Using WordPress To Grow Your Business

Is there really a need to build small business sites from scratch anymore? As internet standards develop, there are “tools” that are becoming the basis of almost every site built. If you are a small business owner with a “limited” budget or simply a blogger, there are technologies out there that are both cheap and easy, yet 100% effective in creating a strong online presence.


wordpresslogoWordPress – The Ultimate Content Management System (CMS)

I was recently approached by HP to write about “Using WordPress to Grow Small Businesses” for their Logoworks: Inside Small Business blog . This is a loaded topic, which makes it all the more fun to write about! For those of you who don’t know, WordPress is  a very powerful Content Management Systems (aka: CMSa computer application used to create, edit, manage, search and publish various kinds of digital media and electronic text.“)

WordPress was originally designed as blogging platform, but WordPress’s community continued to expand and its uses continued to evolve. If you wanted to setup a portfolio, news/magazine, or e-commerce site – WordPress could handle the job. And best part? It’s Free!!  Steve Bruner, of Slipfire.com, built his entire business on creating WordPress websites.  “WordPress lets us get a full-featured website up and running in a fraction of the time it would take to build one from scratch” says Steve.  “The benefits of content management, built in SEO, easy feature expansion via plugins, a short learning curve for the user and one of the largest, most supportive communities on the web makes choosing WordPress a no-brainer”. An example of a few major sites that use WordPress:

For a complete list, check out the WordPress Showcase.  WordPress is a popular CMS for a broad range of businesses, meeting and exceeding their needs.


Top 5 Reasons To Use WordPress for Your Small Business

Just to give you a better idea of the demand for WordPress, last week oDesk (an online staffing marketplace and management platform) published What’s Hot? Skills with Fastest Growing Demand in 2008, and  based on job/project listings WordPress came out on top with a 427% increase since last year.

Don Campbell, founder of Expand2Web, says “WordPress is an ideal choice for small business websites.” With a background largely involved in Silicon Valley,  he started his company to help Small Business Owners build efficient and strong website and get a steady stream of new customers from Google/Yahoo searches. He  are his Top 5 Reasons To Use WordPress for Your Small Business Website:

  1. SEO – WordPress provides good search engine optimization (SEO) right out of the box. There are a few tweaks you need to make, but there are many seo benefits that WordPress provides for free. In fact Google’s own Matt Cutts says WordPress is “made to do SEO well” in this video: Matt Cutts gives tips to small business owners.
  2. Content – it is easy to update content on your website without knowing HTML.  Do you hate the idea of having to learn to use a complex HTML editor tool like Dreamweaver? Do you have to “ask” your webmaster every time you want to make a small change to your website? Well no longer – once WordPress is set up for you, you can easily create new pages or edit existing pages using a simple rich text editor.
  3. Extensions – There is a thriving ecosystem of developers creating themes and plug-ins – imagine free design themes, or the ability to extend your website with polls, contact forms, ratings or hundreds of other cool features without having to hire a web developer.
  4. Support – If you do have problems, or want to add very custom features, it is easy to find support and developers who can help you. There are literally thousands of WordPress developers out there. And there are so many people writing about WordPress that help is only a Google search away!
  5. One-click-installation – Quick installs are provided by many hosting providers, including Bluehost, 1and1 and GoDaddy.

Don Campbell and Steve Bruner use Worpdress for all of their clients because of these 5 reasons and more. The list goes on, but the point is simple: It’s Efficient and Effective!


