Want help with your WordPress Plugin ideas? Here are your options

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You have WordPress Plugin Ideas…

You've been thinking about your site, or maybe it's someone else's site, and you have a nifty idea for a plugin. But you're no developer, and that means you'll be looking to hire some help.

Unfortunately, this is where most people stop, because finding good help – when it comes to WordPress plugin development – is difficult. But you've heard of some options – like oDesk – and you wonder if that could work.

So that's our scenario. And now it's just you and me, and we're sitting across from each other at Starbucks having a little chat. And here are my tips for how to move forward.

You have three options

You've known me long enough to know that I'm likely to always offer you a variety of options. I rarely suggest that there's only one way to do things. Plus, as a former teaching pastor, I like the number three.

So here are your options to getting that plugin built. Are you ready?

Option One: Hire a Professional

If you have a clear sense of what you want to build, and you've analyzed the market and know that it's ready to pay you, and you have some money saved up, then your fastest approach is to hire a professional.

I know, you're about to tell me  you don't know any. Thankfully, that's why we're talking. I know a few.

Building something for WooCommerce? Talk with Daniel Espinoza. If he can't help you, talk with Brian Krogsgard.

Building something for Easy Digital Downloads? Talk with Pippin (the creator) directly. If he can't help you, he can point you to people who can.

Building something for a membership site? Talk to the guys behind some of my favorite plugins, like Blair Williams or Jason Coleman.

But what if they're busy or you're building something that doesn't connect to those plugins? No problem.

Then the guy you want to talk to is Andrew Norcross. He's the Chuck Norris of plugins. Or you may want to talk with Thomas Griffin, who will write you some great code. And if you can't reach them, try Tom McFarlin.

What do they all have in common?

A track record of writing quality code. They're also all really approachable. And most importantly, they're all good about responding (even if it's to tell you they're busy).

Why hire a professional?

Because they'll write some great code – rather than crap you'll have to re-do later. But know this – if you're going to hire any of these guys – you need to know two things:

  1. They're going to charge you. So save your money. In the end, it's worth it (especially if you consider how much you'll spend on rewrites).
  2. They're likely to say no. So prepare your pitch. They don't do anything just for money. It's gotta be an interesting project.

Option Two: Head to a Marketplace

Now if you decide you don't have the budget, or you're in a rush and need to get started before any of the above folks are available, then your next bet is to go online and see if you can hire strangers that aren't professionals.

Of course just saying that probably makes you worried. But trust me, if you want professionals you're going to have to have budget and you'll also have to work on their timelines. Since you just decided you either didn't have budget or didn't want to wait – know that you won't be dealing with a professional.

That doesn't mean there aren't various stages of amateurs. So if you head to a market like oDesk, you'll be able to find the semi-pros (along with some truly poor performers).

How do you tell the difference between someone of quality and someone who sucks?

It's the question we all have. Well here's the answer: you can't.

There's no way to know who is good and who is bad. After all, you're reading the resumes they wrote themselves (which are naturally biased).

So if you can't tell in advance who will be good, what do you do?

Here's the approach I've taken several times.

  1. I write as detailed spec as I can about the work I want done.
  2. I log into a marketplace like oDesk and post it.
  3. I also search for specific engineers that meet my criteria and invite them to apply (giving them the posting).
  4. I post the amount I'm willing to pay – which is about 25% less than I'm actually willing to pay.
  5. I review the respondents and look at their experience (# of jobs), ratings, earnings, and estimate.

Now until then, I've done what most of you do. But here's where I go sideways a bit, but it always helps.

After steps 1 thru 5, I add a step 6: Hire three people to work independently on the same project. Hire 1; fire 2.

You can't tell in advance who's good. But you can tell after they're part way thru a project. Once you do, keep them and toss the others.

Option Three: Do it Yourself

Now by do it yourself, I can tell you're starting to stress again. Calm down – you're not without resources. For example, when you get stuck and need a little help, did you know you could call Tweaky? They'll do focused work for a focused amount of time – for a flat fee.

As you keep working on stuff, be sure to pick up this plugin development book by my friend Brad Williams.

If that book is too intense, or if one-on-one help isn't what you're looking for – did you know there are still options?

Head over to Pippin's site and join the membership there so you can access his Plugin Development 101 course.


So we've had our beverages, eaten our pastries, and it's time to head out. And I look at you and ask if that was enough to help you think about your next steps.

Of course you smile and say thank you but realize there's a whole set of topics we didn't cover – like interview questions when evaluating someone you think you may hire.

I smile too – because you know I blog daily and I tell you that that's for another day.