Bob Dylan noted that a person is a success when they “do what they want to do”. For some, creating a WordPress business for yourself is a pipe dream – although it doesn’t have to be that way.
If you have the skills, starting a WordPress business can be lucrative and fulfilling. With the right ideas, and a stable base to run your business, you can have a lot of success.
In this post, we’re going to dive into how to run a WordPress business. Along the way, we’ll look at the skills you need and what a business consists of. First, let’s give you an idea of what a WordPress business is.
An Introduction to Running a WordPress Business
For the unaware, WordPress is a site-building platform that gets used on around 40 percent of the web. As such, the ecosystem surrounding the Content Management System (CMS) is huge.
We’ll touch on some of the following points later. For now, know that WordPress businesses come in many shapes and sizes. Given the vast number of users, there are lots of opportunities to help them achieve their goals. For example:
- You could create themes or plugins.
- You’re able to offer dedicated maintenance services.
- Your skillset might mean consulting for and to other WordPress businesses.
There are plenty more variants too. What’s more, there are a few entry points for you to consider. Again, we’ll look at these in more detail later in the article, but for now know that you don’t always need to be a developer.
For example, you could be great at matching relevant companies together. This could become the center of your business.
In other cases, you may be a great sales person, but have limited technical knowledge. The exciting thing about running a WordPress business is how you can often find a good idea for your skills.
Why You’d Want to Run a WordPress Business
We’ve already alluded to some reasons for running a WordPress business. Let’s cement them into place:
- WordPress is a large industry, and is growing at a consistent rate.
- For now, there is a huge user base. It’s diversity is a boon, which has good benefits for both the short- and long-term.
- The learning curve for joining the WordPress ecosystem is shallow. Though, becoming an expert is as tough here as it is for other niches.
There are other considerations too. WordPress is open-source and free to download. This makes your core offerings cheap, and helps you maximize your profits.
Also, it may seem wrong to discuss it, but WordPress users and companies have deep pockets. Because the ecosystem is large, the economy is booming. As such, a WordPress business can be lucrative, while keeping customer churn low.
What Elements Make Up a WordPress Business
The good news is that a WordPress business doesn’t have any unique aspects compared to others. In fact, you’ll find that a WordPress-based company can be progressive. There are a few cases where WordPress businesses influence others.
If you look at a some businesses within WordPress, you’ll find some similar elements:
- Other than the very top-tier organizations, WordPress businesses tend to be small.
- Lots of WordPress businesses use a distributed workforce, rather than a dedicated office.
- A progressive business model is important too. Many businesses within the ecosystem use a Software as a Service (SaaS) model.
- Customer support is high on the agenda, due to the products being open-source.
- Product lines are simple, and pricing is straightforward.
Of course, your business can set up in whatever way it needs to succeed. Even so, if your own philosophies align, WordPress could be the right industry for you.
The Skills You’ll Need to Start and Run a Successful WordPress Business
Much like any other business, you’ll need to have a few skills and traits to maximize your success. We’ve touched on some of these already:
- You’ll need discipline due to the nature of working in a distributed, small team.
- Your soft skills are crucial, as you’ll be dealing with people a lot. Running a WordPress business has a lot of interactions with people.
- A business mindset is almost always a bonus. Although, if your budget allows for it, you could bring others onboard to fill in your gaps.
Of course, we’re not suggesting that these skills are always essential. What’s more, a business won’t fail if you lack in some areas. Even so, if you look at other WordPress businesses, they often display these traits.
The point we’re making in this article is that regardless of what you bring to the table, WordPress can be a good fit. In fact, you may not even need to ‘give birth’ to a WordPress business at all.
Consider Whether You Need to Start a Business From Scratch
So far, we’ve been talking about starting a new WordPress business. While the rest of this article will focus on that topic, it’s worth talking about another strategy too.
WordPress has been around since 2003. As such, there have been many businesses established and shuttered within that time. What’s more, there are current business owners who want to move onto new challenges.
In other words, there are plenty of businesses waiting for ownership and investment. If you would rather take on an established WordPress business, there are options to do so.
Taking Over an Existing Plugin or Theme
For example, if you’re a developer, you could begin by taking over an abandoned plugin or theme. The process is often straightforward, and this gives you a chance to learn the ropes. Working with a free, yet established solution lets you discover some WordPress essentials:
- You learn about the update process for WordPress products.
- What’s more, you can see what standards you need to meet with regards to your products.
- You can learn how to manage support requests, starting with WordPress’ platform.
Once you’re au fait with how to manage the essential facets of running a plugin or theme, you can scale. The first step is to offer premium support.
Because a WordPress theme or plugin is open-source, this means you can download it at any time. This can be from an official channel, or from a Git repository.
It’s a concept that you’ll need to get used to, and dealing with so-called ‘nulled’ products is a problem. It means your business should focus on the elements it can control, such as support.
Acquiring an Existing WordPress Business
If you’re not a developer, but want to get onboard with WordPress, you have options. The clearest path is to buy up a current business that is looking to sell. The good news is that there are lots of sites you can use to search to find a business needing a ‘forever home’.
MicroAcquire is one marketplace you can find available businesses on in any niche. Of course, you’ll find WordPress-based companies represented too. FE International is another similar marketplace for business acquisitions.
To keep tabs on this activity, you may want to sign up to a newsletter such as WP Trends.
This keeps you up to date on – you guessed it – trends within WordPress. It also covers the latest acquisition opportunities related to the space. As such, it’s a good start for two reasons:
- You can find out about the inner workings of the WordPress ecosystem.
- You’re able to see the makeup of opportunities within WordPress.
At this point, we’re getting deeper into what sort of WordPress business you’ll run. Let’s take some time to talk about this in more detail.
