You’re a born entrepreneur, a risk taker per se. At some point in your life, either recently or in the past you decided, “Heck I’m going into business for myself”, and here you are. Perhaps that isn’t the case. Perhaps you just loathe the 9 to 5 grind you’re stuck in. You need more out of life. You crave the freedom of being your own boss, and the possibility of earning infinitely more.
You want to build a freelance business, so you can work wherever and whenever. You want to work from home, and never have to sit for hours in traffic. You desire to work in your pjs, actually cook lunch, and watch an episode of your fav show in between projects. You desire to travel the world without having to wait for a vacation all year long. You crave falling in love with new cultures, and being genuinely happy.
You feel it in your gut that you’re up for the challenge, and can’t wait to cash in your first check. Perhaps the excitement is intense. Perhaps you love intense. Intense is good. Well, your ambition is admirable, but where do you start?
In today’s posting, we shall cover some of the fundamentals you should consider (and implement) when building a freelance business based on WordPress. Prepare for instruction, and more so inspiration, as these tips will make you quite the champion you desire and deserve. Are you ready? Here we go.
Decide on the Business Idea
First things first, you have to decide the business you want to launch and build. You can’t start a business just to start one – you know – for the hell of it, or for the thrill, or to show off to friends. Your choicest business idea should be guided by your passions, experience and knowledge. As we saw in How to Make Money with WordPress, there are a couple of WordPress-related avenues into which you can venture. You just need to find your love.
You can develop WordPress themes and/or plugins if you possess web development skills or are passionate enough to learn. You can transform yourself into a respectable WordPress blogger, provide WordPress hosting, and/or offer live WordPress support among others. While all these are lucrative opportunities, you will spend a lot of time working in and on your business, so best is to follow your passions.
You also need to be well-versed at whatever it is you will be doing. How will you offer a service if you don’t the first thing about the service? Most importantly, your business idea shouldn’t fall from space. It should be realistic enough to cater to a certain problem; it should be a solution in the market. In simpler terms, your products and services should be something people are willing to pay for. Finally, you can create any freelance business with WordPress, so don’t limit yourself to the options we’ve mentioned.
Craft a Sound Business Plan
When I started my freelance blogging business, I had no plan whatsoever. Just a shred of an idea, and motivation for ten people. Nonetheless, lack of a business plan delayed my transition into a full-blown blogger. I learned my lesson, which is…
A plan helps you to remain focussed, and stay on top of business matters even when you feel like quitting. You can make financial projections, set up reliable content strategies, devise effective marketing and generally win big. And without a plan, you’ll be like a ship without navigation. You will lose direction, wreck and end up wasting a lot of time and money. This I know firsthand, and out of my experience, I now start businesses (as well as my day) with a plan.
Your plan doesn’t need to fill pages; it doesn’t need to be the plan of the century; just a written declaration of how you’ll move from zero sales to a healthy freelance business. Your day to day plan can be a few tasks in Evernote, or your calendar app. Need help drawing up a business plan? Check out the Freelance Business Plan: You can Plan to Succeed or Expect to Fail by iThemes for some inspiration. Moving on…
Build it & They Will Come
The most important asset you can have as a WordPress freelancer is an online hub where prospective clients can learn more about your services/products, check out your portfolio, contact you, and eventually make orders. This is where WordPress shines.
The platform is easy to setup and use. With the perfect WordPress theme (see Total Responsive Multipurpose WordPress Theme) and a couple of plugins, you can build just the perfect portfolio website without a hassle (like this, or even this).
You don’t need to hire a web developer to set up a WordPress site for you, just fire up your theme of choice, add a couple of power plugins, and you’re good to go. Without a doubt, you’ll need great WordPress hosting for your business, so you can concentrate on business without having to worry about malicious hackers, for instance.
For the tools you need to set up a professional WordPress site, please check out the following resources:
- WordPress Resources for Your Professional Toolkit
- 20 Best One Page WordPress Themes
- How to Create a WordPress Theme from HTML
- Best Social media Plugins for WordPress
- 40 Must Have WordPress Plugins
- WPExplorer Premium Themes, Elegant Themes and Themeforest
- 10 BuddyPress Plugins You Must Have
- And much much more!
Now that you have your WordPress site up and running, it’s time to let clients know you’re available for hire. If no one knows you are a WordPress freelancer for hire, tell me how will they put bread on your table and cloth on your back?
