BuddyPress is yet another WordPress plugin, with 12+ years of history. Social networks are Holy Grail, almost the same as e-commerce, for developers and implementers. Store owners love to tweak things on their sites to improve sales and ARPU, social network admins would love to improve users’ engagement (and that’s a ton of things: from more generated content and likes to more time spent on a site). So answering the question: How to make money with BuddyPress – is actually very specific to your skills.
In my opinion, there are several types of WordPress users (in no particular order), that can benefit from BuddyPress, and here are those that are actually already doing that for other plugins (like WooCommerce):
They have skills to write code – create something from nothing (out of their head);
- site builders:
They have patience and skills to combine plugins and tweak settings – create something from pieces;
- bloggers / vloggers:
They can write great content or record a great video, that will properly and in an interesting way review and compare different solutions;
- business sites owners:
They already have a site and are always looking at how to improve every bit of it to make the most out of their users.
And depending on which type you belong, there are several strategies, that you can use to make money with BuddyPress.
WordPress plugins ecosystem is so big, that you can find almost everything, from broad solutions like e-commerce and caching, to more specific like forms, real-estate, and cooking. Each plugin, when developed in a proper manner, can be extended. The ability to extend is actually a DNA of WordPress, and almost all plugin authors aim to develop such a software, that will allow others to improve upon it.
BuddyPress is very flexible with all its actions and filters, you can modify a ton of things inside its default components:
- Extended Profiles
- Account Settings
- Friends Connections
- Private Messaging
- Activity Streams
- User Groups
- Site Tracking
- BuddyPress Core
- Community Members
From a developer perspective it’s quite easy – create and sell plugins, that extend default components (or write your own!). Lots of things in BuddyPress are in a basic state, like messages, friends, etc. Groups and Activity are the most important (in my opinion) components, that actually require a ton of customization. That’s why I’ve created a bunch of plugins for groups, like BuddyPress Groups Extras, etc.
Privacy, better profiles, sharing, tracking, other plugins, and services connectors – all these and other features will be popular if you develop and release them. And then you will need just to price them and select a way to distribute and market – via your own site, using WooCommerce or Easy Digital Downloads or other solutions, or using something like Codecanyon. But that’s another story.
BuddyPress has 200k+ active installs, which is quite a lot, so you definitely have a market.
If developing (like writing lots of PHP code) is not your thing, and you associate yourself with site builders – you still have tons of things to do.
As an example: you got a client that has a blog about pets. It even has a store, where all related things are sold. So here is how you can earn as a site builder.
The first step is actually building a site for a client. So why not offer a client an ability to improve users’ engagement by installing and configuring BuddyPress? Niche communities are very popular all over the world, and when people are gathering in the same place – your own site – that’s even better. And by configuring I mean not only selecting options in an admin area but also using something like feature plugins or bp-custom.php to tweak default BuddyPress behavior.
The second step might be installing additional plugins that will link the store and the blog with BuddyPress profiles (like WooCommerce for BuddyPress), forums (bbPress). You can even configure the site to award users for their activity and helpfulness with points that later can be used to purchase real goods (myCRED) etc. Remember, that almost all plugins can be extended and somewhat integrated with each other, so use this to create a working workflow for your client.
And don’t forget about ongoing support and hosting that you can provide as a reseller.
If you have spent enough time working with BuddyPress, you have developed a certain level of expertise. This experience can be in various fields, that are helpful to other site builders or site owners, like:
- performance optimization
- community management
- general BuddyPress knowledge nuances
Business owners have a great understanding of value for money, so they will more likely spend several hours and several hundreds of dollars for a consultation that will save them days or weeks and thousands of dollars on loss or extra costs.
So you need to have a strong knowledge, be vocal in a community, so people will know that you are aware of various things inside the topic, and give them an ability to hire you to help them. That’s mainly investing in yourself and in your brand.
If you are a site owner, that loves the idea of niche social networks – then the WordPress ecosystem has you covered as well!
You have various options, how to monetize the site with real users:
- make all BuddyPress groups by default private with access after payment only
- unblock some BuddyPress core functionality (extended profile or private messages on a dating site) after payment
- hide the whole social network under the paywall, with a subscription or a one payment method
- access to Learning Management System after payment (with LearnDash, for example)
- there are lots of memberships plugins, that will give you the ability to define which users with each level have access to certain parts of your site and network in general (example: groups activity access for Silver level, groups support forum access to Gold level)
- targeted ads on your network – this will be super useful when you have a rather big community with varied interests. Think of this as a Facebook Ads system, where your partners target those who are from New York and love jazz to show them an ad about their jazz concert in Birdland – and it’s possible with BuddyPress (code-wise)!
Of course, some of the features above are not in the core of BuddyPress and I’m not aware of the solutions developed by others, but if you want to ask real money from real users – you should definitely consider hiring a person that will create everything for you (either developer or site builder, it depends on each use case).
And now is the time to mention an affiliate marketing, which is basically you referring users to some other site that benefits from this (like with an additional sale) and gives you a commission. You can withdraw that commission to your PayPal/Payoneer account, or use the earned money or bonuses to order goods for yourself. It’s a win-win situation for everyone:
- users get the service/product they were looking for
- you get a commission for preparing a content (more about this below) that redirects to the provider
- the provider gets new users and sales, plus a marketing boost because of your content.
That’s what I’ve tried several times by myself, but this path requires dedication and persistence – which I was always lacking in blogging. If you are great at writing or willing to be at it (consider lots of practice), you might already know that people tend to seek opinions on the internet. So you can:
- write reviews for BuddyPress plugins and themes, and lots of people are doing this successfully
- record videos with reviews of plugins/themes around BuddyPress or how-tos and put them on Youtube with affiliate links in the description, and enable related ads in the middle of videos if you think this is a good idea
- create a newsletter with industry news with occasional affiliate links in it (should be topic-specific). That’s what I did with BuddyPress Newsletter a while back
- BuddyPress hosting is a rising topic, as more and more sites are starting to use BuddyPress, which is “a bit” heavier than a 9-year-old Hello Dolly plugin by Matt Mullenweg. There is only one BuddyPress-centric hosting company right now, WeFoster, but that might be explained by the fact, that it’s just a WordPress with a special plugin. But that also gives you the ability to earn money by recommending the only dedicated hosting company out there!
As you see, there are several options here as well, as always. And you are not restricted to combine several sources of income, like access to your BuddyPress how-tos or a newsletter with a paid membership.
The initial question on Quora inspired me to write a blog post, but I really hope that you got the idea of the possibilities that are open to you.
It’s a long road, with rocky terrain, lots of turns, ups, and downs, but don’t be afraid to start, don’t be afraid to invest in your knowledge, and always try new things and combine different approaches. After spending some time you will definitely find a path that works for you.