“How to make money with WordPress? Here we go, another scrappy title!”
I can hear you from here, dear readers.
Don't get me wrong: far be it from me to fall into the trend of these websites that promise a dream life to anyone in two or three clicks.
No. My goal in this article will rather be to demystify some of the ways to make a living on the web. To tell you the truth about what the job of a web entrepreneur is, a real one, who thinks about his clients on a daily basis.
So are you ready to review all the methods and best practices for making money on the Internet with WordPress, honestly and unvarnished?
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Making money on the Internet: beware of excessive expectations!
You should know this: it is not by answering paid surveys or by filling in micro-tasks for online businesses that you will really earn your living thanks to the Internet!
The world of WordPress is full of ways to make money, but be careful not to get carried away for a small amount of money a month. If your goal is to make it your core business, keep these ideas in mind from the start.
The competition is tough to make a good living from your business
As you know, many people have, like you, seen the opportunities that WordPress offers to make money on the Internet. Developers, web designers, physical or digital product vendors, bloggers… All of these people are already well established in this business.
Their websites are well built, well ranked on search engines.
They have developed connections with other web entrepreneurs and influencers, and enjoy notoriety for sure.
They master the techniques necessary to develop a business on the Internet, and they know how to activate them brilliantly.
In short: they appear to be a tough, well-established competition.
What if, instead of seeing these well-established entrepreneurs in their web world as competitors, you considered them as potential partners?
The trick is to find a problem that some of your targets might have, and develop a unique activity that will help them solve it.
In other words: you need to offer real, unique value to an audience with very specific issues at stake. Help them get from point A to point B in their real issues. A prerequisite for becoming a major new player in the web ecosystem, and not to fear potential competition.
You'll have to be organized and disciplined
I know: you too must have seen, like me, these videos that explain how to make money with WordPress quickly and easily on the web.
Seeing how easy it looks to line your own pockets.
Dreaming of being in the place of the YouTuber or the blogger who promise the moon.
Let me be the troublemaker, once again: financial success won't come to you unless you are really rigorous and consistent.
Even though it is a simple platform to access and take control of, to make money with WordPress, no matter which method you choose… you'll need to become an entrepreneur.
Beyond the web skills that you will need to master, such as SEO, web writing, Social Media Marketing or sales, you will be required to create your company or becoming self-employed, to develop a medium or long term business vision, to report your income and to make invoices…
If you want to make WordPress your primary revenue stream, your whole life will be about that goal.
You'll spend a lot of time on it
Let's be realistic: no success without a minimum of personal investment.
And entering the world of WordPress to earn your daily bread means putting in a maximum of effort and investing a considerable amount of time.
I was already telling you about this when I gave you the keys to becoming a blogger: making a name for yourself on the Internet is a time-consuming activity. Very time-consuming.
Between the initial training time to understand web standards, the creation and management of your business, the implementation of your processes, and then the coordination of your actions on the Internet on a daily basis… There's work to be done!
Earning a living from the web is not something that can be done in the blink of an eye: you'll need to organize yourself like a real entrepreneur, be consistent, develop your knowledge of the Internet process, and stand out from the crowd.
And for that, there are various methods more or less easy to access. Let me give you a little overview, and show you how to get started.
Method #1: Selling products with WordPress
This is probably the method that comes to mind most often. If you have an idea for a product or service that will interest your target audience, then the Internet, and WordPress in particular, is a great way to present it to them.
Selling physical products with WordPress
With WordPress, it is possible to create an online store to promote and sell physical products. Whether you are redistributing existing brands, dropshipping, or creating your own products, everything is possible.
The flagship plugin to create your web shop: the famous WooCommerce, which gives you access to all the e-commerce features you need, to build the online store of your dreams.
From payment to security, through the product and order pages, without forgetting the sacrosanct Terms and Conditions… With WooCommerce, you control carefully, within the WordPress administration, your entire e-commerce shop.
