In this interview, we hear from Daniel Espinoza. He is currently a developer at Shop Plugins and Grow Development. Some of his work includes extensions like the WooCommerce Store Locator and Multiple Shipping Addresses. He is also developing the Quickbooks extensions for WooCommerce and Easy Digital Downloads. In the past, he helped build the WooCommerce course on WP101, and worked on the Sugar Event Calendar plugin for WordPress.

Below is the summary of the discussion. If you have any questions for Daniel or comments, please share them in the comments section at the bottom of this post.

What else do you do when you’re not doing all the things above?

Professionally, I sell commercial WordPress plugins. I do WooCommerce training through WP101 where we have a few new modules coming out soon. I also do consulting for WooCommerce store owners where I have several support plan clients, and I do custom plugin development.

Custom plugin development through my agency Grow Development probably takes majority of my time. The agency is also my main focus at this point, and certainly something I want to grow. Recently, I’ve been doing a lot of custom plugins for companies who either want to sell the plugin themselves, or development for integrating their product with WooCommerce.

I used to work for WooThemes in the past, and Shop Plugins was established to sell my WooCommerce plugins.

How did you get into WordPress development?

I’ve been a professional programmer for 22 years doing development for a lot of companies. My daughter was born in 2007, and at the time, I was working in the IT department of a bank. As my wife became a stay-at-home-mom, I realized how much fun they were having and that I was missing out on a lot of family time because of my job.

In 2008, I quit the bank, and started doing development full time.

What was the timeline of your projects?

After I quit my job, I started with building eCommerce sites using Cart Keeper. I then moved on to working with Magento. But, one of the things neither of those platforms did very well was a blog. My projects would usually include a blog component. I had to install WordPress in a subdirectory, and then do design-work to make the blog look like the rest of the site.

In 2011, WooCommerce started coming on to the scene, and it seemed interesting as both the eCommerce platform and WordPress blog were integrated. At the time, WooThemes put a call for development of the Authorize.Net extension which I took on and it ended up being the first commercial plugin for WooCommerce.

In 2012, part of the push was to get WooCommerce compatible with a lot of payment gateways to encourage adoption. So that’s what I worked on an additional 8 gateways after the Authorize.Net extension.

WooThemes came after that where I built my support experience.

What are some challenges as a developer that you faced?

From a business perspective, charging higher prices and realizing the value of my time. I had the technical skills, but I had to learn a lot of freelancing skills to be an effective small business owner.

On the development side, a big learning process was knowing the “WordPress way”, that is, the coding standards for WordPress. I think I’m still evolving in building better design practices for my own code.

What is your advice for developers in or starting in WordPress development?

Go read a lot of code – whether that’s WordPress core, or plugin code. As you read through more code and try to apply that to your own, you’ll develop better habits.

A big learning for me was to continually add hooks and filters to my code to make it more extensible, which is something I still need to do for my own code.

What is your advice for store owners using WooCommerce or Easy Digital Downloads?

Go market! Get the word out to build your business. Don’t worry about small things like the shape or color of a button on your store. I would have clients where clients would spend 6 to 8 months just building the site, but when they opened the doors, nobody came.

Don’t focus so much on the mechanics of your site and do more customer development.

Where do you see the future of eCommerce?

  • I think virtual reality (VR) is going to hit a stride, and I really want to see a VR store where somebody can do a full tour of their boutique through VR. I think that’ll be really cool.
  • We’ve also seen a lot of subscription platforms, and I would like to see more of those survive multiple years as businesses.
  • And see how stores can differentiate themselves from the behemoths like Amazon.

Daniel Espinoza, can you tell us about some short-term and long-term goals?

Short term, I am doing more work on the Sugar Event Calendar to revamp the plugin and develop more add ons for it.

Long term, I want to take a step out of eCommerce and be involved in products not related to eCommerce. So getting those up and running will be the goal.

The vision for the agency is to support my “why”. My “why” is to spend quality time with my family. Spending time with my family and travelling around the world with them is very important to me.

Right now I spend 70% of time on client-work and 30% on plugins, and I’d love to flip that over time.

What did you think of the interview? Were there questions you wanted to ask that weren’t in the interview? Tell us and ask further questions in the comments below.

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Posted by Jai Sangha

Jai is a regular contributor to Sell with WP, and helps merchants improve their WordPress eCommerce businesses with plugin reviews, marketing or customer service tips, and tutorials.


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