Running a school club like a business?

TL:DR skip to the bullets.

A few months ago I found out that I have a ton of veteran benefits that’ll let me go to school for free on top of a housing allowance. Because of this, I won’t have to work for 24 months (when the benefits run out). However, that’ll only get me through an associates when I really need a bachelors.

To leverage my experience, I thought I would start a club and operate it like a small business. The club needs to be profitable enough that student members don’t have to work either with some extra so we can go on trips. I also personally need to make enough for when the benefits run out.

Here are the basic ideas on how I see myself pulling this off:

  • The students will build static HTML templates that we give away for free
  • I’ll convert the HTML templates to WordPress themes which we sell on theme market places (or through our own site)
  • Some of us can work on plugin development which we sell as a service

These are the averages over a year I consider realistic:

  • 3 active members churning 1 HTML template a month
  • 30 sales per converted template @ $40 a month. 3 * 30 * 40 * 12 = $43200
  • 20% goes back into the club for trips and to run events (like hackathons or event organize schoo-wide events). So $34560 a year before taxes
  • $11,520 a year for every active member

Is this realistic? I feel like I’m missing something.

I got my Bachelor’s Degree in CS with the GI Bill and my wife will be finishing up her’s in 2015 with her GI Bill. She got lucky and was able to switch from the Montgomery to the Post-9/11, which I’m not sure you’re able to do now. The reason she had to do that is because she wasted a lot of time in Community College and got like 90 credits and was only able to transfer 55 to Uni. (she’s not going for CS) I skipped CC and barely finished in time. I think I had like 2 months left. (I also took some extra classes for ROTC which I ended up dropping my junior year)

The 24 months thing is only when you’re in school, so you’ll have about 2mo (guessing) a year when you’re not in school even if you do full time summer classes, factoring in Winter Break and gaps between school and summer classes. About 4mo a year when you’re not in school if you don’t do summer classes. You also get half rates if you don’t take a full load, which is 2 classes per summer term and there are 2 summer terms. You can’t always get in these unless you take filler junk classes that just waste time.

So, my wife goes back to school today (or tomorrow or something) she’s been out since the 18th of December. She gets $0 for that time.

If you want to pick my brain on any specific information (assuming you’re in the U.S.) feel free to PM me.


Also, are you sure it’s not 36 months? It should be 36 months, even if you’re a Reservist. Reservists get reduced rates as long as you quality for 60%, I don’t think this is reduced time. 36months / 8months a year = 4.5yrs (not including summer of course)

14. Question: The Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) was limited to 36 Months of benefits, is there similar limit for the Post 9/11 GI Bill?

Answer: Yes, like the MGIB you are generally entitled to 36 months of educational assistance. You may not receive benefits under more than one VA education program at the same time. If you are entitled to more than one GI Bill program you may be eligible for a maximum of 48 months of entitlement when using benefits under two or more GI Bill programs. Link

You can also quality for VA Student Worker. I worked with the CVSO (County Veteran Service Officer) and it was a cake walk, there are other places that allow VA Student Workers. It’s minimum wage and you’re limited to 100hrs a month, but no taxes or any other deductions. It’s nice on top of the GI Bill.

Also, I was wrong about only having 2 months left apperantly. Looks like I have enough left to get a Masters. hehe

Whoa thanks @mawburn, this is better than what my vet rep at school gave me! I’ll have to be a little more realistic as I was thinking it worked year round (which doesn’t make sense now that you mention it).

I get the Post 9/11 too so I’ll take a closer look at that (you’re right it is 36 months). I will absolutely look into the VA Student Worker program, I didn’t know about that.

That was all great info, thanks!


Technically, you may want to consider your math. It won’t be as simple, even as a broad estimate, as 3 * 30 * 40 * 12. Remember that in the first month, you’ll have basically 0 income, while in the last month, you should have massive income if all goes well - you’ll be selling templates from months 1-12 all at once. In the end maybe your math is a good average? But I’m not sure how you’d capably predict that. Your pool of products will steadily increase all year, which should in theory provide you with more sales. It also means that your earlier themes should have much higher sale numbers (maybe 200 instead of 30) but the December themes might only sell 10 apiece or 4 or something.

Anyway, I don’t know how you want to account for all of that, nor how I would - I haven’t put the thought into it and will let you do that :wink:

Either way, it sounds like an interesting venture and a way to supplement your income to boost you past the two years, while still assisting other people, and, might I add, gaining more experience and more portfolio work - and remember that if you are able and willing to maintain that library of themes, it might provide continuing income for some time into the future, not just during the year or two that you need it!

The numbers I got were by looking at page 3-4 (so about a month or two old) on ThemeForest, and noticing that the average is pretty high. The thing I didn’t realize though is that they take almost 40% to start which is quite high.

I also didn’t consider that by December I’ll be making few sales, if any at all.

I didn’t consider maintenance at all. To be honest, I’ve only ever done client work and a few little things I sold on my own, so I’m not really sure what’s involved with selling themes on a mass market like that. Thanks for the heads up!

Yeah, some of the theme reselling platforms really gouge you, especially at launch of a new one. Maintenance is simple if you do a really tight job to start with, but as people find and report problems with the theme, if you don’t do fixes/updates occasionally then you may find yourself getting negative reviews and thus less sales.

A time/money item to consider, anyway.

If you do end up doing this let me know how it works out. I’ve always thought about it and never really had the motivation to try to make it happen.

1 Like

How much are you paying club members? Or is the $11k going straight to them? Do you keep a cut? Do you expect some of the students/club members to decide that they are better off selling templates on their own?

One additional avenue would be to build sites from some of these templates, buy domains for them, set them up as starter websites, and sell them on Flippa (disclaimer, Flippa is a sister company to SitePoint and I used to work there). It won’t make you millions, but starter sites on nice templates that are set up well will bring in extra money.

This is a cool idea. Keep us updated!

1 Like

Thanks for the Flippa suggestion! I saw it last night and have been thinking about it all day. I think I’m going to go with it, and here’s why:

  • With Flippa I can just split the profits a certain way. With themes I have to stay in contact with members pretty much forever (pay them whenever someone buys a theme)
  • I don’t have to worry about supporting 1000 different people at once
  • We can just focus on one really nice build as a club
  • I can actually assign roles, like you do this and you do that. This is really what I’m trying to get out of the whole experience. Themes generally aren’t big enough to warrant more than one person at a time
  • I doubt most members will be able to do entire themes by themselves anyways since they’re mostly 18-20 year olds out of high school

This really got me excited, thanks!

1 Like

Happy to help! :smile:

You might like to dig through the archives on the Flippa blog, especially the Learning category.

This topic was automatically closed 91 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.