You want to try it? Our WPMarmite Master, Alex, will guide you step by step in the creation of your WooCommerce online store. It's over here, in a very detailed article!
Of course, depending on your goals, other plugins will be useful:
- Those who do custom product dropshipping will love the PrintFul plugin;
- Those who want to offer home delivery or relay carriers can use the Boxtal plugin;
- Those who want to manage cart abandonment on their shop will need the Abandoned Cart Lite plugin.
WooCommerce is only the beginning: it's up to you to customize your shop afterwards to make it a must for your targets.
You can also choose, instead of WooCommerce, the WordPress plugin of Shopify (or use Shopify entirely):
- Pros: You avoid dealing with technical problems.
- Cons: A monthly subscription, and to be dependent on the platform, external to WordPress.
It's up to you to judge which of the two is more relevant and convenient for your online business.
Selling digital products on WordPress
You don't feel like a brand creator or a dropshipper?
Another counterpart to selling products online can also be interesting to make money with WordPress on the Internet: selling digital products or services.
In short: selling an immaterial solution, which will be delivered directly through the web.
There are many products that sell well via WordPress, and among them:
- High value-added ebooks which provide specific advice on your expertise;
- Online trainings in videos, where you bring a pedagogical value to your targets;
- Music or photos, if you have the soul of a music lover or artist.
Build your website with Elementor
Here again, and whatever the digital product promoted, WooCommerce will be the cornerstone of your online business. Linked to a website that promotes a tempting value proposition, this essential plugin will support you at best.
Method #2: Making money with a WordPress blog
If you are more guided by your pen than by a business instinct, you may prefer to go for the second winning method: create a blog, and monetize it.
Warning: if this method seems simpler on the surface, it will require just as many transversal skills to set up a really efficient blog that attracts traffic.
Selling services related to your field of expertise
You are an expert in a field: music, nutrition, crafts… and you want to pass on this passion to inspire your audience and make money from it.
Naturally, you are thinking of creating your own blog, to promote this expertise and attract customers, to do consulting or sell training courses.
If you haven't read my article on becoming a blogger and making a living from it, here is a (too) short summary of what you'll need to set up:
- Create a strategy around your main topic. The key is to be passionate about your blog's topic, so that you don't get tired of it and to keep fascinating your audience, who will want to get involved as well. And this strategy will obviously have to differentiate you from your competitors, with a tone or a niche area with high added value.
- Give real value to your targets. Even before promoting what you want to sell, you need to give free value to your targets on your blog. This involves creating quality content, full of good practices and relevant advice, which will give you credibility and place you as the reference in the field.
- Master the basics of webmarketing. SEO, emailing, social networks, influence marketing… There are many levers to activate, to make your mark in the world of monetized blogging! You won't be able to control everything from the start and that's normal: you'll have to be curious, innovate, experiment, and above all consolidate all the webmarketing knowledge you may already have.
The basis to make money with WordPress? A well-ranked website that attracts high value traffic via search engines. And good news: we're going to help you about that in some of the WPMarmite blog posts!
Focus on advertising
Here we go, I brought out the key word, synonymous with money in the minds of many of us: advertising.
You probably see them everywhere if you regularly consult blogs: those famous advertising inserts where banners appear more or less interesting.
Yes, advertising on the web is a way to make money with WordPress on the Internet. But, substantially, how much is it really worth?
The truth is probably going to sound a little cruel. By putting AdSense inserts on your site, and being paid at Pay Per Click (PPC), you'll probably make between $0.11 and $0.57 per click (€0.10 and €0.50 per click).
Given that, on average, 1 to 3% of your traffic will click on your banners, and that many visitors won't even see these inserts because of their AdBlock, the revenue you can make from online advertising won't make you the next Bill Gates.
Think of advertising on your blog as a form of complementary income, and don't expect financial miracles from it.
Therefore, the key to success in online advertising will be to position your inserts on your blog in a consistent way. You have struggled to get your readers to come to you: it would be a shame to drive them away because of a banner!
