Like Love Haha Wow Sad Angry

There are plenty of ways to make money within the WordPress ecosystem, including promoting the vast number of products on offer in order to earn affiliate commissions. However, today we are going to look at the opportunities open to those with WordPress development skills.


WordPress Plugin Development

With around 30 million self-hosted WordPress sites out there, there is no shortage of customers to pitch your products to when it comes to developing plugins for this platform.

Develop free plugins

Although there are almost 30,000 free plugins available from the plugin repository, there are still plenty of users willing to pay for a premium product and service. When it comes to selling your plugin, there is the Envato-backed CodeCanyon marketplace which is home to over 2,000 premium plugins with prices ranging from a couple of dollars up to $45.

However, signing up to a marketplace isn’t the only option, and many plugin developers choose to go it alone and sell their plugins directly from their own website.

A popular strategy for monetising the plugins you develop is to make them available on the premium model. This involves creating a free version of the plugin, with an upgrade available that enables the premium features for those who wish to pay for them.

Another slightly different option is to offer the core plugin for free and then make available premium extensions and addons that add additional functionality to the plugin. One successful example of this is the WooCommerce eCommerce plugin which is free, but can be expanded with a wide selection of premium extensions from the plugin developers and third parties.

One of the downsides of creating plugins is that they will need to be supported and kept up to date with the latest upgrades released for WordPress. However, many premium plugin developers now offer their plugins on yearly price plans which need to be kept activate in order for the customer to qualify for support. This not only creates recurring revenue, but also ensures you aren’t tied into supporting a product for life, despite only being paid once by each customer.

Another issue to consider is that plugins developed for WordPress are released under the GPL license. This essentially means they are free to be distributed as open source software. So although plugins are sold, there is often nothing stopping users from distributing the plugins under the GPL license. To encourage users to pay for plugins, some developers only offer support and updates to those who can demonstrate they have purchased the plugin.

While this issue might sound like developing plugins for WordPress as a commercial endeavour is a bad idea, there are many thriving plugin developers and stores proving that this isn’t the case.

Creating WordPress Themes

WordPress themes are big business. With almost 4,000 premium WordPress themes available at the ThemeForest marketplace, there is a lot of money being made. Although competition is fierce, there are still plenty of examples of theme developers selling their themes by the thousand and earning an impressive amount of money.

 Develop themes

Of course, as with plugins, you don’t have to sell your themes through a marketplace and are free to open your own store to sell your products. A popular option with WordPress themes is to start what is known as a theme club. This gives your customers access to all your themes for a set fee, with membership usually granted for a year before a renewal is required. Perhaps the most successful example of this is model is Elegant Themes which has over 230,000 customers, spread across three pricing plans.

 Elegant themes

Another option is to piggyback on the success of a popular theme framework and create a child theme. This approach allows you to use the foundation of the theme created by the initial developer and then create a skin or child theme using the functionality of the theme’s framework, but with your own take on the design and layout. The Genesis Framework and its child themes, including those made by the original development team and other authors is a good example of this model.

With many popular starter themes available, the process for creating a WordPress theme has never been easier, and with a user base that is growing on a daily basis, there is no shortage of customers for your products.

WordPress Site Development

If you’ve managed to pick up theme and plugin development skills then you could be in a good position to make money as a WordPress website developer. Although you can get away with offering a WordPress web building service using off the shelf themes and plugins, to really set yourself apart from the competition and charge a higher rate, being able to offer custom solutions is the way to go.

By building on the credibility and popularity of the WordPress platform, while also bringing your own development skills into the equation, you can offer an attractive service to clients that will allow them to commission exactly the type of online presence they are looking for.

WordPress Managed Hosting

In recent years, the number of web hosts that solely cater to WordPress sites, or have a dedicated team for offering WordPress hosting has grown steadily. The benefits of using one of these WordPress managed hosting services is that their servers are optimised to run sites built using platform. This results in faster loading web pages which is good for everyone.

As the staff at these companies are highly proficient in WordPress, they know exactly how to deliver a high performance hosting service. In addition, due to their knowledge of the platform’s potential weak spots, they are also able to do a good job of keeping the sites they host as secure as possible. If you are a developer with a systems administration background or with networking experience, then moving into this sector could be a viable option, either as an employee or by offering your own managed hosting service.

WordPress Maintenance and Support Services

Although there can be some overlap between managed hosting services and maintenance services, with some managed hosting providers offering custom development and support, there are is also plenty of distinction between the two types of service.

For those with good WordPress development skills, offering a maintenance service is a good way to build up a list of clients on a retainer basis. This can be attractive as it provides a predictable and recurring income stream, with subscription payments coming in on a monthly basis.

The range of duties a WordPress maintenance service can undertake ranges from keeping the site backed up and the plugins, themes and WordPress core up to date, through to carrying out custom development work, performance optimisation, and site migrations.

Although you and your team will need to be on call 24/7 for your clients if offering a support service, the allure of recurring payments can make this a good choice for developers looking to move away from the feast and famine model all too familiar with freelancers and product developers.

Create a Hosted Software as a Service (SaaS)

If you don’t mind getting stuck into a big project, then you could use your development skills to create a hosted application platform or software as a service (Saas) using WordPress. While you might think of WordPress as a blogging platform, an increasing number of entrepreneurs and developers are leveraging the platform and the many plugins available for it, to turn it into a legitimate application platform.

These services can take many forms, with some created to support WordPress users, while others built to help ordinary business and users who have no connection with WordPress.

 Development HappyTables SaaS

Some examples of these hosted application services built using WordPress include:

·         happytables: a hosted restaurant website builder

·         Restaurant Engine: another hosted restaurant website builder

·         Clickbank Powered: a website builder for infopreneurs

·         SellWP: a managed solution for selling products

·         ValutPress: online could backup and security service

·         PressBooks: creates ebooks, PDFs, and webbooks

·         ContentCloud: manage an editorial team

·         Amplify: marketing and user-engagement platform

As you can see there is a good range of services that are running as hosted applications. As cloud computing and cloud services achieve greater penetration into the mainstream consciousness, thanks to services like iCloud and Dropbox, it is likely that many more users will be prepared to, and even seek out, hosted solutions for services they use on a regular basis.

For forward thinking developers, now is a good time to get involved in the SaaS scene and use WordPress as the tool for creating a hosted application.


As you can see developers working with WordPress have a number of ways to create products, offer services, and provide solutions that can bring in a healthy income.

As the popularity of the platform continues to grow, so too does the ecosystem that has built up around it. This means that those developing products or services to support WordPress and its users, such as themes, plugins, and managed hosting, have even more potential customers to market to and bring on board.

Developers who master WordPress and its themes and plugins can use their skills to create user-friendly and responsive websites for clients, built on a reputable platform that can be easily adapted to promote any type of business or service.

Those looking outside of the WordPress ecosystem also have lots of potential for monetizing their WordPress development skills. By using the platform and the countless plugins already available for it, creating a hosted application or SaaS using WordPress that caters to non-WordPress users is a very real option too.

Whether you want to freelance for clients, create products to be sold, or run a subscription based service, WordPress can help you achieve your goals and realize your ambitions.

Like Love Haha Wow Sad Angry


As well as being a regular WordPress user, Joe writes for some of the most popular WordPress blogs, sharing what he's learned about this most versatile platform. If you would like to work with Joe to get content for your website, please visit his website for more information.