Guest post by Mark Pedersen
If you have ever thought about building a website, chances are you’ve come across WordPress (WP). According to various sources, more than 70% of all websites today run on WP, and for good reason. Being completely open-source, and 100% free, this content management and blog software has a huge community to back it.
WP Themes and Plugins – The Secret Sauce of WP’s Awesomeness
According to CodeinWP, there are over 15 million websites using WordPress and 4.5 percent of the Internet is run on WordPress. With this many users, most of what you’d like to have on your websites has already been developed or created, and if it’s not already online, it probably will be very soon.
More than 2,300 free themes are currently in the official WordPress.org theme directory, and more than 6,000 plugins are available on the official plugin database. Themes direct the looks and presentation of the content on your WP site, including color, font, and overall organization (i.e. where menus go). A plugin is a piece of software that add functionality or features to your WP site, such as search engine optimization, social media buttons, and more.
Many theme developers provide the basic functions for free, but offer all the extra goodies and desirable widgets, menus, slideshows and other features for a fee. After all, it is only fair that having spent 100+ hours on designing a super theme, a developer earns something for his effort. Just like app developers don’t spend time designing applications for free, neither do theme developers. Some developers allow a sponsor to advertise on the theme, thereby keeping it free for you. Or you can buy the theme, get rid of any ads, and have all the features and functions to customize the the theme.
Your own WordPress blog
Blogging provides freedom unrivaled in almost any other line of business, you don’t have to work a set schedule, there’s workplace to commute to, and you can do it from anywhere in the world, as long as you have an internet connection.
If you are not a technical person, you can start your own WP blog for free, excluding the cost of a domain name and hosting, of course. Or, you can use WordPress.com for a free subdomain, which is fine for beginners, but not advisable for a serious blogger wanting to make a living. Nevertheless, by using free themes and plugins for WP, you can setup a professional looking blog with state-of-the-art plugins and functions, without spending an extra dime!
There are hundreds of thousands of blogs though, so making a name for yourself, and getting traffic can be tough if you’re new to marketing, SEO and blogging in general. But the potential rewards are high, and to begin with, you can blog around your job, posting content when you have the extra time.
One popular way of gaining traffic without much effort is sharing blog posts on social media, but keep in mind that you want relevant visitors — people who are interested in what you’re posting on your blog. Other marketing methods include SEO and paid advertising, such as AdWords. Further, getting exposure by writing on other sites can increase awareness of and attract visitors to your blog. To find suitable guest blogging options, search your blog topic + guest post or “topic + write for us.” Gather the domain names and e-mail addresses in a spreadsheet, and then email every site on your list, one by one. Don’t send out one generic email to everyone in bulk (i.e. CC or BCC), as that might get you labelled a spammer. Instead, study each site, seeing what type of content it produces, then come up with an idea you can write about that fits the site. More often than not, people are willing to help fellow bloggers, especially if you provide useful content to them.
Affiliate links to WordPress Pro Upgrades
There are many ways to earn an income from WP sites including selling advertising space or your own products, but one the quickest and easiest, not to mention lucrative, ways to make a living in the WP universe is through affiliate marketing. In affiliate marketing, you get a special link that identifies you as the referrer (i.e. www.othersite.com/?ref=yourname). The unique link lets the affiliate program know that any visitors who come from using your link was sent by you, and if the visitors buy a product you have linked to, you’ll earn a percentage of the sale of that product!
Although you can and should provide links to affiliate products that relate to your blog topic, many would-be bloggers may visit your site to study your success. For that reason, having the occasional blog post and affiliate links to the tools you use, including pro-themes and plugins, can earn you income, as well.
Some good places for WP related affiliate sites are:
These sites are all reputable and well known for paying on time, but there are hundreds of other WordPress affiliate programs you can sign up for. Ideally you should have a variety to appeal to as many of your readers as possible. And of course, you need a solid marketing plan to get visitors to your site to click on your links in the first place.
All in all, it’s possible to earn four-figures every month, without much expense, using WordPress. But it takes time and effort to produce content people want to read and to help them find you on a crowded Internet.
About the Author: Mark Pedersen has been developing WordPress themes and plugins for more than 5 years. He has created numerous website solutions for clients, large and small, These days he is also a mobile app developer.