Build Your Freelance Web Design Business Using WordPress – My Story And Lessons Learned

Take a few minutes with this video so that we can get to know each other. :-)

It is my goal in 2013 to teach you the Business of Freelance Design. That is to say, how you can make your passion into your livelihood.

Specifically, I’m going to share with you my six years of online experience, helping thousands of customers to monetize their talents and turn their dreams into reality. Freelancers such as yourself are incredibly gifted in design and are very creative, but notoriously weak at maximizing the return on their time invested. We will change that together.

I have been an entrepreneur my entire life, and have found that making money online can be one of the most satisfying and low-barrier ways to get started with no capital required.

Using open source software from the WordPress community, our new video series will explore:

  • how to think like a business person
  • identify customers
  • clarify the pain that you can solve for them
  • build relationships
  • build a brand for yourself
  • and basically create a recurring-revenue business that enables the lifestyle you always wanted.

Today I’m going to give you three main reasons why you should focus 100% on using WordPress, and also provide 10 takeaway topics that we will cover in more detail throughout the video series.

It is EXTREMELY important to me that I build a relationship with YOU. As such, I would be forever grateful if you could watch the video and then leave your comments below on what topics were of interest in your view of the world, where we could explore other ideas, or generally what you think of this method of teaching. I promise you I will respond to everyone.

Update: Comments are closed due to spammers, but join the conversation on Youtube!

P.S. Make sure you read comments, great conversations going on!

I look forward to us getting together again very soon!


Spencer Forman

“Hello… it’s Spence, the Evil Genius". My passion lies with providing incredible software, practical advice, and hands-on solutions for other entrepreneurs who may be struggling with the mechanics of how to turn their online business dreams into reality.

15 Smart Tools To Help You Build Your Freelance Business

Discover the awesome tools we use in making our clients comfortable and happy in learning new things every day.

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  1. Mukhlis says

    Many many thanks, your article and video gives me more inspiration. I will start to explore wordpress theme.

  2. Lisa says

    Hello, I’m wondering if you can help me. I’m desperately trying to find info on starting a webdesign business with WordPress. I’m new to the business and trying to figure out how to add client sites to my wordpress acct or if I should have separate accounts for each client? Also, can I build portfolio sites without having to purchase domains for them? They would just be samples of my designing skills to add to my business website portfolio.
    Any advice or help you could offer would be MUCH appreciated!! Tried searching Bluehost forums but couldn’t find ANYTHING.

    Thank you!!!!

    • Phil Donnelly says

      I agree with all your comments Spence. I’ve had some great jobs in past years but lost my faith and confidence in myself about 10 years ago and changed career, I moved to another creative job of sorts and one which I got satisfaction from but actually hated doing. In those days web production was fairly complex with software crude and unexciting. Now we have WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, we have styling capacity with CSS. We also have loads of software available to us which many years ago cost ‘000s, now we can use some of this software for small monthly subscriptions. Domain pricing is sensible, hosting is also sensibly priced since most companies aren’t limiting themselves to thousands of clients but millions with DIY web site packages that draw people in. About 18 months ago I started using these free web site packages and then my passion grew, I saw the opportunity to use skills I hadn’t lost, to utilise a passion for photography and art that had stayed with me all my life. I had always tinkered with programming and had extensive knowledge of RDBMS so many aspects of web development weren’t that difficult to get to grips with. The biggest choice for me now is what CMS do I work with? I don’t see it being Drupal since I see that as resources and developer hungry, something for blue chip business. I don’t see it being Joomla since WordPress seems to have so much more support and so many bolt-ons available. So I’m considering working only with WordPress and becoming an expert with WordPress and this site and your videos are helping me to make that decision. I have so many ideas now, I just need to make a decision, that decision will be based on my estimate of my potential visitors or popularity.

  3. says

    Hi Spence
    I love your video. This is just what I was looking for; learning and honing my skills while monetizing them. I’ve made several websites for my self and my music businesses but I don’t feel my skills are up to par to incorporate them as a freelance webdesigner. I also don’t want to be strapped down to any businesss. I want passive income while I enjoy my free time on whatever I please. You did mention recurring monthly subscriptions and find that very enticing to learn and implement into my businesses (music and webdesign).

    Looking forward to learn and implement your teachings.

    • says

      Hi Mike,
      thank you for sharing your thoughts… we think you are the very type of reader who will be a great part of our community. I believe you will find that passive or semi-passive income is well within your reach by following some basic steps and using the tools and available clients/customers that are right under your nose ;-)

  4. says

    I came across this option by mistake during the process of developing a blog (the .org / .com confusion). What I’d really like to know is what can offer that Rapid Weaver can’t? I get the feeling that there might be more freedom of choice here … am I right? I’m about to go check out your web pages to get a feel – somehow I don’t think I’ll be disappointed. Your enthusiasm is infectious – keeping me glued for 24 minutes to a talking head is no mean feat. That I am now waiting for the next one is even more amazing.

    In incredulity,

    • says

      Hi Jean… I love your feedback, it gives me a good feeling to know that I’m helping you and keeping your attention ;-)

      The is for the open-source software and related code that is produced by everyone in the WordPress community. This very same code is then used by the company Automattic, to run a commercial hosted WordPress multisite at where it is free to start a blog, but then there are small premium features.

