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How to Use WordPress for Business

If you're looking to expand your brand online with a blog, a website, or both, here's what you need to know about WordPress.
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WordPress certainly has its fans. Take Dre Armeda, for example. He describes himself as a "passionate WordPress developer" who has been "addicted to WordPress for over six years."  In 2009 he co-founded WordPress Vibe, a site dedicated to bringing together both experts and newbies of WordPress.  "There isn't a better blogging platform for business or personal blog sites alike," Armeda says. He is a creative and technical consultant whose firm CubicTwo LLC has "created WordPress-driven sites for small businesses, theatre studios, and large vendors."

Your company might already have a website, but perhaps it's not as easy to update as you'd like.  Or maybe you are interested in creating a dynamic new company blog.  Whatever phase you're in of creating or cultivating a web presence for your business, WordPress is an option worth exploring. Just ask Armeda, who says for small businesses it is "cost effective, [with] easy to manage updates and the SEO features will help you gain a digital footprint quickly."


How to Use WordPress for Business: A Look at the Competition

Blogger, TypePad, Posterous, Tumblr, Movable Type, and WordPress are some of the better-known blogging software options. "While Expression Engine, Drupal, Movable Type and Blogger all have their uses, as do Posterous, Tumblr and even Facebook as a potential blogging platform; WordPress is the standard for very good reasons," said Jonathan Firestone, an independent consultant on digital strategy and user experience.

Blogger is exclusively for blogging and cannot be hosted on another hosting service – though it is possible to point it to another domain.  Unless you're looking for something basic – and a site with a standard blog aesthetic – it might not be a good choice for creating a company website.

TypePad costs $14.95 per month for the "pro" level, which is needed in order to be able to customize the site, and make sure it doesn't look like a standard blog template.  If you need to do a high-level of customization you will have to learn a specific TypePad programming language to alter the template coding.

Tumblr was founded in 2007 as a way to blog from phone, email, or desktop.  It falls in the middle of the pack for blogging platform options.  The disadvantage of using Tumblr for many is that is does not have built in commenting.  You would have to embed Disqus to allow for commenting.  Disqus is a global comment system. So if you want to use your website or blog as a way to communicate with your customers and clients, Tumblr is not the best option. 

Posterous, which launched in July 2008, is one of the newest free blogging platforms.  It is an email-to-blog platform that allows users to post anytime - and everywhere.  Blog posts are primarily submitted by emailing content to be posted, so it's easy, but it offers zero customization, which is a deal-breaker for most businesses.  

Movable Type  is another option for developing a website or blog. "WordPress.org and Movable Type are very robust systems that can be used not only for blogging but also as complete content management systems," said Heidi Cool, owner of the web design and strategy company HeidiCool.com. When Cool was a webmaster at Case Western Reserve University she primarily used Moveable Type, but decided to make the switch to WordPress in 2007 "primarily because it was a major player."  

Using Movable Type for business requires a license, the cost of which ranges from $50 to $1,000, depending on how many people at your company will require access to make updates.

WordPress was started in 2003 and is the successor of b2/cafelog, a small blogging software company founded in 2001 by Michel Valdrighi.  When development was stopped on b2/cafelog some of the developers, including Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little, got together to create WordPress.  "It has matured well beyond just a blogging solution," Armeda says.  It has become one of the preferred options for blogging and website development because of the quick installation, ease of use, affordability (it is free), and accessibility. According to the company's current usage statistics, WordPress is used by nearly 2.5 percent of the 10,000 biggest websites, making it the most popular blogging software in use.

While WordPress makes it easier than ever to build a blog or website, there is no wholly simple solution for website development. Remember that the process can still be time-consuming.

"Overall WordPress is my No. 1 pick, but every situation is unique," Cool says.  Armeda agrees: "I'm a champion for WordPress but ultimately it's about choosing the right tool for the right job."

Dig Deeper: More About Blogs and Blogging


How to Use WordPress for Business: Why Some Companies Love WordPress

WordPress was designed primarily to be used as a blogging platform, but it is also a powerful website content-management system.   Here are 10 reasons it works for business.


