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Blog Smarter: 9 Ways to Make Money from WordPress … Without Having a Blog

This guest post is by Sean Platt of outstandingSETUP.

The Internet is flooded with too many blogs. It probably doesn’t need yours.

It’s not that you don’t have anything to say—you probably do. And it’s not that you couldn’t develop an audience, or eventually monetize that audience—you probably could. It’s definitely not that you’re not smart enough. There are plenty of people less intelligent than you already killing it online.

Unfortunately, it’s no longer 2007. There are now millions of blogs. Most of them fail, and few make any money.

Advertising rates are scraping so low, they’re now digging beneath the bottom. Monetizing your traffic is ridiculously hard, which is why you want to monetize your audience instead. Yet using a blog to monetize your audience through quality content marketing, audience engagement, and relationship building is a slow burn at best.

The market is saturated, and competition is fierce. Sure, the gurus know what they are talking about, but what worked for them probably won’t work for you.

The environment has changed and the strategies that helped the A-listers climb to the peak of the pyramid once upon a yesterday won’t be a fraction as effective for you.

But that doesn’t matter. You can still make a great living with WordPress. And the best part is, you don’t even have to have a blog. There are smarter ways to do it.

1. Themes

Every blog needs a theme—no exceptions!

Sure, WordPress comes with a couple of stock themes, but they are so basic, few bloggers choose to use them, and the number of serious bloggers or entrepreneurs who use them is approximately zero.

Even in a time when everyone is counting pennies, most serious bloggers don’t question the value of a quality theme. If you have the coding knowledge and drive to create a theme, along with the willingness to support it, a single theme could provide a full-time living, like it does for Eric Hamm from Catalyst themes.

Best of all, there are already marketplaces filled with buyers, meaning you have a place to sell your wares just seconds after they’re finished. ThemeForest and MojoThemes are just two examples.

2. Child themes

If you don’t want to get cracking on your own theme with crazy amounts of code, then you could take the lighter approach while still capitalizing on the massive customer bases (buyers) for existing themes.

Genesis has over 50,000 active users. Thesis has over 40,000. Other themes such as Catalyst and Headway have fiercely loyal audiences. Many talented designers and smart entrepreneurs have leveraged these large audiences to generate impressive profits.

A child theme is easier to build than a full theme because it piggybacks on the existing layout, options, and code from a parent theme. Relatively speaking, a child theme can be built in far less time, while still providing more profit to the designer.

In the time it takes to create a single fully developed theme, designers could create a handful of child themes instead. And while the profit is larger per individual purchase for a premium theme, child themes allow you to leverage an existing community, meaning you can easily make up the difference in volume.

3. Hosting services

This isn’t for everyone in the WordPress community, and may not be for you. But if it is, reselling hosting can be extremely lucrative.

WordPress users need support. Online entrepreneurs who are serious about their success, and are using blogs as one of the most powerful tools in their box, are smart enough to know they shouldn’t waste their time lost in the back end of their blog.

Servicing this community could be your fast track to success. WPEngine, ZippyKid and Page.ly are all examples of startups that have been extremely successful in this market.

Yes, you’re reselling hosting, putting your hosting on someone else’s servers and managing the network, but that’s not what you’re really selling at all.

Hosting is the steak, but you’re selling the sizzle. The sizzle in this instance is the safety, security, and comfort your potential customer will have knowing that someone highly qualified to work within the WordPress framework is there for them when they need it most.

Again, this isn’t for everyone. If you don’t have the technical knowledge to pull it off, you will be wasting your time, crash into a wall of certain frustration, and possibly irreparably damage your reputation if you leave behind scores of unhappy customers.

Yet there is a huge demand for this type of service. If you specialize—meaning aiming your services towards professionals who need hosting for their businesses (restaurants, realtors, dentists, lawyers, or any other market in need of hosting—that’s pretty much all of them!)—then reselling hosting might be one of the best ways for you to leverage WordPress for your personal profit.

4. Plugins

Most WordPress users would agree that plugins are a large part of the pixie dust behind the world’s best CMS. With a few clicks, plugins can change the behavior of your entire website.

A well-designed plugin can put money in your pocket. And the market is exploding. This makes sense, since a well-designed plugin can help your blog make money faster, which is appealing to anyone who’s using their blog to turn a dollar.

Plugins must do something specific, and do it especially well, if you expect to charge for them—especially considering there are already countless quality plugins available for free. Scribe and Gravity Forms are two excellent plugins that make their customers happy and developers rich.

Plugins can generate revenue through upfront purchases, or through donations and premium upgrades that improve upon the user experience from the base plugin. There are also plugins such as Wishlist (a plug-in that turns your WordPress blog into a membership site) that have added monthly continuity programs to their offerings.

5. Content creation services

You already know content is king or you wouldn’t be here. But what if you were the one supplying the crowns?

