In July of 2018 we formed KeyPress Media, LLC with the goal of helping people build and grow their turnkey website platforms.
That’s when I decided to take my Turnkey Website Blueprint training and join forces with Asier Moreno, who was working on a great looking WaaS (Websites as a Service) plugin.
We dove in head-first, started a new company, and set out to bring WaaSes to the masses!
As we grew the company, we realized that the tools and training we were creating could help many other WordPress professionals, not just those that were looking to build a WaaS.
It’s been a fun ride and a HUGE learning experience, but after MANY months of debate and weighing our options Asier and I have come to the conclusion that it’s time to close KeyPress Media LLC.
In two months, on September 13th, KeyPress will shut it’s doors.
We wanted to take this opportunity to share a bit about what led us to this point, and what our plans are for the future.
If you’re a current customer of any of our subscription products, keep an eye on your email for details about our plans for those particular products.
There are many factors that contributed to this decision, but I’d like to focus on a few key points below.
Developing and Selling plugins is HARD!
We knew this going in.
We’ve heard the stories about how plugin developers get overwhelmed with support, don’t price their plugins high enough, and struggle to find paying customers. We did our best to plan for and mitigate these things. But at the end of the day we experienced all of these struggles and just didn’t have the resources to overcome them.
I think one of our biggest setbacks were the ambitious goals we set for ourselves.
We had a grand vision for our plugins and Asier spent A LOT of time developing them to meet those goals. Along the way we added even MORE goals. We set out to make UI Manager the all-in-one plugin for customizing the WordPress dashboard. We saw other plugins on the market with gaps in their functionality and figured we could fill those gaps AND offer the other things those plugins offered too.
The problem with that approach is that it was too easy to overlook the burden, both in support and development time, this would add. With such a small team, we always felt like we couldn’t get ahead. And with a plugin that integrates so tightly with WordPress, we ran into issues with other plugins that didn’t hook into WordPress in the standard way. We ended up needing to spend a lot of time creating patches for individual 3rd party plugins and updating those patches when those plugins were updated.
It became apparent that without a larger team to help tackle these issues, we were faced with an insurmountable obstacle.
Looking back, I think we would have been better off focusing on a simple, one-function plugin, selling that, and growing from there. Trying to build a swiss army knife plugin from the beginning turned out to be one of our biggest mistakes.
We spread ourselves too thin
If KeyPress was only a plugin company, we might have been able to make it work. But the goal of KeyPress was ALWAYS to be a combination of tools and training. I love teaching. And I was having success with the Turnkey Websites Blueprint course. So I figured combining that course with helpful plugins would be a win/win right?
Well, it turns out that both of those things require complete attention to be successful. When I was working on the courses and community, I was taking my focus away from the plugins (my role with the plugins was documentation, support, and marketing). When I was working on the plugins, I couldn’t focus on developing new material for the course, the associated membership, or growing the community.
Add to that the fact that both Asier and I needed to do other work in order to make a living. KeyPress was earning enough revenue to pay the businesses bills, but not enough to earn a living for Asier or I. So we also had to divide our time between KeyPress and our other projects and businesses. Those other projects and businesses also suffered as a result of the split time.
At the end of the day, we focused on too many things and that was a mistake.
There’s a lot of competition out there now
I’m not going to blame others for our misfortunes, that’s not my style and I honestly don’t believe it was the key issue for KeyPress. That being said, I do think that competition made things more difficult for us in the long run, so I do want to address it.
When we started KeyPress, there were really only two other companies that focused on the WaaS space: NextPress (makers of WP Ultimo) and WPMUDev. At the time, WP Ultimo was not very well known and WPMUDev was still suffering from the ghosts of their checkered past.
There were also some other plugins that did similar things to what we had planned with the UI Manager, but they were very limited and sometimes not very easy to use.
So we saw an opening for a company that focused on the back-end tools and training that users needed to be successful with their turnkey website projects.
Right around the time we started KeyPress, and in the years since, we noticed other companies and plugins popping up that provided similar tools and services. These companies brought with them bigger teams and more resources than we had. They were able to deliver solutions faster than we could.
Also, some of the plugins that weren’t so good when we started, got better. These existing plugins had the benefit of momentum. So even though our plugin offered similar features, people would stick with what they knew.
We noticed interest in our plugins start to wane over time. Now, of course, this lack of interest also had to do with our lack of marketing. We just didn’t have the time or money (or sometimes the will) to market the plugin properly as we were spending the majority of our time on development and support.
So, at the end of the day, I’m not sure we would have been successful even if all the competition was removed from the equation.
But whether or not it had an actual tangible affect on our ability to earn new customers, it did have a real affect on us psychologically. It pushed us to move more quickly than we should have and to try to do more things than we were capable of.
A New Beginning
Dovetailing off of the previous point about….in the end competition is a good thing for you, the consumer!
BECAUSE the other players in the space have matured and released such awesome products, we’re confident that you’ll be able to find exactly what you need out there to be successful.
And we’re not discontinuing everything! In fact, most of our products will live on, just under new ownership.
This plugin was where we spent most of our time as a company, and unfortunately it’s the plugin that we will not be able to continue to support. It’s a beast that grew too big for us to manage.
That being said, there are a ton of great plugins out on the market that can do about 90% of what UI Manager does.
We’re happy to announce that we officially support Ultimate Dashboard Pro as a replacement for UI Manager! David, the developer, is graciously offering to honor our customer’s remaining UI Manager license term if they switch to Ultimate Dashboard as a part of this transition. If you’re a current UI Manager customers, you will receive details about this via email shortly. If you didn’t get that email, please reach out to us so we can set you up with the Ultimate Dashboard Pro deal.
We will continue to support UI Manager customers until KeyPress closes in September, after which the plugin will be freely available to use at your discretion.
Asier, our cofounder and developer, will be taking ownership of the DNS Manager plugin moving forward. It’s up to him what he wants to do with it, but I’m hoping he continues to develop and sell it. It’s a great tool for easily managing DNS settings for your multisite. I will be a happy customer if he chooses to continue supporting this plugin.
Turnkey Websites Blueprint and others courses
I’m really excited to be able to shift my focus back to the Turnkey Websites Blueprint and other courses that I’ve been working on, along with their associated communities. I’m planning on releasing more free content and updating the courses with more content and relaunching them.
These products will move under my web consulting company Aledor, and I’ll sell them each as their own individual products.
This membership program for WaaS owners was an example of me spreading myself too thin. I believe a premium community needs to have the owner’s full attention and I wasn’t able to provide that to this community. So I shuttered the doors to Keymaster’s Club earlier this year.
Maybe in the future, once I’m able to settle back in to the swing of things I’ll consider relaunching a membership community, but right now I feel my focus is better spent on releasing free content and updating my premium courses.
We still have many lose ends to tie up and work to do between now and September. This is a new experience for Asier and I so we want to make sure we do this in the most responsible way possible.
Running a business is hard, running a partnership business is harder, and running a WordPress plugin business is harder still. Our hats off to those of you in the community that have been able to make it work…Asier and I have a new found respect for all of you.
If you’re a member of our email list or a customer, you’ll be hearing more from us in the coming week. Otherwise, we hope you’ll continue to follow our journey as we embark on other adventures.