Most webmasters will start building websites with WordPress purely for fun; however, after a while they may want to take their hobby more seriously and look for a way to make money from their website.
Now, most of you reading this will already have some basic knowledge of the WordPress platform, and we could all use a little extra cash, right?
Today I want to introduce some of the best ways you can make money using WordPress.
One of WordPress’ main strengths is that it allows just about anyone to throw together a great looking website using one of the many themes available. The themes are built by developers, so WordPress users won’t necessarily need any technical knowledge themselves.
There’s a thriving collection of free themes available in the WordPress repository – 2,760 as of today – but WordPress users are increasingly turning to premium themes. Premium themes are often higher quality, feature-rich, and come with more customization options than the free themes available.
If you have the skills required to develop your own theme, you could cash in on this by developing your own WordPress theme(s). Because the theme is responsible for the appearance of a WordPress website, anyone capable of building great looking themes will be in very high demand – and this can be highly lucrative!
Some developers prefer to market their themes themselves, selling themes from their own website. They might charge visitors for a single theme, but increasingly, developers like to bundle their themes into a collection; they then charge customers a recurring monthly/yearly fee to access the lot – this is known as a WordPress club.
Other developers prefer to list their themes on a marketplace. Competition is high, but there is also a guaranteed stream of visitors, so the developer doesn’t have to worry about driving traffic to their website. ThemeForest is the most popular marketplace, with 4,522 WordPress themes currently available, and themes selling for around the $30 to $60 mark.
If you offer your theme exclusively on ThemeForest, they will take a cut of between 12.5% and 37.5% depending on the quantity of themes you sell. If you want to offer your theme elsewhere, too, they will take a 55% cut.
If you design great themes you can quickly build a name for yourself – and therefore an income – whichever route you go. WordPress clubs offer the potential for recurring income, but the sheer volume of traffic to the ThemeForest marketplace makes it highly lucrative. Some of the theme developers on ThemeForest do very well for themselves – top developers earn over $20,000 per month.
Like themes, plugins are another reason WordPress has become the go-to CMS for beginner and expert webmasters alike.
Plugins can be quickly and easily installed on your website, and generally support a very specific on-site function — for example, social sharing icons.
WordPress plugin developers are highly skilled programmers who are generally very good at identifying and solving problems. If there is something about the WordPress platform you don’t like, or you are struggling to find an existing plugin to add a specific function to your website, there is a good chance that other users are in the same situation.
If you can create a solution to these problems in the form of a plugin, other users can install it to solve their problems, too — and many will be willing to pay for this.
As with themes, there are both free and premium plugins available. Free plugins are uploaded to the WordPress repository, with 33,458 available at the time of writing.
Premium plugins can be found in a number of places. You have the same sales channels as with themes: you can sell them from your website individually, include them in a collection as part of a WordPress club, or sell them via a marketplace.
The most popular plugin marketplace is CodeCanyon, which is owned by the same people that run ThemeForest. There are currently 2,950 plugins uploaded there.
Plugins tend to be less expensive than themes, usually selling for between $10 and $30. However, plugins can be more lucrative, as users are likely to install a lot more plugins, and there is less competition as plugins serve very specific purposes.
If you don’t want to sell something you’ve created, technically-proficient WordPress users can offer their expertise for hire to other WordPress users.
For example, non-technical users will only be able to use their theme as it comes, out-the-box. If there are aspects of the design they want to customize, they won’t know where to start. If you have an understanding of web design and can develop WordPress themes, why not let other WordPress users hire you to make the changes they want but are unable to make for themselves? Presto, you’ve got yourself a WordPress theme customization business.
That’s just one example of a WordPress user exploiting their skillset to earn a living. Of course, there are plenty more options – think outside the box and you could have an entire market to yourself.
Complete beginners won’t know how to install WordPress on their website, add a theme, or know what plugins they will need. With a little information, you could help that person get started by recommending and installing a WordPress theme based on their requirements, configuring it correctly using the out-of-the-box customization options the theme supports, then pointing them in the direction of all the plugins they will definitely be needing. It sounds easy, but it isn’t for some people, and they will pay good money for your help.
If you like to write, and you have a good grasp of the WordPress platform, you could make a living writing WordPress-based content – the path I’ve chosen for myself!
Many WordPress users will want to learn more about the platform, as well as save money wherever possible. In this scenario, they are more likely to search for information using Google than pay someone for help.
A number of fantastic WordPress resources exist online, Torque included, which educate visitors on how to use WordPress — technical discussions, plugin recommendations, theme reviews, and more.
There’s a lot to be said about the platform, and everyone has their own opinions on what works best. With this in mind, most of the well-established WordPress blogs are willing to pay WordPress experts to contribute to their website. Have a look around and send a few emails – even if a website isn’t advertising, they will usually be keen if the right person comes along.
Monetizing a Website
If you’re capable of building great looking WordPress websites and you’re a savvy marketer, there’s no reason why you can’t build your own website capable of generating an income for you.
There are a number of ways you can do this.
For a start, you can indirectly earn a WordPress income from your website using one of the other monetization options featured today. For example, selling themes is how a theme developer makes money, but they still need a website to sell them from; and, if you offer a WordPress-based service such as freelance writing, you will still need a website to promote your service.
There are also webmasters who build a website specifically with the intention of monetizing. This includes affiliate marketers, who promote products in return for a commission of any sales they drive.
Some webmasters will monetize the traffic they generate either by selling advertising space on their website or using a service like AdSense, which earns you money when a user views (CPM) or clicks (CPC) on an advert. The more traffic you get, the more money you earn.
Finally, there’s the option to build a website with the intention of ‘flipping’ it – in other words, selling it for profit. Those of you that are good at building traffic to a website quickly can then sell it on to anyone looking to buy an established website. Websites generally sell for around 6-12 months earnings.
These are just some general ideas for monetizing WordPress, but in reality you can sell any service/product a person is willing to pay for. All the ideas I’ve featured today are relatively mainstream ideas, which thousands of WordPress users make a living from every day.
Of course, as a result they can be quite competitive. The key is to use these suggestions for inspiration, then think outside the box to give it your own twist. If you can find a unique idea with strong demand, you can potentially do very well for yourself.
Do you make a living from WordPress? Share your experiences in the comments section below!
Shaun Quarton is a freelance blogger from the UK, with a passion for online entrepreneurship, content marketing, and all things WordPress.