Have you ever asked something like this?
If you spend time in the Orange County or Advanced WordPress Facebook groups – eventually you'll see a post that reads something like this:
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component to it, such that the people have to sign and pay the deposit within 3 days, or the invoice/quote is no longer valid.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.
Heck, you don't even have to spend time on those private Facebook groups – head over to some of my WordPress membership plugin posts and you can read comments that are three times the size, asking a similar question.
I don't mind the question. If you don't mind the answer.
Today I got on two planes to take me from San Diego to Miami for my last business trip with Emphasys Software. The planes I was on had DirecTV so I got to watch some TV. Make that a lot of TV – I was on planes for 5 hours.
Thankfully, HGTV was having a marathon of their 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 more than 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 their final, dream home, 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.
Which is why I normally let folks know that I don't mind their question, if they don't mind my answer.
You can't afford the WordPress plugin you're dreaming of
Here's the truth.
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 and thousands of dollars.
Because what you often describe isn't a plugin. It's a system.
And since you don't want to connect several focused plugins, that each do the one thing they were made to do, you won't really find the perfect plugin sitting there waiting for you.
Again, if it did exist, the people who created it would know exactly how valuable it is, and would likely charge you tons more than you want to pay.
See, 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.
It amazes me how businesses balk at spending more than $10/month for their main biz site.
Try renting retail space.
— Andrea Quilts (@andrea_r) July 3, 2014
So what should you do?
Well, you didn't think I was going to write an entire post just to end with bad news, did you?
The answer for you lies in the same show and approach that you see on Property Brothers.
Instead of building a custom solution from scratch, sometimes the best approach is to grab a few key plugins, and then pay a developer a bit to connect some dots for you.
Take WooCommerce, for example, that is free. Add a couple of extensions that may cost you a couple hundred dollars, and then invite a developer to write a custom extension that would add your missing features.
You'll likely get away with spending a lot less than if you get a quote for a custom plugin that does everything you want.
And if you go that route, you'll likely want to know who is “Jonathan” for you? Who is the developer that can connect the dots for you?
Leave me a comment about what you're up to, or jump straight to Codeable to find the right developer who can help you connect those dots.