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How to Become a Freelance WordPress Developer

The world of web design and development is constantly evolving, and with the continued popularity of WordPress, becoming a freelance WordPress developer is a great career option. In a nutshell, a WordPress developer is a professional who uses the WordPress platform to build, maintain and extend websites for a variety of clients. By diving into the world of WordPress development, you can take charge of your career, work on diverse projects, and potentially generate a sustainable income.

To kick-start your journey as a freelance WordPress developer, it’s essential to understand the core principles of the platform, its importance in the web development landscape, and the various roles you may take on as a developer. Acquiring the necessary technical skills, exploring theme and plugin development, and staying updated with the latest industry trends and best practices are some of the crucial elements in becoming a successful WordPress freelancer. Along the way, you’ll need to build a professional portfolio, attract and retain clients, and continually adapt to the ever-changing technological landscape.

Key Takeaways

  • Becoming a freelance WordPress developer requires understanding the platform, acquiring technical skills, and staying updated with industry trends.
  • Developing themes and plugins, building a professional portfolio, and attracting clients are essential aspects of a successful freelance career.
  • Staying informed about SEO practices and engaging with the WordPress community can help you maintain a competitive edge in the industry.

Understanding WordPress and Its Advantages and Limitations

As an aspiring freelance WordPress developer, it’s essential to understand what WordPress is and why it’s important in the world of web development. WordPress is an open-source content management system (CMS) that makes it easy for non-technical users to create, manage, and publish content on their websites. It powers millions of websites worldwide, making it one of the most popular and user-friendly CMS platforms available.

One of the main reasons WordPress is so popular is because it’s highly customisable. With its vast library of themes and plugins, you can tailor your web application to suit your needs, style, and functionality preferences. This flexibility makes it the go-to choice for many individuals and businesses looking to create an online presence.

As a web developer, you’ll find that understanding the intricacies of WordPress is crucial to your success. Web development involves aspects such as front-end and back-end development, and knowing how WordPress fits into these areas will allow you to create and maintain websites effectively.

Both large and small businesses rely on competent web developers to create professional-looking websites to showcase their products and services. By becoming proficient in WordPress, you’ll have the necessary skills to meet the demands of a wide variety of clients. Additionally, with the constant evolution of WordPress and its ever-growing user base, it’s crucial to stay up-to-date with the latest features and best practices.

Familiarising yourself with WordPress and its significance in the web development industry is a vital first step in your journey towards becoming a competent freelance WordPress developer.

Role of A WordPress Developer

As a freelance WordPress developer, your primary responsibility is to build, maintain, and enhance websites for your clients using the WordPress platform. Your tasks may vary depending on the specific project requirements and your skill set.

At the beginning of your career, you’ll likely focus on creating and customising WordPress themes, which determine the look and layout of a website. You’ll work with HTML, CSS, and PHP to design visually appealing and functional templates. Additionally, you may be required to develop WordPress plugins that add unique features or functionalities to a site.

In your role as a professional WordPress developer, you may also be responsible for configuring server settings, troubleshooting issues, and ensuring that websites are optimised for search engines. Other tasks you might undertake include website migration, setting up e-commerce solutions, implementing security measures, and managing website backups.

As a freelance WordPress developer, you have the flexibility to choose your clients, projects, and areas of expertise. You might decide to focus on a specific industry or type of website, such as:

  • E-commerce stores
  • Blogs
  • Portfolio websites
  • Business sites

To succeed in this field, you should have a strong foundation in web development skills. Familiarise yourself with the following programming languages and technologies:

  • HTML (preferably HTML5)
  • CSS (preferably CSS3)
  • PHP
  • MySQL
  • JavaScript
  • jQuery
  • AJAX

Besides technical skills, you should also possess excellent communication and problem-solving abilities. This allows you to collaborate effectively with clients, manage their expectations, and deliver high-quality work on time.

Remember to continuously improve your skills and stay up-to-date with the latest WordPress developments. The more you know, the more valuable you become to your clients and the more successful your freelance career will be.

Technical Skills Required

To become a freelance WordPress developer, it’s essential to have a solid foundation in various technical skills. Here’s an overview of the core competencies you’ll need to master to excel in this field.

