SXSWi Panel: Making Money with WordPress

It’s been a week since South By Southwest Interactive ended, and now that I’m finally back into a routine, I wanted to share some of the amazing stuff I learned through the conference.  I’ll be posting a new one each day this week.


Today’s topic really appealed to me: Making Money with WordPress.  It was presented by Shane Pearlman, CEO Shane & Peter Inc, Alex King, founder of Crowd Favorite, Brandon Jones, Creative Director of Epic Era Studio, and Sonia Simone, CMO of Copyblogger Media.

I’m moving more and more toward WordPress development, as I mentioned in my post about the Interview with Matt Mullenweg of WordPress/Auttomatic, so I really wanted to hear more.

What’s absolutely fabulous is that the folks at SXSWi have already posted audio from the presentation at the above link.  If you don’t feel like listening to it, here are some of the main points I took away.

If you’re a developer:

  • Consider making and selling WordPress themes.
    Wordpress is open-source and you can learn to use it through the tutorials on the WP Codex.
  • Consider starting out by selling themes through a marketplace like ThemeForest, which takes a large cut of the profits but drives marketing and protects the author from support issues.
  • Also consider child themes, which are built on existing code.
  • If you build themes, be sure you know your users and look for niches.  Ask clients what they’re looking for and develop it.

“Content is education and personality” — Sonia Simone

If you want to make money off of the content in your WordPress blog:

  • Make sure your content doesn’t suck.
    Your content should teach something that people actually want to learn and have personality so readers don’t drown in information.
  • Keep your site secure so readers won’t be turned off if you are hacked.  Sucri.net will monitor your site for malware/hacks
  • Get a theme with clean code for search engine optimization (some free themes have crap code).

And here’s what not to do:

  • Don’t sell stuff to broke people — i.e. a market not willing to pay for what you’re selling.
    Customers have to have money and also find value in your product.
  • Not define your end product and expectations.
  • Be impatient.
    Content or themes won’t make you money in 6 months.  It doesn’t happen right away — just wait for it.

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