Although I am speaking for myself, but ever since WPML opened their special contractors page I have been receiving a steady flow of consulting requests in my inbox. This in itself is fantastic as this means that WPML is being used by more and more people! It also means that WPML is receiving a steady flow of revenue, which in turn is good for everyone because part of that revenue will no doubt flow into developing WPML even further and we will all reap the benefits from that!

You are most likely reading this because no matter how hard you try, WPML doesn’t do what you thought it would and should be doing when you installed it.

Now before you shoot one of us a quick email with something that says Help, I can’t get WPML to work, please let me know what I should do!, it can be useful to read this article to get an idea of what you can expect from your WPML Contractor and what we Contractors expect of you.

What can you expect from a WPML Contractor?

Most of the time the people that approach me need a solution fast. I can imagine that too. Most likely you have been searching the forums and perhaps already have waited in an open thread for a bit, so now that you have decided to hire one of the WPML Contractors, you want your problem solved asap. Usually the time difference (I am located in GMT+8 and the other Contractors are in GMT0, GMT+1 and GMT+2) works to our advantage. My job is WordPress, so the chance is very high that when you send me an email I reply instantly. And if not that, then usually within 6-8 hours you can expect a reply from me.

Usually I offer to first do a one hour assessment of your website. I use that time to see what the problem is and will fix it instantly if possible within that hour. If it is not possible to fix the problem within that hour, I will send you an estimate on how many hours I would need together with my hourly rate for WPML work. For estimates that are more than 4 hours I usually ask a downpayment of half of the total estimated hours.

It can also happen that during my assessment I discover that I will not be able to help you. If that is the case, I will inform you about it and I will not charge you for my assessment.

I always document the changes and/or additions I make to your code. After all, ideally you learn something from it, so next time you can help yourself. And you can always pop me an email to ask me a quick question afterwards.

Different kinds of consultancy jobs

Most of the consulting requests I receive can roughly be divided into 5 categories:

People looking for free advice

I actually can imagine that people expect free advice. After all you already have paid for the license to use and receive updates of WPML and isn’t support included? Yes it is and if you head over to the forums then you will be able to see how busy Amir, Mihai, Brooks, Daniel and others are with giving support. The support of WPML however has its limits and I think that Amir and team have made the right decision to say that as long as a topic covers the greater good, support will be given.

There are however many cases of “out-of-the-box” support requests that it just doesn’t make sense for the support team to address those specific problems. And that is the whole reason for the Contractors Page.

Therefore please keep in mind that when it is suggested to you to approach us, it automatically means that your problem is not mainstream. And although we’d love to help you to make WPML work for you too, there is no reason to expect freebies, I am sorry.

Relatively easy-to-solve problems

As strange as it may sound, this is actually the largest category of the requests I receive regarding WPML Contractor work.

The good thing for you as the client is that your problem usually can be fixed in an hour or two and therefore can be relatively inexpensive.

Definitely the biggest problem for people seems to be to getting the Language Switcher to work. Now WPML comes standard with two Language Switchers, one for the header/sidebar and one for the footer. Do yourself a favour and don’t try to implement the footer into your header or the other way around. With a bit of CSS you can make either switcher do what you want it to do, no need to overcomplicate things.

Extremely complicated stuff

There is a reason why they couldn’t help you in the forums, right? Sometimes people approach me with a request I have to read multiple times to even start grasping what they want or need. In such cases I will spend some time looking into things, but will also tell you if it is over my head.

Sometimes problems also have to do with a certain setup of the server hosting your WordPress and WPML install. Please keep in mind that I know far more about WordPress and WPML than I know about hosting and server setups.

Themes that are not localized

Of all the Contractor work I have received through WPML, two have actually been larger projects. What made those projects stand out from the others is that the themes used were not internationalized yet. When that is the case you can install WPML all you want, nothing much will happen as long as your theme hasn’t been made suitable for use in a multilingual environment. In the early days of WPML Amir wrote a great tutorial which you actually still can use.

If you approach the WPML Contractors for this type of work, you should be prepared that it cannot be done in an hour or two; depending on the complexity of your theme more likely 4 hours and up.

