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The Single Most Catastrophic Mistake That WordPress Freelancers Make

In the summer of 2013, 2 years after I started a web agency, I saw myself caught up in a business that I didn’t enjoy, struggling to keep employees and partners happy, and secretly wanting to escape.

Neat, isn’t it?

Okay, so how did I escape?

Well, me and my partner had some WordPress knowledge, so we figured that the best course of action would be to start some kind of a WordPress product business.

The fastest way to do that? … Acquire a WordPress product business. 🙂

For $3000, we bought on Flippa along with their collection of 6 non-responsive WordPress themes (note; we no longer own it). This new business generated around $300 / month right out the gate.

Let’s do the math on this:

Instead of working 1 year to develop those 6 themes ourselves, then build a website, market that website, find clients, and etc., we bought a complete business that was already running.

Here’s what I’m saying:

The single most catastrophic mistake that WordPress freelancers and entrepreneurs make is that they are too afraid of spending/investing money.

(This happens even if the actual time investment greatly exceeds the money required to achieve the same result.)

In our case, we learned a lot in that first month. For instance, we got to the bottom of how the site acquired most of its users (which allowed us to quickly test our assumptions). We also learned more about product support and user needs, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg…

In short, those $3000 saved us 11 months of our own “free” time, and massively accelerated our learning process.

But that’s not all, here are 5 more scenarios where you can decide to invest your money rather than your time … speaking from my own experience:

1. Pay for sponsored articles about your business/products (paid advertising)

Originally, I didn’t enter the WordPress market because of some divine message I wanted to share with everybody. To put it simply, I was looking for a semi-popular keyword that had commercial value and potential to bring in clients. After doing some research, I landed on “PSD to WordPress.”

A basic HTML website was built, and that’s how CodeinWP basically started.

However, literally from day one, we paid for reviews and sponsored giveaways on popular design blogs. This helped us get noticed right away and reach our first clients.

This put together with a few other things sent us straight to the 1st page of Google for our key phrase.

2. Get quick business advice via by paying per minute

Should you go to conference X? Should you invest time in learning the REST API? Should you devote resources to Project X or Project Y? Should you work with one client or the other?

Tough to find those answers all on your own.

You can surely lose a lot of time brainstorming over those things.

For a simpler solution, go to, find an expert, and ask them for advice. Need more than one person’s perspective? Reach out to 3 experts. The whole deal shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes, and it will probably cost less than $100. Best of all, in the end, it can save you thousands of dollars.

For example, when I wasn’t sure if I should invest in a particular business, I called Syed and asked what he thought about it. I got extremely useful advice, that has proven to be gold over time.

3. Pay for conferences and meet people face to face

Meeting people in person is so underrated. These days, everything happens online. And don’t get me wrong, online is great for many things, but just not everything.

It doesn’t matter if you are an employee, a freelancer, or running a business, knowing somebody who knows somebody is always going to help you. Your network of contacts is how you find a job, get a client, meet a partner, and etc.

Invest money to be a part of communities like PostStatus Club, or attend conferences like WordCamp or PressNomics. Meet people there.

Face-to-face is the new black.

4. Pay for workshops and courses

I am aware that you can find a lot of content online for free. However, the downside is that you can often spend way too much time digging through the noise on your way to the good stuff.

In the end, you’re better off paying for a workshop conducted by a world-class pro, or going to a more expensive conference like A Day of REST, which basically guarantees that you will get the best information and training available.

In the long run, this sort of attitude will save you lots of time.

5. Pay a content editor to take care of your blog

If you want to be in online business for a longer period of time (no matter the niche) then content marketing is one of the best things that you can invest in.

As a developer or a marketer, chances that you’re also good at writing (or good enough for the competition nowadays) are quite low. That’s why I’m working with Karol who makes sure that I don’t publish anything sub-par in our transparency reports (or here). And I am so grateful for his help.


Okay … you are right … spending money is risky.

You might not find the best consultant / contractor / writer / mentor / conference / product to acquire on your first try. Sometimes you will lose money. However, I can assure you that albeit real, those risks are worth taking because they yield huge payoffs in the long run.

“I often see individual entrepreneurial efforts fail. But over their careers, individual entrepreneurs rarely fail.”
– overheard in a podcast

In the end, the goal of this article isn’t to convince you that you should always whip out your wallet. Of course, in some scenarios – in a lot of scenarios, actually – spending money doesn’t make sense.

But on the other hand, refusing to invest money in anything is a huge mistake. So just please rethink how you’re dealing with your time vs money investments, and whether it’s really a sustainable long term approach.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments!

Leave a comment

  1. Found your post through Facebook recoomend. God thing I clicked on it. WordPress Freelancer here and I totally agree with everythin you shared here. One way Inuse my my money to buy me time and energy is I outsource the writing for my blog.. well not all but most. And it has been a great experience since I can focus on doing other stuf like marketing my service through Instagram.

    Thabks mate!

  2. I think this is a great perspective of seeing things. Recently (for about over a year or so), I too have deciding that investing money is a better deal than doing things yourself. Interestingly enough, I found out that I don’t even have to spend that much money at all: rarely I find something really worth paying for (and is within my spending limits). It’s definitely a game changer!

  3. Love the insights and the realistic approach. Please keep writing, there’s value in this article as it comes from experience.

  4. Could not Agree more! Online marketing is a business and every business has risk and needs investment ! 🙂 Would visit your blog on regular basis. Hope to meet you someday while we are on a Holiday Trip 🙂

  5. Bro, You are dead right on the spot, after 2 years of coding and making own CMS, finally I started on wordpress, within an year I was having time to meet new clients and creating / design works(within short time), and needed to buy pre-made themes, I decided to invest atleast 25% of what i make profit to invest in buying good themes and plugins which in long run will help and multiply your business manifold.

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