Well, get ready for a 2,700+ words article: becoming a WooCommerce expert won’t take you just a couple of days.
A few months won’t be enough either.
If you want to join that very small group of advanced freelancers and agencies that exclusively work with WooCommerce clients and charge top dollar, if you want to become a WooCommerce authority and build a successful career, if you want clients to come to you as opposed to you chasing them, well – you need to digest and assimilate what I’m about to tell you.
In this (long) article I will help you understand what is advanced WooCommerce, and then break this down into 5 simple steps.
Five makes-a-lot-of-sense steps you should follow in order to complete your journey.
So, want to become a WooCommerce ninja? A WooCommerce wrangler? A WooCommerce guru?
Well, despite I dislike all those ninja-like “terms”, let me tell you a thing or two. Then, join me in the comments and let’s keep the conversation going.
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Table of Contents
- How do I become a WooCommerce Expert?
- Why Advanced WooCommerce?
- What is Advanced WooCommerce?
- 5 Steps to Become a WooCommerce Expert
- STEP 1: Building your WooCommerce Foundation
- STEP 2: Reverse-engineering the WooCommerce Plugin
- STEP 3: Handling WooCommerce Customization
- STEP 4: Understanding WooCommerce Integration
- STEP 5: Mastering WooCommerce Troubleshooting
- Conclusion: Get Started TODAY
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How do I become a WooCommerce Expert?
So, the question you asked is basically “How do I become an advanced WooCommerce developer?”.
That’s great and I’m excited for you, but let’s slow down for a moment.
First of all you’re not alone – this is without doubt one of the most frequently asked questions on social media, online forums and emails.
Besides, the very first question you should be asking yourself is another one.
Why Advanced WooCommerce?
Well, if you get to know the answer to this question, you will get that extra motivation you’re looking for. I’ll help you understand why.
I know – you want to become someone who is 110% confident with the plugin settings (very often overlooked), a person who knows CSS and PHP customization, someone who knows what “is possible and what is not” (or even better, how many hours it would take to get a “complex” WooCommerce task done).
“If you become a WooCommerce expert you can niche down, specialize and increase your rates”
A person who also knows the ins and outs of WooCommerce performance, SEO, project management, integration, scaling, troubleshooting.
A person who doesn’t just copy and paste WooCommerce PHP snippets from StackOverflow or Business Bloomer.
I know you want to become a WooCommerce expert so you can “niche down”, specialize, increase your rates, improve your productivity and grow profitability. Which means: you can deliver any WooCommerce job in the shortest possible time and charge 10 times your current rate.
When I started my career as WooCommerce developer I had the “freelancer” dilemma – in order to gain experience and get as many jobs as possible I had to sell my WooCommerce services at a ridiculously low hourly rate ($10).
Ah, Fiverr… I kinda miss it.
To make a living, I should have had to work 8 billable hours a day for 365 days to make a whopping $10*8*365 = $29,200 with no life (8 billable hours means you also need to add approximately 6 non-billable hours per day), no holidays, no weekends, nothing.
Yes, we all make mistakes. So, let’s see if I can help you avoid the same.
Let’s see if I can show you what you need in order to become one of the few “Advanced” out there. No more 365 days/year, no more 16 hours daily shifts… you can make the same amount ($29,200) by working less than 292 billable hours/year.
YEP. You can.
What is Advanced WooCommerce?
So, back to WooCommerce – we can divide your road to “Advanced WooCommerce” into 2 sections.
“Advanced WooCommerce consists of reaching the MVP and picking your SPECIALTY”
The first part is what business people call the “MVP”, the Minimum Viable Product.
There is no way you can become a WooCommerce expert unless you tick all the MVP boxes. This is the bare minimum. If you don’t invest time into reading, bookmarking, learning, testing, coding and troubleshooting WooCommerce – you’ll fail very fast (which is a great thing by the way – better sooner than later).
No shortcuts allowed here.
The second part is what I call “SPECIALTY”.
Once you’ve assimilated the MVP, learned WooCommerce fully and demonstrated your skills, it’s time for you to pick a niche within the WooCommerce niche.
There is no way you can “be” everything.
You can’t be an expert WooCommerce website designer and also an expert in WooCommerce SEO.
You can’t pursue the WooCommerce scaling and performance career while also becoming a top plugin or theme seller.
You can’t specialize in security while starting a WooCommerce training business or a WooCommerce CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization) service.
5 Steps to Become a WooCommerce Expert
The MVP is a big deal. Specializing comes easy once you pass the MVP “exam”. In this article, we will focus on the MVP. Get there and you’re 90% done.
So, which steps are required to get you to this MVP? What’s inside this “advanced” WooCommerce world?
