How to Start Freelancing with WordPress, Especially if You’re a Noob

That was the title of my presentation (or at least the first title I came up with) this past weekend at the inaugural Wordcamp in Atlanta!

It was a blast and it was great seeing many new faces as well as meeting face-to-face a number of people that I have come to know (and follow) through the interwebs.

And, apparently I was able to help at least one person at the WordPress Help Desk too.

Here’s a copy of my presentation. (Here’s the Powerpoint version as well.)

Please note that it’s pretty much just images (I take a Steve Job’s approach to presentations) but here are the notes in written form (Thanks to Matt Haff who pretty much transcribed them as I was sharing them!):

3 Stages of My Freelance Development

I began my talk sharing 3 specific “stages” in my freelance development with WordPress that I thought would be worth considering. The first stage (or year) was a year of just figuring things out. I learned to install WordPress, which was huge (of course) and I literally got my first job a few weeks after learning just how to install the darn thing!

So, from the first install, I began exploring these 5 things:

  1. How to price.
  2. Servers and Hosting for WordPress.
  3. Platform knowledge. Essentially, how well do I really know WordPress? (Should know it inside and out!)
  4. Understanding my own personal network and how to leverage it.
  5. Managing Expectations. This one is huge! In fact, I had an entire spot in my preso about that.

The next stage, or year, was about exploration and experimentation. Essentially, that next year I began looking into alternative business models, ways to earn cash, and expand my understanding. These 5 concentrations were the following:

  1. Themes
  2. Hosting
  3. Upgrading, Management, Maintenance
  4. Plugins, Development, and Code
  5. Strategy Consulting

Finally, the last “stage” (and the continually growing area) was developing my business:

  1. Financial and Business Models
  2. Legal stuff, taxes, paperwork (boring)
  3. Building a team and expansion
  4. Full time or part time commitment?
  5. Time and project management

One of the things I constantly stressed throughout my presentation is that if you’re not having fun then you should get out now. It also will be a great gauge as to what specifically you’ll want to concentrate your business development on.

Contracts and Managing Expectations

This was very important for me and I got burned (and learned) a lot about how to do this the best. Managing the expectations of your clients and knowing exactly what you’re responsible for and what you’re not will save you time, money, energy and heartache.

Trust me.

By doing this well you do everything better. Get those good contracts in place, silo responsibilities, manage well, watch for scope creep, and stand your ground.

And Finally…

Finally, a few things that I mentioned that were critical to my success were:

  • Keep Learning: Never stop being curious. This has been the best indication that I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing because I’m never not curious about what I do!
  • Networking is UBER: Get in with the people that are better than you and that can bring you business.
  • Take a Break: Vacations are awesome. Time off is good and healthy. Learn to say no and do something else with your life other than WordPress!
  • Have Fun!

That’s that. I had a blast leading a talk about something I’m passionate about. I’ll do it again in a heartbeat…!

Here’s to a great 2010 in the freelancing world of WordPress!