WordPress News Is Free. So Who Would Pay For It?

In light of my recent appearance on DradCast, the topic of conversation recently has focused on whether WordPress news centric websites can be self-sustainable. I came to the conclusion that they can’t which was the basis behind my WordPress news sites disappearing into the bermuda triangle post. I’ve had a chance to look at all the feedback surrounding the topic and it’s clear that some have totally missed the point I was trying to make. Some of the websites that have repeatedly been used as examples of success in this market include WPDaily.co, WPBeginner, WPCandy, and WPMU.org to name a few. The only website in that group that comes close to what I tried to achieve is WPCandy. The other sites all have a source of income that is not based on the content they are publishing.

WPDaily.co – This website is backed by 8Bit

WPBeginner – They offer services such as consulting and custom WordPress designs.

WPMU.org – This site is funded by a commercial plugins and themes

WPRealm – All of the contributors are compensated outside of the content they produce on WPRealm.

Starting to notice a trend here?

All four of those websites publish WordPress news and related items on a routine basis but they’re also excellent examples of the primary point I made: A news centric website takes so much time and energy to maintain and keep fresh, it’s not worth it in the long run unless you have a company backing you or an auxiliary source of cash that pays the bills and puts food on the table at the same time.

A number of people suggested I should have started a consulting section on WPTavern but that was something I was never interested in doing. I was and still am a content creation guy. I needed to figure out how to make the content I created pay for the bills while also getting to the point where the site was self-sustainable. I tried affiliate links for themes and plugins I reviewed, display advertising, sponsorships, nothing I tried was as consistent as a 40 hour work week. I did toy with the idea of putting up a paywall but I wanted as many people as possible to read what I had to say.

I believe that there is space to make money providing WordPress news and information without selling out. I also think that this notion that there would be a void had Matt Mullenweg not bailed out the Tavern and funded Jeff to write there is totally false.

The WordPress ecosystem is a market like any other, and holes in markets tend to be filled. What fills a hole in a particular market may take different shape over time as the solutions evolve, but people are always out there to fill voids. Especially if you can do something to fill a void that you are passionate about. Brian Krogsgard – PostStat.us On WordPress News Sites

I agree with Brian that there would not have been a void had the Tavern disappeared. Once things started to go south on this website, WPCandy was rocking and rolling. I watched from the sideline as WPCandy became the coolest place to be in the WordPress community and saw Ryan Imel take ideas I had for the Tavern and turn them into reality e.g. the first print edition WordPress magazine, The WPCandy Quarterly. Once things started to go south for WPCandy, WPDaily.co became the new popular watering hole. There is never a void in the WordPress news space.

One of the few people to understand my original point is Curtis McHale. He has an ongoing conversation taking place on Google+. At the end of his comment, he asks the following question: Can a WordPress site monetize just on the news it produces? It may be a naïve assumption that it’s possible (without a ton of ads). A similar type question asked on WMPU.org Is WordPress news worth paying for? After my experience with WPTavern, I don’t think it’s possible for a WordPress news centric site to survive solely on the content it produces. I’m interested to see if Brian proves me wrong with PostStat.us.

I’ll close out this post by providing these words of wisdom.

My advice to anyone wanting to start a WordPress news centric website, especially if you think it’s going to make you some money is to stop immediately. Focus your efforts on where the real cash is. Commercial plugins, themes, and services. A news centric website takes so much time and energy to maintain and keep fresh, it’s not worth it in the long run unless you have a company backing you or an auxiliary source of cash that pays the bills and puts food on the table at the same time. The value and worth comes from writing code, not text.

Who is Jeff Chandler


Jeff Chandler is a WordPress guy in the buckeye state. Contributing writer for WPTavern. Have been writing about WordPress since 2007. Host of the WordPress Weekly Podcast.

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