When it comes to making money with WordPress, I’ve tried everything.
Website design, SEO consulting, speed optimization, freelancing, Google AdSense.
I made OK money with these, but it wasn’t until I started blogging full-time (and doing affiliate marketing) that I began making sustainable, passive income that was more than I had dreamed.
I only recommend affiliate marketing if you have time (I worked full-time for an entire year without making much money) but this is what resulted in my traffic growth which is now around 3,000 visits/day. I was completely broke and living with my parents until then, but eventually my traffic skyrocketed and looking back, taking that risk was completely worth it.
1. Affiliate Marketing
Of course affiliate marketing is #1 on my list – I made over $130,000 in 2018 with it.
How Did I Pull It Off?
- I wrote tutorials on website speed optimization
- Hosting is the #1 factor of website speed optimization
- I crawled through the depths of Facebook to find polls on “best hosting”
- I refer people to SiteGround who was rated the #1 host in 12 Facebook polls
- I don’t rely on “review keywords” but on practical tutorials (eg. how to setup cache plugins) and mention SiteGround at the end of most of my speed optimization guides
How Much $ I Typically Make On Each Sale
- Hosting: $160/sale
- WordPress themes: $35
- Content delivery network: $20
- Freelancer.com: $20
- WordPress plugins: $9
How Much Time Does It Take?
4 years of learning/experimenting, then 1 year of blogging full-time. That’s what it took for me. If you already have decent knowledge on your industry (and blogging), it should take less time.
How Bad Do You Want It?
- Living with my parents
- Not having my own car
- Not having a girlfriend
- Working a job I hated
- $40,000 deep in student loan debt
- Listening to my parents argue over money, pretty much my whole life
I came to a boiling point. I was making $300/month referring people to WordPress themes. It wasn’t enough, but once I got a taste of that passive income, I knew what needed be done. Eventually I realized hosting was way more profitable, and even if it was competitive, I can right damn good tutorials. And people will read them. And they did. You need a desire, whether it’s desperation for money, or passion about what you’re writing about. Or even better, both.
How To Start?
- My affiliate marketing guide
- WordPress affiliate programs
- My 2018 WordPress SEO guide (you need SEO to get traffic)
These are long guides, but there’s a wealth of knowledge in each of them.
2. Refer People To Hosting
It’s one of the most lucrative industries for affiliates – that’s why it’s so saturated.
But don’t let that scare you. I make the same money selling 1 hosting plan than I would selling 4.5 themes, or 8 content delivery networks, or 18 plugins. I would rather selling 1 hosting plan.
Recommended Hosting Affiliate Programs
- SiteGround – $50 – $160/sale (custom plans are made if you get a lot of sales). They have tons of social proof (Facebook polls, Facebook conversions, and tweets) of people who love SiteGround (which you can see in my SiteGround affiliate program review). This can significantly increase sales/conversions, especially the 26 Facebook polls where they were ranked the #1 host. The main downfall is some customers report CPU overages, which happens with every host, but SiteGround will only give you a couple warnings before shutting down your website temporarily. Otherwise, they’re fantastic.
- Cloudways – $50 – $200/sale (custom plans are made if you get a lot of sales). Cloudways is quickly becoming a top host with generous, flexible commissions. If you join hosting-related Facebook Groups, you will see many compliments on Cloudways. You should be able to collect plenty of social proof to increase your sales/conversions.
- WP Engine – $200/sale + tier bonuses + two-tier affiliate commissions (if you refer an affiliate and they make a sale, you get $50). Strong opportunities especially since they acquired StudioPress. Plans are more expensive than other hosts, but they’re very fast.
Don’t Choose Affiliates Solely On Commissions
Don’t choose your affiliate solely on commissions! Even through WP Engine offers a $200 flat commission, I chose to climb SiteGround’s tiers since I thought they were better – and the 12 Facebook polls had a huge impact on my sales. Whatever host you choose, promoting only 1 can help you climb tiers faster, especially if your readers know you swear by them. SiteGround, Cloudways, and other hosts even give you higher commissions if you get more sales especially for higher-priced plans. Right now I’m at $160 per sale for SiteGround if I hit 81+ sales/month.
Collect Social Proof
These Tweets and polls took my conversions from 3% to 7%. There are plenty of polls and conversations where people have strong opinions about hosting (just search Facebook for hosting, SiteGround, or whatever you’re looking for). Take screenshots of these and post them on your blog. People look at these as less biased, and are much better than collecting reviews on your own website since those are probably moderated. People know this, so try Facebook.
Get Involved In These Facebook Groups
If you’re going to recommend hosting, you need to join these groups. They help you stay updated, and the WordPress Hosting group takes a poll every year which you should use.
