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:-)