This is my 11th year of writing a review of the year, a habit I find useful to reflect on what’s happened and galvanise me for the year ahead.
A big goal for 2022 was to work smarter instead of harder – try to work less hours and leverage outsourcing to continue to grow my businesses. However, changes to my main work contract threw a curveball that I wasn’t expecting.
2022 started like any other year at Delicious Brains, shipping plugin releases and continuing to work on Advanced Custom Fields (ACF). We shipped ACF 5.12, produced some excellent content and case studies on the blog, and the team worked hard on the development of 6.0.
However, big changes were on the horizon…
WP Engine Acquired the Delicious Brains Plugins!
I know, right? Woah!
In June, WP Engine acquired ACF, WP Migrate, WP Offload Media, WP Offload SES and Better Search Replace and the teams working on them joined WP Engine, including me. I joined WP Engine as a senior product manager working on ACF. 🎉
WP Engine went fully remote during the pandemic so luckily we could continue to work remotely, on the same products that we had been working on. In some respects not much changed, in some ways it all changed. We suddenly found ourselves in a much larger company, one that didn’t just build WordPress plugins, with colleagues all around the world. Luckily the people at WP Engine have been amazing. I honestly didn’t think a company of its size could foster such a wonderful culture (especially remotely). Everyone has been extremely welcoming and supportive.
As good as the transition to WP Engine has been, the change has been bittersweet and challenging. I’ve been working with Brad and Ash for almost 8 years so it’s sad not to be working with them anymore, but I’m excited for the future of SpinupWP. The transition also took a lot of my focus for a large chunk of the year and left me with little energy to work on other things.
The last six months for ACF under the WP Engine banner has been good. We managed to ship ACF 6.0 and have been iterating and improving on it ever since. We have some great features planned for 2023. Now ACF has a larger engineering team, more resources for marketing and support, and I have great product management peers and mentors, to help make the plugin even more awesome.
WP User Manager
It’s been a mixed year for WP User Manager. I started the year strong with a major release in January, quickly followed by another in February but then apart from a couple of addon releases in the summer I faltered for the rest of the year. I didn’t manage to release the Stripe integration that I’ve been working on for a long time, but I did manage to get some new addons either released or ready for release in 2023.
Although I am still a bottleneck for the plugin which has hampered its progress, I’ve managed to maintain a good relationship with a freelance developer who has consistently been there to help fix bugs and work on new features. The support agent from LevelUp has also continued to be a vital part of my team, helping with the majority of my first line and some technical support. I also engaged a freelance writer to help push the content marketing of the site forward which has been working well.
Revenue in 2022 decreased by 7% from 2021, which although disappointing, wasn’t overly surprising since 2021 saw such a large jump from the previous year. (~100%) My lack of consistency on releasing new features and shipping updates felt like it contributed to the lack of growth in the revenue for the year, although most likely a larger contributing factor was the general ecommerce slump that many encountered.
I hope to start the year strong with releases, and be more consistent in 2023.
It was an interesting year for FlipWP, the private marketplace for WordPress product businesses I started last year with Alex Denning. 2022 felt like a slower year for acquisitions in general in the WordPress space. We saw this in the lower number of acquisitions happening and a higher churn rate than we would have liked for our buyer memberships. However, we still saw a constant stream of sales happening through the platform, and new buyers signing up.
We pivoted our listing fee structure part way through the year which helped increase revenue and incentivise sellers to fully prepare their businesses before listing, resulting in a better chance of sale.
Alex and I decided to further our partnership by acquiring multiple WooCommerce plugins together in the first quarter of the year. We were able to run them with minimal-ish input from ourselves whilst outsourcing development, support, and marketing. (It helps that Alex runs a dedicated WordPress marketing agency!)
It’s been great working more with Alex again this year. We are hoping to build on what we’ve done this year and reach some larger revenue targets in 2023.
Intagrate had pretty much the same year as 2021, still in maintenance mode with revenue suffering. Sellwire is a similar story with just a few bug fixes, and revenue stayed at a similar level as 2021.
WP Content continued to be a valuable WordPress site for news and information sharing, with submissions up 7% from last year.
Jack and I decided to take an extended pause on the Pressing Matters podcast due to work and other commitments. I would like to start again, but I fear our capacity will be as equally limited in 2023.
I only managed to write one email for the WP Trends newsletter which was really disappointing but felt inevitable due to the distractions I had in the year and from generally keeping my head down working rather than actively watching and commentating on the changes in the ecosystem.
I definitely believe I worked less on my projects this year and didn’t feel as close to burnout as perhaps at times last year. Now things have settled down since the WP Engine acquisition, I feel like I can start to push forward with projects again with a better structure of outsourced help, requiring less of my time.
I continued to go to the gym regularly until the latter part of the year but look forward to starting again next week 💪 I also managed to keep up my 127 week streak of cycling on the Peloton.
Rex turned 8 and Pearl turned 5, and she started school! 🤯 We managed to take a trip to Portugal with some friends and their children over Easter, where I played 2 rounds of golf (2 of the 4 rounds in 2022 😢), we visited Edinburgh, and I attended WordCamp Europe in Porto in June. I look forward to making more memories with my family in 2023.
WP User Manager will continue to get the majority of my focus, as well as a couple of newish projects I have planned.
I’m looking forward to continuing to work on ACF with WP Engine, improving my skills as a product manager, and growing the plugin further.
As always, I hope my family and I have a happy and healthy year.