I’ve wanted to write this book for a while now. Well, ever since my small, one-man business began making over $100k in revenue a year building nothing but WordPress websites. It’s a story that needs to be told, because I’m quite sure that the business model can be replicated with relative ease. This isn’t to say that just anyone can do this type of work. You certainly need the skills and know-how, or at least contacts and resources that have the skills and know-how. If you’re looking to learn about and how to use WordPress, this isn’t the right book for you. If you’re someone who has been using WordPress for some time, or are a minimally seasoned developer with no WordPress knowledge, but the capacity to learn it quickly (you know HTML, CSS and PHP), then you should continue reading. What you learn in this book will give you the tools to grow your own freelance business into something that generates continuous, steady revenue, and does it using a relatively easy platform to learn — WordPress.
Foreword: This series does not expect you to immediately begin making $100k in revenue a year with WordPress. Therefore many of the chapters will be written to aid you as you work to this level. We will cover topics like income supplementation, generating new clients and generating more revenue from old clients. It’s difficult to put a estimated duration to your journey, but I can say with certainty that by following the guidelines in this book, you should find yourself making near six-figures within just a few years. That kind of return on investment is hard to argue with.
I have personally used many of the top content management systems, like Joomla and Drupal, but have found them each to be lacking. I spent over a year working with ExpressionEngine after seeing the awesome work of Jason Santa Maria early in my career. I, along with a small team of contractors, even built our own content management system called ContentCreator (probably a bit too much inspired by ExpressionEngine). To put it plainly, I’m well aware of the pros and cons of nearly all of the large CMS’s, so when I say that WordPress is the best out there, I mean it.
Many would and have argued that WordPress isn’t suited for every application. There are certainly better frameworks out there to tackle more fitting projects. I concede to that argument. I won’t lie — my business Ideas and Pixels does take on more work than just WordPress projects. We also build custom applications in frameworks like Laravel and Angular, but at least 90% of my business can be directly attributed to WordPress projects. The reason? Because WordPress is infinitely customization, and indisputably easy to learn and master.
Not only are there over 50,000 premium WordPress themes out their for purchase or download, but there are five times that many plugins to accomplish almost any task. These themes and plugins are the fruits of hundreds of thousands of development hours from developers who are probably smarter and more seasoned than you or I. There is no reason to reinvent the wheel for each of our client’s projects. The top 1,000 features that your client will ask for have a plugin counterpart already made to do just that. Need eCommerce? WordPress has WooCommerce. Need orders from WooCommerce to be exported into CSV format? WordPress has about four plugins that add that functionality. Want to block traffic from a certain country? You’ll be floored by the number of results for plugins that do this and much, much more.
When I was a fresh-faced developer, I wanted to do everything from scratch. Perhaps that was because it gave me an opportunity to learn, but also because I always found myself trying to find the perfect solution for the problem. Later on in my career, I realized that we can alter the problem to fit a preconceived solution (or in this case, plugin).
You’re Two Things Now: Businessman (or woman) and Your Own Top Worker
Let’s face facts now: most of the money that freelancers are after lies in the hands of small to medium sized business owners. Small to medium sized business owners are the backbone of the economy, but more importantly the easiest clients to find and convert. There are less decision makers in the process of hiring vendors — many times only the sole proprietor will actually decide which developer to use for their next web project. This means a lower barrier to acquiring them as customers. In later chapters, we will discuss how to come across these clients and how to ensure they choose you over the next guy.
We Must Set Aside Our Preconceptions
Developers are often very high on coding semantically. That is, programming software and websites with a clean codebase and using the latest technology. I have the same mentality. It’s the mark of a good developer to always want to hone their craft and do their best work. But the mark of a good businessman is to generate as much profit as possible, and sometimes these two visions cannot coexist. In order to take on more work and churn out more completed (and paid for) projects, a good businessman/developer must find ways to optimize not their codebase, but their workflow. Chipotle wouldn’t be nearly as fast (Chipotle is fast?) if it didn’t have a standardized production line. Satisfaction wouldn’t be high with their burritos if you couldn’t view the progress through each step. These are principles that we can use to create our own workflow for new web projects.
A good developer doesn’t yield to the times. They continue to learn and grow, even after “making it”. But we can’t let the act of learning become at odds with growing our business. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t do that — you definitely should! I’m just saying that you shouldn’t do it at the expense of your business. Freelancing and being both the business owner and the primary worker is often a daunting task. These are two completely different skillsets that you must acquire and master — both are equally important. We need to begin thinking not in terms of learning for learning’s sake, but learning in order to enhance the capabilities and functionality of our business. The business cycle is quick — growing demand for websites today means that tomorrow there will be a period of uncertainty and recession. That’s why it is important that you focus totally on growing your business today — in the year 2015, this plan is ripe for executing.