Making Money with WordPress: The WPMU DEV Guide to Getting Paid
We love WordPress here at WPMU DEV, so, of course, we’re going to encourage you to make money with it! Now, if you’re worried that a lack of coding skills will keep you from turning a profit with WordPress, don’t be. There is so much more you can do with WordPress to make a living.
If you’re as much a fan of this CMS as we are and seriously want to make money doing what you love (i.e. living the dream), then this post is definitely for you. We’re going to cover the pros and cons of choosing to center your business around WordPress as well as XX the ways you can do so.
Editor’s note: This post was first published in 2012 but it was so popular we’ve updated the content to make it up-to-date for 2017. Enjoy!
Making Money with WordPress: What You Need to Know
Regardless of why you want to build a business around WordPress, you’ve got to admit that it’s an incredible platform. It’d be crazy to not even consider the possibility of using it to generate a new revenue stream. That being said, for some of you, WordPress won’t necessarily be the ideal money-making platform that it will be for others.
Here are some things to consider:
- WordPress is leaps and bounds above the competition in terms of the number of users (28% of all Websites) as well as market share (59% of the CMS market), so building a business around it would be a sound choice since more people are familiar with it than say Joomla or Magento.
- There are roughly 75 million websites that run on WordPress. How many of those websites do you think are owned or managed by experienced WordPress users?
- Once you are familiar with WordPress, there’s really nothing else you need to master. The interface is so intuitive that anything you add in later (like a new plugin) will look and be managed the same way as everything else. Which means you won’t have to spend time re-learning how to use WordPress and can instead focus on revenue-generating efforts.
- There’s no need to take a singular approach to revenue generation with WordPress. If you want to mix-and-match different money-making opportunities, you can!
- The potential for revenue earnings all depends on which route you take. So while some WordPress business ideas are lucrative, others are better for when you want to passively generate revenue and aren’t worried about replacing an entire salary with it.
- There are some WordPress businesses that require a huge upfront investment of your time. Even then, the payoff may not be what you expected if the timing is off, there’s no audience for it, or the product was rushed out the door.
- If you want to make good money with WordPress, it’s like any other business venture and requires a serious amount of dedication, time, and effort.
- Despite there being a huge need for WordPress-related businesses, services, and experts, there will still be some people who insist that they don’t need your help. In other words, if you don’t fully believe in what you’re doing and aren’t willing to be even a little bit pushy about selling it, you may struggle to make a profit.
Obviously, none of this is meant to deter you from or even convince you to pursue any of these money-making opportunities with WordPress. We just want you to be aware of some of the benefits as well as drawbacks before making a decision.
21 Ways to Make Money with WordPress
It doesn’t matter what your particular WordPress-related strength is. Be it development, writing, teaching, marketing, or something else entirely, there is a need for it and the following 21 money-making opportunities are all up for grabs.
#1. Develop WordPress Sites
It’s probably safe to assume that many of the readers of the WPMU DEV Blog are already doing this one. Nevertheless, it’s important to include it here in case you’re brand new to WordPress and looking to explore your options. So, for those of you who like the idea of building WordPress sites from-scratch—regardless of how good of a coder you are—website development is one path you can consider taking.
#2. Design WordPress Sites
Perhaps you like the idea of building new sites for clients, but you want to focus solely on the aesthetics part of it. There are plenty of agencies and implementers who are looking for design specialists they can offload that work to. You’d just need a good understanding of design programs like Illustrator or Photoshop, responsive design, as well as a solid know-how of what makes for a well-designed UI.
#3. Specialize in WordPress Marketing
If you’ve had enough insight into what it takes to build a website using WordPress, then you know that the platform itself is pretty simple. You can create pages and posts. You can attach media files. And you can use widgets to add new functionality to the homepage, footer, and sidebars.
But WordPress can be a truly powerful marketing tool for websites when you start making smart choices with plugins and themes. As a marketer who specializes in WordPress, having knowledge of and quick access to these tools would make you a valuable asset to clients.
#4. Work as a WordPress SEO
There’s no doubt that SEO is an essential part of every business’s marketing strategy. Similar to how marketers can establish a niche by knowing the right plugins and themes, so too can SEO experts. Additionally, because SEO is just one piece of the marketing puzzle, WordPress SEO would be a great service to add on to the other work you already do, like in the example of Jill Anderson, a web designer and developer who used her knowledge of SEO to her advantage.
#5. Start a WordPress Agency
If all of the above options seem appealing to you, but they aren’t comprehensive enough for what you want to achieve, then why not open your own WordPress agency? If you’re keen on entrepreneurship and want to lead a team of WordPress experts in building websites, this is a great option.
#6. Provide WordPress Consultation Services
Let’s say you’re quite knowledgeable when it comes to WordPress. You know what the most reliable WordPress themes are. You know that an image optimization plugin is a must. You know that a CDN would be helpful for a global ecommerce site.
