Fast Company

6 Reasons Small Businesses Need Wordpress

 

I have been thinking quite a bit about WordPress lately, because I'm preparing a speech about "The Business of Wordpress" to give at a conference by the same name in Atlanta next week. And in looking through my own blog and the AZEC10 site, I have come to a number of somewhat startling conclusions. These are, I warn you, not original. But every week I watch the people in my West Mesa CDC incubator discover Wordpress and learn to use it, and it is very empowering for a one-person business as well as for the New York Times.

1)WordPress can do anything you need it to do, and for a small business, that's a gift usually reserved for expensive sites. On the conference site, I have it both connected to an Eventbrite back end, and with a registration widget installed right on the landing page. Because this is registration and not e-commerce, I don't use Wordpress's own e-commerce plug-in (which will be built in to the 3.0 release coming any day now) because I was already using Eventbrite and I need the email marketing functionality.

2)Plug-ins for WordPress are the business-to-business version of apps for the iPhone. This realization I owe to Mike Schinkel, one of the conference organizers. On my own Stealthmode blog, I have twenty active plug-ins. What do they all do? Well, they enable podcasts, send my posts to Twitter, allow people to register and comment using Facebook and Disqus, and share with Wibiya.. They give me Google Analytics and "pull quotes" for my journalistic forays. And more. These plug-ins make Wordpress ideal for any business, and they are usually free.

3)WordPress is easier to use than you think. Now that Page.ly exists, you can pay $14.95 a month and get a Wordpress theme and hosting, and a setup, and automatic upgrades of those plugins you will be adding (I guarantee it) all in one package. And if you are already at GoDaddy, well they install Wordpress, too.

4)Wordpress was founded by an idealist, Matt Mullenweg, as a kid who believed it belonged to the community. It was started as an open source project, and although scores of people are building businesses around it, the Wordpress code cannot be "sold" to AOL, or to Google, or to anyone for that matter. Thus, a self-hosted Wordpress blog is the closest thing you can have to control over your own content.

5)WordPress has critical mass. This is important for its survival and continual updates. When something becomes a dominant platform, there are drawbacks and pluses. I'm not sure I know anything else as dominant that is also open source (tell me if I am wrong here, because I'm on shaking ground).

6)WordPress no longer looks like a blog. For small businesses who wouldn't know a blog from a bag of potato chips, WordPress is a website, otherwise known as a content management system. It gives them control. Period.

And if you want to see my presentation, I will put it on Slideshare right after I give it. And I don't really speak from Powerpoints anyway:-)

 

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6 Comments

  • Cherry McDowell

    I'm planning to move my blog from blogspot to wordpress, but wp intimidates me a bit because of it's advance features. I know I have to do it eventually, because I've been reading a lot of good reviews about wp's capability for search engine optimization and I can't ignore that fact if I want to raise my ranking for local search in Arizona. How do you think should I start with prepping a wordpress site for moving my blogger data? I hope you can help me with this one. Thanks!

    Here are some books on what I read prior to doing SEO : http://www.optimizex.com/blog/books-read-brush-seo-knowledge/

  • Jan Smith

    Wordpress is certainly a remarkably good programme and as you say, there are pluses and minuses as with everything.

    I didn't find it (am not finding it) as easy to learn as say XSitePro but it serves a different purpose even though they share many similarities.

    Do you think the time will ever come when the SE like Google start to investigate some of the more obvious lurks that one can do with WP? Or is this an ongoing search by google all the time these days? I suspect it is an ongoing activity.

    WP is a good thing for small business who want to set up and control their online presence and I certainly recommend they spend the time and learn it ASAP

  • Integrati Marketing Consultant

    Hi Francine,

    great article and right on the mark, I think your point about WordPress being more of a CMS than a Blog is right on the money. In fact, Matt at WordCamp San Fran 2010 I believe has stated that they won't to take it into more of a CMS than 'Blogging software'.

    In regards to Small Medium Businesses (SMB) WordPress have evened the playing field significantly and delivers some features which larger organisations can not compete with. The fact that over 10 million WordPress sites are live on the web now just shows you what I mean!

    I think we are looking at a new phase for WordPress, by the time we get to 4.0 O think we will be looking at a CMS which will be a key driver in the next wave of web 3.0.

    Also, don't underestimate how important WordPress code/structure is to the web for SEO and great content, times 10 Million! :)

    Cheers, Integrati Marketing.

    http://integrati.com.au Proudly Powered by WordPress

  • Christopher Joel

    Hey Francine, there's no built-in e-Commerce in WordPress, although many people confuse plugins like WP e-Commerce as such because of the WP. Just FYI. :)