      The biggest difference is that, while free to start a basic blog, does NOT give you access to most of the code as you would need to do the really cool things we will show you. For that, you install your own copy of the open source code (or use our super-easy five minute tutorial)

      I hope this helps to clarify??

  5. says

    Thanks for your offer and hope to see you again either way.
    i just start using WP a few weeks ago, and it looks amazing.

    • says

      Thanks Valuecoders… you got it!
      Expect regular installments here as well as some new downloadable content and a “kit” to accompany the training ;-)

  6. says


    This is some great stuff! Thank you!
    I am very excited to see the rest of this series! How can I subscribe to this so I know when you are putting out a new video in this series? I would love to stay connected and learn more from you!

    • says

      Hi Dustin,
      you will see it here at 1WD, or you can subscribe to the 1stwebdesigner YouTube channel, or to the email list. The series will be regular, and frequent until we have everyone up to speed.


  7. Daniel Chukwudi says

    Hi spence,
    I really have no remote idea of web design and construction. I’m hoping to learn web design which I’m sure entails code. I also want to learn how to build a website from scratch, thing is I have little to no resource around me or even if there is I don’t know how to go about it.

    • says

      Hi Daniel,
      we will show you how to use WordPress to accomplish the goal of building a site from scratch, with free resources.
      Come along for the ride!

  8. says

    This is great information for me coz I’m new in this business. so thank you so much for your creative and informative article.

  9. nats says

    hi Spence,
    thanks very much for this video. i’m a newbie in business and was inspired by your video. i’m waiting for the next video. hope it will come soon. i’m giving myself at least a year to learn and progress in webdesign business. would love to learn more from you. i appreciate your generousity with knowledge and advice!

    • says

      Hi Nats,
      glad to have you along for the journey!

      The next video is already posted here at 1WD, hope you like it ;-)

  10. Andrew says

    Hello there Spence i am Andrew from Romania, i am 15 and i am in love with web-design, some guy asked me if i could do him a template for his web-page i accepted unknowing whats that, i google it, i found some nice tutorials etc. and when i finished it i showed the template to that guy and he said 300 bucks for that, i was like woooow first template and 300 bucks in my pocket!!
    It is worth spending ur time as a freelancer on WP
    (sry for the english)


    • says

      Hi Andrew,
      GREAT story!

      Just goes to show, AGE is no barrier in this business. When you are 15, no matter what country, $300 bucks is some nice cash for a little design work ;-)

      Keep up the great work Andrew!

  11. says


    Happy New Year. Well, in summary I have been feeling everything that you have said but it has just been very foggy for me to try to “focus” on what I need to do to earn more, produce smarter. As a print designer, I have self taught myself HTML, CSS and overal designing for the web versus the print world. It has and still is very frustrating. Sure I do use google, and others, but juggling back and forth between print and web projects has made my progress much slower than I would have liked. A few months ago I started working with a client who wants me to build sites for his clients using WordPress, now I have this HTML and CSS and I am wondering what else can I do to find the “niche” that I can utilize over 20 years of my design skills to monetize what I already know. I have worked in Dreamweaver, but I do see the power of WordPress for the end user, passing the site along as I guess one may say. I want to stay informed via your series. Please advise anyway you can. Thanks for listening to my saga. :)

    • says

      Hi Gil,
      I’m glad you brought up this point, as I too suffer from what I affectionately call “the Golden Retriever syndrome”. That is, I tend to see a shiny new ball and want to chase it. Every new web technology, or app, or technique is as fascinating as all the rest before, if not more. Same with business ideas, client types and projects.

      While I am still struggling myself to follow my own advice, and that of others (including Dainis, who is a master of focus), the one thing that helps is to slice up my day, and give some time to the brainstorming urges, but focus as much as possible on ONE thing I do really well for monetization (for my livelihood).

      This is not an easy thing to learn, or to practice. Clients are now constantly contacting me with all kinds of completely unrelated ideas for products, services, or support. For 2013, I have made my own personal goal to focus my complete “work”day attention on two things:

      a) Creating great video and written content for freelancers
      b) Creating great software (themes, plugins, solutions) that complement the videos and written content, and vice versa.

      There are several helpful tools and systems I will show you guys for how to give yourself permission to say “yes” to certain clients. In brief, it involves doubling your rate for any requested service or support. Until such time as you meet with resistance, keep doubling your rate. You will be surprised how far folks will be willing to go, since the value of their “pain” is very subjective. By doubling-up, you give yourself the permission (and monetary reward) to detour from your own personal focus goals.

      In the end, it’s all about being the “best” at one small niche… and being known for the same. Whether it be a product or a service. If you try to be all things to all people, it becomes a bit like treading water in the ocean…you go nowhere, and eventually tire out and drown.

      Make it your personal goal to pick the one or two things you do BEST, and make a list (just start writing) of all the ways you think right now you can monetize those skills or that knowledge, as well as the types of people who may have a “pain” that can be solved by your intervention. Lastly, filter out the results with the hardest question of all:
      “Can I do this one THING every day, all day, and not grow tired of it?”

      If the answer is “no”, pick something else. If it’s a “maybe”… then you might give it some thought, but perhaps you should keep looking. Find the thing that is a “YEAH BABY”… and that will be a good focal point on which to concentrate all your energy and time this year.