1.    Wordpress software is free. 

While "free" is not always the best business solution, WordPress is well established. "WordPress.org can serve users at all price points from those who want to start with a free theme that they install themselves, to those with more specific needs who can hire a web designer to create a custom theme that integrates with their site and supports their branding," Cool says.  From the start, the only cost will be the price of hosting your site.

2.    WordPress is open source.

Why should that matter for your business?  Open source means that the technology that powers WordPress is transparent for easier development. As a result there are people all over the world developing new themes and plug-ins to share with other WordPress users.  With other blogging programs such as TypePad, users have to learn a specific programming language to use it.  Movable Type can be cumbersome for non-techie users.

3.    WordPress can be used for simple blogging or full website content.

"It is more appropriate to consider it as a platform for full website content creation and management," Armeda says.  Perhaps you already use WordPress for a personal – or company – blog. With a few adjustments, WordPress can also be used to run a full-service website.  This makes it a one-stop solution that can eliminate the need to use two different programs for your company website and blog. "In most cases we create full web properties with WordPress, blogs are a component of these solutions, not the main focus," Armeda says. 

4.    WordPress is optimized for SEO.

"I use WordPress for the majority of my websites due to its ease of use and SEO capabilities," said Katie Wilber, owner of The Marketing Momma.  When building any website or blog that's aimed at a wide audience, search engine optimization (SEO) is important.  WordPress has SEO benefits built-in.  "WordPress sites tend to do much better in the search engines and rank well quickly," said Wilber.  "I have had several sites that within days of setting the site up with keyword friendly domain names that are ranking on the first page for that keyword."

5.    WordPress is easy to update.

One of the major complaints of business owners is that they can't update their website themselves, and that having someone else update it costs them money. "Not only is WordPress free it is simple to install," said Armeda.  "It takes no more than five minutes to set up the software."  Once WordPress is set up you can easily update content or create new pages without knowing HTML. 

6.    WordPress has thousands of extensions.

There is a large community of WordPress developers who create free themes, widgets and plug-ins.  There are extensions for polling, contact forms, backing up your site, blocking spam, making your pages load faster and thousands more that can be found on the WordPress Plug-In Directory.  "Any enhancement you can think of, type it in to Google and you will find an answer or search the WordPress Plug-In Directory," said Armeda.  From there, you add the new features to your website or blog without having to hire a web developer.

7.    WordPress has a supportive community.

WordPress users and developers have online support networks on various forums.  And throughout the world, WordCamp conferences are held to talk about everything WordPress. Armeda attended a recent Word Camp held in Orange County, California, and estimates: "70 percent of the attendees were small businesses wanting to advance their online presence and new firms that want to push using WordPress to their clients." Users also post step-by-step video tutorials that can walk new users through the most basic as well as complex concepts.  In addition to a host of free online WordPress resources, if you simply can't find what you're looking for or don't have the time to work on something highly customized for your site, it's easy to find WordPress developers for hire.

8.    WordPress has one-click installation.

Many hosting providers have quick installations of WordPress. "Wordpress is convenient as more hosting providers offer easy-install processes for it than for Movable Type," Cool says.

9.    WordPress allows multiple users.

Multiple people at your company can have access to update your website or blog.  "Wordpress has core role base management and you are able to extend it as the need arises for you and your organization," Armeda says. You can set permission levels of each user to maintain the security and integrity of your website or blog.

10.    WordPress can be self-hosted.

If you decide to use the self-hosted version of WordPress, there is more flexibility in terms of features and design.  "If you want to host it you have the ability, but if your company is not there yet you can manipulate WordPress to fit your brand and your needs," Armeda says.

Dig Deeper: How to Choose a Website Content Management System


How to Use WordPress for Business: WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org

WordPress offers two content-management solutions, and that can cause some confusion.  The major differences is in the hosting of the site, and in control of the design. With WordPress.com, there's no need to download software, pay for hosting, or manage a web server. All-in-all, it's simpler to use. But using Wordpress.com also means one cannot upload individualized themes and plug-ins, and can't control advertising on the site you create.

