Yes. That is absolutely true and you can also make this decent amount of money if you are a pro WordPress user just by spending less than an hour per day . 

Back in 2009, I did a Google search with the keywords “Frontend Searchable Database WordPress plugin” and I happened to come across a free plugin MM Forms, that featured form data submission to database. It was a form builder plugin whose forms submitted data could be stored in database and could be managed via WordPress dashboard. A really appreciating idea at the time, yet it was a simple plugin that didn’t have much else to offer. Functionality was limited to viewing only submitted entries. Entries sorting, filtering and editing was not possible. Later on, in 2010 a plugin, Gravity Forms, came up that turned heads all across the WordPress community by featuring incredible functionality in view of the developmental stage of WordPress at that point in time. It offered full featured custom form building including advanced entry management in WordPress admin panel. With the help of Gravity Forms, users were able to browse, filter and edit forms submitted entries in backend.

Creating a searchable database in WordPress

It was an instant hit among the WordPress end users and developers alike. I tested it and discovered how easy it was to build advanced forms with multiple columns and multiple pages with Gravity Forms. But unfortunately it was not exactly what I was looking for.

What  I was really interested in was a tool that could allow building database applications without building database queries and PHP code manually. I tried two Windows based tools also that were to build database applications. I am talking about DB Qwiksite and PHP Runner. These were installable software and aimed at building database applications without writing PHP code manually. In other words these were automatic php code and MySQL tables generator software. I again was disappointed to find these software incomplete and insecure because a code noob could ruin his created database in a matter of seconds by making a simple mistake. Soon it was obvious that these software were in fact for the developers to make their work easy and to save their time to build an application. On testing them throughly, I skipped my idea to use them for client websites.

In January 2012, As I was hunting for a real WordPress plugin which could offer data entry management functionality, I stumbled on Formidable Pro plugin and this was the first time I found something that seemed to be really promising. In addition to all form building capabilities offered by Gravity Forms, Formidable Pro justifiably boasted of an innovative feature named Custom Display. As their website stated Custom Display was to show the data gathered via forms on pages and with the help of Custom Display, it was possible to show form submitted data in desired formats with frontend data filtering, editing and deleting options. It made me very hopeful and curious and I wasted no time looking for its admin demo. Sadly they didn’t offer admin demo. Because of their 30 day money back guarantee, buying it was also not a matter to give much thought to . So I bought Formidable Pro single site license that cost me only $39 (presently $47).


Sample School Management setup using Formidable Pro

A sample school management system with Formidable Pro

A car showroom directory

Formidable Pro Data display

Sample Exam Result display

Sample Exam result display with formidable pro


Learn How to Build any kind of data management system with Formidable Pro

Having installed and activated it on my developmental WordPress installation, I began evaluating its features. I felt that its form builder interface seemed to be borrowed from that of Gravity forms and it looked 90% similar to that of former. But to be honest, it was comparatively more advanced and functional with several options to customize different form fields.

Furthermore, the multi-route conditional email notifications ability of  its email notification system  was commendable. I was free to create as many email notifications as I wanted for a single form. After checking its email sending options, I hit its create post feature an option for every created form. Off the top of my head, I thought it yet another form of Gravity Forms simple post creation feature. But as it was, I was wrong because Formidable Pro would turn out to be the most advanced way to create posts from frontend and this feature was powered by data management ability (custom display) on frontend pages.

On the face of it,  custom display (later renamed as “view”) work appeared to be a difficult thing to deal with, but it didn't take more than a few minutes for me to get to understand it. I learnt quickly that custom display was the place where adding a field id displayed the field value, submitted via form on per entry basis after publishing or previewing the custom display.

I added some sample entries to a created form ( entries can be added via frontend or backend) and then created a custom display, choosing  form as data source. Then I added form field IDs in content section with some custom text to define field labels.

For example my custom form was with following fields;

  • Name
  • Email
  • Message

I added something like this in custom display;

  • Name – [id]
  • Email – [id]
  • Message – [id]

Where id text represents field actual id. To my joy, custom display content section accepted HTML formatting and custom text, so that data could be shown in any desired format such as table or in any custom layout. I published my first very basic custom display and added it to a page with its unique shortcode. I was totally blown out seeing that form entries were displayed on frontend with my own created format. It was then that I started sensing the incredible functionalities of Formidable Pro regarding building data management applications.

After reading plugin documentation thoroughly, I discovered how to create advanced search filter for gathered data and how to edit and delete it. I also came to know that data can be displayed conditionally i.e. based on users (a user could see only his own entries), post id, dropdown field value, date etc. There were many other features that I was able to dig out with the help of excellent technical support offered by the plugin website. Some of these cool things included conditional formatting such as text color, hiding all entries by default, comparing two or more entries, combining multiple fields value in post title, advanced mathematical calculations, pulling one form data to any other form in a dropdown field, displaying images, duplicating an entry on frontend and much more. It took around a week for me to learn everything on how to utilize Formidable Pro as a frontend data management tool.

