You can do both. Get wages working fulltime for your living, and get profits working part-time for your fortune. PROFITS ARE BETTER THAN WAGES.
The benefits of selling on a marketplace is that you get to focus on designing and supporting themes while the marketplace handles the bulk of your marketing and traffic generation. The downside is most marketplaces take a significant commission on sales and usually don’t give you control over theme pricing. Another potential downside is your themes are listed right alongside many competitors so it can be easy to get lost in the mix. But with great products shown on a high-traffic stage, the pros can certainly outweigh the cons.
If you or your team have the development chops to create awesome functionality built on top of WordPress, plugins could be the business to look at. Like WordPress themes, one route is to independently sell your plugin through your own ecommerce site. Gravity Forms , Plugin Buddy , and Cart66 have shown that this business model can be successful. You can also release your plugins on marketplaces such as CodeCanyon , WP Plugins , and Mojo Themes (they also have plugins).
Getting into the hosting business is no easy task. You’d better have an intimate knowledge of server technology and scaling issues. It also requires a significant investment in infrastructure, customer support staff, and marketing. And don’t forget the potential firestorms that will arise when your servers inevitably go down and every one of your customers flames you on Twitter. That said, the recurring revenue is a powerful benefit not to be understated. If you make it work, it can be a very lucrative business model.
This is an interesting and innovative business model that has popped up in recent years. Since WordPress is an open source community-driven project, there really isn’t a centralized location where you can get instant and reliable general customer support. That’s not to say there aren’t amazingly supportive community forums like those on But sometimes people or companies seek more substantial support options.