      More to come, in video 2, which is exactly on this point… should be published soon after you read this comment ;-)

  12. says

    Thank you very much. It is a good way to add the video on the business web, it can bring more people to visit the web. Thank you for your article , we will add the video to our web site, hope it can improve our sale

  13. Noey says

    Hi Spence, thanks for the great video. I ‘discovered’ wordpress last year after a summer course at design school. I have since been creating paid websites with it for clients. I had no coding background whatsoever but learnt how to manipulate style sheets by going to forums, google, etc. I can now say I am ‘fairly’ versed in css now because I always need to customize/tailor the websites themes to my clients needs. My issue now is that sometimes I feel like a fish out of water as I believe I need to put more effort into learning how to code. For example, there are sometimes I would see a header menu style that I would love to replicate on a clients website but in end, I would have no idea of how to go about it..I would then have to settle for the menu that comes with the theme. I just feel limited and frustrated when trying to apply my design skills if I do not know any coding. I have tried to self tutor via some web design tutorial websites, but I do not know where to start. Im afraid of learning things I would not need or use thereby wasting my time. I just sort of need some guidelines on what exactly I need to learn, etc.. Would you cover coding in any of the upcoming videos? Thanks.

    • says

      Hi Noey,
      your experience is actually similar to my own, and many others I suspect.

      I began with CSS and slowly tippy toed into coding. It was a struggle at first, and I had to keep reminding myself that it was not necessary to learn it all at once.

      My own “tip” is to break it down to manageable goals and plateaus. For example, rather than trying to learn PHP from scratch… try to find something you want to accomplish (say, adding some content to the header of a WP site using a hook). By focusing on this one very small goal, you can both search for the code examples you need to use, but also be able to more easily dissect how this code works. From there, your vocabulary of code and its use will grow, and so will your confidence.

      In sum: learn by DOING small tasks or goals, and not by rote. It’s remarkable how far you can get.. just like learning a language. Start with “Where is the bathroom”…work your way to “Where is the Restaurant”, then “Is there a bathroom in this restaurant”…etc. Combine the small bits you learn by trial and error and example.

  14. Shaan says

    a motivating post. I want to be a web designer but not getting good direction. How i can
    learn designing by my own. Hope i can find in next post.

    • says

      Good question Shaan:

      Try a bunch of things… see which one doesn’t feel like “work”. That is the one to focus upon to discover if you can monetize it and make it your livelihood ;-)

  15. says

    a motivating post. i’m a undergraduate student major in design, i’ve used wordpress cms. it’s easy to use, i’m very interesting to learn it more. thanks for sharing spence.

  16. says

    Love the video! I’ve been a WordPress supporter for several years now. I especially like to use WordPress because of the same reason you mentioned – “They’re oblivious, and you look like hero”

  17. says

    Hi Spence,

    Great video!
    I´m a graphic & web designer and photographer.
    I want to design some WP themes to sell in platforms like,
    with your help, could we learn how to make a full WP theme and learn how to sell it successful on themeforest?

    Thanks a lot!


    • says

      I love what has happened on ThemeForest, and Colis and Fuad and his whole team there have done an incredible job making it all a huge success.

      As a designer, you certainly have the potential to “strike gold” with such a large and active community… and we’ll definitely be covering how you can use the benefits of open source to get your own theme or plugin in there if you choose.

  18. says

    Hi Spence,
    I am a musician & web designer also I got into web design since 2003 and started my web company KoolWorldMedia back in 2007. However, I came down with kidney failure and stopped working for a while. I moved from Atlanta GA out here to San Jose CA in 2008 where the health is considerably better. I soon became a dialysis patient and is doing much better health wise. So now my roommates and I have revamped the company to include Video and photography as well as web design. So far, I have been trying to get the web design back on track. I even went back to school to learn coding, HTML, PHP, Javascript, etc., and I just picked up WordPress and Joomla so that I can do freelance work using these software packages. I think what you have to share is important and will help me a lot. Thank you for the video and I look forward to seeing more.

    • says

      Hi Thomas,
      what a remarkable story of persistence….

      Great news is this:
      If you already have some of the higher-level skills like PHP and Javascript, you will be that much farther ahead when going to the building-blocks of using WordPress components. I’d say 95% of what you need for building a business income as a freelancer will not require those skills. But having them will give you the edge, and the frame of mind, to go farther…faster.

      Best wishes for 2013!

  19. says

    Hello Spence!

    First of let me say this is a wonderful video. Especially since I am a young web designer (18) that’s just getting into the market area for web designing. So I am definitely looking forward for your next videos (subscribed to your channel).

  20. says

    These videos are also great option for a word press Site. Also, while I think wordpress is a great platform, I feel from an end user perspective, not many customers really know what they are getting themselves into. Specifically, a lot of customers seeking a new sites for their business have heard all the great things about wordpress and want one as their business Site. But we find not many of them are familiar with the wordpress backend and how to manage their content. There is a learning curve if one isn’t familiar with wordpresss. I would welcome your comments and experiences on this.

    • says

      Hi Pete,
      I hope that we can help to clarify the ways for newbies to get started with using WordPress, both for designing sites, as well as for using them (as the end-user customer of a designer) ;-)

  21. Patt says

    It is a good way to add the video on the business web, it can bring more people to visit the web. Thank you for your article , we will add the video to our web site, hope it can improve our patriots jersey sale.

  22. says

    Nice video.
    However, I have never understood the meaning of wordpress…
    I am coding for the past 30 years, all languages, and, wordpress is probably the worst example I have ever seen in terms of code generator. It creates a kind of maltrom that is truly a nightmare. It is surely very easy to use for a profane and results are “ok”, but I am not sure at all this is the good way to start in this business as, at the end, coding directly a 10 times faster anyway.

