We know it’s possible to make money with WordPress. We’ve looked into that and have heard from the big players in the past.
But let’s take a step back. Before we can hope to make money with WordPress, however we choose to do it, we have to be in a position where we are recognized as WordPress professionals.
Establishing yourself isn’t an exact science. Some will succeed greatly while others, not so much. But there are some things you can do that will improve your odds quite a bit.
Build sites with WordPress and show them off
No one’s going to take your word for it on the net. By building websites and putting them into a portfolio, though, you’re actually giving evidence that you can do what you’re claiming you can.
This may seem a little too obvious. Of course you need a portfolio, right?
A designers/developer tends to spend, I would argue, far too much time designing their portfolios. Instead, what I would recommend: be clear, concise, write well, and show them what you’re capable of as quickly as possible.
I’m made myself strip down my portfolio and leave it alone for the most part, except to update my actual portfolio content. I’ve only made two design tweaks to it in the past year.
The one thing I would suggest doing, that I have yet to include on my portfolio, is client testimonials. Just don’t go crazy. Pick two or three that really stand out. That’s enough.
→ On the forum: What’s your WP portfolio link? Link it up!
Release a theme or a Plugin
There’s no question that WordPress theme developers can create quite a name for themselves. Many of the most well known WordPress developers are responsible for themes, whether of the free, premium, or framework variety.
Which kind of theme you want to create yourself is up to you. Keep in mind that each of the kinds of themes may reach a slightly different audience. Framework themes, for example, may appeal more so to developers than users.
The point is that beyond even showing people websites you’re responsible for in a portfolio, by offering a theme you’re giving potential clients the chance to actually experience your work. Assuming you do good work they will want to see more.
Beyond that you may also get that fuzzy feeling when someone actually uses your theme. That fuzzy feeling might even make you want to make more and more themes. Before you know it, you may end up with a career.
Plugins, while not as flashy as themes, will definitely draw the attention of the WordPress community. One piece of advice, on this end: solve your own problems. If you can solve the pains that you’re facing with WordPress in your situations, others will also, inevitably, be interested.
Work for the greats
One sure way to excel in any industry, almost across the board, is to seek out and do work with those much more skilled (and hopefully more well known) then you. Getting one proverbial foot in the door is at times all it takes. Assuming you do a kick butt job, your one connection will lead to many more connections in the future.
This one also works on two other levels: the coveted testimonial that we went over above and the chance that you could land ongoing work with them. All good things.
You will also be rewarded if you study the work of those making an impression in the community. Take notes on the models and techniques that work for them — then improve on them. It’s the only way you’ll ever be one of the greats yourself.
Well, that and being in the right place at the right time.
Don’t start another WordPress blog — join one
As long as you’re listening to my advice (or feigning interest) I may as well offer up a piece that I wish more WordPress entrepreneurs would take.
One of the impulses when you’re building your name around something, when you’re very passionate, is to build a blog around the topic. This has come up in our forum and elsewhere, but I’ll say it again: your better bet is to join up with another WordPress blogger, already established, and collaborate. Reduce the amount of time it will take to build a blog up to notoriety and get your name onto a blog people already put their eyes in front of.
I’m not going to name any names or point anyone anywhere, but I know for a fact that there are blogs out there interested in growing, with your help (including this one). Don’t fall into the trap of starting up yet another blog about WordPress.
Lend a hand in support
The unsung heroes of WordPress are most definitely those who show up to offer a helping hand in the WordPress support forum.
Support is still one of those aspects of WordPress where there is still a lot of room for innovation. The easiest way to lend support to WordPress users (and arguably the best way) is to stay in touch at the WordPress support forum. Toss your hat in the ring when a question comes up that you might be able to help with, or have run into in the past.
You can find people in need of support elsewhere as well. Keep an eye on Twitter, for example. Subscribe to an RSS search of Twitter for “WordPress” and scan through whenever you’re feeling helpful. If you’re feeling crazily helpful, set up a Google alert for certain phrases that are up your alley.
While offering support won’t make you immediately famous (remember that unsung heroes bit?) it will improve your WordPress skill, which will help you overall.
If you’re already a WordPress professional, sound off in the comments on the pieces of advice that I missed. If you aren’t, toss out some questions you’re facing, and perhaps some resources that you’d like to see. All ears.