WordPress developer Corey Maass has sold his Social Link Pages plugin to Matthaus Klute, an independent WordPress consultant and developer with Alpha Particle. It’s another story of small plugins changing hands, where developers get the opportunity to test ideas and business models. Even the most modest creations have value in a thriving marketplace where business owners are willing to invest in these types of assets to expand their own offerings.
In 2019, Maass created Social Link Pages after taking a course on how to market himself as a musician and DJ. The course required him to sign up for Linktr.ee, a popular “link in bio” landing page service.
“In typical developer fashion, instead of paying $8 a month, I thought ‘I should build this,’” Maass said. “So I spent hundreds of hours building Social Link Pages for WordPress.”
Initially, Maass built the free version with most of the basic bells and whistles found in other link-in-bio page builders. After getting some pushback from the Plugin Review team, who Maass said were “skeptical about why we needed a ‘mini WordPress inside WordPress,’ the Social Link Pages plugin was approved for the directory.
Over the next year he added features that he needed while figuring out the right extras for a Pro version.
“Along the way, a user contacted me, asking if the plug-in could be white-labeled and used to build her own SaaS,” Maass said. “Shortly thereafter I released the Pro and Community (i.e. SaaS) versions of the plugin.
“Then I took a day job and stopped working on it for about a year and a half. I took the commercial versions offline. I barely looked at the plugin because there were almost no support requests.”
When Maass’ day job ended 18 months later, he went back to the plugin and was pleasantly surprised to find it had 1,000 active installs. This encouraged him to make some major updates and add new features.
The first marketing effort he made was to put Social Link Pages on AppSumo. At that time they were just opening up their marketplace.
“In the marketplace, you don’t benefit from AppSumo’s larger email campaigns, but I think Social Link Pages got a lot of eyes from people looking for good lifetime deals,” Maass said. “I sold about 80-lifetime licenses and was surprised to find that only two or three were ever actually claimed. I’ve since heard of other plugin developers who have had the same experience. Apparently, a lot of people collect lifetime deals, but never actually use them. So in the end it was free money.”
Over the next few years, Maass continued to add features but his interest was waning.
“The plugin did what I needed on my own sites, so I was not inspired to keep adding features just because I could,” he said. “I also saw a lot of new link-in-bio apps come online, though none were specific to WordPress. And I wanted to move on to new ideas.”
At the beginning of 2023, while considering all of his projects, Maass said he “could not find the willpower to market Social Link Pages as it should be.” He knew he was no longer the best owner for the plugin, so he listed it on a couple of sites dedicated to selling small software products.
Social Links Plugin Sells for $3K
“I’d always heard the correct pricing for a software product is 12-18 months of revenue,” Maass said. “Social Link Pages was only making about $125 per month at the time, but I was selling a complete business, already set up with e-commerce, multiple products, email automation, and more.
“I listed it at $5000. I heard from a dozen or so potential buyers, all of whom asked for charts and spreadsheets I did not have. I’m a developer and guilty of ignoring a lot of the standard sales and ‘biz dev’ practices. As I was asking too much based on what was ‘on paper,’ I did not find a buyer. I unlisted Social Link Pages, figuring I’d try again in the future.”
Maass tried again in the summer, listing the plugin in Post Status and a couple of other solopreneur-focused communities. He also dropped the price to $3,000.
“Immediately I heard from a number of interested buyers who saw the value in what I was selling,” Maass said.” I probably could’ve brought the price back up to $5000 again, but I wanted to see the plugin go to a new, better owner.”
Two years ago, Maass sold his Kanban for WordPress plugin to Keanan Koppenhaver at Alpha Particle. After discussing with Matthaus Klute, a developer who works with Koppenhaver, Maass knew he had found the right buyer.
“He’s a thoughtful developer with WordPress experience interested in building a product business,” Maass said. “We met up in person at WordCamp US in DC in August 2023, and spent a few hours moving all accounts to his name and getting him set up. It was a fun experience to do in person.”
Klute said Maass came to him highly recommended from others who had purchased plugins from him in the past. After he spoke with his lawyer, they proceeded to do an in-person asset transfer at WordCamp US (WCUS).
“I wasn’t actively shopping for a plugin, however I’ve always had a passing interest in asset and/or small businesses acquisitions,” Klute said. “Corey’s plugin caught my attention for several reasons. It fit well within my budget, boasted an active user base, and generated consistent recurring revenue.
“With my 9 -5 spent coding, the prospect of having an existing solution that I could focus on marketing rather than building was enticing. Lastly, I wanted to gain a deeper understanding of the plugin ecosystem.”
Klute said Maass’s experience played a crucial role in ensuring a smooth transfer. He had all the plugin’s accounts and services separated from his other entities, making it easily transferable. While at WCUS, they conducted a few Zoom sessions to explore the plugin’s codebase in-depth.
“Despite the focus on marketing, I do have a few ideas for the plugin roadmap,” Klute said. “I’m looking at the possibility of a digital business card functionality similar to Blinq and also exploring ways to enhance the plugin’s compatibility with WooCommerce for my dynamic shop functionality for e-commerce businesses.”