Becoming a renowned WordPress consultant takes time, patience, resilience, energy, and determination. You may have learned to install WordPress and tweak themes but you have a long way to go before you can market your services as a consultant.
To be an expert in this field, you need the skills to work on the WordPress platform’s fundamental coding concepts and infrastructure. As you learn, you will be able to create themes, custom plugins, and various WordPress modules. To do all these things correctly, you should be an expert on every part of the platform and programming languages.
Below, we will lay out the basics of what it may take to explore a field in WordPress consulting.
The Basic Languages Used in WordPress
Before you dive in head first into WordPress consulting, you first need to identify the knowledge you currently possess or will need to learn. Being able to use various languages within the platform is a crucial skill of a WordPress consultant. Ideally, you should comprehend all the languages used in the platform.
Hypertext Markup Language (HTML)
HTML is a powerful tool and the foundation language of the WordPress platform. When you understand how to use this language, you can easily create and design sites within WordPress. As a WordPress consultant, you’ll work on elements such as headings, page titles, data tables, paragraph text, and more.
Cascading Style Sheets
The CSS language provides the format for the layout of pages on a site. An example of the usefulness of CSS is the ability to make sweeping changes across the entire site. Without CSS, you would need to update individual pages, boxes, sidebars, etc. If the font needs to be updated on all ten pages of a site, a WordPress consultant would use a CSS style sheet to create uniformity in an instant. To learn the basics of CSS, we’ve compiled a list of resources for you.
Hypertext Pre-Processor (PHP)
The original name for this language was actually “personal home page”. However, over time, PHP grew to include a much broader set of functions and was renamed Hypertext Pre-Processor but kept the acronym.
PHP is an open source HTML-based scripting language. When a PHP page is accessed, the script is parsed, by the hosting server. The PHP output is typically returned as HTML which can then be read by the browser. Since PHP becomes HTML before a webpage even loads, users almost never have access to the original PHP. Because of this, PHP is secure enough to access data as well as house other secure information.
We’ve put together a guide to help you understand how PHP is used within the WordPress platform.
MySQL is a database management system. Like PHP, it is an open source format which allows developers and consultants to download and use for free. Because of this, the combination of MySQL and PHP is used widely across sites that are mainly data driven.
A WordPress consultant would use MySQL, in conjunction with PHP, in pages that are considered dynamic. This means that content of each webpage is derived from a database to generate the page.
A tool like phpMyAdmin, which is for advanced users, can help a WordPress consultant manage the MySQL data of a site.
In your quest to be a rockstar WordPress consultant, this section is mandatory.
If you want to be sure you’re executing scripts correctly, especially using jQuery, Professor Benjamin is here to help.
A WordPress consultant would use Ajax to receive and send data or change page content without reloading it. WordPress uses it to autosave drafts whenever users make posts to minimize risks of data loss. Additionally, using Ajax helps webpages become more responsive and interactive.
You don’t have to master the entirety of the languages listed above. However, as you strive towards becoming a WordPress consultant, it’s important to have a working understanding. It will also help you match clients’ expectations and have greater market exposure.
Build a List of Resources About WordPress
To apply the basics, you need to learn about the WordPress platform. There are plenty of resources available to help you gain the skills of a top-notch WordPress developer, as discussed below.
It would be wise to start by setting up a WordPress Sandbox since it familiarizes you with the platform’s functions and the dashboard in a secure environment. It also has various tutorials from various online courses that you can follow along to learn more.
WordPress Codex helps you to search for officially approved terms and tutorials. It gives you access to the platform’s foundation and enables you to master the interface from a user’s perspective. You can also use it as a reference when coding.
Lots of blogs give insights about the platform to keep you up-to-date on any trends. You will discover more efficient ways to use WordPress; thus, subscribe for updates. Make it a habit to read them and give feedback to the authors.
If you are a beginner, it would be best to start with the basic ones, such as WordPress for Dummies. The 9th edition of this series will be available January 7th, 2021 and is written by our friend Lisa Sabin-Wilson. You will learn how to use and navigate around the platform. If you are already past the beginner stage, more advanced editions are available.
Dedicated WordPress Courses
You may decide to have experts take you through the process for faster growth. We offer several WordPress tutorials. Additionally, as an iThemes Training member, you gain access to:
- All new premium courses that have been developed and released during your membership year, such as the monthly live training sessions with Nathan Ingram titled Freelance Leap Year.
- Course replays and downloads to watch and learn at your convenience. One such replay available as a member is Speeding Up WordPress with Nathan Ingram and AJ Morris.
- Exclusive members-only Slack Channel with advice, tips & feedback
- An extensive library of professional WordPress training
- WordPress basics training to help you learn WordPress
- Access to the annual WordPress Developer Course
You can also check the central hub used by all types of WordPress contributors from designers, translators, testers, developers, and more.
