Today, having a website isn’t an option for businesses of any type or size—it’s a must-have. When consumers go online to look for information about products and services, the websites that show up on the first page of search results are likely to represent their go-to options for doing anything from finding a great restaurant, to purchasing a new home or car, and everything in between. Even though word-of-mouth remains a top driver of purchase decisions, consumers will still go online to search for more information about the recommendation they’ve received from a friend, colleague or relative.
Building a website, for most small business owners, in particular, can be a daunting task. Their expertise, after all, is generally not in web development, SEO or content marketing. And, the prospect of hiring an expert to create a site can be financially daunting—it can literally cost tens of thousands of dollars to create an attractive and well-functioning site.
WordPress: Low Cost/No Cost Option
The good news: it doesn’t have to. With a tool like WordPress, even non-experts can, as the company’s website proclaims: “Create a website in minutes.” Even better news: WordPress offers top-notch quality. So much so that the websites of some very top brands have been built through this platform. Brands like:
With WordPress, even the smallest business can quickly build an attractive business or eCommerce site. There also are a number of advantages to using WordPress to create and manage your website. Best of all, WordPress can serve the needs of businesses of all types and all sizes.
Use Cases: How Businesses of All Types Have Used WordPress to Get Results
Rhett Crites is an equipment appraiser, new to the business in 2009. By 2012 when he still had zero contacts and zero leads, he realized he needed help in getting the word out about his services. A self-proclaimed introvert and “terrible salesperson,” Crites decided that WordPress might be a good option—and it was. Fast forward to 2019 and, he says: “We’ve valued over a billion dollars worth of equipment from our WordPress website.” This has been through contact information entered in a simple three-question form. The form allows him to maintain a record of these leads and, as a bonus, he says, WordPress helped him to learn about the importance of SEO and how to use it effectively. Since then, he says, he’s launched other businesses completed unrelated to heavy equipment, all leveraging WordPress to connect with and engage leads and, ultimately, customers.
In late 2008, Heather Thomas and her husband opened a brick and mortar boat rental company with three boats and a website that, Thomas says, “we hoped people would find.” Then, she says, she “accidentally hired a web designer—a friend of a friend—who set us up with WordPress and showed me the basics of how I could update it myself. To my surprise, I enjoyed writing about what we did and could easily answer our customers’ questions online, allowing us to outrank all the major competitors in our area with my basic, self-taught knowledge of SEO.” Thomas and her husband leveraged that experience to become a booking agency in 2014 for those same competitors. “We now run an online travel agency for local boat rental and tour operators, run entirely on WordPress—with almost zero paid advertising—and written entirely by me.”
Russell Knight is “a lawyer, not a web designer.” He’s used WordPress to build an online presence and, he says: “I have tweaked the website myself numerous times to my satisfaction.” Making changes are very easy, he says, “all you have to do is Google what you’re trying to do, and someone will have a page explaining step-by-step how to do it.” Best of all, he says, is the peace of mind of knowing that, “if you make a bad change you can just upload a previous version of your website.”
Setup and Maintenance Costs Compared to Other Platforms
Cost is clearly a big factor for most small businesses, especially those just getting started. WordPress, says Lee McMillan, founder and CEO of PeakSeason, a job site that helps job seekers “find year-round and seasonal jobs in places you truly want to live.” It’s a site build on WordPress and, says McMillan: “The biggest advantage is the tremendous cost savings versus building custom software.”
While many entrepreneurs may dive into starting a business thinking they need the most modern and advanced infrastructure available, 99% of the time that’s a big mistake, says McMillan. “Small business founders almost always would be substantially better off to use WordPress to get started and prove out their business idea. Then, if the situation warrants something more robust, the entrepreneur can invest in a custom solution knowing exactly which features are most important to successfully grow their business.”
What does it cost to start a website using WordPress? The core WordPress CMS is 100% free. WordPress also offers a variety of “all-in-one” packages including a domain name and storage space with pricing from “free” to $45/month for eCommerce sites. WordPress is very transparent about its rates which are provided, along with the related functionality, on their site.
