It’s been a while, but I’m finally back with part 2 of our making money with WordPress series. Previously we coved how to make money with your WordPress blog, but that’s not the only way you can leverage WordPress to build a successful business.
Many people (WPExplorer included) are making a living by selling products and services for WordPress. Today we’ll take a look at what you can create to help other WordPress users, and specific pros and cons to consider before you start selling.
Make Money With WordPress Products
If you’re using WordPress then you’re most definitely also using (or have used) at least a few third party products to go along with your core installation. In my experience there are three main products many WordPress users are willing to pay a premium for.
1. & 2. Premium WordPress Themes & Plugins
One of the biggest markets related to WordPress is the theme & plugin market. There are countless independent premium theme stores (ThemeBeans, ThemeIsle, Anariel Design, etc) in addition to the mega theme marketplaces like Themeforest or Templatemonster that host countless products from many different developers.
If you’re a developer and have confidence in your coding ability then creating premium themes or plugins is a great way to generate income. The only investment required is your time! Once you create an original product you just need to decide if you’d rather start your own store, sell on a a marketplace or balance a a combination of bother.
Elegant Themes is a shining example of an independent theme & plugin store making a name for themselves. What started as a small theme membership site has grown into a multimillion dollar business all built in the premise of offering premium WordPress themes and plugins at an affordable price. Other notable success stories include OptinMonster, Themify, DesignModo, Soliloquy and StudioPress among many others.
The biggest perk to starting your own store is that you are 100% in control of all decisions. You decide your prices. You decide what you’re selling. You decide if you want to run promotions.
At the same time, running your own store can be difficult because you are the one running it. This means you must take extra precautions for customer data security, make sure to follow all local e-commerce laws, and if you are making international sales there are additional laws you must abide by. It’s a lot!
There are options like Shopify that you can use to help better manage your store, but you’ll just have to do the research to see which e-commerce method works best for your store.
For WPExplorer we’ve chosen to use marketplaces for our premium themes. Currently you can find us on Themeforest and Creative Market. In our case we felt it was easier to let someone else manage the transactions for us, while we continue to handle theme development and support.
The two main challenges of using marketplaces is that they often have strict, lengthy review processes and also take a percentage of sales. In our experience, we’ve found the review process often times makes items better and the nominal fee is more that worth it to not have to manage our own e-commerce system.
Lastly, you have the option to take advantage of both and sell your items on a non-exclusive basis on marketplaces as well as your own store.
One caveat with this option is that some marketplaces like Themeforest charge non-exclusive authors a larger sales fee. This means you may have to forfeit a bit more of your income in order to have the flexibility to sell in a variety of places.
Additionally, the more places your sell your items the more places you’ll have to provide item support. You’ll either need to create a central support location (such as a customer forum, or a ticketing site using a service such as HelpScout or ZenDesk) or take the time to log into multiple author accounts to provide customers with adequate item support.
All three options are awesome ways to sell your own products. Just keep in mind that no matter which method you choose it’s going to take time to establish yourself as a trusted developer or brand in the WordPress community. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t see a ton of sales in the beginning. Network with blogs to have them help promote your items, create premium add-ons for your products or consider creating “lite” versions for extra exposure.
3. WordPress eBooks & Courses
The next product worth mentioning doesn’t extend WordPress, but instead compliments it. There are millions of WordPress users around the globe, and many of them are still learning. So why not provide a product to help them do just that?
Knowledgeable folks have been creating premium ebooks (checkout some of the top recommended WordPress books), guides and even online courses (like those offered on Udemy, or sell them yourself with LearnDash or another WordPress course tool) to assist new users with everything form setting up a blog for the first time to developing your own custom plugins.
The best part about offering educational products is that you don’t have to be a developer or a designer to create a useful product that users will buy. You just need expertise and the ability to convey what you know to others.
Make Money By Offering WordPress Services
WordPress products offer a lot of opportunity for hungry entrepreneurs to start successful businesses, but you don’t have to sell a product to make money. Plenty of creative folks have found ways to offer services to WordPress users at a premium.