Take a look at the case of Facebook, which skillfully scatters the news feed with more or less discreet ads. Integrate your ads into your content, taking care not to ruin its reading.
They should remain anecdotal elements of your blog, just as they are anecdotal elements of your Internet income.
Also note that by posting ads on your blog, you will not control what is displayed and you will send your visitors to other websites (for a few cents). It's up to you to see if it's worth it.
Invest in affiliation
Affiliation, what's that? If you regularly visit WPMarmite's blog, you must have already seen it in action: it's about highlighting other people's products or services on your blog, in order to get paid when they are sold through it.
How much can you earn when you become an affiliate? The answer can only be vague, as it depends on several criteria:
- The price of the options you promote;
- The rate of pay that you have established with the advertiser;
- The traffic your blog attracts, and therefore the number of potential buyers…
In short, affiliation can be an interesting method of remuneration, if and only if a real strategy has been put in place beforehand.
In the context of influence marketing, more and more Internet users trust the opinions of expert bloggers on the products they recommend.
However, one rule remains in order to properly manage one's affiliations: always think about the value you bring to your readers. It is out of the question to promote a solution that has nothing to do with your website's theme, which would undermine your business and make you lose the trust of your audience.
Instead, create strong connections with well-known platforms, such as Awin or Amazon, to find programs that have an obvious link with your blogging domain. By trying to negotiate the percentage you will get for each purchase, and by creating niche websites to promote specific types of products, affiliation can become a lucrative business.
However, be careful not to get burned. In terms of business, it is very dangerous to make affiliation your main income. If the conditions of the program change, or worse, if it closes, you' ll be left with nothing but tears in your eyes.
In the same way, if your website is penalized overnight by Google, you will find yourself penniless. That's what happened to WPMarmite in June 2014, and almost left it offline.
And of course, be open with your audience about these affiliate revenues. Trust must reign if you are not to lose credibility..
In fact, if you're still wondering: WPMarmite has different affiliate program partners linked to WordPress products. Primarily to fund the writing of content and the creation of training courses that help readers get the most out of WordPress. Our goal: to always offer you the best resources… which, as you can imagine, comes at a price!
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Writing sponsored articles
The last way to monetize a blog is to bet on sponsored articles.
The idea? Approach companies, or let them approach you, to write articles about their activity. The content you write, be it tutorials or LTEs (letter to the editor), is paid for.
Of course, this method requires having a fairly high-performance blog, with interesting and well-qualified traffic for the advertiser who approaches you. The more your blog will be known, and the more your traffic will be important, the more you will have the chance to earn a good amount of money for each article written.
If we want to talk in terms of figures, you can count on average about a hundred euros for a sponsored article. So there's nothing to get excited about, unless you develop consistent relationships with many companies.
Note that nobody likes to read blogs full of sponsored articles! So find a balance between sponsored and your own resources.
If you still want to try the adventure of sponsored articles, you will have to start by creating high value-added articles on certain products, without expecting anything in return. By doing so, you attract the attention of companies, who may later want to pay you to continue… keeping in mind the ultimate benefit to your audience.
Test products or services openly and without overdoing it: be honest about your goal, and avoid over-promotion. The biggest risk of this method of monetization is to lose credibility and be seen as a serial product distributor, only interested in money.
Create quality content, solid, that will last over time, by sparingly integrating a few product placements, affiliations and ads… This is a real action plan to live from your blog.
Create your own mix, and above all, stay true to your convictions. WPMarmite, for example, has always refused sponsored articles or external advertisements, despite numerous requests.
Method #3: Integrating the WordPress Ecosystem
Neither a salesman nor an editor, but rather an inveterate geek? The world of WordPress fascinates you, and you want to take advantage of it? This third and final method to make money with WordPress on the Internet will probably suit you better.
