This post by guest blogger Jason Filipe appears as part of our series Small Business 500.

tips for small businessYou’ve undoubtedly heard and seen the term “WordPress” in a variety of different places in the recent past. WordPress is the content management system that’s transformed the web design world and allowed people everywhere to get started building their own websites. But what is it really? Here are five tips to help you get started in WordPress:

1. What is WordPress

WordPress is a comprehensive content management system (CMS) – web-based software that allows you to develop a site. WordPress offers two CMS channels: WordPress.com and WordPress.org. WordPress.com should be your starting point, it’s a very basic tool that allows you to build a free site with limited functionality. When you’re ready to move on, WordPress.org allows you to tailor content to the needs of your small business thanks to the power of plugins. Plugins are bits of code that others have contributed to the WordPress platform. These can completely change the functionality of your site, from SEO tools to special image slideshows on your site to highlight a gallery of photographs. 

2. How do I get going?

Go to WordPress.com and set up your free account. Your website will have a WordPress domain name. For example, if your small business is called Marty's Gourmet Cupcakes, your site would be called MartysGourmetCupcakes.WordPress.com. During this set up stage, you’ll be able to choose a theme for your site and begin creating content.

3. What are these "Themes"

A theme is the general blueprint for your site. Themes provide the frame and the foundation that supports your content. Each WordPress.com theme includes a pre-fabricated template of images, fonts, colors and site layout. WordPress.com offers a variety of themes that showcase your content in a variety of different ways.   

4. How far can I get without spending a penny?

In short, not very. Limited customization options exist with a free account; therefore, without spending money, the best you can create is a stock site. The most popular WordPress.com themes reoccur hundreds of thousands of times online, so your content can easily get lost. 

5. So if I pay, what do I get?

If you do decide to invest in a paid WordPress account and your own domain name – i.e. MartysGourmetCupcakes.com – there are no boundaries as to what can be done. Even with very little coding experience, purchasing a pro account enables customization for every aspect of your page. WordPress is one of those projects that is excellently documented online. If you have the time, you can create great looking sites by sourcing the web for answers to your questions. Having your own domain name greatly improves online visibility. 

wordpress-small-businessesJason Filipe is a back-end developer for Wave Accounting. An active member of the Toronto developer community, Jason regularly contributes to Open Source and has a number of projects in development including mmunch, an app that lets restaurant owners manage their online presence and build beautiful sites for any device.

 

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