    • says

      Hi CPUGuru,

      1) I’m not sure I agree with your assessment of WordPress’ code base, it is some of the most scrutinized and refined of any CMS today, which I believe is one of the reasons for more than 65mm sites using it;

      2) The reason why WordPress is so advantageous for a freelancer is that it has so many features, options, themes, and plugins already available. Most designers have NO code experience, let alone any valid reason to “reinvent the wheel” by custom-coding their own CMS solutions.

      3) Even if one were the best coder in the world (is anyone really the “best” anyway?) that doesn’t change the fact that having tens of thousands of developers working with ONE code base, that is open source for all to see, is a HUGE advantage compared to one person hand-coding their own solution. I cannot tell you how many “horror” stories I have heard from clients who hired someone off of E-lance to make a custom solution for their company…only to have that person disappear from the face of the Earth. That simply can’t happen when using WordPress…there are thousands of people ready and able to continue working on one’s site.

      Done and done.

      • cpuguru says

        I think this is the exact opposite. For instance, WordPress Templates are nightmares.
        I know many newbies using wordpress as a shortcut and in 99% of the cases, they prefer to redo the job, under wordpress, than going back to try to understand what was done before.
        Having a html properly wrote website is no brainer for any developer. Just need 5 minutes to list and understand it.
        But the worst is no yet here ! WordPress uses plugins that are extremely invasive, like those for SEO. All those plug ins are systematical added to a websites, self promoting themselves instead of the website etc.. Sure, as none are able to understand the generated code, nobody see it !!
        I have seen tons of wordpress website that are coded like blogs ( wordpress keeps it s roots here ), promoted as blog and at the end never seen anywhere.
        Wordpress is ok to write personal blogs but that s it !
        Nobody in the business would even consider using wordpress for websites ! or you would just be kicked out by the community as a noob trying to sell something you are not even able to understand.
        Keep wordpress for blogs as it has meant to be and forget about websites. The funniest is that I have seen some html5 wordpress templates lately that are truly a “Summitus” in terms of coding soup.
        Sorry about this comment but it s coming from the bottom of the heart….

  23. Manuel says

    Thank you for the advice.
    What I find most hard to achieve is to promote yourself, I mean (I’m not inglish speaker) how to find customers, to make people to know you. I find that very hard (I don’t like spamming people).

    Thank you.

    • says

      Hi Manuel,

      Great Question.

      The answer is simple, and goes back to the Golden Rule (you know: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”)

      Instead of seeking folks to promote yourself to… at first seek out people who are in pain and offer to help them for free. I am being metaphorical, of course…because I mean “frustration of their design or business or website…not literal pain”.

      You will find these folks easily by doing a Google search for various particular points of WordPress with which you feel you have “mastered”. Typically there are folks in bulletin boards, forums, or commenting on various plugin or theme author sites who are stuck on installation, configuration, customizing, or conflicts between two unique components.

      You can also directly find folks in “pain” by going to one of these four sources (to be covered in my video about how to make $500 bucks in a day if you are inclined!):

      a) WooThemes has a job board that is literally dripping with folks ready to pay for some help “tweaking” themes. These are typically low-hanging fruit type jobs, that will pay a few hundred dollars for an hour or two of work if you know how to pick and choose:

      b) (my own stomping ground). This is a “magical” plugin, but is very much in transition right now and causing all types of headaches for folks, many of whom are business owners or shop they are financially motivated:

      c) (again one of my favorites). Similar to bbPress, BuddyPress is undergoing some growing pains right now. Folks need your help:

      d) – The “Mother Load”. There are so many folks wandering around lost over here it’s crazy. Go out and rescue them, and you will find that they follow you right back home with their wallet in hand! –

      As I will cover in some of my “technique” videos, the secret here is that you MUST be extremely generous at first with your time and free help and (if you know what you are doing) advice. This is because you will be establishing an online record of your credibility. Likewise, your first paid relationship will be at a lower price than it will be later, but you will use the good will and recommendation of that client to leverage yourself to a higher and higher plateau each time. The goal is to become the “go-to” person for a very small specialty in the WP community. People will then begin to find YOU instead of the other way around (google is helpful that way ;-)

      Language need not be a problem if you are using email. That is why you have Google Translator…so don’t be afraid to tell people that you are NOT a native English speaker, but that you will be using a translator to ensure you get your meaning across (this will prevent any strange situations where the translation is a little “off” if you get my meaning ;-)

      More to come…

  24. says


    Congratulations about your video, they are very interesting.

    i just start using WP a few weeks ago, and it looks amazing.

    i want to offer you the chance to make your videos in spanish language.

    there is a lot of people who can use and share yours videos and tips in spanish.

    I´m gladly can make the translation.

    tell me what do you think.

    Thanks in advance

    • says

      Bueno’ Jose!

      I am very happy to have your help in making good transcripts that we can add to the videos. Normally YouTube does an “ok” job of it for free, or we sometimes will pay via Wistia to have full transcripts, but it just depends on the popularity of a particular video. If you are interested, and have some time, I would gladly accept and use any of your donated efforts if it would help some members of the community here.

