Software, Development, and WordPress

How Others Find You (As a Developer)

If you’re working on starting a business – be it a side-income, freelance, agency, or whatever – and you want to build it on top of WordPress, one of the considerations that you have to make is how to actually attain clients.

To be clear, this is not a post on client acquisition, marketing, or anything like that. That’s not the type of stuff I discuss here (nor is it my forte). If you’re really interested in that, check out my friend Curtis McHale’s blog.

Helping you answer the hard questions about your business

Helping you answer the hard questions about your business

Instead, this is more about how you help others find you if you’re not entering the product space.

When working with WordPress, it seems like we’re faced with a dilemma:

  • Do I enter into the product space?
  • Do I enter into the custom development space?

For what it’s worth, I think it’s a false dilemma because you could enter both. Regardless, I think that the majority of us would say that entering into the product space would help generate more business because it would help us generate a reputation more quickly than if we got into the custom development space.

Think about the number of theme and plugin shops that you’re aware of. Or perhaps think about the number of hosting companies that exist solely for WordPress.

Now try to name the same number of custom development shops.

It’s a little harder, isn’t it? But this doesn’t mean one is any more effective or any better than the other. They are fundamentally two different types of businesses. That is, one is in the product business and one is in the service business.

Each of them have their own pros and cons (none of which I’m going to go into in this post), but just because we tend to be aware of product companies more than service companies does not mean that that’s the reason to go into that business.

Building products and providing services or custom solutions are two completely different beasts. I don’t think anyone would argue that. As such, each one requires a completely different methodology for bringing awareness to themselves.

And though I’ve worked in the product space a little bit (read: a minuscule amount), there are a few things that I’ve found as it relates to blogging that I think can help bring awareness to you and/or your brand.

  • On Blogging. This is something that most people will likely suggest – and with good reason: It works. But it takes a lot of time. Not only does it take time to come up with content for posts, but it takes time for the blog to gain traction. It’s easy to set out with intentions of doing great things, but it’s also easy to to achieve burn out. Rather than putting some elaborate plan, just opt to write a few times a week.
  • Your Wins. I’m not saying that you should brag, but write about some of the success you’ve had. You can always frame it in the context of a story such that you were presented with a challenge that you overcame. There’s a clear line between talking about the things you’ve done and simply being arrogant. Be the former.
  • Your Losses. I’ve failed, you’ve failed, and we’ll continue to fail. It sucks. There’s nothing glamorous about it and it’s something we’d rather hide than anything else (at least I think that’s the case). But it’s also the nature of being alive. That doesn’t mean something worth sharing doesn’t come out of it. If nothing else, you can prevent others from experiencing the same problems that you did if you just walk them through what you did, why it was wrong, and how you’d do it differently.
  • Your Learnings. Most of the blogs that I read and the people who I follow don’t know everything about everything. Few know a lot of about something. Many know a lot about a little. I can’t speak for everyone, but I’m trying to hard to get really good at doing deep dives on a few topics in order to make myself as valuable as possible in the fields to which I’m most interested. Do the same thing with your blog: Write about what you’re learning. If someone else already knows it, cool – maybe they’ll chime in; if not, no big deal. Someone else may not know it, so they can learn from you.

There’s more to this and I’ll likely do a follow up post, but I’ve had a few people ask me questions about this particular topic so rather than responding to each person individually, I thought it might make sense to draft it all up into a single post to which I can refer them.

So if it helps, awesome; if not, please do carry on (or feel free to share your thoughts in the comments, as well).


  1. Donna

    After reading this and listening to the likes of Chris Lema, I’m realizing that writing one-off posts on my personal blog isn’t going to cut it any longer. Now the question I’m struggling with though is what type of content to write on my personal blog, and what to write about on the site where I offer my plugins. Any advice on that from anyone?


    • Tom

      That’s a good question!

      I don’t know what other people may suggest; however, I use to maintain a personal blog that I used to simply share random things I found interesting or other one off posts.

      I eventually killed it because it took too much time away from other things.

      As far as a professional blog or a blog for your plugins, I’d recommend starting small:

      Set a schedule for, say, two to three times a week.

      Talk about what you’re working on, why it’s useful, resources you’ve found useful, anything that’s tangentially related to what you’re doing

      Plan out a few weeks of content in advance. That way, you have a backlog of content to carry you through while you work on content that will come later.

      Over time, you will definitely build up muscle memory and the ideas will kind of flood your mind so that writing and blogging will become part of what you do.

      Think of it as a part of your business – it’s content marketing. And when you think of it that way, I think it can help frame how to approach it.

  2. JP

    Hey Tom, thanks for the article. What advice would you give my friends who run a business (Tliden Tasks) that fits between product and the custom development space – fixed monthly cost managed WordPress site maintenance?


    • Tom

      There’s probably more to write than a comment could hold for this particular space.

      It sounds to be like they are more in the services-oriented business (that is, providing a hosting service) rather than the custom development and hosting space (unless I’m missing something). And modeling the business against that particular strategy all depends on where they are, the long term goals, attracting and retaining customers, etc., etc., etc.

      To be honest, I may not be the best person to ask about that as I focus more on custom development and solutions for others rather than a mix of the two or in the hosting business.

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