Is it possible to build a successful business around WordPress today? The short answer is yes. As of 2014, thousands of freelancers earn a full time living directly from businesses created around WordPress. There are solid reasons for this:
- WordPress continues to grow as a simple and versatile publishing platform and shows no signs of slowing down. This means the platform continues to attract new users, which translates into increased demand for WordPress related services.
- You can scale and extend the basic functionality of the software to achieve whatever you want through plugins, themes, and custom-built applications. It is much more than a simple blogging platform. You can build any type of website or complex web application on WordPress.
- It offers a relatively easy (and usually cheaper) entry into the world of online freelancing from publishing, to support to development or several other areas. For some businesses you can start with as little as $500 or less.
- There are lots of free (and premium) resources to help you quickly get started with your business idea.
All these factors make WordPress an attractive route for individuals who want to pursue freelancing business.
Is It Really That Easy?
Not all is rosy when you venture out as a WordPress entrepreneur. True, you can make a very comfortable income from WordPress. Hundreds of enterprising people are earning thousands of dollars each year from several WordPress related businesses, but it requires a hell of a lot of hard work and commitment to achieve that level of success. Most successful WordPress entrepreneurs have put in a great deal of work to get to the level of a comfortable income.
Today’s post is a beginner’s guide to launching a successful WordPress based business. Of course, every person’s path to success in this business is different, but you can’t help but notice the many similarities between the personal stories of some of the most successful WordPress entrepreneurs. I’ll cover some in the do’s and don’ts section. First though are the basic steps:
- Launch a Business Website
- Collect and Organize Tools
- Devise a Workflow
- Promote Your Website (Your Business)
- Grow Your Business
1. Launch a Business Website
The first step in the freelancing world of WordPress is to build a business website. This is where you are going to be carrying out all your business, whether selling products, services, consultancy, or whatever business model you choose.
Your website is also going to be the major marketing tool for your business. All promotional strategies will be aimed at redirected potential clients to your website so make sure that it looks the part and is easy to use. The bottom line is your website should work and have everything that your potential clients will be looking for.
2. Collect and Organize Essential Tools
You need a couple of basic tools to make your freelancing work easier. What tools you need exactly will depend on what business you’re into, but generally, I find that these tools are a must have for every WordPress freelancer regardless of specialization:
- A PayPal business account
- A spreadsheet app (such as Google Spreadsheets) for simple bookkeeping
- A freelance contract template (if you offer services)
- A cloud-based storage app (Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.)
- A collaboration tool (Trello, Basecamp, etc.)
Whether you’re specializing in theme development or business consultancy, these tools will make your life easier by streamlining your business processes. Depending on your business specialty, there are countless other productivity tools you may need to accomplish client work.
3. Devise a Workflow
A streamlined workflow is the backbone of productive and successful freelancing. When you’re just starting out with your freelancing project, you’re going to be doing almost everything by yourself: looking for clients, promoting your business, tracking projects and tasks (not to mention completing them), tracking and managing time, invoicing clients, and other business processes.
As you can see, most of these will be administrative tasks that can easily bog you down and leave you with less time to complete actual client work. There are plenty of online tools and services that can handle recurring tasks more efficiently, thus freeing you up to focus on client work. I’m talking services like Mint for tracking invoices and payments and project management tools like the aforementioned Trello and Asana.
Outsourcing will also make your workflow easier and manageable, leaving you with enough time to meet client goals and focus on growing your business. Review your workflow every few weeks to identify bottlenecks and improve on them.
4. Promote Your Business
In the freelancing world, your website is your business, so promoting your website is basically promoting your business. After laying the groundwork for the business, you must then promote it. Sell your skills, products, or services to potential clients using every promotional tool you can muster. Many are free—social media, existing contacts, related blogs, and your own website are all fantastic tools to use. Free tools like Hootsuite and Tweetdeck make managing the social aspect very straightforward.
As your client base grows and you get more established, you can scale down on the promotion but you never really stop. Most freelancers start to focus on methods that retain clients like newsletters, offers, and blog posts. You can easily build newsletters using tools like AWeber or MailChimp.
5. Grow Your Business
Once all the basics are in place and you’ve secured a few clients, you can think about expanding your business. First on your list is to grow a recurring income stream. Think of a retainer service that you can offer your clients. Without assured constant cash flow, you will find it hard to grow.
If you have a baseline set for your income each month, you can then focus on creating new revenue streams. You can look for ways to expand the business without worrying about cash flow.
The Do’s And Don’ts
And now, just a few helpful tips to get you started in the right direction. We’re focusing in on WordPress businesses and freelancers, but really these could apply to any online or small-scale service based business.
Avoid Unnecessary Partnerships
What I mean here is that don’t seek external investment when starting a WordPress freelance business. A WordPress business is one of the easiest to bootstrap because it is cheap, no matter what service you want to offer. So there’s really no need to sign away a portion of your business.
The core software that is going to power your business is free and is actively being enhanced every day. And while you may find more value in paid resources, you can use free ones in the start. When the business starts earning money, you can then take things up a notch and invest in premium productivity resources.
Deliver On Promises
Have the discipline to meet deadlines and live up to your promises. Be realistic when setting deadlines or you might lose clients as fast as you get them.
Don’t Take More Work Than You Can Handle
When you’re new to freelancing and badly need income, it can be tempting to say yes to every potential client. However, this is risky because your business’ reputation may suffer if you fail to complete client projects due to too much work. Take on projects that you can complete without issues and as you grow, enlist the help of outsourced manpower.
Acquire New Skills
Freelancing is a demanding and competitive endeavor. In order to maintain an edge, keep refining your skills or adding new ones. What’s more, WordPress is always being updated so you must keep abreast of those developments as well.
It’s amazing how WordPress has changed the lives of thousands of people around the world and continues to do so. Hopefully you will find these tips useful if you’re planning to start a business around WordPress. Remember, you need to keep learning and stay motivated.
I’d like to learn from you as well. What was your experience like when starting a WordPress business? Do you have any advice to add, or tips to share? Leave a comment below!