You don’t even have to sweat the process, start by taking advantage of your immediate circle of friends, coworkers and clients you’ve worked with in the past. In other words, utilize your immediate network. Let these people know that you’re available to build WordPress sites, write great blog content, offer support, and/or consult on all matters WordPress.
Make your availability known on your site, and every other platform you make an appearance. Just don’t spam the life out of your existing networking contacts because nobody loves that guy. You’ll be surprised how fast you can line up projects simply by letting your close contacts know you’re available.
If you haven’t done any projects, you should first create a few samples for your website. Want to start a freelance web design career? Showcase a few great web design samples on your site (you could even host them yourself as demo sites if you haven’t had a client yet). You can give away free themes, plugins etc if you’re trying to launch a web development business. Looking to start a freelance WordPress blogging business like yours truly? Add a few writing/blogging samples to your site, and so on and so forth.
Samples will help you to establish credibility, authority, experience and professionalism. Then flock job boards where your clients post jobs and apply. But if you’re not one for job applications and the works (although they can help with the bills in the meantime), how about developing your own products or service packages?
Develop Products and/or Service Packages
If you dislike the idea of staking out job boards, and want clients to come to you instead, you have to develop products, or rather service packages, to sell. Are you an aspiring WordPress developer? You can package premium WordPress themes and sell them for a yearly subscription just like Nick Roach of Elegant Themes.
You can create paid consultation packages. You can offer your blogging service as packages with different price points. You can create any product you can imagine, and make a killing provided there’s demand (Envato studio is full of freelancers offering services). Look for a problem in your particular market (niche) and then offer the solution. This solution becomes your product. This of course assumes you have considerable traffic to your online business, something we will cover in a few. In the meantime, let’s talk about charging the right fees.
Charge Fairly & Add Value
Nothing is to stop you from charging $3k for WordPress development. But if you turn around, buy a WordPress theme worth $50, install it, waste time around, and ship the site to the client, are you really doing the client and yourself any favor?
It doesn’t matter how you look at it, but the canonical rule of business is to always serve the client first. If said client finds out that you overcharged them to install a theme they’d have probably done themselves, you get a bad rep. Then word goes around that you’re a flaky guy or girl masquerading as a web developer. From there, nature takes over, and the rest is just domino effect.
Be upfront and straightforward, and since there’s nothing wrong with using pre-built WordPress themes, let the client understand why you charge $3k for a service that they’d get for $200. If you’ll use a pre-built template, let them know! If you charge $3k, ensure you provide more than $3k worth of value. This goes for all freelancers. Exceeding the client’s expectations is after all the best way to be remembered and earn repeat business. In summary, know your worth, checkout the market prices, and charge accordingly. Just don’t undercharge or overcharge, and remember to make yourself memorable.
The Customer Experience Matters
From my experience, business isn’t all about signing contracts, cashing in, and delivering the product. A business deal that doesn’t foster human-human connections will turn sour eventually. This holds true even if your clients live on the other side of the globe.
The person on the receiving end of your emails, chats and calls is every bit as human as you are. They enjoy most of the things you enjoy. Treating your clients like friends and family, as opposed to a quick means to an end, will set you apart from the horde of inexperienced freelancers.
Even a subtle quality such as honesty, patience and humility can win you the hearts of many clients. As we’ve already mentioned, the customer always comes first. Does the service and experience you offer leave your customers feeling better? If not, make appropriate changes but keep in mind this doesn’t mean kissing a**. You go doing that, and you will be out of a business soon.
Streamline your processes, provide a great user experience (including on your site) and provide top-notch products. Putting together these things will make for great customer experience. It’s all about the client – the person who cuts the check. It’s not about you, and never will be.
Testimonial, Endorsements & Referrals
Testimonials and endorsements show prospective clients that others have used and enjoyed your services/products. Endorsement is how you allow past clients to champion for your cause, catapulting your business to greater heights. I’m working on this as well, seeing I haven’t been able to ask clients to write me juicy testimonials.
Why is that so? I love earning the praise and endorsement naturally, and since my clients are great motivators, the feedback they give me after each project would really need a long page, and I don’t roll like that. Haha, who am I kidding? I should probably start posting each testimonial, each endorsement, and each line of feedback.
Enough about me already, Jonathan Wold, a part time freelance WordPress consultant has this to say about endorsements:
Keep it simple. Ask your client to write 2 – 3 sentences about their experience working with you. Take their endorsement and put it up on your website…
And do what? That’s right, post it on your website for the world to see. Then ask them for referrals. Say what? First testimonials, and now we have to ask the client to recommend us to another client? Well, referrals are a great way of growing any business under the sun.