In addition to the costs related to actually hosting a site online, small businesses also are concerned about what’s involved in actually creating the site. WordPress offers big benefits here, as well.
Page Building Plugins
WordPress is open source which means that it allows other developers to build tools and apps—generally referred to as plugins—that offer added functionality for those building websites. There are literally hundreds of plug-ins that can be used with WordPress, making it easy, and inexpensive, for small businesses to streamline their website workflows and improve website traffic.
WordPress offers a wide range of free themes, unlimited premium themes, and advanced design customization. Knight, for example, used the Divi theme for building his site. The sheer number of themes makes it unlikely that any small business’s website will look “cookie cutter.” With a wide range to choose from and ample options for modifying various elements of these templates, business owners are able to create unique and personalized websites that support their brand.
WordPress is also mobile friendly—with so many people accessing websites on their phones these days this is an absolute must-have. The good news for small businesses is that content developed on WordPress will scale to conform to any mobile device.
Safety and security also are important to small business owners. WordPress offers free tools to help small business owners protect their sites from hackers.
One of the things that small businesses are obviously concerned about when putting up a website is how to drive traffic to their site. It’s not an “if you build it, they will come” process. Unfortunately, few small business owners are SEO experts. Fortunately, with WordPress, they don’t have to be.
Deborah Sweeney is CEO of MyCorporation.com and a business owner who has used WordPress for the blog on her website. “I’ve been using WordPress for years and find that the Yoast plugin, in particular, has been incredibly helpful in allowing me to crate content and optimize it for SEO purposes,” she says. “With the help of Yoast, I’m able to run through a checklist in my blog posts. This shows me what the readability looks like for the article and allows me to optimize the post a bit better for readership, including adding in more transition words and subheadings for chunks of text with 300 or more words.”
Barbara Nevers is another example. Never is the founder and CEO of NeoLittle, an information site designed to help parents of young children connect with others and gain insights into raising babies and toddlers. Nevers built her business entirely on WordPress, she says. One of the biggest reasons she chose WordPress: because it’s compatible with so many plugins.
For example, she says, “the Yoast SEO app is extremely helpful for someone who doesn’t know how to do SEO.” In fact, she says, prior to using the plugin she didn’t even know what SEO meant. Although using Yoast didn’t boost her ranking immediately, she says: “Over time, it helped me learn how to increase my website traffic, which led to my first sales.” Plugins like Yoast, says Nevers, are valuable for anyone new to the world of eCommerce, and there are thousands available.
While the many options and broad functionality associated with WordPress and the many plugins that can be used with it offer obvious benefits, they also increase the potential complexity of building and managing a website. With WordPress, though, this complexity can be readily managed.
Many Online Tutorials and Support
WordPress offers a wide range of online help options and tutorials designed to help users quickly become acclimated to the tool and its many functions. In addition to online tutorials, WordPress also has a robust, and active, community where small businesses can get answers to their questions, interact with other WordPress users and discover best practices and new ideas.
“If you’re planning to build a business on WordPress, I’d recommend that you take a course,” Nevers recommends. “There are a ton of courses online that will teach you how to take advantage of all the platform’s features.”
The Ability to Scale, or Move On
As small businesses grow, and become mid-size and, eventually, big businesses, their website needs will clearly ebb and flow. WordPress offers the ability to website managers to readily scale to support their growing business needs. As you outgrow your own ability to perform more sophisticated updates to your WordPress site it’s also good to know that there is no shortage of WordPress experts out there who can readily lend their support to meet your needs.
Finally, for those who decide that they’re ready to move on to a more customized solution or independent web developer, WordPress won’t hold you back or hold you hostage. Your site is your site. You can take your website with you whenever and wherever you want. Chances are, though, you’ll find the functionality provided through WordPress and the thousands of plugins that it supports will be all you’ll ever need.
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