Best WordPress Plugins

It’s important to elaborate on just how strong and vast WordPress Extensions are. Kieran Hawe, Sr. Director of Online Marketing at Folica Inc., (previously Director of SEO at MTV Networks) said it best: “The real value of using WordPress are the enormous amounts of plugins available to help you manage, promote and do just about anything else with your blog.”  He published a list of the Best WordPress Plugins covering anything and everything. I suggest you check it out. A few of my favorites include:

  • All in One SEO Pack: Optimizes your WordPress website for Search Engines. Automatically optimizes your titles for search engines, generates META tags automatically, avoids the typical duplicate content found on site. Override any title and set any META description and any META keywords you want. You can fine-tune everything, Backward-Compatibility with many other plugins, like Auto Meta, Ultimate Tag Warrior and others.
  • Lighter Menus: Lighter Menus creates drop-down menus instead of the regular admin menus of the WordPress interface, so that you can browse items with one click and work on your website in a much more usable environment.
  • Enhanced WP-ContactForm: WP Contact Form is a drop in form for users to contact you. In the message it sends to you it gives the page the user visited before the contact page, as well as the original outside referrer. It can be implemented on a page or a post.
  • Google XML Sitemaps: This plugin will generate a sitemaps.org compatible sitemap of your website which is supported by Ask.com, Google, MSN Search and YAHOO.
  • WordPress Automatic Upgrade: Usually you have to go to your hosting company in order to upgrade your site – not with this plugin which takes care of the upgrade automatically.

For more information on WordPress plugins and development visit Yoast.com.


Deciding if WordPress is Right For Your Business? Other CMS’s?

I recently attended an Ultra Light Startup group that put together a panel on Open Source Content Management Systems (CMS).  Experts representing different CMS’s, including WordPress, went head-to-head discussing the pro’s and con’s for small business using their services. I caught the panel on tape and if you need help deciding on a CMS, watch the video on YouTube. Even more noteworthy, the article I wrote about that event was picked up by the well know online publisher SmashingMagazine (<–They’re website is built on WordPress).

If you’re serious about WordPress for your Small Business needs, check out Don Campbells “WordPress for Small Business Websites” where he explores WordPress as a content management system for small business websites, including video tutorials on how to set up WordPress for yourself quickly to manage your small business website. You can also sign up for his free newsletter. Steve Bruner of Slipfire.com is another great person to contact if you’re considering WordPress. In terms of reading I suggest the blog of WordPress’s founding developer, Matt Mullenweg and also the WordPress Blog itself. By the time you’re done with all this reading, you’ll be a “WP-Pro”.

Feel free to contact me with any questions and I’ll be happy to point you in the right direction. You can contact me from my blog MarketingBlog.NET (also built on WordPress). Now go, sign up for WordPress and create an online presence for your company!


Article Posted by Joshua ‘The Red’ Russak on HP Logoworks – Inside Small Business Blog:

*If you have questions about hosting, go here for hosting help.

Posted under Blogs, Online Marketing, Ultra Light Startups

Online Marketing Revenue Models

silverdollarI was recently invited to present in front of a panel at the Ultra Light Startups in January. I’ve been to these meetups in the past (ie Open Source CMS),  but this is one is different. I’ve been selected among 5 other presenters to the Revenue Model Workshop. At this event they selected 5 startups to give a brief presentation of their business, focusing on their revenue model. A panel of experts will provide insights, suggestions, and helpful alternatives for the entrepreneur to consider as methods to generate more revenue from their business more efficiently.

This is a great chance for me to learn how to monetize it RezRedo.com (advertisement to the left of this blog). VC Fred Wilson said on his blog, “Most web apps will be monetized with some kind of media model. Don’t think banner ads when I say that. Think of all the various ways that an audience that is paying attention to your service can be paid for by companies and people who want some of that attention.” The question is which model to choose?

Chris Anderson of Wired.com, put together a strong Media Business Model list of revenue models you can find in the media industry, all based around a core of free or almost-free content:

