We’re back with another monthly update! This month we’ve got ups and downs including a chargeback, shipping our first major feature and finding some traction through “things that don’t scale”.

In addition, wanted to give a quick shoutout to a panel that I’m going to be on this month with Andrew from MicroAcquire and Bev from IndieMaker about acquiring software businesses and the future of businesses on the Internet in general. If you’re interested in making your first acquisition, this is definitely a “can’t-miss” event! Details at https://lu.ma/future-of-internet-biz

Now, let’s get to the update!

The Numbers

Monthly Revenue for June: $1,334.06 (-26%)

Things were definitely a bit more frothy this month, with a number of customers churning and what seemed like slower signups in general. We didn’t have much activity at all in the first couple weeks, with most of the income hitting during the last week and a half of the month.

I’m not sure if summer vacation hit all at once or if it was just kind of a natural lull, but we’re definitely hoping to be able to see some more consistent growth and customer acquisition soon through a few different channels in the upcoming months.

The first new feature

Since we’ve acquired Kanban for WordPress, we’ve been slowly building a backlog of new features we want to add, things we need to look at fixing and trying to plan out the next steps for the plugin. And while I’ve been poking around the edges of the codebase, I hadn’t dug into a major feature yet. That changed in the last couple weeks when we got an email from a potential customer asking for a feature that would, if implemented, would push them over the edge to buying a lifetime license.

There are always people who promise a purchase and never deliver, so it’s not a good idea to just build every feature request like this on spec. However, this potential customer had shown focused interest and the feature (a request for more configurable user permissions) itself made a lot of sense. So I started digging into the codebase to see how we could get this done.

As any developer knows, shipping your first feature in any new codebase can be an intimidating experience. I’ve shipped updates on some high traffic websites, but this felt different somehow. This update would be going to a few hundred different websites over the next few days, any of whom could have some sort of fatal error or incompatibility.

That said, as I double and triple checked my changes, I sent a quick demo screencast to the customer in question. Not too long after that, we got this response:

And so, it was time to ship! The automations we built last month really came in handy here, as we merged all the code in GitHub and it was automatically deployed to WordPress.org. Shipping the new Pro version of the plugin through Easy Digital Downloads was a bit more of a manual process, but I’m looking at how that can be automated in the coming weeks as well.

The Chargeback

I don’t want to be in a business swindling customers out of their money or charging people who don’t actively want to be paying us for the value that we provide.

Because of that, I try to be as upfront with people as possible about the fact that if they’re not happy with the plugin for some reason, they should get in touch with me and we can talk about a refund. In addition, instead of the plugin just auto-renewing, an email is sent out that notifies people that their yearly renewal is coming up.

So with all that in place, I was very surprised when I got an email from PayPal notifying me that one of our customers had submitted a chargeback. The story got even weirder when I couldn’t find the email address listed on the chargeback as one of our existing customers.

Eventually, I found a customer with the same domain email address and when I looked at the record, it was a renewal! He should have gotten an email that his subscription was renewing with ample time to cancel without throwing us under the bus with PayPal!

So I emailed him directly.

I asked him what was going on and if he was looking for a refund. I was really just looking for more information to see if we could resolve this situation differently.

He said the person who purchased the plugin back in June of 2020 had passed away shortly after and that he didn’t recognize the charge or know why the business was still being charged for Kanban for WordPress.

Needless to say, that’s not a response that I expected! But I wanted to refund him, so I went into PayPal and acknowledged the chargeback so that they would release his funds.

This was a mistake.

What I should have done was disputed the chargeback, provided documentation that we attempted to notify him of the renewal and tried to win the dispute from our end. After that was settled, we could refund him directly.

But because I basically acknowledged that we were in the wrong, PayPal refunded his money, which took us into the red in our PayPal account, and they charged us a fee on top of everything. Lesson learned for sure.

Doing things that don't scale: PR Edition

Because we’re still working on a new design for Kanban for WordPress as well as features and bug fixes to get the product in an even more solid place, we’re definitely not on a marketing blitz. However, I’m trying to continue to make people more aware of the plugin, what it can do, and when it might work really well for users.

To that end, one of the first automations I set up was a Zapier alert that notified me of any tweets that contained the words “trello” and “WordPress”, thinking that if somebody was using both these tools, they might be a potential customer for our plugin. There are a ton of false positives (which we’re working on fixing with Zapier AI, thanks for the tip Alex!), but there are definitely some tweets that it makes sense to respond to.

This is a slow, manual process, but people seem to be receptive to it and if it helps drive awareness of the plugin, I think it’s worth spending a couple minutes every time we get one of those notifications. I talked about this a bit in our May update, but it finally started to get some traction in June.

Wrapping Up

June was a bit of a dip from the initial excitement and revenue bump of our first month running the plugin, but still above expectations! We’ll have some very exciting design updates to share soon and I’m looking forward to picking up the velocity of adding new features and really making Kanban for WordPress all it can be in the coming months.

What else?

Are there any questions you have that I didn’t cover in this issue or is there something you wanted to ask about specifically? Just hit reply here, or if you’re more comfortable with Twitter, my DMs are always open @kkoppenhaver. I’d love to answer your questions in a future edition of Micro-SaaS Monthly, so let’s talk!

Until next time!

[MSM #5 ] June 2021 Month in Review