Building a Paid Service on WordPress

Side Projects 25 March 2015 4 minute read

Over the last month, I've been building a learning and education service on top of WordPress. Can you even build a decent service on top of WordPress? That answer depends entirely on what your service does.

The thing I'm building is centred around video courses and file downloads. I'm a web designer and WordPress developer, so that's where my skill set and knowledge is strongest. I already teach web design and development via tutorials on my blog, Inspirational Pixels. However, I want to turn my teaching into a full-time business.

There's a lot more work to do until I have a product that's likely to succeed. I've already put in a lot of work and that alone is giving me confidence in my idea.

Building this service will require me to use 3 of my most honed skills, which are designing, developing and writing.

The first skill, designing, has already come into play and is actually finishing up its main use on the project, as the final designs were finished last week. A lot has gone into designing the user interface and I've learned so much more than I expected.

I took a two-step approach to the design as there will be two main parts to the site, with two smaller sections as add-ons. They include a blog and the members only area, with freebies and code snippets being the other two sections.

I started off with the blog as there's already a load of content to work from, which made it pretty easy. A lot of the blog design was simply re-skinning the current site to give a fresher, more malleable interface. Especially one that's ready for future updates and new functionality.

The freebies and code snippets sections are essentially extensions of the blog, so the design for those parts was quite straightforward, only needing a little extra work.

The second phase was to design the members area. Before I dug straight into Photoshop, there were pages and pages of sketches drawn out so I'd know exactly where the designs were going. This actually made the design phase a lot easier in the end.

Once the design of the members area was done, I started researching some of my future competitors, so I could see what they were doing. To my surprise, most bases were covered in terms of functionality and design, with only a couple of things I felt needed fixing.

After that I went on over the UserOnboarding and went through every single teardown, give or take a few, to get a better idea of the onboarding process a decent service would provide. I learned the most about my new service from UserOnboarding and made quite a few changes to the flow of how the app worked, specifically to make it a more pleasant experience for first-time and returning customers.

A lot of what I'll be working on in the next few months will be writing a boat-load of tutorials, with a few articles sprinkled in, to boost organic traffic. The other part of my work will be to build out the functionality of the new members area in a Git branch and continue tweaking until it feels right.

After that's done I'll get the new functionality up and running but give only myself access to it. All that's left after that is to upload all the source files from tutorials on the site so far and get the video courses done.

Planning and recording the video will be the most time-consuming element of the entire process as it's something that's still quite new to me. I also need to find a nice, quiet environment to record in, as my current setup isn't very ideal.

I'm looking forward to the journey ahead and to see if my plans can make me a steady income. That way I can continue doing what I enjoy most, teaching others the skills that have opened up so many doors for me.