WordCamp Richmond: The Seven Business Pitfalls for WordPress and Web Professionals

presenter: Chris Gatewood

  1. Half + Half = Half
    Rather than getting paid half up front and half when delivering the product, do it in steps so that the payment matches the work. But, don’t make it too big of a spread so that the money isn’t trickling in small amounts.
  2. In vs. Out
    Scope creep equals free work. Define the work and communicate it with the client. Specify the cost/hour for any additional work. However, if it’s a minor thing, give them a little, and make sure you tell them you’re doing it so that they understand it’s an accommodation and something else may require additional cost. Contract language suggestion for communication: “Agreement or approval in writing for which email will suffice.”
  3. Subcontractor Cash Squeeze
    Don’t get stuck holding the bag. Decide and communicate when the subcontractor will get paid (when client pays or when content is delivered). You’ll also need to plan for what happens if the client doesn’t pay up. There’s no right answer, except to communicate all expectations.
  4. Stay in Range
    Email is great for keeping up with incremental approvals as you move forward on a project. Things happen, so make sure you’re communicating regularly. Build in the calendar so that it’s iterative (i.e. prototype built within x weeks of approval) and not dependent upon a deadline that could be disrupted by the client’s lack of communication.
  5. No Free Launch
    Don’t transfer the hosting and intellectual property rights (DMCA) until you’re paid. If you’ve already handed over the deliverable, your invoice is a much lower priority for the client.
  6. That WIP Appeal
    Work in progress is expensive. If the client goes silent for whatever reason and you can’t get approval to move forward, give yourself the right (in the contract) to invoice for work up to that point.
  7. Failure to Flex
    If you know your client is in a jam, give them some options such as modifying the payment terms or shrinking the scope of the project. If you’re not comfortable that the client will pay, inflate the estimate or get more on the front-end.


WordPress is in GPL, so you can’t charge for that. You can develop and own rights in whatever you do that is separable from the platform itself, such as themes. Plugins are tricky, because even if you build your own, it may unintentionally replicate the coding for existing things.

Should you work with a lawyer to develop contracts for bloggers? Not necessarily. Develop modular agreement templates that can be used and swapped out as needed.

How do you develop a collaborative relationship with clients? Bring bagels. Find out who in the company has time to talk about the project. There’s no substitute to in-person meetings or phone calls. [Sounds like they need to learn how to do a library reference transaction.]

CEG WordCamp Deck 2010