      Thanks for your offer and hope to see you again either way ;-)

  25. Jerry says

    Spence nice video. You come across very genuine .
    As an inspiring web developer I am always looking for places where I can get great information. That is why I am looking forward to your series.
    I can testify that WP is a dominating platform as I have been looking at Web developing platforms for the last ten years. WP has become a staple in many niche market s and growing. I believe there will be many opportunities for web developers to assist business that use or will adopt WP .

    WP is the place to be. If you really stop and think about it , the research has indicated in the next few years there will be 25 billion connected devices to the internet. So building great user experiences will be very important. Creating great content with great engaging website user experiences, will always create an environment for innovation and fun times!
    With the explosion of mobile devices, many developers have to think how their sites are viewed on the many different devices. WP community is addressing this, so developers are building and testing scripts that can be deployed now!
    There is a new trend because of mobile and data storage for web developers and designers.
    Regarding your comment about building relationships.
    One goal of mind is to build a doctor and patient relationship, where a patient says tell me what I need to do to stay healthy or what I need to do to feel better. I do not need to cure the world. All I need is enough patients that are always coming to me for service, then it all good. We are both happy. I have had the same doctor for years because I trust him and I been through a few, to get to this Guy.
    So you are correct “Building Relationships are important!”

    Spence great subject WP is the right CMS. Can you give your thoughts about WP and how it has address the various other mobile devices that are hitting the market such as Smartphonee ,tablets.
    Look forward to your next Video. Brilliant Comment…..

    • says

      Hey Jerry, thanks for visiting and your kind words ;-)

      Responsive design for mobile devices is one of our primary focus points. As such, there are almost no instances in the last year where we have used a static WP theme, unless it was for a legacy client who already had some other static content.

      I have personally found that there are no downsides to Responsive design, and even without the “bells and whistles”, one can add thee or four “break points” in the design (I use 320, 480, 728 and 960 typically) to ensure that a layout looks brilliant and is properly scaled, for any browser.

      WP 3.5 has further refinement for media management, Retina display, Enqueing of scripts, and more…to ensure that mobile viewers get an amazing experience. We will cover this in great detail, I assure you.

      See you soon on that ;-)

  26. Yama says

    Hi Spence,
    Thank you for the video and may I say it’s an “inspiration”. Because, I’m going to re-launch my freelance work (again) using only the passion of building websites and the love of WordPress themes :D (wish me luck).
    I’m not a designer, but love to be around them :)
    Do you think it’s fair to grab a WP themes (mine is a premium one and licensed) and use it to help client get their website done?


    • says

      Hi Yama,

      I think you have a good plan, and are certainly focused in a fertile place to make money.

      You bring up a good point about using Themes. After somewhat of a “big discussion” (to put it nicely) the end of 2010 into 2011 between Chris Pearson and Matt Mullenweg over the application of the GPL to WordPress themes… there was a bit of a “truce” made. This provide for two types of legitimate WordPress licensing arrangements under the GPL. The regular (some call it “full”) and the “split”.

      The full GPL themes are those that comply with the full letter and spirit of GPL 2 and now 3, and say that you have an open source license that applies to the php code, any javascript, and any artwork in the theme. The “split” license (adopted by Thesis, and also well known to be in use by ThemeForest) says that the GPL applies to the php of a theme, but not to the javascript (or other scripts) or artwork.

      So, in answer to your question:
      Yes, it is completely FAIR and actually to the letter of the GPL for you or anyone to use open source (full GPL) WordPress themes to help your client get their website done. It is currently not in compliance with the “split” licenses of Thesis or ThemeForest themes to do so, unless you buy an individual copy for each client or a developer copy that gives you such rights.

      IMHO, there are so many outstanding “full” GPL themes out there, you will have no shortage from which to choose. For Example, WooThemes, Elegant Themes, Genesis, are all “full” GPL, just to name a few. So are EVERY theme in the WordPress repository (we use Responsive and Pinboard for almost 80% of our clients these days).

      If you find your client wants or needs a theme from ThemeForest, you can simply build that into the cost of the job. Most themes are only 40 to 99 dollars, far less than the cost of what you can charge for a custom setup.

      Hope this helps to clarify… more to come! ;-)

      • Yama says

        Hi Spence, thank you for the detail reply you sent me. This is surely an eye opener for a small time freelancer like myself. Looking forward to learn more from you.

  27. David Kizler says

    Hi Spence,
    Thanks for the video. I’d be curios to hear more about specializing in a niche market. I was studying to be a therapist before falling in love with web design. Because of this I can clearly see therapists’ pain points: therapists spend a ton of money and time to help others, but school does not provide any preparation for how to get clients and make a living.

    I’ve been doing freelance work for about 2 years but making very little money. I’m currently reworking my business model and wondering if I need to either broaden my niche or be more agressive and market more specifically to the pain points. I’d also be curious to hear more about pricing. Most therapists I know do not want to invest a lot of money on their websites. Thanks for your video and looking forward to others.


    • says

      Hi David,

      In today’s world (the last two years especially), it’s ironic that things have come “Full Circle”… people now CRAVE personal relationships and micro-specialties. This is probably a natural outcome of the previous decade of excess, automation, outsourcing, etc. We’ve returned to a new era of the local merchant, doctor making house calls, mom and pop online businesses (and offline too), etc.

