Jason Schuller has published a great post that takes us on a journey on how he went from point A to point B. Two years ago, Jason was sitting in a cubicle. Today, he is one of the top guns when it comes to commercial WordPress themes. His story is not only inspirational but it really hits home for me. Right now, I’m in the same situation. I think about quitting my job all the time. I sometimes get pretty depressed that I have no career in front of me. I don’t have a salary where I get paid at least 30-40 thousand dollars a year. I’m 28 years old and the only thing going for me is WPTavern.com. Within the next three months, I’ll be moving out of my parents house into one of my own with my wife to be. I’m starting to feel the pressure of the need to make more money to at least keep the bills paid.
Part of my reason for not quitting my job just yet is that I’m afraid. I’ve given that grocery store 10 years of my life and right now, I make about $13.75 an hour with anywhere between 16 and 35 hours a week. I’m also trying to figure out a plan to properly monetize my passion so I can continue to do it while paying the bills at the same time. However, unlike Jason, I do not have a theme or plugin to sell. Also, consultant work is out of my league. What I truly enjoy doing is continuing to write about the evolution of WordPress through this website. I also love the fact that I can provide a wide outlet for people to share their stories on how they use the software. Anyone who has ever interviewed me for a podcast or for a textual post realizes that I love talking about the software. After all, that’s why I have my own show. So I what I love to do is generate content without being tied down into what I can write about. The problem is, this content is free so I have to come up with other creative ways to generate revenue. Here is a list of current methods with a couple of other methods I’m thinking about.
Existing Revenue Streams
Display Advertising – This has worked well for me since I added it to the site. The only problem is that the display ads do not get as many clicks as advertisers would like. However, the display ads definitely provide visual awareness of their product or service.
Audio Advertising – This has also worked well for me although there are currently no advertising slots being used on the show. This type of advertising is two deals in one. Not only do the listeners get to hear about a product, event, or service, but the text as well as a link to it is provided within the content of the show notes.
Affiliated Reviews – This method by far has had the biggest impact on me in 2010. Especially the review I did of BackupBuddy. Affiliated reviews have definitely picked up the slack during the times when there were open display advertising slots. I’ve also taken to the idea of any affiliated review I perform gets added to the Tavern store since the review post can get lost after a few days.
Revenue Stream Ideas
Branded Merchandise – I’m currently researching various companies to figure out how I could easily create some WPTavern branded merchandise for folks to purchase. I wouldn’t mind having a WPTavern mug myself or a couple of shirts to give away at any WordCamps I attend. Since the audience has pushed me for merchandise, I’ll figure out a way to deliver. The only problem with going through a company is that the prices are generally steep and I only make profit if I charge above the flat rate price. However, the convenience of not having to package and ship the items myself makes up for that.
VIP Membership – Longtime fans of WPTavern.com know that I was very close to putting in a pay wall for the forum. However, I backed out of it after a lengthy discussion. I’m now considering doing it again but instead of making the entire forum a pay wall, I will be creating a new section in the forum exclusively for those who pay a membership fee of $25.00 a year which I think is fair with all things considered. Some of the perks I’m working on include special monthly deals on commercial products or services, an area where members can post and respond to job offers, a private forum that can be seen or responded to by ONLY paying members, a special discount on any of the merchandise I sell as well as any other perks I can think of.
WordCamp Sponsorship – I’ve toyed with this idea before but I turned it down because I didn’t want to be a shill for a company. However, after giving it some more thought, I’m pretty sure I can conduct my business at a WordCamp without that happening. I’m going to try and come up with a price that at least covers my airfare and hotel to a city where a WordCamp is being held. During this trip, any video content, audio content, or posts that are generated from the event will be branded with the sponsors company, product or service. Also, if the sponsor sends me some sort of sponsor package with business cards, a hat or shirt branded by them that I could wear, buttons, etc. that would be even better. I even wouldn’t mind giving that companies stuff away to any fans in attendance. The key here is that this would allow me to work for the people, work for myself, and work for the company that sponsors me all at the same time without having to worry about the financial aspects of it all.
I really hate the grocery store where I work but the thought of quitting and not having job security is scary, especially when I know I can make one to two-hundred dollars per week if need be. With WPTavern, there might be a week that goes by where I don’t get paid anything and payments come in at all different times of the month. It’s also important to note that much of the money that WPTavern makes goes back into the site or helps pay for my travels to WordCamps. Not much of it is used to directly pay myself.
Also, it is my strong belief that if making money is your only goal in life, you will probably spend the rest of your life chasing that goal and never end up where you want to be. I realize that the title of this article is “How I Monetized My Passion”, but what I really mean by that is money can sometimes become a by-product of chasing your passions. Money is not a bad thing, but it really should not be your means to happiness. When I left my day job two years ago, money was never my end game, and I hope it’s not yours when/if you decide to make a major change in your life. Let your interests and your passions be the driving force behind change in your life – I did.
In my situation, money is not the end all be all. Money is what will help me to continue doing what I love to do. I don’t want to become filthy rich from running an enthusiast community, I just want to make enough to continue doing what I’m doing while being able to put bread on the table and give my wife to be the confidence that what I’m doing is paying off. A sense of accomplishment and well being wouldn’t hurt either.
Thanks for the post Jeffro, was interesting reading. I have to say I have really enjoyed the WordPress Weekly broadcasts on TalkShoe, it was great to hear all the theme, and plugin guys talking about their businesses and offering advice to others considering setting up a WordPress centric development site (which is the position I am in currently).
I know exactly what you mean about job security even if it is one that you don’t enjoy. But hearing posts like the one Jason did does inspire you to conquer those fears. :)