Next to email, the #1 tool you need to use in your online business is WordPress.
And while you don’t have to know the techie aspects of WordPress code, you do need to know HOW you can use WordPress to grow you online business.
In working with online business owners and start-ups, I find that most people are either unclear about how WordPress can benefit their business or they are intimidated by the thought of learning about a new technology.
So in this post, I’m going to get you started on understanding how WordPress will benefit and help you grow your online business; and focus on the benefits, not the features of WordPress. This will help you decide which is the best use of WordPress for your online business.
7 Ways To Start Using WordPress to Grow Your Small Business
Business Blog. While you’re familiar with WordPress blogs, many small business owners still don’t see how it will benefit their business. Many start-ups think they’re too new for a blog. Others protest they have nothing to write about.
So here’s the bottom line: a business blog is your home on the web. It’s not an option, it’s a requirement to do business online these days. Just like you need a professional email address and a logo to be taken seriously as a business owner; customers, colleagues and business partners will look to see if you have a blog. They want to find out what you’re all about. No matter what you sell or where you sell it, your customers want a sense of who you are as a company. You can’t give them that in a one page “About Us” spiel. Today’s consumers expect more. They expect a blog. If you want to be taken seriously as an online business owner, start even a simple blog now.
Content Marketing. Content marketing IS the future of marketing on the Internet. Google demands it. Your customers expect it. No matter what you sell or where you sell it, you need to combine the powerful marketing package of WordPress and content marketing.
In fact, this topic is so important that the industry leading publication AuctionBytes dedicated a significant amount of space for me to write a two-part series on the topic. If you haven’t read the series yet, you don’t want to miss it:
- In Part 1 of the AuctionBytes series I explain what content marketing is, how to use it in your business, why you want to pair it with WordPress.
- Part 1 is also chock full of examples of businesses successfully using WordPress.
- There’s even a step-by-step guide on where to host your WordPress blog and how to install it.
- Part 2 of my AuctionBytes series continues with simple steps for creating great content (even if you hate to write).
- The series sidebar gives you the names, descriptions and links to the top plug-ins for WordPress optimization.
The series is jam packed with information and a must-read for all online business owners!
Quick and Easy Web Pages (of all Kinds). WordPress is quickly replacing HTML for every type of web page. And while HTML code itself won’t go completely away, websites coded in HTML are fast become extinct. Need to create an opt-in page to build your mailing list? Put together a brochure site for your brick and mortar business? Create a portal site or gallery for your artwork? Maybe you want a directory site or to build an online community. WordPress can do all of this for you simply by choosing the right themes and plugins! One of my favorite theme sites is Woo Themes. They offer a very polished class of business themes that are easy to use.
Ecommerce Websites. A lot of people are shocked when I tell them you can take WordPress and turn it into a fully functioning ecommerce site that integrates with the most popular payment processors such as Authorize.net or PayPal. And while there are a lot of companies that create ecommerce themes that require your own shopping cart, ShopperPress has full integration with PayPal, Google Checkout, Authorize.net etc . Not only will ShopperPress manage your inventory for you, it allows you to easily integrate content marketing in with your product pages giving you built in SEO. While it’s not designed for big etail stores, ShopperPress is perfect for start-ups and small ecommerce operations selling physical or digital products.
Another big benefit of ShopperPress for physical product sellers – Many wholesale suppliers will ask to see your website before they open an account with you. Even if they allow you to sell your products in a marketplace like eBay or Amazon, they still like to see a website focused on your niche. A quick and easy ShopperPress website lends immediate credibility to your business. All for under $100! You can easily have your ShopperPress site up in a day or so and have a professional presentation before you make your next supplier contact.
Membership Sites, Courses and Information Product Sites. A few years ago, if you sold an info product or an online course, you delivered the MP3 and PDF files via an HTML download page. Membership sites were created in ugly turn-key software. With WordPress it’s the dawn of a new day in digital product delivery! You can set up a paid or free membership site and manage your member accounts easily with Wishlist. And it doesn’t take you weeks to set up. Using the step-by-step video training from Dr Jeanette Cates at One Hour Membership Site, I was able to set up three separate membership sites in one day! (In 2004 it took 30 days to set up and configure my first membership site.)
Even if you’re selling an information product, eBook or online course, you want to put that digital data inside a membership site set up. By putting the files inside a protected site, you can add updates at any time – you don’t need to email the updates to your customers.
Build Your Customer List. Because WordPress can easily be themed and turned into any type of website, you can easily attract targeted traffic to your site and by adding a simple opt-in form generated by an Email Service Provider like Aweber. For example, a vintage car-parts seller who travels the country taking videos at vintage car shows and posts them on his WordPress blog could build a huge mailing list of interested followers by simply adding an email opt-in form right there on the home page of his blog. Sites like Money Saving Mom have built a massive customer list by combining the power of WordPress, money saving tips and an email opt-in form placed strategically in the header of the site.