      I suggest you start by removing options and narrowing your focus, instead of widening them or trying to be all things to all people. It is a far better thing to be the “oddball” who does ONE thing extremely well, than to be trying to compete against giants who do many things well. There are enough potential clients out there that, in most cases, that one focused specialty could become what you are known for..and the thing for which folks seek you out from far and wide ;-)

  28. Muhammed Arif Hussain says

    Video is very helpful and its a lot means to me. Iam struggling very hard to learn WordPress Themes. Please Suggest from where i have to start learning.

  29. says

    Wooow! This IS exactly the kind of stuff I was looking for. Right on time, Spence, I really have to thank you and for that!

    Can’t wait watching what your evil brain have cooked for us. Have you already set a schedule for the videos to come?

    Cheers from France,

    • says


      I can guarantee minimum of one per week for this 1WD series, but may go faster if the demand is there. Hopefully Rean and Dainis will be able to work that into the publishing schedule.

      Typically I release a new video about twice or three times a week at via our blog and video channel (or subscribe via our iTunes. See: ), so you should have some good stuff to keep you busy if you are chillin’ during the holidays ;-)

  30. Memo Pineda says

    Being connected to 1stwebdesigner gives you instant credibility so I will be following up your postings. Your WP assessment is very enlightening. Your take away points are very useful. I am already freelancing in a niche market for a limited group of customers but I don’t like the idea of having all my eggs in such a small basket so I am looking for ideas to diversify. It’s seems that WP is the way to go. I hope to see/read/learn more from you. Thanks for your efforts and good luck.

    • Spence says

      Hi Memo,
      thanks for your seal of approval… I hope you will continue to be pleased and surprised with the usefulness of what we intend to offer ;-)

  31. HumourFlare says

    Hi, you talk a lot about webdesign and inspiration and I love reading them, but why is that you don’t have a search option anywhere in the site?

    • Spence says

      Hi HumourFlare!

      oh my, you are correct….
      We took the search out last week to have it dry-cleaned, and someone forgot to pick it up on their way back from the grocery store!!

      “Dainis… can you please pick up the search box when you go out to Salsa dancing this evening??….”


    • says

      Spencer and HumourFlare – it isn’t mistake, I took down Search box because of simple reason – people are not using it in general.

      I browsed google analytics to see how many times people actually click on search, to search something. Response is too rarely – if I will see this question coming up again and again, I will rethink putting search box again. Now i just got impression – search bar is on the most important area of site, but nobody is really using it.

      I dont see why I should distract you more than necessary.

      You can still google the site using google search: keyphrase

      I use it all the time :)

  32. says

    Hi there,

    Some very smart and intelligent pep talk going on here. I enjoyed your ten step, made a lot of sense.
    However, just because you asked us to give you feedback, I really would have liked your intro to be smaller. The first half got dragged and got really boring with the history of the internet alongwith your evolution.
    Anyways, I will totally build that relationship with you even if you talk sense and talk for a little time. And you can certainly talk sense.

    Good luck ,


    • Spence says

      Hi Asim,
      thanks for your honest critique. And I agree with you!

      As suggested in one of the earlier comments, this was a special video where I took an extra ten minutes of time to get into some personal background and lay the groundwork for why we are doing this tutorial series here at 1WD. As suggested below, all of our future videos will be 5 to 9 minutes total (on average) and jump right into the point.

      Thanks for your understanding on this one… and hopefully you now have a better idea about me and what I am intending to accomplish for you and all the other 1WD readers who want to join in this adventure ;-)

  33. Natalie says

    This looks like a promising and informative series. Looking forward to it. I’ve spent the last year trying to re-educate myself on web design and development (left the field in 2003). I feel like I’ve mostly caught up, but every day brings something new. My main struggle has been in streamlining development. Initially I took the theme customization route, but figuring out the ins and outs of someone else’s themes can be time consuming and limiting. Not to mention once the site is finished I forget everything and have to re-learn it for future changes. Will your future videos cover how to simplify WordPress management/development? I’m thinking the solution lies in using a consistent framework, but that means trying to please with fewer themes or designing them myself (fun, but also time consuming).

    • Spence says

      Hi Natalie,
      thanks for sharing your experience.

      Funny enough, you and I share the same issues! That is one of my primary motivators for creating the LabZip solutions, as well as QuickLaunch (see more at if you are interested). Basically, these provided a way for me to both have a repeatable “method” for building client sites, but also a recurring “toolkit” that was flexible enough to be unique for every client, but standardized enough that I didn’t have to keep reinventing wheels.

      I can assure you 100% that we will give you the knowledge and tools (based on WordPress of course!) to save 99% of the tasks you are currently repeating. This will free you to focus all of your energy on the client relationship, their unique style, and simply “closing sales”. Best of all, we show you how to manage you own client sites using ManageWP (free version or paid) to generate further recurring revenue as a freelancer. This by itself is one of the BEST ways to get started today with generating hundreds of dollars a month with very little setup and only minutes a month per client. You can see some concept of this in a video we did previously here, which we call our “Enterprise” model:

      I’m super excited to deliver you and everyone else the knowledge and systems you need to succeed in your own niche.

  34. Brenda Scott says

    This video was great…& perfectly timed, as I’ve been looking for a way to build a business, freelancing! , using WP! I was so excited to see this series offered & hope the next one is out soon…can’t wait!

    Thank you & Merry Christmas!