Master Your Trade
Nothing is set in stone in the fast-paced world that’s the internet. A technology that’s relevant today may be obsolete a few months down the line. Trends and fads come and go.Techniques change all the time, and new technologies are born. No matter the area you choose to exploit, you can never stop learning and developing your skills further.
“Professionals make the most money, have the most influence and generally have it good…” because they’ve taken the time to learn the ropes. They have learned from their past mistakes, or what we call experience, and didn’t stop there. They go the extra mile, read blogs, books and attend events. They are actively learning their craft.
You too can become a WordPress pro. You too can master the trade, which might seem intimidating at first, but it will help you to standout from the crowd. You might even earn fancy titles such as guru, sensei and expert among others 🙂 Master what you do, and never stop learning.
Growing Your Freelance WordPress Business
Once you gain traction and get a little taste of owning a biz, you might be tempted to sit back, you know, to enjoy the fruits of your hard labor. It’s tempting to slack when things start looking up, but don’t you dare hit them brakes. You can always take a little rest, but then get back on the grind and grow your freelance WordPress business. How?
Promoting your freelance business is simply getting your products/service in front of your prospective clients. It doesn’t matter how you do it, provided it’s ethical, you should exhaust each and every avenue available to reach the maximum number of prospects.
You can use Google ads. You can use geographically targeted Facebook and Twitter adverts to attract local prospects. You can guest blog on blogs where your prospective client hangs out. Heck, you can use press releases, contests, email marketing and pretty much everything at your disposal to drive more traffic to your WordPress site.
Don’t ever stop promoting your business, even when you already have clients and constant work. Huh? Why should I promote my freelance business when my plate is already full? The answer to this question is contained in our next point.
Build a Master Team
We all love teams. Teams are great since they make even the seemingly impossible of tasks doable. Sure, you can achieve success on your own, but with a team helping you to turn the cogs, you will arrive at your destination faster, easily and with style. You will also enjoy your success longer.
I put together a two-member team once, and even though it was challenging to manage, and expensive to keep, I doubled my income, reduced my working hours significantly, and had a lot of fun. Too much fun until the money went to my head, and I messed up the entire operation. Well, I was young and it was a learning experience.
Teams are great, and you should look into building yours as soon as you learn the job. Then promote your WordPress-based freelance business rigorously, and distribute the workload among your team members. With a team you can build a lucrative freelance business without much drudgery. Just be sure to take your time to choose your team well, or you’ll end up wasting time, money, and customer confidence in your business.
But long before you build your team, you need to stay on top of your projects, do your accounting, invoicing and communication among other admin duties, while still balancing personal life commitments. You will need to keep track of the cashflow, file your taxes, and juggle many other entrepreneurial hats.
You will need tools such as Trello to organize and collaborate on projects, WP-Invoice for the invoicing, WordPress Advanced Ticketing System for support, Design Approval System to get your work approved quickly, WP Resume to create beautiful CVs, and WP Customer Reviews to gather testimonials.
These are just some of the tools you need. Others include BackWPup, iThemes Security, GoodBye Captcha, and Akismet among others. Feel free to check out this list of professional WordPress resources for more tools.
Freelancing is not a Vacation
Oh yeah, you will work even when holidaying in the Philippines or Hawaii. You will work long and odd hours. You will have to deal with all manner of people because, well, the entire globe will be your arena. You will also have so much fun working for yourself.
You will work from wherever, whenever. You will set your own schedules, fees and everything else. You will learn and you will grow. You will have more fun than you ever will in a suffocating 9 – 5 desk job. You’ll despise the cubicle and your only regret will be, “Why the heck didn’t I start this sooner?”
Wanna learn more about building a successful freelance business with WordPress? Here are a couple of great resources:
- How To Make $5000+ a Month Building Websites Part-Time – Tutsplus
- Before You Start A WordPress Web Design Business, Read This – Elegant Themes
- How To Start A WordPress Based Business
Building a freelance business using WordPress is easy stuff. Just install WordPress, get a great theme, and a few plugins and you’re good to rock ‘n’ roll. Growing the business to maturity is a different animal, albeit very much doable. Just follow the tips we’ve shared here today, and you should find your golden goose. Or the light at the end of the tunnel.
After all, all you need is an idea, a plan and the will to rise above the challenges, and you’ll become the next big thing in your circles, if not the whole world. Have any idea, tip or question? Please come keep the fire burning in the comment section!