Selling a service, especially one you’ve got experience with, is usually the fastest way to earn significant income from your WordPress site.

When I started my WordPress Building Blocks website, I wanted to teach non-technical people how to build websites using WordPress. So I put together a site and added affiliate links to hosting companies and WordPress theme designers.

It quickly became apparent that I could fill a need by offering to put the sites together for people who didn’t want to go through the learning curve. I started doing that, and it provided a nice supplement to my income.

But then a funny thing happened…

Companies started approaching me and asking me to write for them. Before I knew it, I was earning more writing about WordPress than I was working with WordPress! (It’s been a pleasant problem to have.)

Besides writing, there are a ton of services you could sell online. Here’s a brief list of possibilities:

  1. Teaching
  2. Coaching
  3. Consulting
  4. Designing
  5. Shooting photographs and video
  6. Building websites
  7. Programming
  8. Translating
  9. Virtual assisting
  10. Reviewing medical diagnostic images

Some of these — writing, or photography, for example — are obvious. A writer can write from anywhere. A photographer can shoot pictures anywhere. Some, like reviewing medical diagnostic images, aren’t so obvious, but that’s an actual job for a qualified doctor.

The point is, with a little creativity, you can leverage almost any skill or experience you already have to market it online.

Most of the above categories are pretty broad. For example, “teaching” doesn’t mean just teaching traditional academic subjects. You could also teach such diverse skills as:

  • Playing a musical instrument
  • Web design
  • How to use social media
  • WordPress
  • HTML
  • Javascript
  • Cooking
  • Gardening
  • A foreign language
  • How to draw cartoons
  • Sewing and other crafts
  • Home remodeling

In short, nearly anything you could teach in the real world can be taught online. Some of them might not be obvious — playing a musical instrument, or teaching a foreign language, for example. But with tools like Skype and Google Hangouts, there are plenty of teachers giving music lessons and teaching languages remotely.

The same is true with coaching. There are online coaches in a number of business categories, as well as for career development, relocation (especially for employees taking overseas assignments), as well as personal development, health, and life coaching.

Any service related to building websites, computer programming, or software development can be done, or taught, online.

You can even leverage a website to sell more of a hands-on service, like hairdressing, plumbing repairs, or home remodeling.

Pros: Earning income by offering a service is probably the fastest way to make money online.

Cons: It’s not scalable. You only have so many hours in your day, and once you’ve spent an hour providing your service, that hour is gone.

Turn Your Service Into a Digital Asset

If your service is something you can teach, you can turn that teaching into a course that you can sell to multiple people.

In other words, create it once, and earn from it many times.

The course could be in the form of an e-book, video, audio, webinar or podcast, or you could make it a part of your WordPress site by using a courseware program plugin like WP Courseware or Sensei.

Or upload your course to a site like Udemy.

Of course, you can also write an e-book about your service, which you could sell from your own site, or on Amazon.

The owner of a website about raising rabbits did just that. She took her online advice a step farther, and created eight (so far) books about various aspects of rabbit rearing.

Photographers and graphic designers can sell their work from their own sites, or on stock sites like iStockphoto or Getty Images.

A hairdresser, makeup artist, or crafter can sell how-to videos online.

If your website is about a vacation or lifestyle destination, expand your offerings into selling video guided tours.

Are you a wedding planner? A video guide to choosing bridesmaid dresses that make everyone look good would make you beloved among young women everywhere.

Will it Sell?

Of course, before you spend the time to create a video, an e-book, or a course, you need to know people will spend money for it. If you already have a website, you have the perfect testing ground.

Ask your site visitors.

Use your email list (you do have an email list, right?) and your social media to ask questions, or send out a poll or a survey.

Peruse the comments and questions you receive. Is there a common thread that indicates a need for the information you can provide?

Tease out your idea in a blog post, and ask for specific responses like, “let me know if you’d like to see more information about this” or even, “was this useful to you?”

Put a small excerpt on social media and see what kinds of comments and sharing you get.

If you get very little reaction, you may want to rethink your offering.

Once you’re confident your product has a market, test it even more. In manufacturing, this is known as the Lean process. In online circles, you’ll see it referred to as an MVP (Minimal Viable Product).

This means you create just enough to gauge interest, without spending a huge amount of time up front. There are many ways to do this, depending on your niche or industry.

  • Offer it to your readers at a discount if they pre-order. If enough orders roll in, you can spend the time to create it with good assurance it will sell, and sell enough copies to make its creation worthwhile.
  • If your product is a course, you don’t even need to have it 100% created before you open the doors. Just stay ahead of your students. That way, you can adjust as you go along, adding or adjusting sections based on student feedback.

Brainstorm creative ideas for ways you can get paid up front, and gain user feedback as you progress. You’ll be surprised at how well this works!

Even when your e-book, course, or video is “finished,” because it’s digital you can always go back to edit or update it.

Pros: While not passive income, because you’ll always be marketing and occasionally updating, this is much closer to the “do the work once, get paid many times” model, so it’s very scalable.

Cons: You’ll need to figure out your marketing plan, and work out ways to get paid securely.