Avoid “Review” Keywords
Avoid writing hosting reviews (at first) since those keywords are very competitive in Google. Instead, find keywords where people are trying to make their website load faster, write a tutorial on it, and recommend your host as part of the tutorial. The more helpful your tutorial is, the higher it will rank (content is king) and the more eyeballs will see it. Don’t make hosting the bulk of your tutorial, or people will think it’s spammy. And no one’s going to share/link to it.
3. WordPress SEO Consulting
People love working with a WordPress SEO consultant – someone who specializes in WordPress SEO and has specific knowledge on Yoast, WordPress speed, plugins, themes, page builders, and WordPress in general. This is how I set myself apart from the competition, and ranked #1 for many WordPress SEO keywords. I continue to get tons of inquiries to this day.
People are searching for this:
But not many people optimize for it (my landing page isn’t even that good):
SEO Services You Can Offer
- WordPress SEO Audits
- Local SEO Audits
- Keyword Research
- Yoast Optimization
- Google Analytics
- Google Search Console
- Landing Page Creation
- WordPress Speed Optimization
- Rich Snippets Implementation
- Citation Building (Outsource to Whitespark)
Keywords People Are Searching (I’ve Already Done The Research)
- WordPress SEO Services
- WordPress SEO Consulting
- WordPress SEO Expert
- WordPress SEO Audit
*I rank #1 for all these, and each one has a different landing page. They’re not that competitive, and I really don’t care if you take my #1 result because I’m doing affiliate marketing full-time now. But I still get a lot of inquiries with these since I’m #1 for them. Take my spot! Here are my landing pages on WordPress SEO Services, SEO Consulting, SEO Expert, and SEO Audits.
4. Become A WordPress Speed Optimizer
There is a desperate need for WordPress speed optimization, but not many people do it (I would know, I’m in this industry now). People just aren’t comfortable setting up cache plugins, CDNs, upgrading PHP versions, or optimizing images. They need a WordPress speed expert!
This is my developer who I’ve been working with since 2011 and refer my readers too. He is making good money, and I get a small commission from the projects. He’s been crushing it.
Services You Can Offer
- Cache plugin configuration
- CDN integration
- Cloudflare integration
- Image optimization
- Plugin optimization
- Script optimization
- Theme optimization
- PHP version upgrade
- Adding AMP pages
- Get involved in the WordPress Speed Up Facebook Group
- Create a profile on freelancer websites (Freelancer + Upwork)
- Take before and after GTmetrix/Pingdom reports of each project
- Build your portfolio, but until then, offer your service for cheap/free
- Create a page (or even better, a small website) for “WordPress speed services” – you should be able to rank for that keyword easily, which should provide you with projects
5. Create YouTube Tutorials
The most popular way to monetize YouTube videos are ads, sponsorship, and dropping affiliate links in video descriptions. This is probably the most simple, fastest way to start making money with affiliate marketing, since if you make great videos, you will get viewerss. Whereas a blog takes time because you start from scratch with 0 links, 0 shares, and low domain authority – so you won’t rank for your keywords right way. Of course, you should learn some YouTube SEO.
The most popular way to make money is to sign up for Amazon’s affiliate program and recommend products you use while dropping affiliate links in your video description. Easy!
6. Create An Udemy Course
How Much Money Can You Make?
Some WordPress courses on Udemy have made over $100,000. Let’s say that results in $25,000 profit and it takes you 3 months to create the course (look at Udemy’s revenue sharing). Was it worth it? Well if you create 4 courses in a year and made $100k, you bet.
Yes, that’s a stretch. And I honestly haven’t created an Udemy course (yet). But there are many people who rely on this for passive income, and they make YouTube videos about it. However, many instructors already have a successful YouTube channel or website, and don’t fully rely on Udemy’s marketing to get sales. Especially since “paid user acquisition” means only 25% profit.
The only downfall is that you have to share your profit with Udemy::
7. Get On Freelance Websites
Freelancing obviously makes money, but it also makes you develop experience/knowledge in the field. This is basically what I did for several years before I started my blog and proclaimed myself as an “expert.” Before you apply your knowledge somewhere else, you must obtain it.
8. Sell A Book On Amazon
There aren’t many great books on WordPress, especially when it comes to specific categories (WordPress SEO, speed optimization, security, plugins, etc). Of course, most people go to Google, but if you establish yourself as an expert in the industry, people will buy your book.
9. Google AdSense
Avoid it! I’m only mentioning it because it’s popular, not because it works.
- It doesn’t work (no one clicks these ads)
- It makes your website/blog looks spammy
- It makes your website/blog load slow (see below)
- There is a long history of complaints about the quality of their ads
- People aren’t taking your recommendation (no loyalty for your brand)
Stick With Good Old Affiliate Links
- They don’t look as spammy
- They don’t slow down your website
- They’re based on your recommendation
- More likely to get clicked than a random ad
10. Get Certified With Google Products
Establish credibility (and raise your rates) with certifications from Google.
