When I first started WPLift, initially I was going to offer my services related to WordPress from the site. The “Lift” part was related to giving your site a “facelift” and the actual blog was an add-on which I was going to use to drive traffic to the services part of the business. The services I was going to offer were things like, theme install and customization, SEO, custom theme designs and so on but I decided to drop this part pretty early on as the blog took off.

How the very first design looked …

WPLift version 1.0

I had operated a web design blog before called “TutorialBlog” which I grew to huge traffic numbers – over 250k uniques per month and reached the Digg homepage over 10 times in one month. I eventually sold this blog which allowed me to setup other ventures and also buy my first house. I always missed blogging though, it’s so satisfying to see your daily work pay off in the form of higher traffic each month and recurring income so I can see the attraction for the many of people who aim to blog professionally.

One thing that concerned me when starting WPlift was whether I would have enough to write about just focusing on WordPress, web design is a huge topic so I never had any worries there – would there be enough within the WordPress community to blog about on a daily basis ? It sounds silly now considering the juggernaut that WordPress has become, you could write 10 posts a day and still not be covering everything – everyday there are hundreds of new themes, plugins and news items happening.

At the moment I am noticing quite a few new blogs starting up hoping to gain traction within the WordPress community most aren’t doing enough to differentiate themselves, covering the same theme roundups and plugins that everyone else does and as they are new they won’t be able to compete because they don’t have the age or authority to do so.

So what would I do if I wanted to start WPLift today ? Let’s take a look.

News Blog

This is an area I would avoid, It is well-served by sites like WPTavern and PostStatus. Although PostStatus is relatively new, Brian had years of experience writing for WPCandy and in that time became well-respected in the community and has obviously built up a good network of contacts that he can reach out to for interviews, behind the scenes quotes and so on.

PostStatus WordPress News

One site had the blueprint for entering this area which was WPDaily which posted huge amounts of posts each day and was usually first with news stories. If someone wanted to expend the resources of hiring multiple writers and posting timely news all day they could probably make an impact but I doubt the rewards would be there – It’s hard to monetize news sites as to appear to remain impartial its not wise to use affiliate links so you are relying on display ads and sponsorships.

Tutorials / Resources

WPLift falls into this area along with WPMU Dev, WPBeginner, WPExplorer, WPMayor, WPKube etc. We tend to post tutorials, theme and plugin roundups and individual reviews. I would say this area is the hardest to enter as all the sites mentioned are well entrenched now so posting similar content will just not be ranked as high as these sites.

Tuts+

One opportunity here would be to do incredibly detailed tutorials such as WPTuts+ does on subjects like creating a theme from scratch, writing different kinds of plugins etc. However these types of tutorials take a long time to create and if they don’t gain traction then that is a lot of time wasted. And again, Im not sure if the monetization would be viable as Collis from Envato mentioned that they used to lose money running the Tuts+ network because the high amount they had to pay out for writers, I’m sure that has changed now though as they have moved to a subscription model.

Narrow the Focus

So what would work ? As I mentioned, the WordPress Eco-system is now so large I think you could afford to narrow the focus of a blog and be successful in monetizing it and gaining traffic.

You could build a blog for freelancers / developers who work with WordPress and create posts tailored for them on dealing with clients, selling add-on services like hosting, monitoring etc. Tom McFarlin posts a lot of good content like this over at his personal blog. You could monetize this with the usual affiliate links or create a membership product for people new to freelancing with WordPress and sell a course or eBook series.

Please Advise Podcast

Another angle is to aim the blog for theme authors / product owners where you could give advice on publicizing your product and gaining customers, using mailing lists, landing page optimization, content production to drive sales and so on. A good podcast which does something similar is PleaseAdvise.fm by Mike McCallister, Jake Caputo and Chris Mollitor who are all theme authors and discuss various issues which affect theme publishers. Another is the Matt Report billed as” A WordPress business podcast for entrepreneurs, startups, and freelancers ” where the host Matt Medeiros interviews various entrepreneurs about WordPress and the business side of things.

You could also dig deep into one of the main WordPress verticals – for example churches or education would be good options. Really going into detail about a niche like using WordPress for churches you could cover all the themes and plugins aimed at them, detailed tutorials on making the most of the available products, promotion tips and so on. You could monetize by sponsorship or even creating your own products down the line.

So that’s how I think a blog about WordPress could be successful in the current climate, essentially by drilling down the focus to a more specific area – I think the market is now large enough for this to be sustainable.

What do you think? How can a new blog about WordPress stand out these days ?


Author:

Oliver Dale is the founder of Kooc Media, An Internet Company based in Manchester, UK. I founded WPLift and ThemeFurnace, find out more on my Personal Blog. Thanks!

