WPMU Dev offer a veritable plethora of plugins which you can utilise to start a money making website, add to an existing website to monetise it or to organise your physical business.
The great thing about combining WordPress and WPMU Dev plugins is you don’t need to be a developer to create money making websites, all you need is a basic knowledge of WordPress and the motivation. I’m not going to go through website setups, this is not a tutorial. Instead let’s go through some of the plugins and talk about ideas that could generate an income for your website or improve your existing income.
MarketPress is literally your one stop shop. It includes everything you need to build a successful online store. No need for costly, separate extensions or add-ons like some other plugins. It’s also Multisite and BuddyPress compatible, not every ecommerce plugin can boast that.
Why use MarketPress over a hosted solution like Shopify? Well that’s probably another post all in itself but I can bring it down to one word; flexibility. Trust me if you can setup your own online store, you should!
OK well the obvious one here is you can start an online shop…duh. OK very obvious but let’s talk about different scenarios and generate some ideas.
So you’ve discovered that you can make something amazing. All your friends love it, you give it for gifts and have even sold a few via friends but you don’t have a website. You want to test the market but don’t have the capital or don’t want to risk renting a property and having all the bills that go along with that. What to do…
Well you have made the erudite decision to start selling online and setting up stalls in local markets to get your product out there. Go do it, buy a domain and hosting, install WordPress, then MarketPress and you are half way there.
If you have a website with good traffic then you are doing something right, well done! Don’t feel guilty if you want to capitalise a bit on your popularity, here are some ideas to get the juices flowing;
Think about your user base and why they are visiting your website. Are you a club? If so what can you sell that would be of interest to your visitors? An example could be you have a classic motorcycle website with a forum (dustybikers.com yep just thought of that and at the time of writing this it’s available, good eh). You could start selling vintage bike parts, clothing and helmets. Maybe you could print your own Dusty Bikers t-shirts, badges, patches, fridge magnets and mugs. It could even be digital products like pdf repair manuals.
Look at your user base, put yourself in their shoes and think “what would I buy from this website”.
Do you have a cool website name or logo which will lend itself to making cool t-shirts etc?
What do you think is cool? Chances are other classic bikers might think the same.
OK so I have focussed on an idea I plucked from the depths of my brain but you can take the above and apply it to your own website. It’s just thinking after all. Once you have done all that thinking install MarketPress and get cracking.
Classifieds makes it easy to install and setup but it can be hard to make it successful. Classifieds also works fantastically with Multisite and BuddyPress, making it easy to bolt on this functionality onto your existing community.
Don’t just think that adding a classifieds section to your website will be an instant hit and make you oodles of cash (see what I did there ;). The reality is it probably won’t make you a huge amount unless you have a large niche user base. The niche user base is really key here, there are so many big classifieds websites out there that it’s almost impossible to get a foothold in that market. However taking my previous example (Dusty Bikers), you could see that a large user base of classic bike enthusiasts would lend itself well to a healthy classifieds section.
My advice would be to offer the service for free and charge for premium listings. This operating structure will be the most popular with users and help you build up the adverts but you will have to contend with the inevitable spam ads.
Pro Sites is one of those plugins that personally gets me really excited and gets me thinking about lots of ideas on how to use it and ultimately make some cash from it.
If you haven’t heard of it Pro Sites basically allows you to build a network of WordPress installs like WordPress.com. So Joe Bloggs can sign up and start his own blog/website via yours. You then either charge for the privilege or make it free to create but charge for the extras like premium themes and plugins.
This is such a great, flexible plugin that surely must be one of WPMU Dev’s best sellers, (are you sensing a “but” coming) BUT how do you build a successful network? Well from personal experience I know this is no mean feat. I have a niche beekeeping website which at the time I switched over to WordPress, BuddyPress and Pro Sites had a small but loyal user base. I wanted to give my users the ability to start their own beekeeping blog via my website. Beekeeping I think lends itself to people wanting to write about and record their experiences, there are blogs dotted about all over on the subject.
It turns out that a niche market and a decent amount of visitors just is not enough. OK it helps that Joe Bloggs is interested in your topic and he visits your site but why will he start a website with you? Why won’t he just go over to WordPress.com and start one there? Or if he is slightly tech savvy he could just start his own website with WordPress. Here are my thoughts on why it didn’t work for me:
- You need an active community, whether it’s on a forum or via BuddyPress tools. It’s so hard to achieve this and ultimately my user base was just not large or active enough on the website.
- Give them something useful. I didn’t really offer them anything different than the big boys like WordPress.com. In retrospect I should have created some beekeeping themes, perhaps with built in functionality for logging events when checking hives. I could have reached out to local beekeepers, asking if they would start a blog and offer them WordPress training. I say in retrospect but I did actually think of the themes thing at the time but it meant a lot more of my time and I just couldn’t spare it.
- No marketing is bad marketing. I really didn’t market this awesome new website functionality. I thought my visitors would eventually start signing up for it, after all why not right. Wrong! The only signups I got was spam, spam and more spam.
There seems to be a bit of a theme here: time. You need to invest a good bit of time in building a website of this type, whether it’s building extra features, reaching out to potential users or marketing in general. Having an existing niche user base will help but getting an active community going is essential.
Another tip is to take a serious look into stopping splogging and spamming. WPMU Dev offers a good plugin to help with this too.
Despite my failure however, I am still excited by this plugin and the possibilities it provides, ah so many ideas, so little time and so few hands.
This much improved version of Membership is a bit of a triumph in my opinion. The setup of this plugin has vastly improved from the previous version and is really easy to get to grips with. A breeze to use in admin and with some tweaking can be visually engaging on the front end. When I put forward some suggestions on the forum on how to improve Membership 2 Pro they were taken on board and implemented in the very next release!
And yes it’s what we use to power the WP Tweaks website! That’s right we don’t just talk the talk people. In fact we use a whole heap of WPMU Dev plugins because they’re awesome.
But how can you utilise Membership 2 Pro to generate revenue. Well the plugin is so flexible you have a number of options and can limit access to almost anything. Essentially you either want to sell a service or access to special content.
Perhaps you are a milkman, a newsagent or SEO guru. You could use Membership 2 Pro to charge your customers automatically each month, leaving you free to deliver their milk, paper and higher organic page rank. So many services could use Membership 2 Pro it’s unreal.
Selling content is a little harder, I think even the large newspapers are struggling to pull that one off online. However you could be an amazing tutorial writer and have a whole set on how to power your whole house with a permanent magnet alternator, water and some clever engineering (I’d buy that)! If that’s the case I’m pretty sure you could utilise another WPMU Dev plugin; CoursePress Pro.
You’re running an event and want to sell tickets: Events+
You are a glutton for punishment and want to start your own web hosting business: WHMCS MU Provisioning
You look into crystal balls, read fortunes and need to organise appointments and take payments: Appointments+
Phew, that didn’t even cover all the great plugins available at WPMU DEV that can help you make some cash from your WordPress website. If you haven’t already get over there and check them all out.
I hope this post has got you thinking about some ways you can monetise your site or start a new business online. Either way you can see from just the few examples above that WPMU Dev is a pretty invaluable resource and great place to go for WordPress Plugins.
Got any more ideas? Comment below.