First, make sure you’re familiar with WordPress development itself. Becoming proficient in using the WordPress Codex is crucial, as it serves as the primary resource library for WordPress developers. Access information on essential themes, plugins, and other relevant topics in order to acclimate yourself to the platform.

A strong grasp of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript is vital for any web developer. These programming languages define the structure, style, and interactivity of a website, respectively. To further enhance your expertise, consider exploring HTML5 and CSS3, the latest versions of their respective languages.

PHP is the server-side scripting language used by WordPress, and it generates the dynamic content that users see on a website. By mastering PHP, you’ll be better equipped to create complex and interactive websites that meet client needs.

MySQL, a popular relational database management system, is another essential skill for WordPress developers, as it manages the data storage and retrieval for WordPress sites. Understanding MySQL queries will allow you to efficiently fetch, insert, or update the data present in a website’s database.

While acquiring the above technical skills is essential, don’t underestimate the importance of honing your coding and programming abilities. Familiarise yourself with a range of programming languages, such as jQuery and AJAX, to diversify your toolkit and increase your employability.

Finally, developing and refining a problem-solving mindset throughout your learning process will go a long way in WordPress development. Be prepared to face challenges, learn from mistakes, and continually evolve and adapt your skillset in this rapidly changing field.

By acquiring and refining the technical skills mentioned above, you’ll be well on your way to a successful career as a freelance WordPress developer. Remember to keep learning, stay updated on industry trends, and remain flexible with new technologies to continuously improve and enhance your services.

Learning The Basics of WordPress Development

To become a successful freelance WordPress developer, you need to first learn the fundamentals of WordPress development. This involves mastering both the front-end and back-end aspects of web development. The front-end is what users see and interact with, while the back-end ensures everything works smoothly behind the scenes.

Begin by learning the essential programming languages used in WordPress development, such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and PHP. HTML and CSS are vital for structuring and styling your website, whereas JavaScript helps with interactivity. PHP is the primary language used for back-end development in WordPress. Familiarising yourself with these languages will give you a strong foundation and make it easier to learn specific WordPress development practices.

Once you have a grasp of these languages, you can dive into the world of WordPress development. Explore the WordPress Codex and read official documentation to get an understanding of WordPress standards, functions, and best practices. It’s important to take the time to learn WordPress-specific features such as themes, plugins, and custom post types to stand out as a skilled developer.

As a WordPress developer, you may choose to work on multiple platforms like Upwork to find freelance clients. To succeed on these platforms, it’s essential to build a strong portfolio showcasing your skills and previous projects. Your portfolio should demonstrate your expertise in various aspects of WordPress development, including theme and plugin creation, customisation, and problem-solving. Additionally, consider creating a personal website to further highlight your skills and offer a comprehensive look at your capabilities as a developer.

By following these steps and consistently honing your skills, you can confidently begin your journey as a freelance WordPress developer. Remember that becoming an expert requires patience, dedication, and continuous learning to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and advancements in the WordPress ecosystem.

Developing WordPress Themes and Plugins

As a freelance WordPress developer, mastering the arts of developing themes and plugins is essential to your success. In this section, we’ll discuss some key aspects of working with both WordPress themes and plugins.

When creating WordPress themes, your primary objective is to design visually appealing websites while ensuring a smooth user experience. Themes are essentially the backbone of a WordPress site, dictating the overall design, layout, and appearance. To develop custom WordPress themes, you’ll need a solid understanding of HTML, CSS, and PHP. One popular theme known for its versatility is Divi, which can be used as a starting point for your projects.

Here are some key points to remember while developing WordPress themes:

  1. Consistency: Maintain a uniform look and feel throughout the theme, using coherent typography, colour schemes, and UI elements.
  2. Responsive design: Ensure your theme looks and functions well on various devices and screen sizes.
  3. Customisation options: Provide users with the flexibility to modify design elements, such as fonts, colours, and widgets, to suit their preferences.
  4. Optimisation: Minimise the use of heavy resources, and opt for compressed images to ensure faster loading times.
  5. Accessibility: Make your theme accessible to users with disabilities, following Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and incorporating keyboard navigation.

On the other hand, plugins extend the functionality of a WordPress site by adding specific features. As you delve deeper into the world of freelance WordPress development, you’ll come across the demand for custom plugins to satisfy niche requirements. Like themes, developing plugins requires a strong knowledge of PHP, as well as JavaScript, jQuery, and AJAX.

