Sometimes, simple practices and routines become so common-place in your mind that you almost forget their importance. In this context, good habits and routines have real value; when you conduct your business naturally in a manner that causes clients to return for more, you have gotten it right.
However, I’ve been remiss in taking for granted the blogging and website-building WordPress.org software that has been one of the centres of my online (and business) life for the past five or so years. The open-source system provides the fuel for this blog, and all of our company’s websites. They, in turn, provide the feeder material for social media (Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter) and internet search success.
And all of this content — in fact our organization’s virtually complete online presence — has been built on a software application that you can download for free, without restriction, and implement on any site for which you have server access control. (WordPress.org should not be confused with its commercial counterpart, wordpress.com, which has the same basic design, but which is hosted on the commercial site for which you need to pay access fees and cannot control some key variables, including the provisioning of third-party advertising, obviously vital for our marketing/publishing business.)
If you go to WordPress.org, you’ll see a reference to the “five-minute installation”. I can assure you the first time you try it, unless you are exceptionally adept at learning the details of software installation, you will spend far more than five minutes. Step-by-step instructions are fine, but the challenge occurs when you miss or misunderstand a step or two. Little details go a long ways and the troubleshooting process in making things work caused me to throw my hands up in frustration more times than not.
However, once you pass the learning curve, you can discover the full magical capacities of WordPress. These include:
- The ability to create fully functional and responsive websites, and update them quickly;
- Tools to measure, analyze and test your marketing initiatives;
- Resources to gather leads and integrate them into your contact management and CRM systems;
- “Plugins” that allow you an incredible range of functionality; for example, to autopost your blog posting to relevant social media sites.
These points made, there are some problems:
- Security is a real issue. Because of its widespread, free availability, crackers, hackers, and malicious bots are constantly trying to attack WordPress sites. There are free security software packages available (as plugins), but if you fail to install these properly and follow best-practices with security, you’ll run into horrible problems. (I did, once, and it was a mess to clean up);
- There is quite a learning curve to grasp the systems. While there are many contractors (including inexpensive offshore vendors) familiar with WordPress, unless you understand the basics yourself, you’ll be at their mercy — and you won’t be able to evaluate fairly their competence and suitability;
- Like all tools, there is both art and science in their effective application. It takes skill and judgement to determine the best resources to use, to know when to seek support, and how to find it. The simplest way around this problem is to delegate everything to someone else — but again, you lose your knowledge/control if you do.
I’m not sure I’d recommend every reader of this blog to delve as deeply into WordPress as I have (enough to become a highly informed owner/amateur developer). However, I think if you are serious about marketing, you should understand the basics — if only to be able to judge the resources and opportunities available to you. This may be an activity for some spare time and quiet moments.
If you have questions about this post you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.