But you don’t want (or maybe don’t know how) to implement any of those things. You can put your expert know-how to work then as a consultant for businesses that want guidance without having to worry about an agency or developer trying to drive up their profit by adding unnecessary stuff to their website.
#7. Build a Plugin
For developers who really enjoy coding and truly appreciate the awesomeness of the WordPress plugin, this is something you should look into. Sure, developing a plugin takes a lot of time and, if you don’t work out the kinks before pushing it to an audience, you might end up spending more time in updates and customer support requests than it’s worth.
However, if you have an idea for a plugin that you know users need and you want to invest time in building it, then check out this success story from Bruno Carreço. While he hasn’t been able to make a full-time living off of the plugins he’s built yet, he’s slowly working his way there.
#8. Design a Theme
Do you enjoy designing websites, but want to be more involved in the coding aspect of it? Then designing WordPress themes may be what you want to do. Muhammad Haris, one of ThemeForest’s Power Elite users, talks about how he got started in theme development and how he eventually became one of the most successful creators on the platform.
#9. Build a Website for Your Services-Based Company
You don’t have to have a WordPress-specific skill to make money with this tool. In fact, if you have time to learn how to use WordPress and have a new business idea you want to get off the ground, you can build your own company website and start making money by selling your services through it.
#10. Build a Website for Your Online Store
On the other hand, if you have a product-based business and have the drive to build your own website with WordPress, this is another option for making money. All you really need is a reliable eCommerce plugin to get your store up and running.
#11. Run a WordPress Blog
If you’re a raving fan of WordPress, but your pen is much mightier than your sword (i.e. coding or design skills), then why not blog about it? If this is something you’re interested in, don’t forget to check out our recent WordPress blogging series for tips on how to wow your audience.
#12. Write WordPress Content for Other Sites
For those of you who like the idea of writing about all things WordPress, but don’t want to have to manage your own blog, you can always go the guest blogging route. There are a plethora of sites always looking for guest authors to contribute WordPress-related content. Simply establish your niche (e.g. design, coding, plugin roundups, security hacks, etc.) and start pitching.
#13. Write a WordPress eBook
It’s easy to think that WordPress content always needs to take the form of a blog or article. However, if you like the idea of creating something a bit more valuable and that you can charge money for straight out the gate, a WordPress-related ebook is something to think about.
#14. Run a WordPress Podcast
If writing isn’t your thing, but you still want to share your WordPress expertise with the world, you could always start up your own podcast. There are a number of well-known WordPress podcasts out there already, but if you have something truly unique to offer, it may be time to give this a shot.
#15. Teach WordPress
You know that phrase “those who can, do; those who can’t, teach”? Same goes for WordPress. Or maybe you do know how to “do” WordPress very well and that’s why you want to teach others how to use it. Either way, there are many options here. You could run an online course, you could teach at a local school, or you could attend events like Karla Campos does and educate WordPress professionals there.
#16. Provide WordPress Support Services
There is an entire sector dedicated to providing support and maintenance for WordPress sites. Why? Because of all the ongoing updates that need to be made, the daily backups which, realistically, should be happening, and the security that should never be taken lightly. If you’re a fan of providing a support role to ensure that WordPress sites are well-maintained, this might be a great option.
#17. Sell WordPress Web Hosting
Ever heard of reseller web hosting before? Well, this is a way for someone to receive a specific allotment of a web host’s server and then to resell that space and bandwidth to someone who needs it for their website. This is a good option if you’re interested in launching your own web hosting company but don’t have the infrastructure to do it with. This is something developers and designers can also take on and offer to clients as an add-on.
#18. Monetize Your Site with Ads
If you haven’t read our guide on how to insert ads into WordPress, then be sure to check it out now. It’s a fairly quick and easy process, and there are a number of ways you can use ads to monetize your site.
#19. Offer Affiliate Marketing
There are technically two ways you can use affiliate marketing on your site to make money. The first way involves signing up for affiliate programs that are related to what your site is all about. By promoting the content, products, or services from those programs, you can make a commission off of sales that come through from your promotional work. You could also start your own affiliate program and have others do the same for your site. They’ll collect a commission on sales made and you’ll enjoy the rest of the profits from the referral business.
#20. Flip Websites
This is basically the same as working as a WordPress developer/designer/marketer/SEO, all rolled in one. However, the point isn’t to build a website for a specific client. Instead, you’ll build a generic site, monetize it, build up the traffic, and make it a truly worthwhile investment so that companies in need of a site can buy it off of you. (It’s like flipping houses.)
#21. Create a Membership Site
Last, but not least, you might want to create a membership site like WPMU DEV. It doesn’t need to sell WordPress plugins or themes either. You simply need a bulk offering that is so valuable that users will be more than happy to pay a monthly fee to have access to it.
It’s pretty incredible how much you can do with WordPress, in general. Then when you look at all the ways you can make money off of the platform, it’s like, “What can’t WordPress do?”