Thank you all for your support of Joomlashack.
Joomlashack started in 2005, but our team took over the site in 2016.
Even before 2020, we've always avoided writing "everything is awesome" posts. We try and give you honesty and insight into Joomlashack's year. There are always plenty of ups and downs. You'll find plenty of stories of both success and failure in these posts.
Surviving early 2020
Let's begin our 2020 review in the obvious place. When COVID-19 arrived, our response was to try and be useful. This was our plan in mid-March:
"To be honest, I don't have any great advice at all. We're trying to navigate day-to-day, just like you are. Events are moving so fast that even good advice today is likely to be out-of-date tomorrow. Oh, and we're software developers. We're not medical experts. All I can promise is that we're going to redouble our commitment to provide value to you, the Joomlashack customer."
So our team developed two responses.
First, we emptied our vaults of all the useful tools and software we use. Those are now available as four new extensions (more on these below).
Second, we ran a series of weekly, online Joomla user groups. These featured interviews with leading Joomla experts including George Wilson, Johan Jansenns, Peter van Westen, Randy Carey, Vic Drover, and Andy Miller. Click here to see all the recordings. I really appreciate all the experts, and the Joomlashack community members who attended. You made those sessions wonderfully warm and welcoming in a difficult time.
The early part of the year saw us face other significant hurdles in addition to COVID. My father passed just a few days before lockdowns started. And then as lockdowns began, we were hit by ongoing DDOS attacks for several weeks. From talking with other Joomla developers, the attackers targeted several of the larger Joomla companies. If you saw a Cloudfare or Sucuri firewall on a Joomla site this year, this is probably the reason. The DDOS attacks was a tough lesson, but we finally saw them off with the help of Sucuri and lot of extra security precautions.
In 2020, we released four new extensions. These are all tools that we rely on to run Joomlashack.com, so they've been heavily road-tested for several years:
- Shack Error Notify will rescue you from serious site problems. This plugin will send automatic notifications if anything goes wrong with your Joomla site.
- Shack User Switching enables you to test any user account on your sites, without compromising their passwords. With one click, you can browse your site and see exactly what your users see. This is a safe and useful way to troubleshoot problems for your site's users.
- Shack Article Layouts allows you to display your articles in many attractive layouts. This extension is perfect for creating homepages, or landing pages for blogs, portfolios, testimonials, and other content.
- Shack HelpScout enables you to display Help Scout forms and user conversations directly inside your Joomla site. You use this extension every time you open a support ticket at Joomlashack.
Originally, I didn't think we would hold the Joomlashack Conference this year. Not only was I feeeling exhausted, but JandBeyond were planning to host an online event around the same time.
However, JandBeyond weren't able to make their planned date, and so we organized the Joomlashack Conference 2020 with about four weeks notice.
It was a two day online event that took place on December 9 and 10. We recorded and edited all the presentations: you can see the videos on the Joomlashack YouTube channel.
I definitely noticed a different energy in December, compared to last year's event and the user groups earlier in the year. Even a few months ago, these events were interesting and fresh. Now, people are feeling Zoom-overload. If we do the conference again in 2021, it will look different with more focus on audience participation and networking.
Revenue and traffic
Let me give you some specific details around Joomlashack's performance in 2020.
This chart below shows our revenue since we started selling Joomla extensions in 2014 (before Joomlashack). The pink line is a trendline stretching across all the years.
The revenue shown in that graph above comes from four main sources:
- Everything Club: 55.7%
- Single extension sales: 39.6%
- Single template sales: 2.5%
- Other revenue: 2.2%
This image below shows our subscriber growth since taking over Joomlashack in 2016. We're now just over 3,100 active members. We continue to believe very strongly in the importance of recurring subscribers, although some users aren't willing to sign up. For years now, I've advocated strongly for recurring subscriptions, and I'm pleased to say that some other Joomla developers have gone in this direction too. Over the last few years, we've been fortunate to acquire several other Joomla companies. Many of them had one thing in common: they were not supported by recurring revenue.
So all Joomlashack's numbers are moving in the right direction, but there is a catch.
- 2017: we grew 88% year-on-year.
- 2018: we grew 37% year-on-year.
- 2019: we grew 11.5% year-on-year.
- 2020: we grew 9.3% year-on-year.
I am definitely glad that Joomlashack is still growing, but our rate of growth is slowing. In particular, most of our 2020 growth was in the first half of the year. Q4 of this year was particularly slow.
Why is growth slowing? I'll give three suggestions:
- We could innovate more. This is the simple answer. We can step up our game with more new products and features.
- WordPress growth is accelerating. "I'm moving to WordPress" was the most common reason that people canceled subscriptions in 2020.
- A cohort of webdesigners is retiring. 2020 was tough for a lot of web design businesses and a good number of customers either changed profession or retired.
Our traffic numbers dipped slightly in 2020. Again, the second half of the year was noticeably slower than the first.
- 2017: 226,893 visitors
- 2018: 311,351 visitors
- 2019: 527,053 visitors
- 2020: 519, 928 visitors
This next chart shows where our visitors come from. The column on the left is from 2019 and the column on the right is from 2020.
Over half our visitors come from these ten countries. Traffic was up from the United States, India and the United Kingdom, but down from most European countries. I've added arrows to highlight three of the biggest movers on the chart.
Looking ahead to 2021
I promised to be honest at the start of this post, and I'll keep that pledge all the way through to the end.
I don't know how 2021 will unfold for Joomla, but I'm sure everything will look different by the end of the year. Joomla 4 will come out this year. The final Beta version is almost here. We will see Joomla version 4.0 in 2021.
At that point, a lot of people in the Joomla community will have decisions to make:
- End-users: will they update to Joomla 4? Probably not quickly. My guess is that Joomla 3 has a long shelf-life ahead.
- Agencies: they'll need to decide when Joomla 4 is ready for new site-builds.
- Developers: which ones will update their extensions or templates for Joomla 4? I expect we'll see plenty of opportunities for mergers and acquisitions as people use Joomla 4 as a time to make decisions they might have been delaying.
Here at Joomlashack: we'll have decisions too. Earlier in this post, you saw our revenue numbers: Joomlashack makes almost all its revenue from extensions. We have over 50 separate products, if you include extensions and templates. So I must give fair warning now: I'm sure that our product line-up will look different in Joomla 4. Some of our least popular products may not be upgraded.
Over to you
Thanks for using Joomlashack and Joomla over the years.
Let us know what you think in the comments below! We couldn't do this without your support.