List Of Google Certifications
- Google Academy – Google Analytics, AdWords, Google My Business, YouTube, others.
- Google Partners – advertising in search, mobile, videos, display, and Google shopping (see differences between Google Partner vs. Premier Partner). Mainly for businesses.
- Google Developers – for Android developers, mobile web, and Google Cloud.
- Google Educators – for teachers/educators using Google tools in the classroom.
You get a badge for each one, and the GA exam took me less than a day to complete:
Google Site Kit (Bonus) – this is a new WordPress plugin developed by Google which combines Google Analytics, Search Console, AdSense, and PageSpeed Insights. I recommend staying on top of this, and becoming familiar with it, as many people will probably be using it.
11. Go eCommerce (Sell Stuff)
Have products to sell? Create a WooCommerce site and make it happen.
I’m not going to pretend I know about eCommerce considering I’ve never created a store, but Backlinko’s eCommerce guide is the guide you want. It covers keywords, Amazon, content SEO, rich snippets, and basically everything. But, I would buy your theme from StudioPress.
12. Become A Plugin Developer
Popular plugins usually have no problem monetizing. Yoast’s premium plugins have earned him a fortune. Cache plugins can add affiliate links to CDN and make commissions. Revolution Slider has almost 300,000 sales which at $26, means that plugin generated about $8 million.
Freemium Model – offer a free and paid version, pretty simple concept.
Use Affiliate Links – just like the photo above, the developer created a cache plugin that integrates with a CDN. Anyone who signs up with StackPath’s CDN, the developer recieves a commission (and he probably made a lot considering WP Fastest Cache a popular plugin). You can also create an analytics plugins and add an affiliate link to SEMrush. Just a few examples.
CodeCanyon – submitting your plugin to CodeCanyon will give it exposure.
13. Become A Theme Developer
The main problem I see with theme developers, is they rush launching their themes too quickly. When people buy them, they run into errors and your time spent on fixing errors and support rack up quickly. You need to create extensive documentation, tutorials, automation. StudioPress and Elegant Themes do a great job with this. And if you can create a Genesis theme and get featured on StudioPress as a third-party theme, you’ll make a pretty penny. Successful themes on ThemeForest like Avada have also made millions (literally, millions).
14. Start A Hosting Company
It’s a competitive space – you better be prepared.
Hosting companies have some of the most aggressive affiliate programs and marketing. Thankfully, people are learning why EIG is not a good choice and are open to alternatives.
- Get involved in the WordPress Hosting Facebook Group
- Get involved in the WordPress Speed Up Facebook Group
- Create an affiliate program with competitive commissions
- Integrate Let’s Encrypt SSL, Cloudflare, and other “free bonuses”
- Speed and support are the 2 biggest reasons I see people switch hosts
- When you have the budget, try to acquire data centers
- Get into the technical stuff with this starting a hosting company tutorial
- Create landing pages for each hosting type (WordPress, Joomla, cloud, dedicated, etc)
15. Website Reviews
As of December 28, 2016, Yoast discontinued their website reviews.
This leaves a huge opportunity for freelancers and WordPress SEO companies. The best part? This leads to other services you can offer clients. And I have some great templates you can use.
SEO Audit Templates I Created
- Local SEO Audit Proposal
- Local SEO Audit Template
- WordPress SEO Audit Proposal
- WordPress SEO Audit Template
Other Ideas For Making Money With WordPress
- Design Websites – if you’re in a large city, you’re better offer targeting a keyword like “Chicago WordPress Design” than “Chicago Web Design” since it’s less competitive.
- Offer A Blog Setup Service – when people buy a theme/hosting, they just want it setup so they can start playing – if setting up the flesh and bones of a blog is your thing.
- Create Citations For Local SEO – citations (directories) are sill important for local SEO and many people prefer to outsource this. Whitespark and Bright Local dominate the market, but that’s only 2 companies and the average Joe doesn’t know about them.
- Be A Guest Blogger – I would love to hire a blogger for Online Media Masters. Even though I get tons of solicitations, I haven’t not found 1 person who fits (they usually don’t have good photos and the content is short). But if I did, I’d hire them in an instant.
- Lift Google Penalties – once upon a time I got a Google Penalty, which I think was from spammy backlinks. I tried hiring some freelancers but they didn’t work. I would have paid an arm and a leg for the penalty to be lifted since it was crushing my business and income. Your clients will be desperate for results, making it a great opportunity.
- Create A Directory Website – one idea I (still) have is a catering website, where I create landing pages for each city, listing all the restaurants who providing catering, showcasing their menus, and charging them to be listed on it. I think it’s a good idea.
I hope this was helpful! Comment if you have any ideas yourself but I tried to include the ones I have experience in. Either way, I would go for the ones that have passive income ;)