Populating a blog with quality content is the hardest part of growing a blog. Video, text, audio—everything adds to a blog’s growth, yet content creation is time-consuming, and one of the biggest reasons to find ways to make money from WordPress without having to run a blog.

There are countless online entrepreneurs and full-time bloggers knee-deep in their operations’ growth: they can’t afford to step away. They require content to fuel their continued growth, and you can be the provider to give it to them.

You have a specialty. Whether that’s video, copy, or voice, your specialty is what would have fueled the growth of your blog. Rather than creating that content and publishing it to your own site and waiting for it to quickly wither upon the WordPress vine, you could create the same content and sell it for top dollar to those who need it most.

6. Blog creation services

Professional blogs are started every day, and many of the professionals starting those blogs would be happy to pay someone else to put the pieces together for them.

Some bloggers like to tinker, but others see their blog as a serious tool in a serious business and don’t want to spend the time it takes to learn WordPress inside-out. Most online entrepreneurs would rather outsource the setup, paying someone else to install the framework, upload the themes and plugins, and get the blog otherwise ready for business.

The person they pay could, and perhaps should, be you.

You can make a blog setup service especially lucrative by making it your specialty. Whenever you do the same thing over and over, you can continuously improve the quality of your work while shaving minutes from your time. And whenever you can produce higher quality work in a shorter period of time, your growth and profits will both soar.

You can also sell content creation services as suggested in the tip above. This is a perfect upsell since a buyer who just paid to have a blog created will often be happy to pay an additional fee to populate that blog with content as well.

Of course, you must be comfortable creating content, and the decision to add the service to your business must be personally scalable for you. outstandingSETUP does an remarkable job with design, installation, setup and security, but we don’t offer content creation services since it doesn’t fit the model.

Your model must always fit your goals.

7. Support services

You know all those online entrepreneurs and bloggers who are paying for blog creation or content creation services? Well, most would be perfectly happy to pay for quality support as well. And if you’re already offering creation services, continual support is an easy add-on, as long as time and strategy allow.

There are two primary monetization models for this sort of service. The first is to charge by the hour. And while hourly rates for tech support are often high, hourly service isn’t scaleable unless your outsourcing the work, which is why you may want to go with the second monetization model—charging a monthly subscription for support.

8. Build an ad network

This is the most difficult one on the list, but if it matches your personal skill set, it can be extremely lucrative, much like the reselling hosting suggestion up above.

An ad network connects publishers and advertisers, in exchange for a cut of the money changing hands. There are countless blog owners with decent traffic who would be happy to sell ad space, and countless of advertisers looking for places to place their banners. If you can effectively put the two and two together, it could equal a whole lot more than four for the time that you spend online.

Building an ad network can be an especially good idea for entrepreneurs with existing, sizable networks with both publishers and advertisers. This usually means someone who’s been online for a while and dabbled in a lot of different enterprises.

But this isn’t the type of business you want to start from the ground up. You will be most successful if it naturally fits your existing skill set. If it does, you may want to give it a try. It might just be the best way for you to make money from WordPress websites.

9. Offer website reviews

Every author needs an editor. Every website should have one, too. It’s hard to see the forest through the trees, and you never know what other people are thinking when they land on your website.

All the traffic in the world means nothing if a website isn’t optimized to convert visitors into leads, fans, or paying customers. If an online business owner doesn’t know how to organize their site for maximum conversion, you can be the one to show them (so long as that is your specialty).

MenWithPens and Derek Halpern have both done this extremely well. It’s a win-win for the provider since they are advertising their skill set and steadily increasing their authority, while helping business owners maximize the value of their visitors.

Because you are directly helping a website owner generate a higher average profit per visitor, they will be willing to pay you well for your time. The more sites you optimize, the better your reputation will be, and the more you can charge per optimized site.

The above list is by no means exhaustive. There are countless ways to make money with WordPress, and they’re limited only by your imagination. But the message is indisputable.

There is a lot of money to be made in the world of WordPress, but due to massive competition, and depending on your skill set, running a blog might just be the worst way to try to get your share.

Sean Platt is a content marketer and cofounder of outstandingSETUP. Get his FREE report “9 Website Building Mistakes You Should Avoid”.

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Comments

  1. This is really interesting! I’ve been experimenting with theme design but I’m nowhere near good enough to offer one for sale right now.
    I have been considering offering a professional “I will set up your blog/website for you” service, I recently helped a friend move from WordPress.com to WordPress.org and I’m in the middle of helping another friend set up her own blog/shop combination. As these are both friends I’m happily doing it for free but it did occur to me when someone else asked for help that I could offer a paid service.
    I must look into this more. Of course, you could combine several of them – offer blog creation with a (child) theme of your own making on your hosting which of course comes from a re-seller account to make life a little easier…
    Much food for thought!

  2. Hi Sean,

    I like the idea of content creation.

    Why not leverage your creative expertise? If people are willing to pay top dollar for good, usable, valuable content why not match your expertise with the need?

