Bolasalju's WooCommerce Story

In this post I want to share our story released a subscription and membership system to provide an investment education and research services on Bolasalju.com using WooCommerce platform. This is a part of my entry for WooConf 2017 Golden Ticket Competition.


Bolasalju Story

Bolasalju.com is a website I create since 2010 where I shared toughts on my stock investing activities. At first it was published under anonymity. The first plan, I just want to make notes on my stock transactions. Or why this stock interesting, why I bought them, why I sold them, and so on. I make notes on that blog because I want to have records on my investing activities. Having some records, I was expecting to be able to look that later, making evaluation where I made some mistakes, or whether I make a good investing decisions.

Stock investing was a new thing to me, since I worked as programmer and designer. I learned stock investing seriously since 2007, and later since 2008 I committed to investing method called value investing. According to Wikipedia, "value investing is an investment paradigm which generally involves buying securities that appear underpriced by some form of fundamental analysis."

Okay back to the story. I published some investment education and research articles there. It was beyond just a personal notes on my investing activities. Bolasalju attracted some loyal readers since 2011. They shared comments and appreciations that they learn many investing insights and got investing knowledge from Bolasalju. Some even say they produce quite good profits by following some of my stock stories on that blog. If you asked, I recorded 651% returns rate compared to 108% for Indonesian stock index, for 7 years performance. Not bad for a starter, right?

Starting 2015, I reveal my anonymity and decide it was time to make this publication a serious business. Bolasalju has been acknowledged as one of serious value investing blog in Indonesia. By 2016, Indonesia currently have about half million stock investors, compared to 170 million adults. I believe Bolasalju could have a chance to become a site that provides education, researches, and data for helping Indonesian investors to success.

But I have other work. I let Bolasalju as my side project before committing some serious effort and put some investment on it.

September 2016 was a turning point. After working freelancing for 10 years. I believe it's a right time to pursue other endeavour. I worked hard to publishing new posts and more stock researches on Bolasalju. By late 2016, Bolasalju published 64 new posts. By February 2017, it published more 41 articles.

The business model for Bolasalju is simple: it provides education, research, and data for investors in Indonesia. Some education articles will be free (as it is now), the others will be a paid services/products.

Education materials ranging from free articles, protected articles, and digital/real products (e-books and later a real book). Researches will be published in the form of restricted contents and digital publications. Data will be available for subscribers.

Our WooCommerce Story

By March 2017, after gaining back old visitors and new readers, I think Bolasalju was ready for a prime time. It was time to decide an ecommerce platform for Bolasalju.

Not long consideration, I decide WooCommerce is a good choice because Bolasalju already runs on WordPress. Knowing that WooCommerce has been acquired by the same guy that build WordPress, I think rest assured that Bolasalju will be supported in the long run.

We currently building a custom system using Ruby on Rails for managing stocks data. We feel the data service will be a future business, since it also takes a lot of time to improve them. We are now focusing on education and research, since it's already established there and it was quick to deliver. Making a full all-in-one Ruby on Rails system for ecommerce/membership could takes a lot of work, since I worked on this by myself right now. I felt it was not ideal to make a quick turn around and delivery. We decide to think later about integration between WooCommerce and Rails, I believe it could be done.

After knowing our business model and how to achieve them. We looked for a solution on WooCommerce platform to solve the problem for delivering Bolasalju's business model to customers in tightly deadline. Not long, We bought the WooCommerce Membership Bundle at March 20, 2017. We decided to use WooCommerce Subscriptions and Membership (all valued $348). We could use Name Your Price and Subscription Downloads extension (valued $98) for some future needs. The bundle provides all extensions we need, and it was discounted about $147 (in respect to extension we may need), if purchased separately. Value investor loves discount, right? It gives additional extension and themes as bonus. It provides 12 Storefront's child themes (each valued $39). We may not use them right now because Bolasalju already using other theme at that time.

The decision for using WooCommerce solutions was an easy choice. First, again, it makes us rest assured that Bolasalju will be supported in the long run. Second, WooCommerce Subscriptions and Membership Bundle solves our problem to provide the subscription and membership solution so we can launch our education and research services in timely manner. We launched the service on Bolasalju at April 20, 2017 (Psst, it was my wife birthday, it's a surprise present for her!).

We have released an e-book, a basic investment education for common people, it's title "Cerdas Berinvestasi". We are preparing to write our next value investing book for serious stock investor. We have launched an annual subscription service for users to be able to access our investment researches and exclusive contents. We just released a private tutor and consultation service yesterday. We have a couple services and products on our plan.

By the time I write this, we have returned our initial investment for Bolasalju. We still have a hard path to make sure Bolasalju become a sustainable business. We expect Bolasalju to be a trusted and successful education, research, and data provider for Indonesian investor. It will be long journey for us, but I believe we are on the right track with WooCommerce.

Our WooCommerce Build

Plugins:

  • WooCommerce by Automattic – 3.0.7
  • WooCommerce Memberships by SkyVerge – 1.8.4
  • WooCommerce Name Your Price by Kathy Darling – 2.5.5
  • WooCommerce Subscription Downloads by WooCommerce – 1.1.6
  • WooCommerce Subscriptions by Prospress Inc. – 2.2.7
  • WooCommerce Helper by WooCommerce – 1.7.2
  • WooCommerce Google Analytics Integration by WooCommerce – 1.4.2
  • Facebook for WooCommerce by Faceebook - 1.3.1
  • Genesis Connect for WooCommerce by StudioPress – 0.9.9

Current Theme:

  • Bolasalju, by LokaLab - 0.7.1.9 - LokaLab is a new development studio also founded by myself.

The theme was a StudioPress's Genesis child theme, created and modified by myself based on Genesis Sample theme. The homepage is a custom made layout, delivered via widget based container so I can easily put and change its contents quickly. The theme is simple and clean. It works!

Thanks for reading. May the Woo force be with you!