People who are new to WordPress

This group of people actually deserves the most admiration as they have chosen to jump in from the deep end in the knowledge that they either sink or swim. The mere fact that they approach a WPML Contractor means that they are closer to sinking than to swimming, so they should be helped and encouraged to learn! The disadvantage for this group of people however is that it can take quite a long time to help them properly install everything and as a WPML Contractor, most likely you will also have to do a lot of common WordPress stuff.

What do WPML Contractors expect from you?

Before I list the information that you ideally all include when contacting the WPML Contractor, let me first go over a few other important points that us Contractors expect from you.

Flexibility & Communication

One of the great things about being a WPML Contractor is that I have the chance to see the backbones of many different sites. I can see different themes at work, I see plugins that I never even knew existed and so on. This also means that as soon as I log into your website I can encounter option panels that I have never worked with. And sometimes it takes more than 5 minutes to figure out how your theme is exactly set up and where all the different functions files are stored and called. Therefore we would like to ask a little bit flexibility from you when opening up your site for the very first time.

Some people ask their question to all Contractors available and that is their good right of course. But please inform the others that you won’t need their services after all, instead of having them schedule time for you only to never hear back from you.

Instant payment

As harsh as I may sound, I really don’t care what the payment standard is in your industry. If I do a couple of hours of work for you the moment you need it done (more often than not people need WPML working yesterday), I expect to be paid for that upon delivery. I like to work under a “gentlemen’s agreement” instead of sending legal contracts back and forth, which hardly do any good across borders anyway and only waste more of our valuable time. Please respect that.

Proper preparation

Once we open up your website, there is always the chance that something breaks. Therefore it is very important that before you give us the login details to make a proper backup of your site. Of course we can do it too for you, but obviously that counts towards time spent working on your site.

If the reason for WPML not working on your site is that in the Languages screen it says It looks like languages per directories will not function, please don’t expect miracles from a Contractor.

Instead, first click on Details yourself, to be able to see what can be the problem and the solution. The reason for this is that we cannot help you directly with these type of problems.

Remember, WPML will only function with different languages in different directories, when:

  • WordPress is installed in the root
  • URL Rewriting should be enabled on your server
  • Your webserver should be able to write to the .htaccess file

One more thing that I should add here. Please make sure that your WordPress and WPML versions are up to date. If I am going to work to make WPML function on your website, I need the latest versions of everything. That is the only way that I can stand behind my work.

Information to include in initial email

The other day I received a request that literally said the following:
Please contact me. Have some quick questions for WPML translations, which was followed by a phone number without country code.
Like, are you serious? I am a WPML Contractor, but I am not clairvoyant; and no, I don’t do house calls, even if I knew which country to call to.

Basically it all boils down to a little bit of efficiency. You know how much emails you receive on a given day, expect our amount of emails to be similar. Therefore instead of emailing back and forth just to be able to extract necessary information from you, it is much better to give all the details when you initially contact us.

  • Don’t get me wrong, you don’t need to write an essay, but a clear description of your problem is a good start.
  • Definitely include the URL of the thread(s) if you have opened one on the WPML forums, so we can read the history
  • URL of your website
  • how you want your languages to show up (different domain per language, different directory per language or language strings)
  • which is the default language and what is/are the other language(s) you plan to implement?
  • type of WPML package you purchased (blog or CMS package)
  • name of the (child)theme you are using, possibly with URL
  • other plugins that might be relevant
  • your location, preferably with timezone counted from Greenwich Mean Time (for us Europeans EST doesn’t mean anything, really)
  • your Skype username, chatting can be much more efficient than emailing back and forth
  • any other details you can think of

Last but not least, you should be prepared to send us login details for an Administrator account (and FTP helps a great deal too). Without those, it is impossible for us to have a look at the backend of your website and without that we unfortunately cannot help you.

I hope reading these Guidelines has been helpful and informative and I look forward to assisting you to make WPML work on your website too!

About Piet

Piet has been developing websites since 2005, working with WordPress since 2006 and working with WPML since the beginning in early 2009. Piet was born and raised in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, has lived in China for 18 years before moving to the Azores, an archipelago in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. His core business is developing websites (he loves WordPress), but also has interests in tourism and wine. His interests outside of work are the internet, spending time with his wife, hiking, their dog Laila, cooking, reading, movies and sailing.

Feel free to contact Piet for any WPML related issues.