Using WordPress.org requires installation of the software on your own server, or with a third-party provider.  For small businesses, when it's important for you to have control over customizing the look and feel of your site, the .org incarnation of WordPress is going to allow more options.

Dig Deeper: More about WordPress


How to Use WordPress for Business: Where to Begin

In order to get started using WordPress.org you will need a few things.

1.    A hosting provider.

The No. 1 hosting provider recommended by WordPress.org is Bluehost. WordPress also suggests using DreamHost or LiquidSquid.  But any hosting provider that meets the WordPress minimum requirements can be used. Armeda recommends using HostGator, LiquidWeb or MediaTemple.  "Those are the hosts I use and recommend to clients."  Hosting providers will generally charge about $6.95 a month.  Every web hosting service offers the option to customize your website URL, though instructions vary. Just follow the instructions provided by the hosting company you choose.

2.    FTP knowledge.

You will need to know how to use file transfer protocol (FTP) to transfer files to your web server.  Sound tricky? It's not.  FTP is simply selecting files from a location on a computer and uploading or transferring them to your web server.  Think of it as moving a file from one folder to another on your computer. Your web hosting service provider will recommend which FTP program to use if you don't have one on your computer.  There are tons of free FTP applications available for download online, including at CNET.com.

3.    Backup capability.

You will need to manage your own backups, but there are easy ways to automate the process.  If you use BlueHost as your hosting provider, for instance, it will do backups for you.  "WordPress does offer plug-ins for doing backups on your server or to yoru local drive," Armeda says.

Digg Deeper: How to Start a Website


How to Use WordPress for Business: Additional Resources

WordPress for Business Bloggers: Promote and grow your WordPress blog with advanced plug-ins, analytics, advertising and SEO by Paul Thewlis.

WordPress 2.7 Complete by Hasin Hayder.

A Step-by-Step WordPress Tutorial for Beginners by Mati H Fuller.

WordPress for Dummies by Lisa Sabon-Wilson.


1.    Wordpress software is free. 

While "free" is not always the best business solution, WordPress is well established. "WordPress.org can serve users at all price points from those who want to start with a free theme that they install themselves, to those with more specific needs who can hire a web designer to create a custom theme that integrates with their site and supports their branding," Cool says.  From the start, the only cost will be the price of hosting your site.

2.    WordPress is open source.

Why should that matter for your business?  Open source means that the technology that powers WordPress is transparent for easier development. As a result there are people all over the world developing new themes and plug-ins to share with other WordPress users.  With other blogging programs such as TypePad, users have to learn a specific programming language to use it.  Movable Type can be cumbersome for non-techie users.

3.    WordPress can be used for simple blogging or full website content.

"It is more appropriate to consider it as a platform for full website content creation and management," Armeda says.  Perhaps you already use WordPress for a personal – or company – blog. With a few adjustments, WordPress can also be used to run a full-service website.  This makes it a one-stop solution that can eliminate the need to use two different programs for your company website and blog. "In most cases we create full web properties with WordPress, blogs are a component of these solutions, not the main focus," Armeda says. 

4.    WordPress is optimized for SEO.

"I use WordPress for the majority of my websites due to its ease of use and SEO capabilities," said Katie Wilber, owner of The Marketing Momma.  When building any website or blog that's aimed at a wide audience, search engine optimization (SEO) is important.  WordPress has SEO benefits built-in.  "WordPress sites tend to do much better in the search engines and rank well quickly," said Wilber.  "I have had several sites that within days of setting the site up with keyword friendly domain names that are ranking on the first page for that keyword."

5.    WordPress is easy to update.

One of the major complaints of business owners is that they can't update their website themselves, and that having someone else update it costs them money. "Not only is WordPress free it is simple to install," said Armeda.  "It takes no more than five minutes to set up the software."  Once WordPress is set up you can easily update content or create new pages without knowing HTML. 