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21 Comments

  1. Just wanted to give you a heads up in these commentary-free times to let you know that I’m reading along.

    I’m not the money-making type at all and not someone who can invest several hours a day on a blog, but lately I have been thinking of creating a small (sub-domain) website that showcases what I would call “bloat-free” WP themes. I have been collecting various links, I have about 30 to 40 themes that I would like to showcase and I am very passionate about the issue. There are just too many “everything but the kitchen sink” themes out there that will probably just frustrate users further on down the timeline. If two or three people find a theme to their liking via that future site, I’ve already reached my goal.

    So, that’s my possible “niche”.

    deus62.

    • The theme market does seem to be going in two directions at the moment – I personally prefer the bloat-free way which is what I use on ThemeFurnace and others like Mike at Array, Chris at UpThemes are also doing this.
      But then there is the market on ThemeForest where the users prefer a million options – page builders, sliders and so on.

      You site would be interesting if you showcased the themes in a nice way and added some commentary about each one etc.

      Good luck with it :)

      • Oli,

        there are actually not THAT many decent bloat-free themes out there.

        I was planning to show the (relatively few) themes in detail to allow people to make an informed choice.

        Besides Mike (of course) and UpThemes, I have Jonathan Atkinson at the very top of my list, elmastudio.de (who, unfortunately, haven’t moved shortcodes into a plugin yet), some ThemeZilla themes, most of ThemeTrust’s releases, OrganicThemes, plus a bunch more from the WP.com domain (some really nifty stuff when you study it more closely), etc.

        Still, when compared to the endless ThemeForest slush being released, it’s actually only a comparatively small number of theme releases that do what I think themes should be doing.

        Volkher

        • @Volkher: Our latest themes on themezee.com also focus on simplicity and are following WordPress best practices, in case you want to take a look ;)

          • Jose Vega

            Hi, thanks for sharing info about lightweight themes. i´m a web developer building websites for clients and I hate when my clients ask me to use a gigantic themeforest theme.

            Recently I had to use a theme that has around 10 sidebars, a thousand options, and more than 200 pages to showcase what you can do with it. That´s ridiculous!.

            So I´m desperate to find a good company that provides lightweight themes that are easy to install, configure, and use.

            If you know some company that fills these requirements and has a membership club, let me know…

    • This is a great idea.

      Most theme showcase blogs write for search engines and are motivated by commission so the content is usually poor. I’d love to see a theme blog that’s motivated by quality. So few commercial themes follow WordPress standards to the point of avoiding theme-lock in.

      A blog that features the 10% of themes that do things right would be useful. It’d serve to educate buyers and hopefully motivate theme developers do to things better.

  2. Great post.

    I’m still trying to find an angle for my eventual WP-related blog.

    Everytime I sit down to write a post, all I can think of are theme or plugin lists, which as you say have been done elsewhere already, by more established sites.

    SellwithWP.com is a good example of a site niching down and fullfilling a more sepcific need.

    Joe

    • Yeah, I didnt think of that one – eCommerce is huge with WordPress so I’d say they got into a good niche.

      Coming up with good post ideas is always the hardest part eh :)

    • Hey Joe, thanks for the mention and I agree that post ideas are the hardest part about launching! It’s definitely the paradox of choice – there’s so much to write about in WordPress that you can get inundated by all of the information out there or feel like someone’s already covered what you’re writing about (which is why we chose eCommerce only). Oli’s advice in finding a niche is great when you consider this and how the choice in what to write about can be paralyzing.

      I do think that post ideas are easier to come by as you write more – I’ve learned a lot from readers about what they want to know, and for each post I write, I seem to get an idea for a couple more and a better understanding of my audience. I’d love to check your site out when you do launch!

    • Hey Joe, Oli and Beka,

      We’ve also decided to focus on the WordPress eCommerce market. Personally, I think it’s an underserved market right now which is kind of crazy given how popular WordPress has become as a platform for running eCommerce websites. We’re focusing on producing WooCommerce themes and eCommerce tips and tutorials.

      Beka and the rest of the SkyVerge team are producing amazing stuff for WordPress/eCommerce right now :)

  3. What distinguishes most of those blogs you mention? It’s the quality of the writing and the usefulness of the content itself (in some cases it’s more one thing than the other).

    As a follower of nearly all of them I think that’s what draws me to them and why they stay in my newsify/feedly.

    All of them post regularly – whether that’s multiple posts a day, or one post a week, it is a regular appearance of new content.

    I would be put off from trying to start a new WordPress related news blog purely because I’m not sure I could produce the same quality content or writing as those I love reading.

    Even though I know that every one of those authors must have started out at some point with no prev experience, that’s not where they, or the market, is now.

    But I think you may be spot-on about writing within one of the verticals. For example, the one that really interests me at the moment is the intranet-type private site for smaller businesses, that can’t afford/justify the massive cost of Sharepoint, etc, but want something that makes use of the best of WordPress – as WordPress has done for blogging and has done for small business websites (and of course big ones).

