People love to give advice. From the truly altruistic to the neighborhood know-it-all, it’s human nature to offer up advice – on any topic, solicited or not. The difference between good and bad advice is how useful it is.
Since we only like to provide useful information, we have here practical and beneficial tips on how to make your WordPress-based business successful. Originally penned by Smashing Magazine’s Siobhan McKeown with a voice toward startups, we think the advice is also a good checklist for any established business that may need a reboot or a push over a hump in performance.
For her piece, McKeown talked to numerous WordPress businesses to ask what advice they would give to those just starting a relationship with WordPress. She also threw in a few of her own pieces of advice garnered from running Words for WP, the only copywriting service dedicated to WordPress providers.
Here’s the gist of it…
- Do Bootstrap – Establish your business without the help of any external investors, such as venture capitalists and angel investors. Bootstrapping is recommended, McKeown says, because WordPress is cheap, the community is strong, and the platform is up-to-date and powerful. Most importantly, if you aren’t beholden to investors, when you do start turning a profit, that profit is yours alone.
- Do Turn WordPress Features into Client Benefits – There are so many things WordPress can do. Figure out how to bundle those features into an irresistible package of benefits for your clients, and use WordPress’s regular release cycle to give them new benefits all the time.
- Do Encourage Feedback – McKeown cites ManageWP as a resource that provides nine different ways for users to give feedback. NINE ways. There’s no excuse not to gather feedback. Feedback tells you what makes your customers happy or not , and it’s worth your time to collect, review and seriously reflect on it.
- Do Provide Excellent Support – This one is a no-brainer. To be successful, you must have a mechanism of supporting your products and be available to answer questions and solve problems for your user community – from the first sale.
- Do Get Involved – Speak to, sponsor and give back to the WordPress community. McKeown provides a list of suggested ways to do this in her piece; you can also go here to the WordPress Codex page to learn more.
- Do Research Your Market – Make sure there is an audience willing to pay for your idea before you go whole-hog into building it. What are they willing to pay? What do they expect it to do? From there you can decide if you’ve got a grand plan on your hands or if it’s time to go back to the drawing board.
- Do Get Proactive With Clients – Don’t wait for clients to come to you; go to them. This means facetime used for a discussion about their feedback and needs, not an occasional “how’s it going” email. Listen, and generate your ideas on how to build your business on what they do with it.
- Do Be Committed and Have Faith – Turning your idea or hobby into something real takes guts, and in many case a leap of faith. Think vertically AND laterally, McKeown suggests, about how to use WordPress, be persistent and tenacious, and you will succeed.
- Don’t Go It Alone – Don’t find just any partner; find the right partner. Find someone who complements your sensibilities and can take the reigns if need be. But, do your due diligence to vet out that person’s strengths and weaknesses to make sure you are a good pairing.
- Don’t Forget: Business is More Than Just Your Product – McKeown quotes the folks at Jigoshop on this one saying, “Don’t assume that open source means you won’t get stomped.” There is a lot of sharing going on in the open source community, but it’s still competitive so you have to build a brand, not just a product. Develop all aspects of your business, and “be more than your code.”
- Don’t Believe in the “Set It and Forget It” Business Model – WordPress is evolving way too fast to think that you can just put up a theme or two and watch the money roll in. Your business has to evolve too, and you have to put in the time required to do the “dos” you just read about.
- Don’t Be Let Down By Your Content – If your content isn’t clearly written and contains grammatical and spelling errors, it tells your customers that have a hard time managing even the small things about your business; so what about the big things? Take the time to create good content that compliments your business and provide as much documentation you can about your products to make sure customers are using them correctly.
- Don’t Forget to Delegate – Trying to manage everything on your own can quickly lead to stress and burnout. Trust your team to help you; if you don’t trust them, maybe you need a new team. Figure out what each person does best and trust them to make the best of that role.
- Don’t Hack the Core – This means making changes to WordPress’ core files. McKeown provides a list of reasons why this is not acceptable. Do the grown up thing she says: Submit a ticket to get the functionality you want out of WordPress or create your own plugin that does what you want it to do.
We think this is simple enough, but also comprehensive and useful. What do you think? If you’re new to WordPress or are thinking about taking the plunge and making your hobby your business, is this list helpful to you? If you already have a business, what point(s) in here resonate with your experience? Tell us your story in the comments below.