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Making the transition from WordPress developer to business owner? Read this

Making the transition from WordPress developer to business owner? Read this

Posted 25th July, 2019 by Sarah

There are four main types of WordPress user. On one side of the spectrum there are:

A) The hobbyists - five percent

B) Those that have side hustles offering services using the platform - 17 per cent

At the other end of the scale there are the pros, aka:

C) Those whose primary job is to work for a company or organisation that offers WordPress services and products - from start-to-finish site design to plug-in development. - 40 per cent

D) The self employed designers and developers - 38 per cent

Of course, there’s often movement between these roles. Hobbyists become side hustlers and side hustlers can sometimes become pros.

But one of the greatest leaps comes when Cs decide to become Ds.

Moving from the security and set rules of someone else’s company to the freedom and responsibility of running your own WordPress business can be exciting but also daunting.

Just like anyone starting a new business in any field, you’ll need to get up to speed with the business side of things - from sticking to your business plan to keeping on top of taxes and expenses. You’ll also need to acclimatise yourself to the element of risk that comes with going it alone in any field.

On top of this, you’ll also have to get your head around a few factors that are unique to setting up a WordPress business. In this blog we’ll address six of these.

You’ll need to know the golden rule for hooking new clients

According to an industry report by Delicious Brains, 66 per cent of self employed WordPress pros credit referrals from existing clients as their top source for bagging new clients. This is followed closely by referrals from peers.

With this in mind it’s worth developing your marketing strategy to make it easy and even preferable for your first few clients to recommend you to others.

You’ll have to work out your sweet spot as far as client numbers are concerned

No matter which industry you’re in, when you go it alone in business you’ll want to get a client base set up as soon as possible. Common mistakes that many new business owners make are underpricing their services to get their first clients through their virtual doors and taking on too many clients.

Fortunately, new WordPress business owners have stats to guide and inspire them when it comes to working out the sort of levels of business they should be looking at. Surveys show that the average self employed WordPress pro has between seven and 11 regular clients.

You could have down days

Mental health is being talked about increasingly within the WordPress community. There have been several insightful talks on the subject at recent WordCamps, including WordCamp Bristol 2019 and WordCamp Chicago 2018. Plus, there were mindfulness, yoga and meditation sessions at WordCamp Europe.

If you find yourself struggling, WP&UP is an organisation that’s dedicated to maintaining mental health in the WordPress community. Its website features several useful resources for professionals in the industry. You can anonymously contact the WP&UP team, listen to their podcasts, read their blog, and attend in-person events for support.

There are times when you might feel outnumbered

According to WordPress, just 21 Per Cent of the platform’s pros are women. While that won’t affect your work, it might leave you feeling a little underrepresented on occasions.

Fortunately, there are all sorts of resources out there that you can access to combat any such feelings. You could start by following a few inspiring WordPress pros on twitter, if you’re not already doing so. Often featured in round-ups of WP women to watch are WordPress writer and expert Sarah Gooding aka @pollyplummer and self-proclaimed WordPress fan girl and developer Kathy Drewien @kdrewien.

Then there’s the Women in WP bi-monthly podcast to follow. It’s about women who blog, design, develop, and market in the WordPress community.

You’ll need to set yourself up to work remotely and globally

Statistics suggest that, like many creative business start-up owners, more than half of WordPress developers work remotely. So, to ensure there are no hiccups with your client communications, you’ll need to ensure you’re set up with communication tools like Slack, Zoom and/or Skype.

You’ll also need to bear in mind that, of all the thousands of WordPress pros around the world, only 5.8 per cent are based in the UK. When you start out as a self employed pro, you’ll probably operate as a lone ranger. However, as your business grows, you’ll find yourself needing to enlist talent and you might find that talent a little further afield than Britain. Again, this is where familiarising yourself with the above communication tools will come in handy.

You’ll need to learn to temper your sacrifices as your business blossoms

There are many reasons why WordPress pros decide to go self employed. One of those reasons is because they want the freedom to work on new, sometimes more challenging or creative projects, rather than the ones their boss’s line up for them.

However, as your business grows you may find that you need to delegate the fun jobs to other developers and creatives so you can focus on the business side of things.

If you don’t have the chance to stretch your development or design muscles, however, you may start to feel burned out. Delegating business management tasks and making smart hires will be key to freeing up your time to take on occasional creative projects.

You can also keep your hand in by participating in one-day coding events, Contributor Days and conferences such as WordCamps.

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