    So easy, when you practice on a daily basis. I churn out 4 posts a day on two blogs in a 90 minute time frame. Each post spans 400 words. It’s easy because I practice day in, day out. I keep at it, and it becomes quite simple.

    Some great ideas here Sean.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Ryan

  3. Todd says:

    kind of a weird approach for a site trying to encourage people to stick with their blogs. I appreciate the realism, but it might be nice to hear an opposing point of view from another author who still thinks blogging isn’t a big waste of time.

    • Leights says:

      blogging is an excellent way of making extra as well as full time income. I make lots off blogging and monetising with adsense. Once you have quality blogs and good traffic, blogging can never be waste of time

  4. Unfortunately, this idea is true in any saturated industry. Can’t make enough money as a teacher? Sell something to the thousands who are trying. Same for photographers, bloggers, etc.

  5. ES says:

    **running a blog might just be the worst one** – I knew it would come down to this one day. LOL. Just kidding :) . I still think really hard about the time spent between working for myself and working for others (I do a bit of freelancing writing work). I have currently settled for 50-50. Let us see how it goes on the long term. Getting money for my work NOW is too tempting, but so is creating a sustainable business.

    One advantage I got by doing freelancing work in my domain is : I got my first private advertisement contract (for my blog) from one of my part-time employers! You never know what opportunities are hidden behind hurdles :)

  6. Kent Chen says:

    Excellent Tips Sean! Creating premium themes and plugins is indeed a great way to make decent money. :)

  7. Sminso says:

    Great tips! When I first got started in this online marketing world I used #3 to some success. Most of my customers were local and people I knew so it was constant support.

    #8 is one that has always sparked my interest, but have never started it. Do you have experience with it? Did it work?

  8. Abishek Rana says:

    Hi Sean ! Really agree that you must have eye catching blog themes because they really help readers feel comfortable once they are inside your site. The color combination, and the readability also helps people to stay in your blog for more time. Further, the use of plugins also allows the site to become popular, which most of the bloggers don’t give attention too. Thanks for sharing your insightful views!

  9. Those are some useful techniques to build handsome amount of money in your bank account but designing logo’s for various WordPress blog’s or companies websites is also a cool way to make money through your designing skill/passion.

    I think you should add my point, though, it’s just a crap thought.

    Regards,
    Irfan

  10. Daniel says:

    A truly great post, Sean.

    Looking at other ways Bloggers make money and/or diversify, is the topic I have been looking into a lot more in recent times.

    You have put forth some quality “food for thought” .

    Some of the ideas mentioned, would require a certain degree of expertise to do well in, though, others would not be too difficult.

  11. Lol! I never looked at it that way before. Very good stuff!

  12. What a nice post. I’ve trying to start doing number 5,6 and 7 and since I’m tech savvy it shouldn’t be a problem. However, about wordpress themes or plugins, I haven’t thought about that, basically because design is not really what I do.
    Plug-ins are definitively interesting, and so if you allow me to recommend one more for the top 10 I would say:
    - Mobile Apps for your Blog (iOS or Android based)

    I’ve bookmarked this to read it a second time in the near future.
    Thanks!

  13. Nice ideas Sean, its really thinking outside the square (or blog)! Many people feel that the only way into blogging is to write their own blog.

    They don’t see that there’s a whole range of services they can provide to other bloggers. Its important to play to your strengths as with any venture. Take what you do in the offline world, and see how you can adapt it to provide a service for bloggers.

    I also think having a great Theme is for your blog is essential. Nothing screams “amateur” more than seeing the default WP theme on someone’s blog.

  14. Okto says:

    Hi Sean,

    Great Post! I am directly interesting too read it right after see the title :). But I little bit disagree here. These tips are very useful for those who have start “blog for money” several years or for those who has particular skills in this field. I still see that for the very first time blogger with zero experience having a blog is the best option to start blogging for money journey. There are many affordable host provider nowadays that they can choose to start. Or if not so there are also free host to learn blogging.

    Well, that was just my first opinion come out from my mind after I read your post. Overall I like what you write in point 1 to 4. It inspired me :)

    Thanks for the post

  15. Bryan Ring says:

    These are great ideas for those who have a creative blood-line and the passion to make a living online. I know it can be self taught. Thus, I did not even know WordPress two months ago and now I am building WordPress websites for businesses.

    Thanks for your insight and sweet ideas.

  16. Rajib Kumar says:

    Great idea to make money. Currently i am working for themeforest.net, it’s good. Thanks for share.

  17. williamsam says:

    thnx for the info man !

  18. I love blogging and make money from it, but I also make a lot of money from the techniques Sean described, for me it’s about balance of doing a little bit of everything. It keeps me interested and also if diversifies my income.

  19. Premium themes are so so expensive. Free themes are too basics. Designing your own theme with a free theme is a good way too.

  20. Mark Biser says:

    Wow! Thank you! I permanently wanted to write on my website something like that. Can I take a portion of your post to my website?