Here’s what to consider when developing WordPress plugins:

  1. Simplicity: Make sure your plugin is easy to use and maintain, with clear documentation and a user-friendly interface.
  2. Scalability: Design your plugin to be flexible and adaptive to future updates and changing requirements.
  3. Compatibility: Ensure your plugin works seamlessly with the latest WordPress version and various themes.
  4. Security: Implement proper security measures to protect user data and prevent vulnerabilities.
  5. Maintainability: Regularly update and fix bugs to provide a smooth experience for end-users.

While there are many free plugins available on the WordPress repository, premium plugins offer a potential source of income for developers. When marketing your premium plugins, focus on their unique features, benefits, and long-term support to attract potential buyers.

By honing your skills in developing both WordPress themes and plugins, you’ll be well-equipped to carve a successful career as a freelance WordPress developer.

Earning Potential as A WordPress Developer

As a freelance WordPress developer, your earning potential largely depends on your skillset, experience, and ability to build a strong client base. By mastering WordPress development and creating a robust portfolio, you can attract more clients and establish yourself in the competitive freelancing market.

Freelance WordPress developers can earn an average salary of £63,348 per year in the United States. However, since you’re working as a freelancer, your income will vary depending on the number of projects you secure and the skills you bring to the table. Experienced developers can charge higher hourly rates, while those who are new to the industry might need to lower their expectations initially.

To maximise your income, consider the following aspects:

  • Hourly Rate: Determine your hourly rate based on your expertise, experience, and the market demand for your services. Avoid charging too low, as this might signal a lack of confidence in your work. On the other hand, an unreasonably high rate may deter potential clients.
  • Budgets: When negotiating with clients, be clear about your pricing and ensure you understand their budget constraints. It’s crucial to factor in the time and resources needed to complete a project when estimating the final cost.
  • Diversify your skills: To attract diverse clients, learn different areas of WordPress development such as themes, plugins, and customisations. Becoming proficient in multiple programming languages, like PHP, JavaScript, and CSS, can also help you to stand out from the competition and negotiate better rates.
  • Networking: Build a strong network of clients, fellow developers, and industry influencers to increase your chances of getting referred for jobs. Attend events, join relevant LinkedIn and Facebook groups, and actively engage with others in the field.

By focusing on these factors and continuously improving your skills, you can successfully build your freelance WordPress development business and expand your earning potential.

Attracting and Retaining Clients

As a freelance WordPress developer, attracting and retaining clients is crucial to your success. To stand out and get noticed by potential clients, you should utilise various methods that can showcase your skills, communicate your expertise, and help build long-lasting relationships with your clients.

In order to reach potential clients, having a strong online presence is essential. Start by creating a professional website that highlights your WordPress development skills. Next, expand your reach through popular freelance platforms like Fiverr that provide access to a wide range of clients searching for your services. Additionally, join relevant Facebook groups and online forums where you can engage with other professionals in your field and potential clients. Sharing your work on these platforms, networking, and being part of the conversation will lead to potential clients noticing your expertise.

Remember to manage your clients’ expectations from the beginning. Clearly outline your services, turnaround time, and fees to avoid any misunderstandings. Setting up a project proposal for each client can help in this process, as it ensures that both parties are aware of the project scope, timeline, and budget. A good tip is to maintain clear and consistent communication with your clients, keeping them updated on your progress and addressing any concerns they may have along the way.

To retain clients and build ongoing relationships, deliver high-quality work and meet deadlines. Your clients will appreciate your professionalism, and the positive rapport you establish will encourage them to continue working with you and refer you to others. Align your efforts with their goals, and provide solutions that cater to their specific needs to demonstrate your commitment to their success.

In summary, building a strong online presence and maintaining high standards in your client work will help you attract and retain clients in the competitive world of freelance WordPress development. Remain proactive, stay engaged in online communities, and always strive to deliver your best work to ensure your success in this field.

Establishing Your Web Development Portfolio

As a freelance WordPress developer, it’s crucial to create a strong portfolio that showcases your skills and experience. Your portfolio serves as an essential tool for attracting clients and demonstrating your expertise as a self-employed professional.

