If you’re a freelancer looking for new clients, you’ll likely find plenty of opportunities to take on low-cost WordPress projects. But pairing the term “low-cost” with WordPress seems like an oxymoron.
Sure, it may accurately describe what a client is willing to pay. That doesn’t speak to the challenges involved, though. These projects always tend to be more than meets the eye.
I’ve spent over a decade working in the WordPress space. And I can’t recall a single project that didn’t involve multiple revisions and at least some customization. Even a website that uses a third-party theme and a few select plugins will need some tweaks. This process encompasses projects at every pricing level.
It begs the question: are low-cost WordPress projects worth your time? The answer depends on what exactly you’re looking to gain.
Building websites at a discounted rate rarely ends up making you rich – at least not at the lower end of the scale. And, despite its massive ecosystem, utilizing WordPress in these projects only complicates the matter.
The theory behind low pricing is often based on two things:
Working on a higher volume of projects;
Offering lucrative upsells;
This clashes with the typical WordPress site. There are an almost endless array of themes and plugins to choose from (we’re not including from-scratch custom work, as that’s likely beyond a small budget). Thus, there are so many potential tweaks a client can ask for.
To turn a good profit, it would seem that a designer needs to be ultra-specific regarding what’s included in their baseline deal. Otherwise, the line between included services and upsells can become blurred.
Not to mention the time involved in the build and revision processes. There may not be enough hours in the day to work on the volume of projects necessary to earn a healthy sum.
Every project – regardless of price – represents an opportunity to learn. Putting a website together on a shoestring budget provides its own unique experience in this area.
Because we’re talking about low-cost projects, the chance to dive into custom code will likely be limited. That is unless you’re approaching things with the sole purpose of learning.
Even if that’s not the case, the knowledge you gain can still be valuable. For example, you’ll have lots of one-on-one time with the WordPress back end. That provides a foundation of how the dashboard works, where various settings reside, and plenty of practice with the Gutenberg block editor.
Then there’s also a great benefit to learning about WordPress plugins. Building these sorts of websites often means relying on third-party code. You’ll have a chance to find niche plugins that you can use both now and in the future. That’s a great resource to have at your disposal as you move through various projects.
In addition, you’ll also be able to identify pain points that arise during the build process. Knowing, for instance, what a particular theme can and can’t do has value. The same goes for plugins and WordPress itself.
If your portfolio is a little on the thin side, taking on smaller sites can be an effective way to beef it up. This is particularly important when you’re in the beginning stages of your career, when new clients may be hard to find.
However, you’ll want to approach this area with some caution. Adding low-budget WordPress projects to your portfolio can be a double-edged sword.
On one side, proudly displaying your work can add legitimacy to your brand. A prospective client will see what you’ve done and have confidence that you are qualified.
The downside is in how those projects are perceived. If a specific website looks low-budget, you may set yourself up to be typecast. Organizations may see you as someone they can turn to for cheap pricing, which may not be ideal for your long-term growth.
Therefore, it’s best to use some discretion as to which projects make it into your portfolio. Include those that have something unique to offer, but perhaps leave out the ones that are of a lower level.
The decision of whether or not to work on low-cost WordPress websites is a very personal one. So much depends on where you are in your career and what you’re looking to achieve.
Veteran designers and developers may not have much reason to play in this space. Although, some may see it as a way to fill in some gaps in their schedule or help out a friend.
If you’re just starting, there is a lot of value in building a cheap website or two. The more you can work with WordPress, the more proficient you’ll become with the content management system (CMS). This experience can pay off down the road.
Besides, very few of us start out working on high-end projects. The natural path tends to be starting small and moving up over time. This can better prepare you for the responsibilities and advanced knowledge required to work with larger organizations.
However, it’s important to know what you’re getting into. If you’re comfortable with the limitations that come along with low-cost projects, then don’t be afraid to jump in.