If you’re anything like me, most of what you do for your business comes from a Do-it-Yourself (DIY) mentality. For the DIY entrepreneur, your No. 1 concern is saving money in every possible way so you can use that money to grow in other ways. But my DIY mentality is also balanced with having control over my personal brand, the ability to change and pivot my business as needed, and strategies for growth. These are the reasons that led me to the WordPress platform 2 years ago, and the reasons entrepreneurs use WordPress.
The first thing that attracted me to the WordPress platform was the fact that it was free and everything connected to it also seemed to be free. Two years ago, when I left full-time employment and decided to become a freelancer/independent contractor, I decided that a website would be important to show potential clients the work that I had done in online education. So I purchased a domain name (coleenstanley.com) for about $10, purchased 1 year of web hosting through BlueHost.com for $3.99/month, and set out to build my new website. I was fiddling around in my BlueHost control panel (cpanel), when I noticed an icon that said “WordPress 1-Click Install”. I clicked it.
That started my adventure into the WordPress world. When I logged into my WordPress site, I saw immediate access to hundreds of free designs that I could choose for my website, plus thousands of free plugins that I could add to improve or change my website – add a testimonials section, an online forum, Google friendly features, an eCommerce store, a way to backup/restore my site, add surveys/forms. Literally, anything I wanted.
As I’ve worked with clients, I’ve also seen other features – a way to integrate an eBay store, add real estate listings that are automatically updated, add appointment calendars, etc. all for free with one or two clicks. The capabilities are almost limitless. Now, 2 years later, I have since graduated to using paid themes and plugins, and use a slightly more expensive web hosting service, and no longer promote the use of “1-click” installs, but the free or low-cost aspect of maintaining my site is still what keeps me using WordPress.
As I alluded to above, there are thousands (47, 379 as of this writing) of free plugins available for WordPress that allow for extending the capabilities, or functions of a WordPress website. While plugins are useful for adding functionality, WordPress also has themes that control the design. Themes are available for purchase, or for free, that make it easy to change the look and feel of your website in a few minutes. Over the past 2 years, I have changed the direction of my business a few times such that I had a need to rebrand and change the look of my website. In those instances, I have really appreciated the ease by which I was able to put on a new look. Because of the level of customization available in WordPress, I am not locked into a certain look or certain functionality in my business. I can change and grow according to my needs.
One of the issues that many WordPress users (or ex-WordPress users) have is that plugins need to be updated often and sometimes conflict with each other or slow down a site. Some themes try to do too much which results in difficulty when trying to switch to another theme. Because of this, I do a lot of research before adding plugins. I check out their ratings and check that they were recently updated, and I have less than 15 plugins installed simultaneously to reduce potential conflicts.
I also find that when using WordPress, it is helpful to go with a web host that specializes in WordPress sites (I use FlyWheel). They take care of updates, security, and provide easy backups and staging areas so that you can make changes to a site and see how it will look before actually pushing it over to the live site. These added features go a long way in providing peace of mind as you go about customizing your WordPress site.
As I have become more interested in managing a blog and creating content and courses online, I have become even more invested in the WordPress platform. I can see at a glance how many blog posts and comments I have, setup automated emails, restrict web pages to paying customers, communicate with students of my courses, all from my WordPress dashboard. When I deliver courses, no other company will get a cut of my profits and I will have direct access to my students. And although I have a Computer Science degree, it definitely does not require that to run a WordPress site.
To use WordPress to its full potential, you’re going to have to spend some time tweaking your site and experimenting with plugins. You might need to modify your theme manually or contact the theme developers to change something for you, but in return, you have full control over your website and its content. So if you don’t mind those things, you should give WordPress some consideration.
These are just a few reasons why I choose to use WordPress for my online business and for online courses.
Are you a WordPress user? I’d love to hear your reasons for using WordPress and any issues that you are currently experiencing. Let’s chat down below.