To begin, consider featuring a range of web applications you’ve developed using WordPress. This will help potential clients understand the variety of projects you’re capable of handling. You may include custom themes, plugins, or full website builds. Ensure that each example in your portfolio highlights your technical abilities and creativity as a web developer.

Invest time in building a visually appealing and user-friendly portfolio site. Make sure it’s responsive, accessible, and easy to navigate. Remember, your portfolio site is often the first impression you make on potential clients, so it’s essential to put your best foot forward.

Having a diverse portfolio offers several advantages, such as:

  • Demonstrating your versatility as a developer.
  • Attracting a wider range of clients with different project requirements.
  • Providing proof of your ability to deliver results and meet client expectations.

While creating your portfolio, it’s also important to include details about your development process, technologies used, and any challenges you overcame during each project. Offering this information will help clients gain a better understanding of how you work and your technical expertise.

As your career progresses, keep your portfolio updated with your latest projects. Regular updates show clients that you’re continuously learning and improving your skills, making you a more attractive candidate for their WordPress development needs.

In summary, having a well-curated portfolio is a must for any aspiring freelance WordPress developer. By showcasing your skills, experience, and versatility, you’ll increase your chances of landing clients and building a successful career in web development.

Understanding and Applying SEO Practices

In your journey to become a freelance WordPress developer, understanding and applying SEO practices is crucial. As a developer, you need to create websites that not only function well but also rank highly in search results. This will help expand your client’s reach and generate more traffic for their websites. Here are a few essential SEO practices to consider:

Keyword Research: Before you design and develop a website, it’s important to conduct keyword research. By identifying the terms that users are searching for, you can optimise your website for these keywords, making it more likely to rank highly in search results. Make use of tools like Google Analytics to understand the popular search queries related to your client’s niche.

Site Architecture: A well-structured website with a clear hierarchy is not only user-friendly but also easily crawlable by search engines. This is essential for effective SEO. Ensure that your website has a logical layout, with relevant content grouped together in categories and subcategories.

Mobile Responsiveness: With more people than ever using mobile devices to access the internet, it’s vital to create websites that are mobile-friendly. This means ensuring that your website is responsive and adapts to different screen sizes and devices. Mobile responsiveness can significantly impact your site’s search rankings since Google prioritises mobile-friendly websites.

Optimised Content: The content of a website plays a key role in its search rankings. When creating content for your clients, make sure it is clear, concise, and relevant to the target audience. Additionally, include keywords strategically throughout the text without compromising readability. This will help search engines understand the purpose of your page and improve its rankings.

Meta Tags: Meta tags are snippets of information that provide search engines with essential details about your website’s content. Optimise your title tags, meta descriptions, and header tags to include relevant keywords and accurately describe the content on each page. This will encourage users to click on your website when it appears in search results.

By incorporating these SEO practices into your website design and development process, you will effectively enhance your clients’ online presence. This not only showcases your expertise in WordPress development but also demonstrates your ability to create websites that drive results, making you a more valuable asset to your clients.

Staying Up to Date with the WordPress Community

As a freelance WordPress developer, one of the key aspects of your success is staying up to date with the WordPress community. This vibrant, open-source, global community consists of individuals who contribute to and support the growth and development of the popular CMS, WordPress. By engaging and staying in touch with this network of experts, you can significantly advance your knowledge and skills.

First and foremost, regularly check for updates to the core software. periodically releases new versions of the platform, with feature enhancements, performance improvements, and importantly, security updates to keep your clients’ sites safe and up to date. Make a habit of checking their official blog for the latest news.

As part of the WordPress community, don’t be afraid to engage with other developers and professionals in forums and online groups. Websites such as WordPress Stack Exchange are invaluable resources for gaining insights, solving issues, and sharing your own expertise. You can also participate in WordCamps and meetups, which are events organised by and for the WordPress community.

To stay informed with the latest trends and best practices, follow reputable blogs and online publications. Sites like WP Tavern and Smashing Magazine routinely share news, articles, tutorials, and in-depth guides related to WordPress development.

Lastly, consider contributing to the WordPress project. As an open-source platform, it relies on the support of countless volunteers from around the globe. Offer your skills in areas like code, design, or even documentation. Engaging in the WordPress core development not only helps the community but enhances your own understanding of the CMS.