    As we keep hearing, the platform is maturing. I’d love to see much more content that’s about more than just building another small business website. C’mon people, use your imaginations!

    I’m sure there’s plenty of untapped markets out there for blogs in many verticals: as yet undiscovered lands on the WordPress map!

    • Agree – WordPress for enterprise and smaller businesses would be a great niche also with more and more companies moving over to the platform now.

  4. BTW: What really bugs me is that these past few years we have gotten nothing but generic and often regurgitated themes, blogs and whatnot within the WP sphere.

    [begin rant]

    I think a lot of potential in regard to users outside the heavy-weight WP activities has been lost. Do we really need another 200 church themes? There are already lots of good ones out there.

    I’m a music collector and move in circles with thousands of like-minded people and there isn’t a single good “collection” theme out there … unless you want to tweak various portfolio themes into submission. Or if you want to pay a hefty sum getting one designed for yourself. Theme designers (and theme reviewers) favor the generic slush, time and again.

    Most themes released these past two or more years have relied heavily on featured images (the bigger … the better) although many people I know don’t even know how to get a half-decent featured image together with anything, never mind trying to figure out the three essential (of 56 trillion other) functions PhotoShop offers..

    Image sliders?
    Don’t even get me started.

    Generic, generic, generic.

    I know one shouldn’t complain, but it is mass consumption that is limiting what is being produced. People want a thousand knobs to twiddle … and start complaining the second after one of them doesn’t produce the desired result.

    There needs to be some serious rethinking before people get … tired of what’s out there.

    On top of that, there are FAR too many posts out there that (again and again) outline how to monetize your blog or site. Do we really need all of those? At some point WP turned into the CMS to turn to for those trying to make a quick buck without much thought and effort (and without any life experience to speak of). It is especially this aspect that has turned me off many WP (news/how-to/etc.) sites. I won’t even get into the totally useless (for most users) SEO sites that are legion.

    WP has moved into a full-fledged commercial zone, in some regards leaving behind the average user who has just been sitting around scratching his/her head, wondering what the hell he/she needs all these options for. WP has moved away from a user base that helped it take off.

    Yes, I know, blogging themes are legion, but they are generic as hell most of the time.

    [/end rant]

    P.S.: I’ll probably get lots of flak for this, but …

  5. I think that WordPress security (should you be into security) is a good niche. Yes there are loads of blogs that have a post or two, or even more about security. Yet most of them are very generic and only a handful of blogs really provide valuable information about WordPress security, or are an authority of such domain.

    Having said that security is not “for everyone”, i.e. not everyone can write about security. Security is more about the way you do and look at things, and it is not something that is specifically to WordPress.

  6. Dewane Mutunga

    Thanks for this Oli.

    I recently launched a WordPress-focused site and reading this has made me not only more aware of the landscape but also different approaches and angles.

    Lots of food for thought here. Thanks!

  7. Thanks for the mention Oli — you’re doing great things here :)

  8. Carla

    The domain WPBloq.com is for sale for anyone wanting to start a business or a blog on WordPress ;) Just reach me at madeby.ca@gmail.com

  9. Nice post but you missed out email/blog combos like http://wpmail.me/ and our very own WhiP http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/get-the-whip/ :)

    Also ‘personality’ / ‘thought leadership’ driven sites like http://chrislema.com/

    IMO while clearly you want to draw in the organic traffic, your best shot at big impact / relative commercialisation is probably high engagement tactics like the above, with an aim towards a kinda http://daringfireball.net/ esque sponsorship model (or even a http://mixergy.com/ related membership site) and associated spin-offs.

    Of course this means you have to be dedicated, interesting (big personality, think John from WP Daily) and a bloody good writer / interviewer – which sadly gets rid of 99.99% of people reading this (myself included alas, I just got in early) – but if you are looking for results… that’s where you’ll get them.

  10. Thanks for the kind words, Oli. And great tips here.

    For those that are considering a meta blog such as one about WordPress — only do it if you’re ready to be passionate and committed for years to come, often with little tangible reward.

    It can be hugely rewarding, but not always in a monetary sense. Monetizing is hard and traffic is difficult to scale without compromising your own editorial standards. There are certainly easier niches to get into.

    However, if you are passionate about WordPress and ready to commit to writing about your topic of choice for a long time to come, it can be an incredibly rewarding experience; and I’ve been fortunate to be rewarded by my own experience.

  11. I think it depends what sort of results or outcome you want from your blog too.

    If you want to write about WordPress to further your knowledge, pick up some more clients, or make connections, and earn a bit of affiliate income along the way, then I don’t think you have to reinvent the wheel and come up with a new concept for your blog.

    I’m guessing there is still room for more modest WP sites that share info on products and services from the field, without aiming to be thought leaders or entrepreneurs.

    I’ll let you know how I get on with that…

    Joe

  12. Jinja

    I think it’s never too late to initiate… thanks for useful information on blogging.

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