WordPress has been conquering the Internet for over ten years now. Currently powering more than 24% of the Internet, the platform has become a de facto standard in various industries across the world.
While historically starting as a blogging platform, WordPress is mainly being used as a CMS and more and more utilized as an application framework. That progressive transition over the years has been the main reason different industries or business groups are embracing WordPress as their main toolkit.
The WordPress Ecosystem
Nowadays people are comparing WordPress with HTML. Even if you don’t do HTML for a living, if you happen to work online, you are likely acquainted with the basics and can format a simple page.
Small businesses have unified the meaning of a “website” by referring to WordPress by default. Bloggers tend to prefer WordPress for their custom blogs, which was naturally transferred to most of the media outlets and online magazines.
At the end of the day, everyone is using WordPress. From bloggers to business owners, from marketers to software engineers, from designers to journalists, from students to event organizers. While it’s not as well adapted as HTML (being taught in most schools and universities and used in every platform out there), it’s exposure has positioned WordPress on top of the most popular platforms.
It’s easy to start. Setting up a new site takes just a few minutes. Trying it out requires filling in a single form in WordPress.com, and with a predefined set of themes and plugins, one could solve 80% of their problems without any requirements for technical, design, marketing or journalism background.
As WordPress consultants and business owners we have to accept the fact that, unlike most other platforms or niches out there, WordPress is comprised of people from all races, genders, ages, cultures - people working in all industries, living in every single country ever known. This is a unique opportunity for providing all sorts of services, and building niche groups with specific needs that are large enough to support an entire business, or even a complete business ecosystem of multiple competitors in the same space.
WordPress Is No Longer a Skill
That’s right - WordPress services itself mean nothing. It’s just as providing Internet services, or Phone services. Or Car services for that matter.
If you meet someone offering Internet services, what would be your understanding of their offering? Is this an ISP rep, or someone teaching the basics of Internet in a primary school? Maybe someone selling the old school modems? Or even an Internet Marketer?
Some Internet services out there are endless, which requires a certain level of specialization. Let’s take the medical field as an example - you go to a “doctor” for a medical exam, but you don’t visit a random doctor. You probably visit your GP (general practitioner) first who is merely evaluating your general condition and then sends you to a particular physician.
Heart problems will be taken care of by a cardiologist, and lung conditions require the expertise of a pulmonologist. A neurologist would examine your brain status, and consult with a psychiatrist or a neurosurgeon if it’s more of a mental issue, or a problem that requires operative intervention.
Best-case scenario you won’t have to visit a doctor at all, but in case you do, you would be looking for an expert opinion. And people spend many, many years in medical school and as interns before providing medical services directly to patients.
As a WordPress consultant or agency, you have to specialize to target the right clients. Small business owners are often lost, unaware of how the Internet works, or what is needed for an online presence. They don’t know what hosting is, or why they need to pay annually for the “home” of their website. If you want to be a WordPress GP, that’s fine - but most established businesses and larger brands are profoundly concerned about their reputation and online presence, which is why they are looking for niche experts. Offering generic services is hardly a bonus - the more you specialize, the closer you will be to your target audience.
Different Service Offerings Out There
If you are concerned about narrowing down your pool of potential customers, refer to some of the public stats available online:
- 24% of the Internet runs on WordPress
- Several studies from early 2014 have counted over 75M WordPress websites
- About 2 million WordPress service providers offered freelance/agency work through the main freelance networks and are listed among the first 1000 results of most relevant search terms
- Various online research papers and blogs say that websites are redesigned/rebuilt every three years (on average)
Statistically speaking, if there are 2 million service providers and sites are redesigned every three years, there is a pool of 25 million customers looking for a service provider every year. That results in a bit over one website gig per month.
Since the usage graph is still headed north, numbers are more than promising. And with that large pool of service providers, you should specialize in a specific niche - be it membership websites, WooCommerce/EDD solutions, multisite development, or creative work for different business fields - law firm websites, agricultural businesses, mom and pop local shops, or something else.
Even if you specialize in a niche with other WordPress service providers in the same space, there are other personal or business-specific factors that are specific for each business. Let’s see some examples.
Type of Service
Are you a business development consultant, a software engineer or a frontend developer? You may partner up with other WordPress firms and freelancers in the same niche and combine your skills to provide better products to your customers.
What’s your personal style of work? How do you communicate with people - both in your firm (or network of freelancers), and clients? How do you prefer to dress and what are your hobbies after business hours?
Business always happens between individuals. Signing a contract is a sales deal that depends on two or more people sitting in a room that like and trust each other.
If you tend to be more informal and go hike on the weekends, you will possibly attract other adventurous customers and people who enjoy more free-minded people. Your hobbies and community preferences may attract other people with a similar lifestyles and increase your chances for working with like-minded people.
How large is your business? Are you still working solo, or building a small enterprise? Certain customers prefer to communicate directly with a service provider, and they target freelancers or very small businesses. Others have more complicated internal processes that require a larger business or prefer to outsource several aspects of their business to the same company to reduce the overhead.
How do you structure your processes? Is there a particular workflow that you utilize? What are the tools and communication methods that you use to build a project?
Some of our customers at DevriX have various preferences in terms of communication, reporting, project management, version control. If these align with our standard workflow, clients immediately get excited, since it’s an important part of the business relationship.
Being able to accommodate different communication, management and delivery styles would improve your chances to build a successful business relationship. Some clients are more conservative and require long detailed specifications, others are agile and open to retainer projects. Some demand email and others expect weekly meetings and daily calls. Find out what works for you and whether it makes sense to offer that to your customers.
Location may be of the essence for some clients. While remote working is a traditional business model in the WordPress world, that doesn’t necessarily mean that customers are not looking for local service providers.
Research the other local WordPress vendors in your area and list their service offerings. What are the common and different aspects of your business? What makes you unique? What is the right target audience to look for based on the other players in the market?
Keep in mind that even if you are in the same space with several other providers, the WordPress industry is still large enough to provide business opportunities for you. Don’t get discouraged.
Based on your skills, team and types of services, you can fine tune your pricing or streamline your process to automate solutions for higher quantity, or provide hand-crafted boutique solutions.
Due to various standards, some businesses have standard requirements in their industry - integrations with 3rd party APIs or products, or compliance with different standards and specifications. If there is a certification program that makes sense for your business, go ahead and find it. Spend some time and evaluate the essential additions that most of your prospects and customers struggle with.
Still, Competition is There
Even if there’s enough work for everyone, customers are looking for the best quality they can get for their money. With more and more design, development, marketing and installment providers entering the WordPress space, you need to provide outstanding quality to grow a successful business.
Therefore, it’s paramount that you’re always looking for ways to improve yourself, your skills, and your business. Watch WordCamp videos and follow different tutorial platforms for technical and business skills. Keep yourself up to date by monitoring your competition, researching new tools and services in your niche and learning new programming languages or skills.
There are plenty of mediocre service providers, and the only difference is price, which usually ends up with a race to the bottom. If you want to stand out and provide high-quality services, my advice is to allocate enough time every week or month attending conferences, following reputable sources and increasing your skill set.