Well, here is what I consider absolutely vital:
- Building your WooCommerce Foundation: you have to study the theory, master project management, know the mistakes you should avoid, and read, read, read
- Reverse-engineering the WooCommerce Plugin: in order to customize WooCommerce, you need to know how it’s built, coded and developed in the first place
- Handling WooCommerce Customization: if you want to advance your skills and charge more $$$, you’ve got to get familiar with WooCommerce hooks (actions and filters), templates and snippets
- Understanding WooCommerce Integration: WooCommerce doesn’t work on its own. You need to know third party integrations, themes, hosting, SEO, SSL, analytics, languages, currencies, payment gateways, etc. to seriously complete your WooCommerce knowledge
- Mastering WooCommerce Troubleshooting: when things go wrong, you have to act fast. But if you want to avoid wasting time, you’ve got to become good at guessing where the error is generating from
STEP 1: Building your WooCommerce Foundation
Needless to say, if you want to become an advanced WooCommerce developer you have to be extremely familiar with WordPress first.
“We tend to forget WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin”
That’s a mistake many developers do.
They start from Module 2 without worrying about Module 1 – or in other words they wish to get a PHD without having completed the Master’s degree first.
If I have to give you the very first tip, don’t underestimate the WordPress basics. If you do things right at this stage, your WooCommerce learning path will be much smoother.
You can’t learn advanced WooCommerce unless you study:
- The WordPress Codex (https://codex.wordpress.org/Main_Page)
- WordPress terminology (https://codex.wordpress.org/WordPress_Semantics)
- WordPress lessons (https://codex.wordpress.org/WordPress_Lessons)
- Child themes (https://codex.wordpress.org/Child_Themes)
- WordPress hooks (https://codex.wordpress.org/Plugin_API)
- WordPress Troubleshooting (https://codex.wordpress.org/Troubleshooting)
- Advanced WordPress (https://codex.wordpress.org/Advanced_Topics)
See, mastering WooCommerce also means becoming a WordPress expert.
After all, we tend to forget WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin!
Once again, no shortcuts please. Follow the path, learn what’s required and build your WooCommerce foundation slowly.
Now that you know the basics of WordPress, it’s time to be in charge with WooCommerce.
Before you even get to touch any PHP or CSS, you have to invest time in learning and building your WooCommerce knowledge foundation:
- Get familiar with the WooCommerce Docs (https://docs.woocommerce.com/)
- Get familiar with the WooCommerce settings (https://docs.woocommerce.com/documentation/plugins/woocommerce/getting-started/settings/)
- Bookmark my WooCommerce Resource library to know where to find support, documentation, courses and podcasts
- Make an effort to know how to handle small or big WooCommerce projects
- Remember that updating the WooCommerce plugin is not as straight forward as updating Contact Form 7… you will break your website sooner or later
STEP 2: Reverse-engineering the WooCommerce Plugin
In order to become a WooCommerce expert and sell your services at a much higher rate, you need to know how to customize the WooCommerce plugin.
“Download the WooCommerce plugin on your computer and open all its files”
But before learning how to customize, you need to learn how WooCommerce is built, coded and developed in the first place.
Call it reverse-engineering if you wish.
I strongly recommend to download the WooCommerce plugin on your computer and open all those little folders and PHP files.
There is no way you can skip this. You need to invest as much time as possible here.
Knowing the terms – the “language” – will allow you to code and understanding advanced WooCommerce much, much better.
In relation to the knowledge you should gain during this step, I recommend:
- Learning how to avoid the biggest WooCommerce customization mistakes. Here’s my free video lesson on “Where to Place WooCommerce Customization“
- Understanding a child theme is for customizing a theme, but can also be used to override plugins (such as WooCommerce)
- Studying the WooCommerce templates. Seriously. Download the plugin, open the woocommerce/templates folder and see if you can understand what those PHP files do (hint – they generate WooCommerce pages such as the shop, single product, cart…)
- Knowing the difference between actions and filters (you should know this from your WordPress studies)
- Knowing where to find WooCommerce hooks, and what they do exactly . You can use my WooCommerce Visual Hook Guides for this purpose
- Handling WooCommerce shortcodes (https://docs.woocommerce.com/document/woocommerce-shortcodes/)
- Mastering “conditional logic” a.k.a. showing conditional content or run specific functions based on certain WooCommerce rules (take a look at my ultimate tutorial guide: https://businessbloomer.com/woocommerce-conditional-logic-ultimate-php-guide/
STEP 3: Handling WooCommerce Customization
Now that you know all the theory, the road for you to become an advanced WooCommerce developer is getting shorter and shorter.
“Initially you will have no clue why a given snippet gives you that result”
It’s now the right time to customize WooCommerce via CSS (styling) and PHP (functioning). It’s time to finally use that child theme you SURELY HAVE, and placing all your customization in there 🙂
It’s time to understand your client specifications, identify the correct hooks (or plugins, if the task is too complex to achieve), get your hands dirty on coding and… sweat a lot.
In the first few months you will have no clue WHY a given snippet gives you that given functionality.
But by looking at examples you can speed this up. My WooCommerce snippets give you many solutions, so try using them on a test website and start tweaking them to achieve similar or even different results.