6.    WordPress has thousands of extensions.

There is a large community of WordPress developers who create free themes, widgets and plug-ins.  There are extensions for polling, contact forms, backing up your site, blocking spam, making your pages load faster and thousands more that can be found on the WordPress Plug-In Directory.  "Any enhancement you can think of, type it in to Google and you will find an answer or search the WordPress Plug-In Directory," said Armeda.  From there, you add the new features to your website or blog without having to hire a web developer.

7.    WordPress has a supportive community.

WordPress users and developers have online support networks on various forums.  And throughout the world, WordCamp conferences are held to talk about everything WordPress. Armeda attended a recent Word Camp held in Orange County, California, and estimates: "70 percent of the attendees were small businesses wanting to advance their online presence and new firms that want to push using WordPress to their clients." Users also post step-by-step video tutorials that can walk new users through the most basic as well as complex concepts.  In addition to a host of free online WordPress resources, if you simply can't find what you're looking for or don't have the time to work on something highly customized for your site, it's easy to find WordPress developers for hire.

8.    WordPress has one-click installation.

Many hosting providers have quick installations of WordPress. "Wordpress is convenient as more hosting providers offer easy-install processes for it than for Movable Type," Cool says.

9.    WordPress allows multiple users.

Multiple people at your company can have access to update your website or blog.  "Wordpress has core role base management and you are able to extend it as the need arises for you and your organization," Armeda says. You can set permission levels of each user to maintain the security and integrity of your website or blog.

10.    WordPress can be self-hosted.

If you decide to use the self-hosted version of WordPress, there is more flexibility in terms of features and design.  "If you want to host it you have the ability, but if your company is not there yet you can manipulate WordPress to fit your brand and your needs," Armeda says.

Dig Deeper: How to Choose a Website Content Management System


How to Use WordPress for Business: WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org

WordPress offers two content-management solutions, and that can cause some confusion.  The major differences is in the hosting of the site, and in control of the design. With WordPress.com, there's no need to download software, pay for hosting, or manage a web server. All-in-all, it's simpler to use. But using Wordpress.com also means one cannot upload individualized themes and plug-ins, and can't control advertising on the site you create.

Using WordPress.org requires installation of the software on your own server, or with a third-party provider.  For small businesses, when it's important for you to have control over customizing the look and feel of your site, the .org incarnation of WordPress is going to allow more options.

Dig Deeper: More about WordPress


How to Use WordPress for Business: Where to Begin

In order to get started using WordPress.org you will need a few things.

1.    A hosting provider.

The No. 1 hosting provider recommended by WordPress.org is Bluehost. WordPress also suggests using DreamHost or LiquidSquid.  But any hosting provider that meets the WordPress minimum requirements can be used. Armeda recommends using HostGator, LiquidWeb or MediaTemple.  "Those are the hosts I use and recommend to clients."  Hosting providers will generally charge about $6.95 a month.  Every web hosting service offers the option to customize your website URL, though instructions vary. Just follow the instructions provided by the hosting company you choose.

2.    FTP knowledge.

You will need to know how to use file transfer protocol (FTP) to transfer files to your web server.  Sound tricky? It's not.  FTP is simply selecting files from a location on a computer and uploading or transferring them to your web server.  Think of it as moving a file from one folder to another on your computer. Your web hosting service provider will recommend which FTP program to use if you don't have one on your computer.  There are tons of free FTP applications available for download online, including at CNET.com.

3.    Backup capability.

You will need to manage your own backups, but there are easy ways to automate the process.  If you use BlueHost as your hosting provider, for instance, it will do backups for you.  "WordPress does offer plug-ins for doing backups on your server or to yoru local drive," Armeda says.

Digg Deeper: How to Start a Website


How to Use WordPress for Business: Additional Resources

WordPress for Business Bloggers: Promote and grow your WordPress blog with advanced plug-ins, analytics, advertising and SEO by Paul Thewlis.

WordPress 2.7 Complete by Hasin Hayder.

A Step-by-Step WordPress Tutorial for Beginners by Mati H Fuller.

WordPress for Dummies by Lisa Sabon-Wilson.

Last updated: May 3, 2010




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