The WordPress Developer Site
If you want more information from an expert’s view, the WordPress developer site has advanced topics to further your understanding. You can find guides for developing plugins and themes.
Take Part in the WordPress Community
You think that coders only work on WordPress, but actively taking part in the community will teach you a lot. You will get in touch with other experts from language specialists, business owners, back-end consultants, marketing people, freelance web developers, among many. They can assist you wherever you are stuck, especially when you become a valuable member.
The WordPress community hosts thousands of events around the world every year. And for 2020, many of these are still being held online. You can even join Post Status. This is where WordPress business professionals connect.
WordPress Tutorial Sites
Multiple tutorial sites offer full courses on WordPress. Having access to a place where you can get information on how to apply the essential languages practically is a great start. A few of them include Code Academy and Code Avengers.
Forums & Slack Channels
Forums may not be seen as a popular way for a WordPress consultant to get started but it’s beneficial to widen your resources. The best part about this method is helping you find friends in the same industry you can email to clarify why something did not work. The WordPress Forums are available even if you are not a WordPress user, making this tool valuable to beginners.
Another excellent communication tool is Slack. As mentioned earlier, becoming an iThemes Training member gives you access to an exclusive Slack channel that offers advice, tips, and tricks.
Choose Your Area of Expertise
As a prospective WordPress consultant, you will be grateful to learn that WordPress is a versatile, broad, and continually evolving area. Depending on your interests or skill set, you can choose the entry point that suits you best.
However, gaining strong technical knowledge on crucial niches like plugins and themes, opens more doors. Once you choose a specialty, you can work in various industries.
WordPress Business Consultant
To work as a business consultant you need to be well-versed in making WordPress presentations for business events. Being a strategic thinker is paramount. Being able to establish branding and marketing strategy for a business is just one such example of how a business consultant might employ critical thinking.
You should have all the expertise needed to come up with an entire website. Don’t forget to have a better understanding of SEO for both small and large ventures.
The WordPress Professional
If you feel you have attained the knowledge, theme development is a great way to build a reputation. You will find it appealing if you have a keen interest in graphic design. Since one can design several different themes, you have unlimited ability to showcase your talent. It would be best to have a better understanding of CSS and HTML since they act as a basis for theme development.
Be prepared to work on any given brand and make it fit your preference. Any projects you do should deliver measurable results like lead generation, search rankings, increased revenue, and more.
The WordPress Coding Expert
If you have an interest in modifying WordPress to attain a particular outcome, this title fits you. Therefore, you should have a solid understanding of HTML and PHP since you will need to apply them practically.
As a coding expert, you can choose to dabble in plugin development or offer advanced customization of a site currently using a standard WordPress theme.
Additionally, you should have the expertise to provide the best code that can generate the fastest website. E-commerce enterprises can hire you to help them get the most out of their site.
The WordPress Developer
Moonlighting as a WordPress developer allows you to build your knowledge. As a developer, it’s imperative to understand the “core” of WordPress. The core is what you are actually installing when you install WordPress. They are a group of files that make up the admin interface of your site. These are default files that make up the back-end functionalities. You can address user inquiry tickets, submit improved suggestions, improve translations, identify and resolve bugs.
In some cases, you may work voluntarily, but intern-style work will help you grow in other areas. Having the ability to reach out to a community of developers, as mentioned above, will provide you with an immeasurable amount of knowledge and feedback.
Freelance WordPress Developer
As a freelance WordPress developer, you can work individually or with a group. You will likely have expertise in one area. However, some freelancers provide several services.
Having the right skills helps you market yourself for job opportunities. It’s also critical to Alternatively, freelance platforms will give a good start, but having an established reputation will expose you to more clients.
Prepare for Challenges
Regardless of your area of expertise as a WordPress developer, you will encounter challenges working with the software. Therefore, you need to be ready to confront issues such as functionality on web pages, display, and more. Issues that go unsolved can lead to system crashes, bugs in the code, and website downtime. Downtime can equate to losing business.
System bugs are one of the primary problems you will most likely encounter since they cause significant crashes. It would be best to learn WordPress debugging to help you solve such issues faster.
Security issues such as hacking may compromise a website’s information. Using iThemes Security Pro will help you secure and protect your sites as well as the sites of your clients.
Backing up your WordPress sites is also critical. Since WordPress doesn’t include built-in backups, you’ll need to use a plugin like BackupBuddy.
Create a Development Environment
Practice helps you perfect your skills before handling significant tasks in a live environment. Once you have learned theme and plugin development, you need to test them locally. Therefore, set up a local development environment on WordPress.
You should start by downloading a server stack, a software that forms the operational infrastructure. If you are using Mac, get MAMP while those using windows can utilize XAMPP.
Next, you need a text editor to assist you in working on your code. You can use a standard one but it would be wise to use other advanced systems like Atom. It’s more sophisticated since it can facilitate collaboration with other consultants and also allows you to split tasks into many viewing panes. These tools give you a head start to your developments on WordPress installations.
