Building Your Freelance Business Around WordPress

by Brian Casel

on March 28, 2010

in Business/Freelance

WordPress has been nothing short of spectacular for freelancers and clients alike. Of course, we all know it’s the go-to system for blogging, but these days it’s much more than that.

In this post, I’d like to cover how different types of freelancers can build their businesses around this great piece of open-source software. And I’m not just focusing on programmers! There’s something for everyone here, thanks to the flexibility and versatility of WordPress.

WordPress for the Freelance Designer

Are you a designer who loves to push pixels in photoshop, obsess over typography, rate color schemes on colourlovers, and endlessly search design inspiration? Not into coding PHP and working with a MySQL database? Don’t know what a MySQL database is?

Worry not. WordPress enables you to focus on perfecting and implementing a design, while also being able to deliver a package of built-in functionality, including features that you normally wouldn’t be able to program yourself.

You can go with one of the popular theme frameworks to provide all of the functional templates you’ll need to create your custom theme design. A few of those theme frameworks are:

WordPress for the Freelance Web Developer

Maybe PHP functions, callbacks, database queries, and validated code is your thing. Your expertise is not so much in how things look, but how they function. As a web developer, you’re interested (and paid) to take basic applications and extend their capabilities without limit.

WordPress is a beautiful system in this regard. This open-source software provides the perfect balance between built-in base functionality and tools to build new features on top of it. I’m talking about programming WordPress plugins and advanced theme development. Clients and designers alike will pay for an expert developer to bring these enhancements to life.

Most developers are in need an elegant design for the front-end. That’s where the market for professionally designed WordPress themes come in. There are loads of great theme designs out there, both in the free directory and in the commercial themes market. Here are a few notable theme design companies:

WordPress for the Freelance Copywriter

Copywriters can benefit from getting to know the WordPress system. Every freelancer should have their own website. I’d argue that most if not all freelancers should have their own blog too. If you’re a copywriter, you really should have your own blog because after all, you are a writer!

By following any of the links above, you can find the perfect WordPress theme to fit your personality and your business. Once you have your site up and running, take the time learn about all of the great editing features that are built into WordPress. This familiarity with the software can come in handy when you’re hired to work on a client’s WordPress-driven website. Here are a few unique features and plugins you might be interested in:

WordPress for the Freelance Photographer

Do you frame, point, and shoot for a living? WordPress can work wonders for your online portfolio. In case you weren’t aware, a WordPress blog doesn’t have to be typed. Photo blogs and portfolios are among the most popular uses of the WordPress system.

Built right into WordPress are a host of image and gallery features. You can upload, resize, and crop your images. You can align them around text, add captions and links. You can have a page of thumbnails which link to a larger version of the shot. All of this is part of the core WordPress software.

But there are several plugins available to take your photography website to the next level:

  • NextGEN Gallery – This is one of the most popular gallery plugins, offering tons of great features.
  • Flickr RSS – Easily embed Flickr photos on your site.
  • Shadowbox – My personal favorite plugin for implementing a unique lightbox effect for enlarged images.

WordPress for the Freelance Journalist

Whether you do your own personal reporting, or you work (or own) a larger news site, WordPress can be a powerful solution for your needs.

From publishing extended articles with media features like photos and video, to managing extended archives, categories, multiple authors, RSS feeds, and more. WordPress has built-in features that handle all of these things with ease and elegance.

As we all know, the biggest way to monetize a blog or online magazine is to sell advertising space. WordPress Advertising Manager is a feature-packed plugin which helps you manage and serve up advertising on your site. Many of the themes mentioned above also include nice advertising widgets to make ad management easier.

Additional Resources

The WordPress scene is growing at an extremely rapid pace and as WordPress version 3.0 is almost here, the popularity will likely skyrocket even further. Here are a few more WordPress-related things you might find helpful:

  • WordPress.org – The official site for the WordPress platform.
  • Installing WordPress – Helpful information. Your web host may have a 1-click install for WordPress, which would be even easier.
  • WordPress Codex – The official (and exhaustive) documentation for WordPress.
  • WordCamp Central – The official hub for WordCamp events, which are held in cities all over the world.
  • WP Tavern – Some call it the “WordPress Media”. Excellent source of WordPress news, great podcast, and lively forums.
  • WP Questions – A paid service to give and receive technical support for WordPress questions.
  • WordPress Resources – A nice list of WordPress resources separated by category.

How Do You Use WordPress?

Share you thoughts in the comments about how WordPress has helped your freelance business!

About the Author:

Brian Casel is a web designer and WordPress enthusiast. He runs ThemeJam, which offers professionally designed WordPress themes, site and email templates. CasJam Media is Brian’s freelance web design business. Brian loves to talk shop about freelancing and business through his blog, briancasel.com and on Twitter.

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About Brian Casel