I can speak from experience (over eight years in fact) that running a small business as a WordPress consultant is very rewarding and has some major benefits. There are however a few traps that you need to avoid.
Benefits of a WordPress Consulting Business
First of all, you can work from anywhere in the world, as long as you have an internet connection. I have worked from the beautiful beaches of Bali, Thailand and the Philippines, high-rise co-working spaces in Chicago and San Francisco, my office in Melbourne, my bed, hotel rooms in the Netherlands, Arizona, LA, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth and even the tiny Gili Trawangan Island in Indonesia.
Secondly, the WordPress eco-system has spawned an incredible community of like-minded people who are famous for sharing ideas and knowledge, which means it's quite easy to learn whatever you need to in order to provide a great service for your clients. Spending some time in the WordPress support forums will expose you to an incredible amount of experience and knowledge from thousands of WordPress developers and consultants from all over the world. Chances are you will also form relationships and make new friends that you might end up meeting in real life if you attend one of the many WordCamps that happen just about every weekend somewhere in the world.
Another major benefit is that WordPress has penetrated the internet so successfully that it has become the preferred operating system for around 20% of the top websites online. In fact, Matt Mullenweg recently stated that he's aiming for 50% adoption - that would be half of the websites on the internet powered by WordPress! So WordPress consulting services are obviously in high demand, which is great for business.
However, there are a few traps you can easily fall into when you first start offering WordPress consulting services. And I'm not talking about technical stuff. Here are some quick tips to avoid making the same mistakes I did.
Talk About Budget Early
It's very tempting to share your new found love of WordPress with anyone who will listen and many small business owners, or entrepreneurs will be only too happy to pick your brain. You'll do everyone a favour if you qualify your prospects early in the process and find out whether or not they have any budget.
Tip: Publish your knowledge on your blog instead of spending hours giving away advice. Capturing what it is you know and publishing it online allows you to educate many prospects while you sleep and will attract new clients who find you through search engines.
Ask Tough Questions
The quality of your relationships is defined by the quality of the questions you are prepared to ask. Most freelancers or developers offering WordPress consulting services are afraid to ask tough questions and therefore, the true core of the problem is never clearly defined and hence the final solution usually misses the mark. This is why so many business owners dislike their current website. Your job as a consultant is to ask the hard questions like...
- What is the average lifetime value of a customer?
- How much are you prepared to spend on acquiring new customers through the website?
- How much admin overhead will this new website save you in the next financial year?
Once you start having these conversations with clients, you'll stop negotiating on price.
Talk Solutions, Not Software
Although WordPress is free, open-source software and more and more people are becoming aware of it, in most cases your clients will not be paying you for software. They will be paying you for a solution to their problem or a specific outcome for their business. Try not to talk about theme frameworks for plug-ins too much as this devalues what are you offer.
I hope you find these simple tips helpful, and I'd love to hear what you're doing in your WordPress consulting business.
Tell me I'm crazy in the comments and until next time, go elevate!
Footnote: If you're just starting out and you're unsure about how to customise pre-built themes, you might want to read this excellent tutorial from Mark Forrester at WooThemes.