    • Spence says

      Hi Brenda,
      thanks for the kind words and great feedback. We should have the next video out right between X-mas and New Years ;-)

  35. Nicol says

    Ah man this was awesome! I’m so pumped up now. It sounds like such an easy way to make money…too easy even.
    I know HTML, CSS, JavaScript and jQuery at the moment and I will be learning more languages next year.
    I am so excited to learn more about WordPress now that I am going to do more research first thing tomorrow morning! I can’t wait to see more of your videos, thank-you.

    • Spence says

      I have heard about the 10,000 hours to success rule. I have to say it’s true. BUT, with one big difference:
      If you truly love what you are doing… those hours pass by in no time. When I get up in the morning, I don’t know if it is Monday or Sunday or Wednesday, etc. Every day is more about doing what I want with family routine, exercise, inventing new ideas for marketing or products, and meeting and helping new customers or clients. So LIFE is what I think a freelancer gets to enjoy…rather than having to pay away your life to earn money at a job you hate, to someday hope to live that life. IMHO, there should be no difference between your life and your livelihood. They should be seamless and balanced, where you live for each day instead of hoping for “escaping” tomorrow.

      I will hope to show you many of my tips and tricks on how to make best use of your knowledge of HTML, CSS, JS and Jquery… those are the bread and butter of WP!

      • Nicol says

        That sounds amazing. I am still in college so I would love to be able to live like that when I am done, it just feels daunting to be working for clients by myself although I am doing some small jobs at the moment since I am on holiday just to see what it is like and I am loving it. I did work for a company for 3 months during my break and it felt like I was slaving my life away watching the world pass me by.
        Thank-you so much for sharing your knowledge. It is much appreciated.

  36. Paula says

    Thank you for this video. I’ve been looking for ideas for a home-based business, have some experience with WordPress, not a clue however how to monetize it. I’m really looking forward to the next videos.
    Happy Christmas!

    • Spence says

      Hi Paula!

      Couldn’t agree more. I’ve been blessed to have moved into this type of business, because with a growing family and my love for being “comfy”, I can work from home all the time and be by the people that matter to me most. It also creates the enviable situation where I work when I want, at the times I want, and have clients all over the world. No need to waste time or energy in traffic or in dressing to impress. Just me in my comfy clothes, at my stand-up desk, making up the rules as I go. You can have the exact same situation for yourself… it’s a big world, with big opportunity if you simply adjust your mind to match ;-)

      To your success in 2013!

  37. Vince says

    Hi, nice video so far, I’ve been a freelancer for a good 10 years now but have never taken seriously as I’ve always had other things on the go or part time bits to make ends meet but I’ve taken the decision to try a make an actual go of thing and being that my expertise lies in WordPress this is right up my street.

    thanks Vince

    • Spence says

      you will be surprised how you’ve had a very nice recurring revenue potential hiding “right under your nose” all this time. It’s just a matter of recognizing where your strengths match the market opportunities that have always been there. It’s a big world, and plenty of room for everyone to stake their claim to a little corner here and there.

      • Vince says

        very true, think that like you also mention my current portfolio is very impersonal and doesn’t really translate what I can do and how the potential customer can use my expertise… new site for the new year me thinks :) look forward to the next video

  38. Bo says

    Very timely. Always looking for CSS shortcuts for wordpress.
    Currently my sites are under construction, as they’re never ‘just right’ enough to let fly.
    I notice everyone is currently into a very white, minimalist look with their wordpress sites. While it looks clean, they’re all starting to look the same. Might be almost time for a new trend?
    I’ve been poking around on your site; love the content. Know I’ll come back to read more.


    • Spence says

      Hi Bo,
      there are definitely trends in Web Design, as there are in clothes, fashion, interior design, etc.

      This year we have the “flat and simple scroll” look, which we have adopted at as well. You can see this on most WordPress or WP “product” sites lately as well. A large reason is because of Responsive Design and mobile devices. It’s simply easier to design this way and easier to consume the content with the one long page with infinite vertical scroll… than to jump around side to side and paginate.

      Form follows function…etc. etc.

      See you for the next video I hope!

  39. says

    Great video. I love your idea of how WordPress is like a set of legos. I never thought of it like that, but it makes perfect sense. Please keep more videos coming. :)

    • Spence says

      Cheers Selena,
      and I’m happy we hit the target for you. WordPress is a magical place to make one’s livelihood….with the right technique and approach.

  40. RoyE says

    Nice teaser intro. I should expect a bill from “Spence” for his 10 videos priced at $2 for tap and $XXX for knowledge?

    • Spence says

      Hi Roy,
      well… I AM a pitchman, and always have been about making money online. That’s the point. If I didn’t LIVE it, how could I TEACH it?

      However, in fairness, I pride myself on delivering an extraordinary amount of FREE and valuable content by way of my videos, blog posts, free themes and other products. I have found that, after six years or so… building the relationship with my clients and fans of what I have to offer is the best way to ensure that folks come back again and again.

      With regard to this 1stWebDesigner tutorial series, I can assure you here that all these videos will be free. We do not intend to charge for any of them. Ultimately we will have tools and other solutions that are available as time savers for anyone who doesn’t want to “cook their meals from scratch”… but never any obligation to pay or paywall to see the instructional content or teaching. If you like feel free to view some of my other videos at or some of my ‘archive’ stuff back from the fun and good old days of Ning and SocialGO at: (go the oldest videos, and you can see some pretty funny stuff on how my video techniques and abilities progressed…quite a change from today I hope ;-)

      • Vince says

        I’ve always struggled in this area most likely undercharging and lately trying out those bidding freelance work websites.. really not getting on with them as there always seems to be someone willing to do it for less, the outcome probably worse but none the less client from those sites want cheap!

