WordPress is an amazing product and a whole eco system has sprung up around this open source CMS - there are so many people and companies earning a living by working it that I thought it would be good to have a think about all the different ways you can use it to make money. My own company Kooc Media makes most of its revenue from WordPress products - whether thats selling components for WordPress or running websites that runs on WordPress itself.
1. Sell Themes
Selling WordPress themes is probably the method that most people think about when you think of WordPress commercially. There are literally hundreds of different theme companies and theme marketplaces which sell thousands of different themes. The commercial theme market is thriving and shows no sign up letting up so if you have good design and coding skills and want to start generating extra semi-passive income then selling themes is a great place to start.
2. Sell Plugins
Unfortunately on sites like CodeCanyon, commercial plugins seem really under priced but companies like Gravity Forms and my own plugins WP AdCenter & WPTurbo have proved that there is a strong market for premium quality plugins with a support package in place. I see this as a growth area for WordPress commercially so its ideal if you are a good coder who may not have the design skills to release themes but can put together a good plugin.
3. Custom Design Work
If you work as a web designer, WordPress is the ideal platform to offer as a CMS for your clients, its one of the most easy for them to use and maintain their own website adding content when they like. The range of free plugins available will cover functionality that is required for most business sites.
4. PSD to WordPress
I covered this the other day but there is now a huge market for companies that will take existing designs and code them up into HTML / CSS and then to WordPress. You could offer solely this service or build it into a larger package of services that you can offer like Tung Do at DevPress does.
Advising companies on how best to use WordPress could prove to be quite lucrative as more & more companies thesedays are looking to switch over to open source software.
You could offer on-site training for individuals and companies, such as PootlePress does or you could offer online training in the form of videos or manuals. A company that does well with this is WordPress 101 which offers a full range of training videos.
7. Software as a Service (SAAS)
SAAS is something that we are starting to see more in the WordPress community, I covered it in detail in this post. Noel Tock recently converted his company ThemeForce, from selling themes to providing a service for restaurants built on WordPress, he shares his thoughts on the subject here. If you take the time to build a great infrastructure on top of WordPress its possible to build a very stable business where the revenue stream is more predictable than selling one-off items.
8. Content Websites
Building a blog around a certain topic and monetising with advertsing, affiliate programs and so on is probably how the most people use WordPress to make money. It can be very hard to get a sucessfull blog up and running, it requires dedication and lots of patience but the rewards can be great. Some of the biggest sales of websites have been blog-based businesses: Techcrunch ($25 million - $40 million), Huffingon Post ($315 million).
9. Membership Websites
There are loads of membership plugins for WordPress, so getting a membership site up and running is quite easy. Adding a membership section to existing sites is something that is becoming more common these days, make sure you provide good value and you will build up subscribers, increasing your revenue each month. Some things that you could offer as a membership site are teaching/training for any niche, tools and software such as the design sites which offer photoshop brushes & icons etc. A special tool such as for SEO could also be sold on a monthly basis as a membership site.
So those are the most common methods for making money with WordPress - what do you think? Do you make an income with WordPress? What methods have I left out ?