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.
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.
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.
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.
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.