It has been a little less than 10 months since I added membership to this site. There are now 760 active paid members as of today and the total income to-date is 86,835 USD. The monthly income has been averaging around $10000 since the last 3 months. These are not spectacular numbers by any means, but a year ago I did not certainly imagine this would be possible.
I still remember the day when I when I was working at SAP Labs Bangalore, India in the Pre-Sales team as UI Designer. I used to wonder whether I would continue doing what I was doing then for the rest of my life. The turning point was the day I purchased developer licenses for StudioPress Pro Plus All-Theme Package, iThemes Builder, Headway and Catalyst (now Dynamik). I tried all the frameworks and decided to stick with using Builder for client work. It was the most intuitive and easiest framework for me at the time.
After getting noticed for my replies to fellow users’ questions in the Builder forum where I was spending time voluntarily, I was offered a part-time job as iThemes support moderator. After about 6 months that became a full-time gig when I resigned from SAP and started working from home completely. My tenure at iThemes lasted for two and half years. Salary was $3500/month initially and was raised to $3650/month towards the end. I have solved over 22,000 questions during that time. Unfortunately there were no promised salary hikes and finally we parted ways due to some misunderstanding – which in the hindsight, was a good thing for me.
There I was out of the regular job market for more than a year and not knowing what to do online for a living. I knocked the doors of Automattic, WooThemes, HumanMade, many other WordPress agencies and even hosting companies asking for a job. Apparently I was not a good fit for any or no one was ready to offer the salary I wanted – $5000 per month. I then decided to embrace another theme framework, become good at it with the hope that opportunities will come my way. WooExplorer.com was born with tutorials on how to customize WooThemes themes. But soon I realized how small their themes’ user base is and how ridiculous their themes’ CSS is. One had to look in 3 or 4 different CSS files to make a single change. This gif perfectly describes them.
So Woo was out. I finally gave Genesis a second chance and tried to understand how it worked. The entire concept of using hooks and filters for making most customizations was not easy to grasp at first especially being a non-coder. I have not even heard the word “priority” in the context of code. I went through a lot of tutorials and articles on how Genesis works and slowly but surely it started to make sense. Also started hanging around in StudioPress forum, re-creating user’s questions in my test site, researching, coming up with solutions and providing them. The thing with Genesis is that when you look at it from outside you dismiss it as hype but once you get deep into it, you will realise how elegant, beautiful and structured everything is. That is the moment you say “Man! this is just great. I can’t believe I haven’t used it all this while.”. Looking back at Builder I realised the degree to which it was lagging behind both in terms of presentation (child theme’s design) and the succintness of generated HTML markup.
For the next 2 years I took up several theme customizations and PSD > WP projects – all in Genesis. I shared everything I was learning about Genesis during this time in this site as tutorials and code snippets. But soon the burden of having to answer a number of people that were asking for help in the comments was too much. The only escape, I thought, was to put everything behind a paywall to filter and reduce the amount of support pressure I was feeling.
The reaction to seeing something go paid which was freely available till then would naturally not be a welcome one to most. Imagine having to pay Google a certain amount every month to do internet searches! But I told myself that I am just a single person with other things to take care of in life like my family. So whatever happens will happen. I was not making any money out of my tutorials and I have nothing to lose and only gain (whatever little it would fetch) anyway.
There are 614 tutorials in the ‘Premium Content’ category and 81 in the ‘Free Content’ category as of today. I spend a lot of time on some of these, even as long as a week on a few. It takes considerable effort to research, test, perfect and publish. I shared my personal code snippets collection, created a comprehensive set of Genesis snippets for Sublime Text, started Genesis chat on Slack and troubleshooted many users’ queries during this journey.
I would like to thank the paid members of this site for supporting me. Also shoutout to Bill Erickson for indirectly helping so many with his plugins and code snippets, Gary Jones for his direct help in Slack, Brian Gardener for starting the ‘Revolution’ and Peter Shilling for occasionally keeping me busy with work. I will not be where I am without all your help. The StudioPress community is huge, talented, friendly and supportive.
Living in Australia has been wonderful for me and my family. We are in the process of purchasing our first house and shall move into it when we are back from our India trip in the last week of January.
Looking ahead, come February and I will be busy putting my PSD > WP video series plan into action. I hope members will find that tremendously useful. I do not bother with SEO, ads, affiliates, paid promotion, partnerships etc. Publishing meaningful and practically applicable content for my site’s members is all that matters.
To infinity and beyond!