Selling websites or consulting/coaching
Perhaps the handling of WordPress seems simple to you… it is in any case what we hope at WPMarmite, by giving you the keys to build efficient websites!
But this is not the case for everyone. Many companies need to get started on the Internet by creating their website, but don't know where to start. So there is a real need on the market in terms of website creation or WordPress consulting.
Beyond the simple WordPress skills (web design, web development, site maintenance…) you will have to equip yourself with many other qualities to show to your clients:
- Know how to sell yourself. Your website and your portfolio will be your main weapons to convince your clients. However, don't forget to polish your sales pitch, both in terms of pricing and differentiation from your competitors.
- Be proactive and productive on a daily basis. Becoming a freelance WordPress developer means facing your own limitations on a daily basis, and having to motivate yourself. Know how to alternate your work moments with moments of rest, to be truly effective in dealing with your projects.
- Manage the customer service. Selling is good; following your projects carefully, getting respect from your customers is better. Your challenges will lie, on a daily basis, in knowing how to get paid by clients who are sometimes a little lazy in terms of accounting, or in knowing how to put limits to their sometimes extravagant requests.
3 essential points to start selling WordPress websites, which will make you a proud entrepreneur with a solid long-term business.
Did you know? At WPMarmite, we're a team including freelancers – but not only – who work hard with Alex to help you handle WordPress the best way possible. We might as well tell you that freelancing is something we know!
Create your website with Divi
Create or customize themes
Other companies can be an interesting target for the freelance developer: those who handle their WordPress website themselves, using themes.
To reach them, you can create your own theme, or customize existing themes, and then sell them on platforms like ThemeForest.
Because competition is tough in the sale of WordPress themes: the market is saturated, full of reputable players and agencies, which have a development and after-sales force larger than that of a simple freelancer. Aiming at a particular target, and creating a product that is different from the existing one, has become essential to succeed in the themes market.
However, as I write this article, a new opportunity is just opening: that of creating themes adapted to Gutenberg, the new editor of WordPress 5.0.
You should also know that this method to make money with WordPress on the web will require you to do a lot of customer support, and to review your product with each new WordPress update.
It is therefore an entrepreneurial adventure in itself, to be managed on a daily basis with an iron fist.
To get started, don't hesitate to get yourself noticed by offering free themes, which will be listed on wordpress.org and will make you grow your reputation in the themes world.
That's what Anders Norén chose to do, and he came up with some fantastic free themes. He didn't want to go into selling themes, but he had the opportunity to do so. He prefers to work in a WordPress agency.
Third growing market in the WordPress universe: selling plugins. This activity hits the same targets as those who buy themes: those who are looking for autonomy to manage their website.
In the same way as creating a theme, releasing a plugin will require advanced skills in terms of web development, and the ability to sell your product like a true marketer.
True aficionado of web technology? You can get started, keeping in mind everything involved in selling a plugin (regular updates, customer support, management of the download platforms on which it will be presented…).
Again, the key to success is to start from an existing need of your potential audience. What problem exists under WordPress but hasn't been solved by existing plugins? How do you create a manageable, easy-to-handle product to solve this problem?
Also think about developing solid documentation, so you won't be drowned too quickly by the requests of your customers when they will encounter a problem with your plugin. WP Rocket is a great example.
As you can see, there are many ways to make money with WordPress on the Internet. Some are more promising than others, more lucrative; others require more time to get started, or more advanced skills…
But one thing is certain: only those who give their all, who give themselves the means to succeed and stay the course despite the challenges and the competition, will be able to make a living from their activity on the web.
The story of Alex, our WPMarmite Master, is in this sense, very interesting. When he started, he had no choice but to succeed: he dropped out of school and didn't want to find a full-time job. A real motivation to always give more of himself… which still persists to this day.
And you, what's your story of entrepreneurship with the web? Do you make a living out of it? Do you still have fears about going all the way? Tell us all about it in the comments section: we love reading the success stories and experiences of our readers!
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