Interview: How Bill Erickson Built His WordPress Consulting Company

If you’re thinking about becoming a WordPress consultant, designer, or developer, focusing on the Thesis Theme can help you get more business.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a WordPress consultant, designer, or developer, chances are, you’ll want to know who you’re hiring, right?

Well, I’ve got you covered!

In this interview, I’ll take you inside the business of savvy Thesis developer Bill Erickson and show you how he built his company and how he conducts business.

Ready? Let’s dive in!

Your work is great. However, some people may not know about you. Can you please take a second and tell us all about what you do?

I’m a WordPress Consultant with a focus on the Thesis Theme. I love to find simple solutions to complex problems, which is what pulled me to Thesis. My typical project is to take a client’s design and build it as a Thesis-based website. You’d be amazed at how much you can customize a Thesis site.

I’ve been a web developer for 8 years, a WordPress developer for 4 years, and a Thesis developer for exactly 2 years (purchased Thesis on August 16, 2008).

How does Thesis tie directly into your business? Does it make you more efficient? Does it help your business financially? Please explain.

Thesis has been a huge benefit to my business. DIYthemes does a great job of educating people on the benefits of WordPress, Thesis and SEO. Clients that ask me for Thesis are more knowledgeable about what they need than those who don’t.

Building with the Thesis framework allows for rapid development. Many times I can build a site in a day – some sites I have even built in an hour. The framework also allows me to easily reuse code. If I build a solution for one client, I can easily replicate it for another by dropping the same code in the custom_functions.php file.

There’s a wonderful community on the DIYthemes support forums and twitter hashtag (#thesiswp) that can help you out when you hit a wall. Personally, when I have an issue, 9 times out of 10 I can solve it by searching the forums.

It’s also a great low-cost solution for clients that don’t have a budget for a custom website design. They can do a lot of the customization themselves, and I can quickly (cheaply) make the changes they can’t do. My starting rate for a Thesis site is 1/3 the starting rate of a custom one.

Now I don’t mean to pry, but would you mind sharing some numbers with our audience? I know you mentioned that a big portion of your business comes from Thesis, but I’d like to have something a little more concrete.

DIYthemes.com is responsible for 50% of my traffic (Google is responsible for 23%). And the best part? The traffic coming from DIYthemes is more likely to convert to a client than from anywhere else.

As a matter of fact, as of Jan 1, 2010, 63% of my revenue has come from Thesis-based projects, with the rest being sites built from other themes and building custom themes from scratch.

Now, if I were to guess, I’d say about 75% of my projects are Thesis-based (custom projects are more expensive than Thesis ones, which is why Thesis projects make-up a good percentage of my total number of projects).

You’ve achieved some pretty great results. How did you get started? How did you get your name out there?

Initially I marketed myself by sharing what I’ve learned through tutorials posted on my website. As I solved a specific problem for a client, I’d generalize the code and post it as a Thesis Tip. For example, take a look at Thesis Tip #3 — Multiple Content Areas [edit: link removed].

How does this help me market my business?

For starters, it helped establish my authority on Thesis with Google, resulting in much more traffic to my site. And when people found my posts and liked my approach to solving problems, they hired me to solve their problems.

Recently I’ve had a few projects featured in the Thesis Theme Showcase [edit: link removed], which is why I now have so much traffic from DIYthemes. I never knew the gallery was this popular!

What if other designers and developers wanted to build their business around Thesis—do you have any recommendations that may help them get started?

Find great designers to pull into your projects if you focus on code (like I do). You can be a fabulous developer, but if the designs you’re working with don’t look great then the site’s won’t get noticed.

Share your code with the community. When you find an interesting approach to a problem, write a blog post about it. If you see a question on the forums, contribute your thoughts.