And when I started making money with Formidable Pro

My first four jobs that involved Formidable Pro customization

Even as I was getting to know Formidable Pro, I got a client who wanted a used car online showroom website, where he could list his cars with the help of a form and they could be shown on pages in addition to the facilities of filtering, editing and deleting cars. Also he provided me with his own layout mockup that was to be used for shown cars. I told him yes and then he moved on to asking me about the cost. I generated a proposal with the price of $500 and emailed him. No wonder it was a very decent pricing considering custom software development cost. If you hire a developer and ask him to write a custom code, you can count on the developer  to charge you more than thousand dollars. As for me,thanks to utilizing Formidable Pro, I could finish the task within one or two days without not having  to write even a single line of code . He readily jumped at the proposal sending $500 straight to my PayPal account. As I had expected, I finished that project within two days — 6-7 hours in total.
It was not more than a week that I got my second data management project. This time I needed to set up a private employee record system so that client could add, manage, filter and print employee detail on WordPress frontend. It was still easier than the previous project and I sailed through it. ( One more thing: with the help of Formidable Pro, we can also setup frontend login, register and user profile management.) This time I was paid $350 for 3 hours of easy work.
Just after two days, I was assigned to develop a custom magazine website where the client wanted to add and manage news from frontend and he requested for a custom layout with  submitted news entries shown in specific home page blocks. Only Formidable Pro seemed to be able to accomplish the task with its post creation feature. To create custom layout I got Ultimatum theme that saved my life with its unlimited power of creating custom layout and custom post types. Apparently things were not going to be too easy for me this time and I had to figure out a way to get the job done. It was not that Formidable Pro was incompetent or anything, but the client's weird and odd requirements which made the job unusually tricky. By using combined functionalities of  Formidable Pro and Ultimatum and putting in 12 hours on the project I carried it through and client was fully satisfied with my job. For this project, I charged him $1000 which he paid in two installments; one in advance and second one on the completion of the project.
My fourth data management project was on  school management that included student enrollment and management, staff and teacher management, exam result publishing and library management. It was a challenging task and demanded more work and skill. I created a price quote of $1500 but they didn't seem to agree and wanted me to make it lower. After a few exchanges of the emails between school administration and me, the deal became final at $1200. They sent money in advance via PayPal. To be honest, it was a lengthy project and I spent several hours daily for two weeks to finish this project. I created several custom displays, several forms, several filters in addition to  getting help of  some other free plugins such as Private Content, Membership, PHPExcec, PDF and Print plugin etc. I  completed the task successfully  by the deadline but I decided to avoid such  large projects in future due to their demand of excessive amount of time.

Later on, I regularly received data management projects but I accepted  only those which could be completed in a short period of time. As I said, I did so because the time consumed in completing the job was important to me but anyone having few time concerns should not miss these types of time consuming yet  profitable projects.

Setting up a school exam result with the help of Formidable Pro has always been my favorite job. I can generate an online exam result display system with the help of Formidable Pro in no more than an hour. And I charge $100/ installation.

I never advertise my services via PPC advertising or via any kind of advertising agency. All orders I have been getting generally come through my niche websites which boast of Formidable Pro competence in regards to data management. If I marketed my services, I could get much more work but sadly, it would be beyond my working capacity. That is why I do only 4-5 Formidable Pro related jobs per month and  earn over $2000- $3000 with them.

Check out Formidable Pro

In fewest possible words, I tell you what you can do with the help of this plugin regarding data management system

  • Set up WordPress frontend posting including posts management from frontend
  • Show post data in any desired layout
  • Create a full featured directory listing website (classified, real estate, buy/sell stuff website like craigslist etc.)  with advanced listing search, advanced listing form and display listing in any type of custom layout
  • Setup a record display system such as employee, student, expense record, exam result publishing etc.
  • Frontend event management system
  • Booking system such as hotel booking, doctors appointment, reservation system etc.
  • Frontend user account management with login and registration form
  • Collect registration information e.g. allow the accepting of applications online for an institution or for a job and then let users check their application status via their automatically generated login detail sent to their email
  • Employees daily reporting system allowing them to submit their daily work report via a form, manageable on frontend by admin, editor or any user role you have assigned to manage reports

Users custom detail page where you can add custom data regarding them. for instance, you have a company where several employees work. You can create a form with following data related to an employee

  • – general information such as name, address, date of birth etc.
  • – their job grade
  • -progress such as promoted or demoted
  • – salary status; paid or pending
  • – upcoming bonuses
  • – complaints related to it if any
  • – message from company CEO, manager etc

Create one entry for each employee and assign his user ID to that entry. Create a custom display and set a filter “current user” and also add some custom code provided by Formidable Pro support. That way each employee can see entry related only to himself/herself and site administrator will be able to see and edit all entries.

  • Create review system for site visitors equipped with multi-criteria and star rating and display rating below or above WordPress posts in a desired manner.
  • Create a support ticket system
  • To do list
  • Event calendar
  • Bug reporting
  • Art gallery
  • Import your Microsoft Excel datasheet to a form (save your Excel data in CSV format and then use Formidable Pro import/export option)
  • Send SMS or email notification on creation, updation or deletion of an entry, either to the user whom the entry is related with or to any custom email
  • Display data in graphical formats such as bar, pie chart etc

Check out Formidable Pro

Apart from all this, there is a lot more you can do with Formidable Pro such as creating advanced inquiry forms, large multi section forms, multipage forms, paypal integration, Twilio SMS integration, Akismat integration, visual form styling for each form, populating a field inline to add additional data, advanced conditional visibility of fields, Mailchimp integration, Highrise CMS integration, Zapier integration, Embedding one form into another one etc.


Learn How to Build any kind of data management system with Formidable Pro

About Shams

Shams, a professional blogger, has expertise in WordPress and Web Hosting. He is used to playing around with WordPress plugins, themes, web hosting services and some other innovative stuff regarding web design. He sifts out good stuff for web designers and reviews it to help them choose what they really need.

Being an energetic tech enthusiast, he regularly pens down breaking news and tutorials related to technology particularly Smartphones and other gadgets. Sometimes writes tech tips too. It was the dawn of Internet age when he started dabbling in it and has since been delving into the realm of the internet. He occupies a permanent burrow in virtual world.

He can be reached at.- here