Connect with WordPress Community
You may fancy working on your projects alone, but connecting with other consultants via the WordPress community in your area of expertise is essential. Other WordPress consultants can assist you in your development, support your projects, and offer networking opportunities. Creating community will keep you on top of the latest trends and supplement your skills.
Joining a pre existing project gives you insights on best practices. You will learn from others how to tackle various challenges. You can develop useful strategies if you begin by working on an abandoned theme or plugin instead of creating a new one.
Make a habit of visiting many forums to interact with experts and learn as much as possible. Post your ideas regularly and try to respond to queries to establish your credibility as a proficient consultant.
Additionally, you can make a broad step and come up with a WordPress development blog. It assists you in connecting with a large community to share your journey with other consultants. Further, you link with other well-known blogs that can get your name out there to gain trust.
How to Get Started as a WordPress Consultant
Now that you know the right tools and resources required, you need to craft your way to success. Depending on the area of development you have focused on, start with a few methods as outlined below.
Get Involved in WordPress Core
You may be more interested in contributing to the platform than getting involved with theme and plugin development. First, please check out the Core Contributor Handbook for more insights. It will equip you with more awareness of how to work on the platform as a developer. Therefore, you can test new attributes, report security flaws, solve bugs, and more.
Develop a Theme
Once you have done sufficient research and experimented in your development area, you can settle on a theme and make it public. Initially, you can try to make it simple but put in some creativity and innovation as you grow. Proceed to do some thorough tests on it and submit it to the website to get feedback. The responses assist you in managing multiple WordPress sites, making upgrades, and tweaks.
Build a Plugin
When starting with a plugin, you can pick a specific feature that you intend to add to WordPress and create a version. Once you get a good outcome on your plugin, you can submit it to the directory and try to enhance it from the feedback you get.
Cost of Hiring a WordPress Consultant
You may be wondering how to charge clients for various projects that you will be dealing with as a consultant. Note that the cost of hiring one depends on multiple factors such as;
- Type of job
- Skill level
According to Glassdoor, WordPress consultants and developers average an annual salary of $76,526. You can work as an employee in a wide range of companies. However, many consultants opt to work as freelancers. While working remotely, you can earn hundreds of dollars in a few hours with the right skills.
Why You Should Strive to Become a WordPress Consultant
You will enjoy a lot of things as a WordPress developer on top of working on various websites. Some of the benefits include:
You Earn While Still Learning
One of the most exciting things about WordPress developers is that you will continue fine-tuning your skills while still earning money. Whenever clients approach you, you will find some areas where you have not yet perfected your skills. Thanks to continuous technological advances, WordPress consultants must constantly educate themselves. You, therefore, will need to learn a new skill to solve various challenges while still working. However, you will always get paid for the services you offer.
Having the skills to work as a WordPress consultant does not limit you to work in a specific place or office. You can choose to work remotely and still deliver quality work to your clients. In case you get a tough project, you can always give yourself a break to meditate and get more productive. Additionally, you can work overnight if it suits you since you aren’t limited to specific working hours.
You Set Your Own Agenda
Working in other career fields requires you to work as per specific guidelines. On the other hand, as a WordPress developer, you make web marketing decisions on behalf of your client. It makes your work more enjoyable and you have the freedom to get creative.
You Can Pursue Your Desires
If you have found your niche and desire to create a personal WordPress business, you can do so. Additionally, it gives you the skills to work as a web marketer for entrepreneurs and other organizations.
You Have the Opportunity to do Something Huge
If you work as an employee, it takes time and lots of effort to attain big career goals. However, working as a WordPress developer gives you the freedom to take you to great heights within a shorter period. You only need dedication and commitment to be an expert on the platform. With the opportunity to create something that could revolutionize the way we use WordPress.
You can create something that could revolutionize the way we use WordPress.
Even creating themes has the potential to create a never-ending revenue stream. For instance, Avada is the best-selling theme of all time on WordPress. At $60 per download, this highly versatile theme has been downloaded more than 250,000 times. Avada contains 250 pre-made designs, 40 fully built websites, and is further customizable through the builder.
WordPress is a user-friendly content management system, but for it to succeed, it needs your expertise. To be one of the prominent experts on the platform, you need to invest in your education, skill sets, and marketability. Furthermore, being able to persevere as you encounter barriers or obstacles is paramount to your success.
The above guide should help you start your journey toward being the ultimate WordPress consultant. Many clients will require your skills in various industries. Depending on the type of WordPress developer you want to become, there are many different places to learn, practice, and create community.
Each week, the team at iThemes team publishes new WordPress tutorials and resources, including the Weekly WordPress Vulnerability Report. Since 2008, iThemes has been dedicated to helping you build, maintain, and secure WordPress sites for yourself or for clients. Our mission? Make People’s Lives Awesome.