

STEP 6: Publish case studies about your plugin features. The case studies should outline the features of your plugin, along with how it helped people improve their WordPress experience.

STEP 7: Make it available for free trials. People like to try out things before they decide to purchase. The same is the case with software.

Last but not least, maintain the above routines regularly. Hard work pays off in the end.

Conclusion

Developing a WordPress plugin is a technical task. However, the game helps you build a living out of the WordPress plugins. This endeavor consists of several phases – from learning WordPress to advanced tactics like PHP functions.

Submitting your plugin requires technical aspects, along with patience. Once you get your plugin approved by the WordPress, you get a confirmation email in response.

After you’ve successfully made available your plugin on the WordPress plugins directory, you can proceed to market your plugin.

While marketing is a separate domain, this article outlines the basic walkthrough of a successful marketing campaign.

Read more about WordPress plugin development for beginners. Also, don’t forget to join the conversation in the comments.

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