A lot of us are do-it-yourselfers when it comes to WordPress and even if we are only slightly technical WP makes is pretty easy. However, WordPress can, and often is, used for sites which are much more complex than the average blog and many individuals or small-to-medium businesses don’t have the time or the in-house expertise to make it work the way they want. Many more don’t even know that WordPress is an option for them, so whether you are already set on using WordPress for your site, looking for someone to enhance an existing WordPress instance, considering WordPress among other options or just looking for a CMS that won’t blow the budget out of the water but is flexible enough to meet your needs, hiring a WordPress expert can be a good way to go.  But before you hire someone there are a few things you should consider to help you get the most out of the money you are going to spend. This is by no means comprehensive but should give you a good start.

Finding a good WP Consultant:Their are many of them out there so consider your needs and find one that matches. Are you comfortable with a freelance consultant or do you prefer an company? Good Places to look are the list of WordPress consultants on the Automattic website or the WordPress Pro Mailing list.

Cost:This topic can be a bit sticky because prices can be all over the place depending on the services you need. When you are comparing consultants/companies some things to consider are:

  • Do they have a track record
  • Established processes
  • Do they provide references if asked
  • Do they ask you a lot of questions and go through a requirements gathering phase?
  • Do they provide you an education and training?
  • Are they accessible and do they have a service level agreement to support that (24 hour response time for example)?
  • Do they utilize contracts or statements of work outlining payment requirements, deliverable, requirements,etc….

If any of those things are missing you might be opening yourself up for a more difficult project than necessary. The more professional they are the better off you will be. Keep in mind that cheaper is not always better and price will likely rise with professionalism. But it’s all WordPress work right? Yes, but even if the base application doesn’t change (WordPress) how someone implements it for you can vary there is more to a project than installing applications and plugins.  If price is your only consideration or professionalism is ignored, then you might end up not getting what you expect, need or want and could easily end up doing it over and paying again.

Budget: Do you have an established budget? It’s important to have some idea of what you can afford. There is no formula for knowing exactly what it should cost so establishing a budget can be tough. Figure out what you can afford then do your due diligence, research a number of candidates and get quotes. When figuring out what you can afford try to be realistic, you are looking to hire a professional that makes a living doing this. Getting a full website, design, logo, SEO and whatever custom configuration you need is going to cost. If your budget is a few hundred dollars, don’t expect much. Many elements of building a professional site can be time consuming and take considerable thought and expertise and that is what you are paying for. Hiring the wrong person can cost you more in the long run. If you really need help and your budget really can’t get you far prioritize and get ready to learn to do as much as you can for yourself and pay for help where you need it most.

Setting Expectations: Be very clear about what you want and need. Before you even talk to someone spend time planning and outlining your requirements. Consultants aren’t mind readers but should be able to guide you as long as you have some idea(s). Break it down into must-haves and nice-to-haves which will give you some flexibility in budgeting and negotiating. Also, if you want a certain look and feel, find examples that are close to what you need, it will save a lot of back-and-forth. Most importantly, keep in mind that YOU still have some learning to do if you don’t already know the back end of WordPress. Knowing how to operate the site after your consultant is gone is up to you, but they should provide you with training if you need it.

Different skill sets/Different Services: Designers aren’t necessarily architects who aren’t necessarily developers… there are some that can do it all but they represent premium talent so be prepared. That said, you might need to break it down and hire different people for the different roles.

How to avoid becoming dependent on that consultant: Using WordPress means that you should be able to manage the content on your site yourself but you might still need help with design issues or other changes from time to time. Get as knowledgeable about WordPress as you can and have a couple of consultants you can call on if need be.

Of course there can be other considerations depending on what you need but this should get you started. WordPress experts can do amazing things for you but you need to know what you require to begin with. A little planning on your end will save you a lot of time and money. Do it right and you could build a great relationship with your consultant and they’ll always be there for you.

Scott Ellis is the founder of VSELLIS.com and is a web producer for GeekBeat.tv.

  • WPCult

    This is a very good article. I just wish that some of the clients that contact me looking for WP help or info would read this to better understand that their are big options out there regarding WordPress. And WP can be very complex, it also just happens to be really simple in some circumstances..
    :)

  • Dev

    well i think some times i need consultant.Its depend on your idea and work. you need or not. If i have an business or a website then i am sure i need someone to consultant me.

  • http://kyleeslick.com Kyle Eslick

    Great tips here!

    I think you bring up several good points. Consultants should be able to provide a portfolio of their work done, examples, etc.

    I also like your recommendation about not becoming chained to one consultant. This is how consultants make a bulk of their income and I know several people (whose sites aren’t using WordPress) who have this exact problem.

  • http://www.employeeambassador.com Ron McDaniel

    Excellent Advice.

    I would argue that one person will *probably* not be perfect for design and custom plug ins and seo and….

    I know a lot of people that will set up WordPress cheaply – but I do not know any affordable plug in developers.

  • http://www.grid7.org Paul Ehrenreich

    This is a really good article.

    As some one who is thinking of branching out and becoming a WordPress freelancer, I can use this as a sort of guideline when starting out.

    Thanks for the write up!

  • http://poweredgolfcart.blogspot.com David

    I never knew there was a niche related to wordpress design by itself, I always though it was mostly self done and the professional designing was for websites. One other thing to note is to backcheck the people your working with. Go to google and run checks on the companies/people who you think can work for you along with the word “scam” (or a synonym). Working on the internet provides it’s advantages and disadvantages so make use of what you got.
    Otherwise quality article mate.
    Cheers.

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  • http://www.dotmainname.com Deca

    I think I don’t need wp consultants :D

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  • mitch

    Very nice list. There are too many horror stories out there.. more clients should read this.

  • http://SouthLaSalle.com Bob Bloom

    I’m asked all the time why I don’t have a portfolio of sites on my site. A customer wanted me to do work for free back-when, and threatened to pull his testimonial if I resisted. I pulled all my testimonials from my site, and have not published any since.

    An unintended consequence is that my clients enjoy confidentiality. I don’t put my own link anywhere on their site; nor their site on mine. No one knows I do their site! If I do mention a client site on my blog, I have special permission to do so.

    Since I do a ton of work for other consultants, this has really worked out well.

    -Bob

    • http://www.vsellis.com Scott Ellis

      Bob, (sorry for the long delay)
      Your points are definitely valid. I usually give clients the option of confidentiality and in some cases it just makes sense. Other clients are more than happy to promote us and I’m grateful they do, it’s often lead to other work. I think it simply has to be a case by case basis.

      If I do sub-contracting work for another firm/consultant then they own the relationship and I don’t try to claim it.

      Scott

  • http://www.314media.com Web Design by 314media.com St. Louis

    We are official WordPress consultants and on the list at CodePoet.com .. I would like to point out that most of the WordPress consultants are really using WordPress as a platform to build web sites on. WordPress is super powerfull and most users with an out of the box installation really just need more help getting their site to do things that they otherwise cannot figure out.

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