  41. says

    Happy holidays! (If we make it past the Apocalypse).

    Overlong. In the first twelve minutes I was already thinking about where else I could go to get information about WordPress. Thereafter I skipped through to see if any synopsis was revealed (some of us have short attention spans, I am shamefully one of them).

    A get-to-know is probably appropriate in smaller doses. Don’t forget about why people answered their emailing and came to see this video. TMI about Spence, no offense meant. Lop off much of the first portion and it’s way better.

    Very truly yours,
    The Grinch

    • Spence says

      Hi Fred,
      I’ll be here for 2013… planning on going to the “new” Earth. Hope you join me ;-)

      Your comments are fair. I typically limit most of my videos between 5 to 9 minutes. This was intended as a unique one, however, because of the need to setup the bigger topic and where this series is going. Maybe it would have been better to have it in two parts, each 10 minutes long. Then again, many of my video students actually “listen” to the video on iPhone or iPad during their walks or drives, so this 26 minutes was a bit shorter than most typical audio podcasts.

      Either way, I hope you found some value and will come back for future videos. I assure you that they will be more to the specific point of the lesson, rather than a broader message. But I do reserve the right to create a few “War and Peace” length videos… here and there… just in case ;-)


  42. justmy3cents says

    YouTube supports closed captions to make a video more understandable to non-native speakers and annotations to enable people find the part they’re interested in. It’s a 23 min video.

    • Spence says

      Hi Justmy3cents..
      we’ve turned on cc for YouTube. If it’s not working, that was not my intention. Please check again, and I’ll do the same. All our other videos have that enabled, as I agree with you 100% it’s a great service especially for a long transcript.

  43. Raj says

    I think delivering this type of invaluable advice in video format is the way for me as it bring engagement i’m not really a reader of books but have a degree in IT which is strange I know! but will continue to go through Spence’s other video’s and watch out for new ones. I don’t usually post comments either so its a step up for me!

    • Spence says

      Hi Raj,
      thanks for the kind words, and I’m glad you found video engaging. While I love writing as well, I find that it’s easier to convey emotion and visual examples by way of storytelling (with video).

      I look forward to seeing you back here regularly ;-)


  44. says

    Really good video! Will be looking forward the another ones popping up. The pricing system is always a thing to think throu 3-5 times and it’s nice to hear sum stories and tips for this area.
    Keep up the good work and merry xmas! :)

    • says

      Hi Niko,
      great that you picked up on that. Even today, I’m amazed at how pricing models are so “obvious” at some points, and so “surprising” at others.

      The best takeaway is the NEVER ASSUME anything. What is valuable to one person in this world, may have no value at all to another. And vice-versa. That is why there are $5000 handbags, where that can buy you a car or a house in other parts of the world.

      The trick is to find a NICHE of customer and solution you can offer, and then test your pricing to make sure you are at the maximum value proposition for yourself and your client. In other words: Don’t be AFRAID to charge too much… without first confirming that your client is not incredibly happy to pay you that much anyway.

      I have tons of stories and examples of pricing the value of what you offer. We will cover in this video series…my favorite is the “knowing where to tap”, and is a good one:

      WHERE TO TAP (from:

      Ever heard the story of the giant ship engine that failed? The ship’s owners tried one expert after another, but none of them could figure but how to fix the engine. Then they brought in an old man who had been fixing ships since he was a youngster. He carried a large bag of tools with him, and when he arrived, he immediately went to work. He nspected the engine very carefully, top to bottom.

      Two of the ship’s owners were there, watching this man, hoping he would know what to do. After looking things over, the old man reached into his bag and pulled out a small hammer. He gently tapped something. Instantly, the engine lurched into life. He carefully put his hammer away. The engine was fixed! A week later, the owners received a bill from the old man for ten thousand dollars.

      “What?!” the owners exclaimed. “He hardly did anything!”

      So they wrote the old man a note saying, “Please send us an itemized bill.”

      The man sent a bill that read:

      Tapping with a hammer ……………………. $ 2.00
      Knowing where to tap ………………………. $ 9,998.00

      Effort is important, but knowing where to make an effort in your life makes all the difference.

    • says

      Hope to see some of your work Yibeltal,
      please share a link to any sites you are working on, or any of your successes or frustrations. We can use that to help refine our teaching and community sharing here ;-)

  45. Arif Bijaksana Prawira Negara says

    Thanks to invite me. It is very important to me to be a freelancer and i try hard to learn about wp. But it is not so easy to prepare best design without any knowledge about html, css and so on. And your video and concept so awesome you told us not only about technic but also how to start business. Look forward to your next vdeo.

    • says

      Hi Arif, glad to have you onboard!
      You will find that we are going to make it super-easy for you to have the design tools you need with WordPress to start taking action without delay. All of our solutions are modular too, so you will know that everything works together without worry about leaving the client stranded with some type of spaghetti code, or unique development. That is part of the ongoing appeal of working with WordPress as well. Just remember Lego blocks from my example… a block from the 1950’s works with a block from 2012! Modular, modular, modular.


  46. Rjk says

    This is a christmas gift as I have been just trying my hands on word press. Looking forward for more informative video’s thanks

    • says

      Ho Ho Ho! Glad you enjoyed, and hope you will start your 2013 “right” by continuing with your WordPress exploration ;-)