Become Your Own “Internet Traffic Controller”. This is one of the benefits of WordPress I love the most. Because your blog is your home on the web, you can attract all sorts of traffic and then direct it anywhere you want. You become your own Internet Traffic Controller. You can send people to your online store, individual product pages, affiliate product sites – anywhere you want to send people. From within this single blog post, I can direct interested readers to my Power of 10 Product Sourcing Home Study Course, my latest training audios on the eBay Fall Seller updates, or people who are interested in learning how to set up their online business to work with wholesale suppliers.
Now that you’ve read through the 7 tactics that any business owner can use… tell me how you’ll use WordPress in your online business?
Just like to say this is a great post. We all see a lot of sites that give you much information about how to use things but your post gives the benefits.
Thanks so much! I’m really glad you brought this point up – because there are so many things being touted out there for small business owners that are the “latest and greatest” and “you’ve got to do this” and “you should do that” that people get overwhelmed with “stuff” to do. I am a firm believer that you should not invest time in any tactic or strategy in your business unless you are clear on the benefits of doing so.
I also think people need a strategic understanding of how this fits in their business. Otherwise it’s just one more part, that unless integrated with the overall strategy is ineffective.
I’m going to be blogging a LOT more about WordPress and content marketing – because it is integral to growing an online business in 2010 and beyond.
Great article, Lisa! I just spent over an hour reading and checking out your links and recommendations. Learned a ton doing this and now have a shopping cart on my WP blog!! How great is THAT???? 🙂
Thanks for your fabulously written, informative articles!
Hi Lisa, thank you for a great concise and easy to understand article about wordpress and the importance of blogging. I am giving it a go!
I have to add a cautionary not though, I did not find Word Press to be the shangri la of webdesign as others seem to. In fact I am getting to really hate it! The learning curve is very steep. I installed it just fine on my web server, went in and started changing the appearance, then I found to my horror that each change to the theme meant re-doing work as any customisations like logo headers etc would be lost each time.
There is no practice area, where you can try a theme to see the effect and go back to the one you had already prepared. Adding images is a problem as they do dot allow for good text wrapping easily. Then the text started messing about with me when I tried to put tags around some text, so I thought “no problem” I’ll go back to how it was by removing the tags and updating -dream on ! they would not change back for love nor money! The only way round was to cut and paste from else where. Now I know all this seems hilarious, but on a serous note, if I didn’t know about, HTML, CSS and that somewhere there would always be a setting that changed and image or a link if only I could dig and find it, I wouldn’t stand a chance. I don’t know how tech virgins find it.
Wow – you did run into a WordPress nightmare and Murphy’s law all wrapped up in one! You bring up a good point about customizing WordPress themes (changing the CSS) in that if you upgrade or change the theme you lose all your customizations.
Some of the issues that you describe almost seem theme related. I used to run into problems like that when I used themes that were free, which is why I switched to using paid themes that included a support forum.
These days I primarily use WooThemes.com, StudioPress.com, ithemes.com or the Thesis theme.
I do limited customizations myself though – I know HTML however, I have my webmaster do the heavy duty tech stuff.
Ingrid! That’s awesome! I see you doing great things at your site. Business is going very well! Will you be at Big Seminar in Las Vegas in November?
You have hit the nail right on the head once again. Your post is super accurate and a must for all on line sellers, no matter what you are selling.
You give a ton of information. I am setting up my shopping cart and then I’ll be on the way of being an WP blogger. Thanks again.
Wow! Talk about timing! Just attended International Freelancers Day conference this weekend, and all the buzz was about WordPress. Reading your blog post has convinced me it’s time to get started on a new WordPress blog for my business. Thanks, Lisa!! Kate
Wordpress really has changed the way we do business on the web. It’s made it so much easier and affordable to put together a great web presence.
BTW, if you don’t want to install WordPress/your blog yourself, we offer a complete blog installation package at http://wordpressbloginstallationandsetup.com
Hi, while I agree that WordPress is a GREAT tool, and have used it myself for many client websites, I wanted to point out that WordPress itself depends on HTML code. WordPress uses primarily PHP and MySQL (with a good dose of direct HTML in the templates) to generate the HTML that then displays the website. I think what you meant was that software like WordPress is replacing the need to code HTML by hand to publish websites.
Yes, that’s exactly what I meant! : ) Only you said it much clearer than I did. : ) Thank you for a really good explanation for people on how WordPress actually works – and saying it in “plain English”!