How to Define What Type of Business You Want to Run
So far, we’ve only touched on some of the business types that exist within the WordPress space. Before we go any further, let’s try and define some of the ideas that exist:
- Pure web development opportunities. In other words, creating websites based around WordPress.
- Developing WordPress-specific products, such as plugins and themes.
- Developing applications for WordPress-based products and services. We’re thinking of solutions such as an analytics platform, or marketing service.
- Offering WordPress maintenance, to both end users and agencies.
- Providing consultation services for WordPress businesses. This could cover a lot of bases.
There are likely more business idea variations you could include here. To define your own business, consider some of the following questions:
- Do I have development knowledge to a level that meets the necessary level of quality?
- Who do I want to ‘serve’ – end users, developers, agencies, or another group?
- What am I passionate about when it comes to WordPress?
- How many resources am I able to dedicate to the business?
- What is my natural inclination to offer support to customers?
- Do I want to offer a free version of my product and let users upgrade?
- What is my budget for running a business?
- Are there any other skills I’ll need once I settle on a business idea?
For example, if your development knowledge is low, but you love working with end users, you could begin a WordPress training site. Of course, you’d then need to factor in creating videos and blog content.
From here, you’ll have a solid idea of what you’d want to do within WordPress. At this point, it’s a good idea to start formalizing those ideas.
Creating a Business Plan and Mission Statement
We’re venturing into ‘business 101’ territory here. Regardless of whether your business focuses on WordPress, some elements are universal. Let’s look at them in turn.
Your Business Plan
Having a business plan is a classic move when starting a business. It’s a detailed collection of aspects of your business. You’ll mention the products you offer, how you’ll market the business, and more. It’s a good idea to also include financial projects and funding goals.
Some businesses do better to set out some of the key aspects of the business. In these cases, a leaner business plan is ideal. On the whole, there’s no right or wrong way to write a business plan. The goal here is to set out your aims to refer to them later.
There’s a good reason why a business plan is an oft-mentioned step. It solidifies your future goals, objectives, and strategies in one document.
While you could work to a more flexible set of objectives, a business plan can win you funding if that’s an aim. It can also offer others a chance to digest your plans.
Your Mission Statement
Your mission statement is like a business plan on the surface, but has a key difference. It sums up your general mindset when it comes to your business. It can also offer a level of focus for your future decisions. For example, take WordPress’ mission statement:
It should only be a couple of paragraphs, summarizing why you’re in business. Consider it a longer ‘elevator pitch’, or a ‘human-readable’ summary of the business.
In your initial few months, you may choose to refer to your mission statement as a final approval stage. For example, if a decision doesn’t align with your mission statement, you can make changes.
On the whole, it’s a document that will help you progress over time, in a way that aligns with your approach. Given this, it’s worth spending some time working on both a mission statement and a business plan. They could end up being the driver of success your business needs.
A Beginners’ Guide to Pricing Your Products and Services
Pricing is easy. You pick a number, put a currency symbol in front of it, and wait for the customers to roll in. Okay, it’s not that easy. Though, finding the courage to set an accurate price for your offerings is more important.
For example, many new business owners have a couple of contrasting internal viewpoints:
- On the one hand, you’ll have confidence in your products and services. This will cause you to set a high price point.
- In contrast, you’ll wonder whether you’re pricing your products and services too high.
The result of this bind is often to undercharge, although this isn’t a solid strategy. Instead, you have to take a step back and look at pricing models. There are two prominent approaches:
- What we call ‘one-shot’ pricing. This is the classic model of “the product costs $49, all sales are final”. Your relationship with the customer ends at the point you hand over a receipt.
- With a subscription-based model, you charge a set price per month or per year for access to your services.
It’s fair to say, most WordPress businesses are using a subscription model. This is because you need fewer customers to turn a profit, while still keeping quality high. Also, a user will keep access to your products after the subscription ends. This is a natural by-product of open-source software, but it does mean there’s a way back in for old customers.
On the whole, the goal for pricing is to calculate the value of your product or service. At that point, you can find the right business model and hone in on the final price.
How to Invest In the Right Tools For Your WordPress Business
Making sure you have the right tools on hand is a task you need to make early. There is a degree of flexibility and experimentation here. That said, nailing down some choices even on a trial basis is a good idea.
For example, you’ll need some core business staples in the following areas:
- Accounting. Apps such as Freshbooks, FreeAgent, and Xero let you bill and track invoices. They may even help you file taxes.
- Project management. The likes of Asana, Trello, and Notion are all staples of project management. You may need accounts at these any many more sites.
- Communications. Email is great, Slack may be better. Solutions such as Simply Schedule Appointments let you work with video calls. Even support ticketing solutions are a way to engage with your clients. On the whole, communicating is key!
- Productivity. This is a broad area, but maintenance apps such as Glow and time-tracking solutions (depending on your setup) will be required too.
What’s more, you may need specific custom solutions depending on your business’ setup. For example, if you’re a plugin developer, you may use the WordPress Plugin Directory as a free tier. If so, you’ll want to focus on analytics. A service such as Plugin Rank can help you increase your visibility in the WordPress plugin directory search results.
If you’re a web designer, a solution such as Atarim may help you manage your projects from a central location:
On the whole, we can’t tell you exactly what tools you need. Though, if you think the day-to-day challenges you’ll face, this is a good start. Ascertaining what you need to best deliver and support your products and services is a good path to take.
Regardless of the niche, starting a business of any makeup is a tough gig. Even so, if you take a logical and disciplined approach, you’ll have consistent success.
This post has shown you how to run a WordPress business. We’ve shied away from topics such as branding and promotion, but focused on pricing, the tools you choose, and business models.
Are you beginning to start a WordPress business, and if so, what hurdles are you facing? Let us know in the comments section below!