Starting an online business or bringing an offline business to the internet is a daunting task. There are thousands of different approaches and technologies, and just as many people trying to sell their services or methodologies. But what are successful business people actually doing today?
In the early days of the ‘interweb’, aged and well understood paradigms of newspapers, magazines, radio and television were strong in the mindsets of website builders. We forever tried to ‘wow’ our visitors with shocking headlines, fancy graphics and all that on custom coded websites. Then we went about promoting our sites online through search engine optimisation (SEO). Perhaps not much of that has changed. But how your website gets attention these days is a whole different ball game.
In-house or contracted custom coded websites used to be your only real option. Isolated online businesses had to continually re-invent their own wheels to keep up with changing fads in internet marketing. Then came ‘Web 2.0′.
Nowadays, online business is all about social networking. It started with sites like Bebo, MySpace, SlashDot and has evolved into a virtual plethora of networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Stumbleupon, LinkedIn, Delicious, Technorati, Google Buzz … and on and on. Who is the flavour of the month today? Who will be the leading ‘fad’ next year? Who can know! More importantly, how will we future proof our existing online content?
Staying Connected and Up to Date
It is increasingly difficult to keep custom coded website content connected with the now, ‘network of social networks’ — not to mention catering for the ever changing popularity landscape. Thanks to Web 2.0 style thinking, there are now ready-made and highly functional options available for us to leverage. Whilst things are more difficult on the one hand, the tools to get the job done are getting smarter every day.
New Tools — blogs, CMS and more
Enter blogging software such as WordPress and Drupal, as well as CMS engines like Joomla and Mambo. Personally, your author prefers the blog software arena, and of the many options available there, is most fond of WordPress — which also happens to be by far the most popular free blogging platform today.
Blog hosting engines offer pluggable features to make Web 2.0 interfacing easy. Your readers can share your content with their friends on Facebook (or simply announce they ‘like’ your stuff with a single click), tweet about their new find on Twitter, tell others the good thing they Stumbledupon — all from a simple plug-in or two that you don’t really have to know anything much about. It’s all done for you.
Best of all, plug-ins in WordPress notify you when new releases are available and can be updated with a single click. And of course, the overall look and feel of a WordPress site can be easily changed through selection of countless existing free ‘themes’ — or you can even write your own or have one written for that ’special’ site.
This article was authored as a draft, edited over days, reviewed and proofed by several people and finally published online — all within WordPress — a free, browser driven blogging program. Once published, the article was shared to Facebook, Twitter and other Web 2.0 social sites with just a few mouse clicks. None of this required any programming knowledge or fancy marketing skills. The result? Well, you’re reading this right now aren’t you?
Not Just for Blogging
As Lisa Sabin-Wilson points out in her book, “WordPress for Dummies“, the WordPress blog engine can just as easily be used for ’static’ websites — and far more besides. You don’t have to be a news freak or online diary junkie to take advantage of these technologies.
Blog Hosting Options
Your WordPress blog website will need to be hosted on a web server to become available on the internet. There are to main options available to you for hosting a WordPress BLOG …
- WordPress.com — free hosting — great for personal blogs
This option allows you to get started easily with an address like http://your_name.wordpress.com. Available features are fairly limited (you can’t install your own choice of plug-ins), but several add-ons can be purchased on subscription basis to enhance your blog’s capabilities. (NOTE: If you plan to run a business blog, we strongly recommend the following option.)
- WordPress.org — the name of the WordPress code project
WordPress.org can be installed at your own host. Most importantly, you can put your blog on your own domain and this version is fully featured with no limitations, right from the start.
Online Businesses Prefer WordPress.org
There are many reasons for an online business to go with a fully hosted WordPress.org blog hosting installation on a business domain.
WordPress Blog Hosting Solution
All providers from our list The Best WordPress Hosting 2018 provides super-simple installation of WordPress through a cPanel hosting feature called, ‘Fantastico’ or ‘Softaculous’. There are just three simple steps to get up and running with WordPress hosting:
- Select a hosting package from our Shared Hosting list or WordPress Hosting list
- Choose a domain and pay for the first month or year’s hosting
- Log in to your new cPanel and click Fantastico or Softaculous to easily install WordPress
Getting a Head Start
Once your WordPress blog hosting is set up, there’s a wealth of great information online on how to put the system to best use in your business. Some excellent books have been written, including ‘WordPress for Dummies’, by Lisa Sabin-Wilson. Lisa operates her own business online using WordPress and offers a some well rounded good advice for those starting out. We’ve used this book in-house to help both staff and client get a head start with WordPress with good success.