$2000 Your First Month Developing Websites – WordPress the Right Way
$2000 Your First Month Developing Websites – WordPress the Right Way
Why Use WordPress?
In order to reach your goal of $2k in one month, you need to be able to provide clients with powerful tools and great design. There are not many platforms that successfully balance these needs. As a beginner web developer, picking a well-documented platform is a key consideration.
Although the Webflow platform is very powerful, in my opinion, it can only be leveraged properly by someone with at least a few web projects under their belt.
The combination of pre-built themes and an insane number of plugins for WordPress make it an easy choice for beginners. Additionally, when you eventually hand off the website to your client, they may want to be able to make small changes or add their own posts/articles. WordPress makes this super easy.
Learn about other ways to make money as a developer.
- Development Process
- Getting Clients
- Billing and Contract
- Support and Hosting
WordPress Development Process
Picking a Template
I need to be really clear about this. I have two golden rules when it comes to WordPress themes.
(1) DO NOT USE A FREE TEMPLATE for your client’s website.
My experience has told me that you get what you pay for when it comes to themes. The best place I’ve found for purchasing WordPress themes is the Envato Marketplace. In fact, this site uses the Jevelin theme.
Most of the quality templates are between $40-$100. Don’t let this discourage you. This is the kind of expense that you plan for when creating a quote for your client. They will happily pay for the price of the theme given the features included.
(2) Consider the business requirements of your client when looking for a theme
If your client needs to be able to accept payments – look for integration with 3rd party payment processors. When the client wants to let customers schedule appointments – look for calendar integration. If your client just wants a basic web presence, find a theme that allows them to showcase their pride in their business.
Quick Case Study
You have a client that is starting a podcast. They want users to be able to listen to their episodes on their website as well as share a teaser of future episodes. Because the majority of their audience listens to the podcast on a mobile device, the website needs to be responsive.
Hands down, I’d pick the Megaphone theme and I’d look for a backup plugin to help them keep automatic backups of the episodes.
Avoid Stock Photos*
Stock photos are great for getting the initial look and feel approved by the client. However, you should avoid using stock photos for companies. Often, small businesses rely on trust with their customers. By using generic photos of office folk on the front page of their site, they are losing all credibility and trust as a local reliable service.
Depending on the client, they may have a person or department that manages their marketing, use their marketing images and colors when possible.
If not, coordinate with the client as part of the quote and see if they are willing to pay for you to bring in a photographer to get custom pictures of people, products, and services.
Initially, this was the most difficult part of earning money by developing websites. The idea of cold-calling and emailing potential customers is absolutely mortifying. Luckily, I have found a way to avoid this process. Instead of focusing on cold leads, I like to focus on “warm” leads. These are people that exist on the outer edges of your social circle or companies that operate in a niche you are familiar.
Start with your Inner Circle
Everybody knows someone who is trying to get a business off the ground or already has one. Start by asking your friends and family if they know anyone or could introduce you to someone that might be interested in a new or updated website.
This has two significant benefits. First, the person is more likely to discuss their business with someone that they already know or are familiar with. Second, because you and the potential client have someone in common, it’s not so awkward to talk with them, like it would be for a totally random person.
Prospecting for Clients
There is an infinite number of articles about prospecting. My most successful approach is what I like to call the “bullet-proof prospecting process”. It doesn’t require an email list or a system to manage client relationships. For brevity, I’ve written this process as a separate article, check it out now.
Billing and Contracts
It’s time to get paid. But how do you do it? Don’t fret, it’s not as hard as it sounds. There are many options for you to choose from. The two I’ve found to be the easiest to use are QuickBooks and Square/Stripe. The benefit of using QuickBooks is that it gets you started with keeping track of all your business expenses and revenue. But, you can also send digital invoices directly from QuickBooks and you can avoid ever directly asking the client for payment.
As a side note: the client can pay you with credit or debit, so you don’t need to worry about accepting cash or check.
How Much Can I Charge?
The simple math behind billing I use is:
(Expenses + Rate) * 1.1 = Total Charge
Let’s break each of these down so you understand my reasoning. Usually, even for a basic website that is just informational, the average total billed comes to about $1-2k.
- Travel Expenses
- Theme & Plugin
- Initial Domain & Hosting
- Any specialized tools or software required for the client
- This adds 10% to the total of Expenses and Rate
- Covers the inevitable last minute changes
- Immediate Support Questions
- Creating documentation
- Hourly Billing or Flat Billing
- Based on your experience
- Based on the value provided to the customer
Figuring out your rate can seem really difficult, but, let’s discuss so that it’s not daunting. As a beginner, I suggest using hourly billing – this makes it so that you are getting paid for all of the extra time and effort you are spending on learning. As you become more efficient, it becomes less efficient for you to bill hourly because the same project you completed earlier this year might take you half as long! Instead, once you know the value the site is adding to your customer, create a flat fee accordingly.
Creating a Contract
The contract needs to outline a minimum of three things:
- Scope of Features
- Payment Schedule
- Ownership of project
- (optional) Long-term support
When it comes to putting together a contract, I personally use this contract as a template. However, if this isn’t your style, I’m sure a lawyer would be happy to help you draft a contract for a small fee.
Support and Hosting
Charge For Support
Web projects will never stop needing updates and support. As browsers update, plugins become deprecated, and client needs change, they will expect you to be there to help. The best way to handle this is to simply negotiate an hourly rate for support during your initial contract. Usually, the support rate should be higher than your hourly development rate as it likely requires a bit of research on top of regular development.
The client will feel comfortable that they can reach out to you for help and you will be happy knowing that you’re not wasting valuable time fixing bugs in old projects. Win-Win.
Should You Host?
Unless you are planning to be a web host long term and you are going to hire staff to help you, I would avoid hosting your clients projects.
Instead, I prefer to have the client pay for the cost of hosting with a webhost such as 1&1 Ionos, GoDaddy, HostGator, etc…I do this because it does not force the client to go through me for future updates. The benefit is that if they want to work with someone else they can, additonally, if you move on and stop web development you don’t need to migrate a client.