4. WordPress Website Design & Development
The first service that comes to mind is simply website creation. A number of designers build client sites completely with WordPress. This is a lengthy process since you’ll often need to work with clients through concept, creation and potentially maintenance.
The benefit of tackling a client web design project is that you can often charge a hefty sum for your effort since you’ll likely be spending a couple weeks or more working on it. You’ll be able to feel secure in a set income while you focus your efforts on a single project (or maybe even a few projects if you’re able to juggle them).
The challenging aspect of web design is working with clients. Not every client will be great to work with (trust us, we know and we’ve even written an article on how to kiss nightmare clients goodbye). Some clients will be happy with your work and you’l never hear from them again. Others will frequently message you with new requests. Each client is different.
It’s up to you to decide what level of service you want to offer you clients, so just remember to build it into your contract before beginning a project.
5. & 6. WordPress Installation and Customization Services
Perhaps you don’t want to work with clients in the long run, and would rather offer one-and-done services such as theme or plugin installation services. Many experts offer this exact service on sites like Envato Studio, Upwork or Freelancer.
Some new WordPress users understand how to create blog posts, but their knowledge ends there. This can make installing and setting up themes or plugins a challenge for them. By offering installation services you can simply login, add the theme, make sure it’s configured properly and be done.
Customizations are another great niche within WordPress where freelancers can make a bit of extra money. Many users just need help changing their header layout, or adding a new custom post type but don’t have the coding knowledge to do so. This is where you can offer your services on a per-tweak basis.
7. WordPress Management, Maintenance And/or Support
Another option worth considering is WordPress Maintenance services. Sites like WP Butler and WP Curve have built businesses around maintaining WordPress installations for folks who simply don’t have the skills or time to do so themselves.
One of the best parts about maintenance is that you can easily add-on to increase the value of your service. Offering site audits, backups, malware scanning, customizations and similar options means that you can charge more for your service.
8. WordPress Hosting
If you’re a bit more ambitious you could also consider selling your own managed WordPress hosting service. With this you need not be a traditional WordPress developer or designer, though you will need an understanding of core WordPress functions.
The best part is that you don’t need your own servers to start offering hosting – many of the large hosting companies like HostGator offer reseller hosting as an option. These plans also include useful tools for creating packages or managing your customers’ accounts right from your own user panel. You could also build your own managed hosting with a Media Temple virtual private server or cloud hosting via Cloudways, as they both allow unlimited installations on each server. You’d just need to scale up your own plan as you acquire more customers.
The benefit with offering hosting is that you can secure a regular, recurring income from clients. Plus hosting is a natural add-on if you’re already offering other WordPress services such as web design or website management.
Before jumping in be sure to consider some of the requirements of offering hosting. Contracts, server security, updates, etc. Just do your research okay?
9. Custom WordPress Product Development
If you’re a developer but you don’t have ideas for your own product, or perhaps you simply don’t want to create something that you’ll have to support, you can always offer your services to other developers or businesses.
Often times creators will seek help from other developers who have more expertise in a particular area. For example, theme developers will often reach out to plugin developers for help create custom extensions. In these cases they might hire a developer for a one time project to create something that adds value to their own product.
10. One-on-one or In-person WordPress Training
Similar to offering ebooks or courses as a product, you can offer similar education materials in a service type format. WordPress experts like LisaWork have created careers by offering live WordPress seminars where new users can come in to learn how to use WordPress.
Many new users appreciate the ability to ask questions and receive one-on-one help as they go through the process of creating a website for the first time. You can use this opportunity to create an income generating business, with additional revenue streams from recommended follow-up courses, hosting or key products.
WordPress is an amazing platform, not just for websites but also for building a successful business. So far we’ve shared the top ways to use WordPress to make money with your blog, as well as 10 ways to profit from selling products and services. Hopefully the information was new or helpful to you!
In our next installment we’ll cover how to turn your blog into a business and some of the crucial steps we took to create WPExplorer.
Until then let us know if you have any questions in the comments section below! We’d be happy to answer them as best we can to help you start your own business with WordPres.