Starting a business online is easier today than ever. You no longer need to be a coding expert in order to create a blog or a website you just need to know what tools are out there. Best of all, many of those tools are completely free and open-source.
At the heart of it all sits WordPress. WordPress started out as a blogging software platform, but it’s evolved into much more. Today, WordPress is one of the most intuitive and versatile content management systems (CMS) around. No matter what you want to do with your web-based business, whether it’s creating a membership site or hosting a retail store, WordPress can do it all.
Here are some of the tools you can use and best practices you can follow to get your web-based business up and running – and growing – with WordPress.
1. Avail yourself of open source tools
WordPress by itself does a decent job of publishing content. A web business, however, needs more than a content management system. There are tools out there that can do just about anything you want, and they don’t cost you a dime. Some tools include:
- Shopping carts. WP ecommerce is one of the better-known shopping cart plugins for WordPress.
- Forums. If you want to build a community on your website, check out bbpress for forum capabilities.
- Social media integration. There are a number of social media integration tools, from TweetThis to Socialize and more.
- Membership site tools. WP-member and other tools let you set membership permissions for your site.
That’s just a taste of what WordPress can do; there are plenty more functions and features out there.
2. Know when you need professional expertise
You might have a good eye for design. You might have a great eye for design. In the beginning, that may mean creating your own website logos and graphics. Understand, however, that having a professionally-created logo can greatly increase your business over the long run.
The same goes for your site’s content. While you might be a talented writer, there are specific areas of expertise that a professional copywriter brings to the table. A professionally-written landing page is going to result in greater conversions and, in the long run, greater profits.
3. Give SEO its due
To have a successful web-based business, you need to have web traffic. To get web traffic, your site needs to be search engine optimized. While you can spend a lot of time learning various SEO techniques, here are some of the most important as they relate to WordPress:
- Match up your content page titles with your site title.
- Customize your permalinks. Don’t use the long-form auto-generated URL in WordPress.
- Title your photos. WordPress has a number of features in regard to photos; just make sure yours are titled and have ALT text as well.
- Use tags and categories. You want between 5 and 7 keywords on any given page or post inside of WordPress.
4. Understand your site’s traffic patterns and visitors’ habits
Any successful web-based business requires you to know how your site is performing on a number of levels. You need to understand visitor traffic patterns, where your site visitors are coming from, how long they stay on a given page, and how well your landing pages are performing.
Google Analytics gives you all of that data and more. All it requires is a single line of code placed in the footer of your WordPress template.
(There are even WordPress plugins that will automatically insert the code if you’d rather not make template changes, too.)
Spend some time getting up to speed on Google Analytics and you’ll have access to tremendous amounts of valuable data. The success of your business, to a large degree, depends on your ability to respond to these metrics in an agile fashion. Drop what doesn’t work, and do more of what is working.
5. Don’t neglect backups
One of the most common areas web-based businesses neglect when it comes to their WordPress installation is backups. There are plenty of WordPress plugins that will handle the backup process for you, so there’s really no reason why this should be the case.
Having a good backup can mean the difference between a brief site interruption and being out of business for a full week or more.
WordPress is one of the most powerful platforms out there today for web-based businesses. Follow these best practices in order to maximize efficiency and set your business on a trajectory of success.
Image Credits: Binary Moon