Echo the content in different positions. Implement conditional logic, and see if you can run that snippet only if the product belongs to a category.
Take a snippet and make it more complex. This is the faster way to learn coding and advanced WooCommerce.
I have a series of free video lessons that complements what I’ve just said:
- How to Customize the WooCommerce Single Product Page
- How to Customize the WooCommerce Shop Page
- How to Find WooCommerce Hooks
These lessons are completely free, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
STEP 4: Understanding WooCommerce Integration
I mentioned early that knowing how to customize WooCommerce is not sufficient. As an advanced WooCommerce developer you also need to be familiar with:
- Payment Gateways
- Email Marketing
- and so on…
You need to know what plugin is good and what plugin is bad (hey plugin vendor, I’m talking to you!).
You need to know how easy or difficult it is to “connect” WooCommerce to third party software such as accounting, email marketing, dropshipping, POS, invoicing.
“Understanding WooCommerce integration means knowing what you can, cannot and don’t want to do”
You can’t just stop at the customization step. Here you’re expanding your knowledge so that you can choose a direction, a.k.a your specialty (remember – a thousand words ago?).
If you want to specialize in coding and selling WooCommerce plugins, you need to understand the WooCommerce plugin world.
If you wish to specialize in scaling WooCommerce, you need to know all the current problems and issues with big WooCommerce stores, and the pros and cons of every performance plugin.
If you want to really become an expert, you need to know how to answer to any WooCommerce question, even if you can’t do that task yourself. You need to KNOW, not to DO. Doing is not necessary – and again, you can’t do everything.
There will always be something WooCommerce-related you will have no clue about. But if you know your weaknesses, you will also know where you can send your client to.
STEP 5: Mastering WooCommerce Troubleshooting
Last but not least, the lovely troubleshooting step.
In fairness, this should have been step #1…
In fact, if your WooCommerce website breaks and you have no idea what’s going on, there is really no point to learn customization or integration.
More scenarios? Alright:
- Out of nowhere you get a blank page (error 500)
- Or maybe the cart is empty
- Or the checkout keeps “spinning”
Well, when you are in trouble – you need troubleshooting (loving this quote lol).
“Prevention saves you 90% of WooCommerce troubleshooting time”
You need to guess where the errors are coming from, or you risk wasting hours (check!), money (check!) and weekends (check!).
WooCommerce is a great open source plugin, but you have to treat it with delicacy (loving this one too, what a writer I am!).
One day, your WooCommerce website – or even worse your client’s WooCommerce website – is going to break. There is no doubt about that.
It happened to me a million times.
But I was READY for that.
I had plans, I wrote troubleshooting checklists.
I basically knew how to guess (hey, I’m still good at it in case you were wondering).
So, stop updating WordPress plugins and themes without testing it first.
Stop customizing WordPress websites from the WP Editor.
Stop copying and pasting snippets from weird sources.
Stop installing WooCommerce plugins that were last updated 2 years ago.
Prevention is 90% of the troubleshooting 🙂
Conclusion: Get Started TODAY
Get started today… before it’ll get too late.
Remember one thing: WooCommerce didn’t exist before September 2011. It’s pretty new. I can’t believe this myself.
“I built my WooCommerce knowledge one piece at a time, leaving many holes along the way”
It took me 4 full years of tears and long hours to establish myself as a WooCommerce expert. I don’t even know EVERYTHING, and I don’t want to know everything about WooCommerce.
I specialized in WooCommerce customization, traffic generation and monetization. I leave performance, scaling, design and C.R.O. to the other experts I know and appreciate.
I fought hard. I followed no path. I built my WooCommerce MVP one piece at a time, leaving many “holes” along the way and only realizing this later.
I’ve finally completed the WooPuzzle (uhm… business idea anyone?), and with that I’ve become familiar with:
- the WooCommerce basics
- the WooCommerce plugin
- WooCommerce customization
- WooCommerce integration
- WooCommerce troubleshooting
I wish I had this article back then. I would have saved countless months. Following some structure is the best way to speed up your learning (and remember, no shortcuts please).
I’m happy to help you as I feel your (WooCommerce) pain.
That’s the Business Bloomer mission – I want you to become an advanced WooCommerce developer and being able to charge at least $120/hour.
I want you to become a WordCamp speaker.
I want you to become a teacher.
I want clients to find you – and not you to chase clients.
I want you to stop procrastinating.
It’s about time.
It’s time to become a WooCommerce expert.
~ Written by Rodolfo with WooLove… ~
p.s. If you would like to continue supporting my ultimate goal, helping you with advanced WooCommerce, you can become a Business Bloomer Supporter and join our armada. Also, there are perks waiting for you.
p.p.s. Or if you’re ready to move to the next level and become an Advanced WooCommerce developer, take a look at my premium online course, called “CustomizeWoo” – which comes with 50+ video lessons, 6 modules, exercises, final exam, certification and lifetime access to me.