After years in the web design industry, I have found the best ways to make money with a WordPress website. These are methods that I’m personally familiar with that I have either tested in the past or currently use to generate income from my web skills.
Here are the 5 ways that you can make money with WordPress:
1) Build Business Websites for Local Clients
The most successful method I have found to make money with WordPress is to find local businesses that are making money offline that need a website or an update to their current site.
Here are the steps I take to find businesses that need a refresh on their current design:
Search for a specific industry and location that’s near you.
Find brand websites, not directory sites like Yelp or Angie’s List.
Determine whether the website is built with WordPress.
I use a tool on Google Chrome called Wappalyzer.
Contact the owner about upgrading their website.
It’s best to find local businesses because small business owners typically want someone local that they can meet with face-to-face. These owners would rather deal with a local partner than work with a large corporation that cannot provide one-on-one attention to their business.
Creating and managing websites for local businesses has been the best method to create sustainable, consistent income. I set up their website for a fixed fee and then offer a monthly charge to manage the site.
You can find more information on how I accomplish this – download a free cheat sheet with the tools I use most frequently in my web design business.
2) Display Advertising
A great method to earn cash for websites with lots of traffic and a large following is display advertising (also known as banner ads). Display advertising is when you have ads from different sites displaying on your web pages.
When someone clicks through an ad on your website, you get a cut of what the advertiser is paying. You can earn from a penny up to a dollar or more depending on the topic of the website and how valuable the advertisement costs.
You see lots of display advertising on news websites like Huff Post. On Huff Post, you can see they are using display advertising in the top banner and the sidebar (outlined in red).
The best platform to implement display advertising is Google AdSense.
To set AdSense up, all you need to do is sign up and then copy/paste the code Google provides to any section of your website such as a sidebar, header, footer, within blogs, etc.
Once Google AdSense is set up on your website, you start earning money when visitors to your site click on the ads.
Keep in mind that this method is most effective when you have high traffic flowing to your website. Otherwise, you will not make much money with display ads.
3) Affiliate Marketing
Another great way to use advertisements on your website is through affiliate marketing. Unlike display advertising where Google’s algorithm decides what ads go on your site, affiliate marketing involves you choosing what products you want to advertise.
To use affiliate advertising, first identify your business’s niche and then attach affiliate links to the niche specific products on your website. You can get affiliate links from businesses that have affiliate programs, or find marketplaces like Amazon that give you a much wider selection of products to promote.
To set up Amazon affiliate marketing, just sign up for their program and then you have the option to manually choose products or Amazon can dynamically insert products depending on the content on the page.
You get paid a percentage of the sale when someone clicks through your affiliate link and purchases the product within 24 hours. This percentage varies by product category.
A great aspect of using Amazon affiliate links is that Amazon will even give you a percentage of ALL products that are purchased using your affiliate link. So, during the holiday season when people buy a lot, you may see a large spike in the amount of money you make.
4) Create WordPress Themes & Plugins
Creating a WordPress website can be very simple and easy, but if you have stronger skills in website design or development then consider building custom WordPress themes and plugins and selling them on a WordPress marketplace.
The most popular WordPress marketplace is Theme Forest that is part of a website network called Envato that provides marketplaces for all things related to online development. Theme Forest currently offers over 45,802 WordPress themes and templates starting at $2.
To start selling on Theme Forest all you need to do is upload your custom theme to their website. When your theme is approved, it will be available for purchase on their site. If you start to build traction and get reviews you can make good money selling your themes.
When you create a theme, make it specific to one type of niche. Then, build in as many options and functional components that are related to that niche as possible.
I attempted this years ago, but my theme was denied because my design skills were sub-par. You definitely need more talent here than when handling a local business website design, where getting it to “look pretty” is optional!
5) Sell Your Own Products
In my experience, I believe you should put the most effort into selling your own products because you have the most freedom and you get the biggest cut. The upside to selling your own products is that you don’t have to deal with the middle man taking away profits. However, the downside is you have to learn marketing, sales, etc. to sell your product successfully.
To start selling physical or digital products in an online store with WordPress, the best platform is WooCommerce. WooCommerce is a platform for e-commerce on WordPress that is used by 28% of all online stores.
Instead of selling products to customers, you may be interested in selling teaching videos or digital learning products. A great platform to sell your learning resources and courses is Teachable. You can build most of the information on your website, and then upload your videos to Teachable for them to handle the payment and processing.
For creatives who want to sell products like music, software, film, and comics check out the e-commerce software Gumroad that handles digital delivery.
There are so many platforms that you can integrate with WordPress to sell your own products. I would recommend searching for the functionality you need for your WordPress e-commerce site and using the one that fits your needs the most.
The best ways I have found to make money with WordPress are building websites for local businesses, display advertising, affiliate marketing, creating themes and plugins, and selling your own products.
My focus is on building business websites for local clients since it results in the most consistent income out of the five methods.
Take time to learn how to successfully make money with WordPress, but don’t delay too long. Start taking action now to make money with your digital skills!
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