By staying connected and involved in the WordPress community, you’ll be better equipped to handle the ever-evolving world of web development and succeed as a freelance WordPress developer. Remember, knowledge is power, and actively participating in the community can be the key to constant growth.

Benefits of Becoming A Freelance WordPress Developer

As a freelance WordPress developer, you’ll enjoy numerous benefits that stem from the nature of freelancing. One of the key advantages is the freedom to choose your own projects based on your interests and skillsets. This autonomy allows you to work on projects that truly resonate with you, increasing your job satisfaction and motivation.

Flexibility is another significant perk of being a freelancer. You have more control over your schedule and can strike a better work-life balance. Since you don’t have a traditional boss, you can adjust your working hours to suit your preferences and lifestyle. This means you can make time for family, hobbies, or other commitments while still maintaining a successful career.

As a freelance WordPress developer, you’ll experience the opportunity to set your own rates and potentially earn more than a salaried position. With a large number of over 60 million websites using WordPress, the demand for skilled professionals is high, making it a lucrative career choice. As you gain experience and improve your skills, you’ll be able to charge more for your services, further increasing your income potential.

Lastly, becoming a freelance WordPress developer offers ample opportunity for professional growth. As you take on various projects and work with different clients, you’ll develop a diverse skill set that makes you even more valuable in the industry. You can also choose to specialise in specific areas such as eCommerce or cybersecurity, allowing you to carve out your own niche and further enhance your credibility.

In summary, choosing a career as a freelance WordPress developer provides you with the freedom, flexibility and potential for a higher income, while also giving you the chance to continuously learn and develop as a professional.


In your journey to become a successful freelance WordPress developer, it is essential to focus on continuous learning and improvement. Keep enhancing your skills in HTML, CSS, PHP, MySQL, JavaScript, and jQuery, as these are the core programming languages for WordPress development1. Engaging with other developers, attending local meetups, and reaching out to industry experts can also help you forge a strong professional network2.

Always stay updated with the latest WordPress trends and developments. From mastering the art of creating themes, plugins, and widgets, to building entire websites and web applications using Rest API3, constantly expanding your capabilities will enhance your marketability. Moreover, practising clear communication and effective project management skills can be invaluable assets in securing and retaining clients.

Lastly, remain honest and realistic about your abilities. Don’t promise more than you can deliver, and never be afraid to ask for help or seek guidance from more experienced developers when confronted with challenges. By maintaining a confident, knowledgeable, neutral, and clear tone, you will instil trust in your clients and set a solid foundation for a long-lasting, rewarding freelance career in WordPress development.


  1. Hostinger – How to Become a WordPress Developer 
  2. – 5 Steps to Become a WordPress Freelancer 
  3. Hostinger – How to Become a WordPress Developer 

Frequently Asked Questions

What essential skills do I need to learn?

To succeed as a freelance WordPress developer, you should have a strong understanding of PHP, HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Additionally, familiarising yourself with the WordPress admin control panel and various themes and plugins is crucial for building and delivering websites for your clients 1.

What steps should I follow on the developer roadmap?

Begin with mastering the core web technologies like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Next, learn PHP, the primary programming language used in WordPress development. From there, dive deeper into the WordPress ecosystem by understanding the admin control panel, customising themes, and working with plugins. It’s also helpful to learn about version control systems like Git, as well as basic security protocols and best practices 2.

How can I create a striking portfolio?

A great portfolio showcases your skills and previous projects. Start by creating a visually appealing website that highlights your expertise. Include detailed descriptions of your past work and demonstrate how you’ve solved problems and achieved clients’ goals. Make sure to use well-written case studies and present your projects in an easy-to-navigate layout. Additionally, keeping your portfolio up-to-date and reflecting the latest trends in design and development is essential for attracting new clients 3.

What is the best way to find freelance projects?

Networking, both online and offline, is crucial for finding freelance projects. Join online communities and forums focused on WordPress development and engage with potential clients on social media platforms. Attend local meetups, workshops, and conferences related to WordPress and web development to connect with other developers and potential clients. You can also utilise freelance job boards and platforms like Upwork, Freelancer, or PeoplePerHour to find projects 4.