  • CPM ads (“cost per thousand views”; banner ads online and regular ads in print, TV and radio)
  • CPC ads (“cost per click”; think Google ads)
  • CPA ads (“cost per action”; pay only if the customer performs a certain action)
  • CPT ads (“cost per transaction”; you pay only if the customer brought to you from a media sites becomes a paying customer.)
  • Lead generation (you pay for qualified names of potential customers)
  • Subscription revenues
  • Affiliate revenues (think: Amazon Associates)
  • Rental of subscriber lists
  • Sale of information (selling data about users–aggregate/statistical or individual–to third parties)
  • Licensing of brand (people pay to use a media brand as implied endorsement)
  • Licensing of content (syndication)
  • Getting the users to create something of value for free and applying any of the above to monetize it. (Like Digg or our own Reddit)
  • Upgraded service/content (ed: aka “freemium”)
  • Alternate output (pdf; print/print-on-demand; customized Shared Book style; etc.)
  • Custom services/feeds
  • Live events
  • “Souvenirs”/”Merchandise”
  • Co-branded spinoff
  • Cost Per Install (popular with top Facebook apps who can help others get installs)
  • E-commerce (selling stuff directly on your website)
  • Sponsorships (ads of some sort that are sold based on time, not on the number of impressions)
  • Listings (paying a time based amount to list something like a job or real estate on your website)
  • Paid Inclusion (a form of CPC advertising where an advertiser pays to be included in a search result)
  • Streaming Audio Advertising (like radio advertising delivered in the audio stream after a certain amount of audio content has been delivered)
  • Streaming Video Advertising (like streaming audio but in video)
  • API Fees (charging third parties to access your API)

A lot of your revenue model choices depend on B2B vs. B2C. Some work for both, while others are particular to the type of regular transactions that will be taking place. At this point, I have narrowed down my choices based off of this list and I hope this helped you do the same.

Posted under Events, Online Marketing, Social Networks, Ultra Light Startups, Viral Marketing

Which CMS? Drupal vs. Joomla vs. WordPress

I recently attended my 5th Ultra Light Startups and as expected, it was a success!  I have covered their recent event topics including Monetization via Ads, then Outsourcing, & last months SEO/SEM. But this months topic was highly controversial: Open Source Content Management Systems (CMS). Topics included:

  • The most popular Open Source CMS’s – Drupal, Joomla & WordPress.
  • Examples of successfull startups on each platform.
  • What are the main differentiators between the platform.

For those of you unaware of this event, the mission is simple: “Tech entrepreneurs, sharing techniques to launch faster and cheaper!” It is a great source of networking with a panel also included to help drive engaging/helpful discussions to improve your startup.

As usual, the night kicked off with 1 minute elevator pitches by the event participants. Rami Weiss of Boomerater.com, explained why this was so crucial: “Pitching is important and practicing your pitch is the only way to perfect it!” (His tips included: Stand Up, Explain What you do, Your Business Model, Funding, Size and Other Stats). There were a lot of web-design and CMS design companies present, but a a few stood out from the crowd.

  • Jason Calderon, BrandYourBaby.com – Child naming and website apps
  • Benjamin Horst, Wishler.com -Social wishlist sharing site
  • Michael Meyers, NowPublic – NextGen “Reuters”/1st VC’ed Co. using Drupal.
  • Peter Raymond, Human Condition – Feel what a disease feels like
  • Joshua Russak (Me), RezRedo.com – Database of Resume Job Experiences
  • Boris Bulayev, Educate – Educating Africa’s Future Leaders

Also, a last-minute addition, the creator of the website Overheard In New York, Morgan Friedman, talked about how he achieved success with his ‘ultra light’ startup. The best advice he gave came from his Rabbi: “Any problem that can be solved by money isn’t actually a problem”. Following his speech, came pizza+pop+networking which is a core to this event. After a 1/2 hour of business card collection the panelists took their seats. The panelists were as follows:

In the past, I covered the events in a Q&A format on my blog, but I decided to try a new form of event coverage: Flip Video! First suggested to me by Melissa Salas (Director of Marketing, Buy.com, met her at Affiliate Summit Social 2008), the Flip is a great way to quickly video-capture events and easily upload them 1-2-3 to social video networks. So…instead of taking notes at this event…I put a fun little video together. Questions covered in the video include:”Describe your CMS…“,”Examples of websites that use your CMS“, “CMS Developer Communities“, “What’s next?” and more…

If you liked what you read here, come out to next months Ultra Light Startup Event: Startup Revenue Models. I look forward to seeing you there.

Posted under Events, Ultra Light Startups