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WordPress Versatility: New Ways to Use WordPress

Posted on December 23, 2009 by Kathleen
WordPress

Image via Wikipedia

by Kathleen Gresham

When you say WordPress, people automatically think of blogging. WordPress is the blog engine supreme. It is free, easy to install and easy to customize.

Thinking of WordPress as just a blog engine, though, seriously limits your options. That would be a shame, because WordPress offers so many options.

WordPress is a full-featured content management system (CMS). It can keep track of multiple authors and their privileges, provide a place to store documents and allow users to download them, keep track of document revisions and allow you to compare them and reinstate earlier versions—and so much more.

Here are just a few of the things you can do with WordPress. And most options are freely downloadable somewhere on line at no charge.

1. Web Sites

WordPress allows you to build a static web site much faster than any website builder software. Especially if you are not a wizard with that particular sitebuilder. That is, unless you are a super whiz with, say, DreamWeaver, you probably cannot match the speed—and certainly not the ease—with which you can set up a web site with WordPress.

Nowadays there are some great themes with dropdown menus that look like high-quality web site templates and can be easily customized.

Not only that, the search engine optimization benefits of a WordPress site versus a conventional HTML web site are tremendous. There are so many blog networks and SEO plugins and other tools that you can use to promote a WordPress site that are simply not available for HTML web sites.

2. Forums

There are several free plugins that allow you to easily set up a discussion forum, using WordPress. You can use that forum to make money from advertising, offer support for the products or services sold by your company (on line or off line), meet like-minded people, and so much more.

3. Membership Sites

Membership sites are a great way to make residual income. You can charge a fee for joining, for example for a niche membership site, and/or charge a monthly membership fee. Internet marketers often use a membership site to post their products for purchasers to download, to offer affiliate marketing tools and status reports to their affiliates, and to offer support for their products.

Others simply charge a membership fee for members to get access to a host of free downloadable ebooks, software, or other original content in a particular niche.

4. Article Directories and Link Directories

Article marketing is a staple of online marketing, and articles sites have many purposes. If your article site becomes popular, you can make good advertising revenue. If not, you still have a good place to post original or PLR articles with links to your main blog or web site.

You can download free themes and plugins to build an article directory with WordPress. Or  you can build yourself a link directory with other free WordPress themes and/or plugins. You could, for example, add a links page from your main blog to all your other sites.

5. Blogs

Yes, of course, WordPress is still the easiest and most flexible blog engine for self-hosted blogs. The very popularity of WordPress means there are thousands of theme designers and plugin makers constantly providing excellent new free or paid products to add value to WordPress blogs.

6. Combination Sites

Lately I have been making combination website-blogs for offline and online businesses. That is easy to do with WordPress.

For example, see the site designed for Temples Gate, a charming metaphysical gift shop in Houston, Texas. The old site was unfindable on Google for any related keyword or phrase.

The new WordPress-based site rose to Google PR2 in just a few months. It gets traffic via Google searches from all over world.

The site continues to grow as we add more pages, posts, and photos. Google loves sites that steadily grow. And site visitors like to see new and different photos and text whenever they visit the site.

The embedded blog fits seamlessly into the web site, and the site is linked to a Google Calendar so that the store owner can easily add and update the classes, workshops, and other events held at the store.

We will soon add a shopping cart to encourage online purchases. WordPress makes it easy to do that, and several of shopping cart plugins are free. We are still comparing features and usability on a separate test site.

Flexibility and Free Tutorials

Some of the same features can be found on Joomla and Drupal, but nothing beats WordPress for design flexibility and the huge array of plugins, widgets and other accessories available to easily customize it. Also, there is so much free training available for WordPress. WordPress video courses abound, and many of them are free.

So think outside the box when deciding how to build your next site, whether for personal use, to enhance your offline business or for ecommerce. Consider using WordPress even if you are not building a blog. Your imagination is just about the only limit to what you can do with it.

Adding Extra Value to Your Blog

And consider all the options that the WordPress community offers for adding value to your blog. Even if a blog is your main goal, WordPress allows you to add a forum for your reader community or a paid membership area.

If you want to do business on line, WordPress is a great tool for that, too. The sky is just about the limit when it comes to WordPress.

Select Your Hosting Service Carefully

If you intend to build a business in online retail sales, however, make sure you have a good ecommerce web hosting service. Make sure  you use a service that fully supports whatever it is that you are trying to do.

My first hosting was horrible. We could not even get a simple WordPress blog to work properly on their service, and it was a nightmare. So look for quality, not just price, in selecting a hosting service, even if you are not currently planning to get into ecommerce.

What cool things do you do with WordPress? Leave a comment and let us know.

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