In the spring of 2008, I made a momentous decision where my business was concerned: going forward, I will only build WordPress sites and blogs, for myself or anyone else. What follows is how I came to that decision and why WordPress might matter to you.
Over the years, all of my clients in this business have fallen into one of three categories:
Group 1: You Do It, I Don’t Want Any Part of It! – People who’ve decided they need a website, but don’t know the first thing about how to build one and really don’t want to learn. They (usually, but not always) also have a fear of technology to some degree, a mental block when it comes to things online. They may or may not be aware of this fear in those terms and may or may not be willing or able to admit it to themselves or me, but it’s there, nonetheless. It has held them back from leveraging the Internet to grow their business, tell their story, or do their thing in a bigger way.
They hire me to stand between them and that big, bad Internet and put their business, their story, their thing out there for all the web to see, knowing that they don’t have to change much about what they do, and pleased as punch that they no longer have to say “I don’t have one” when someone asks for their website address. They’re “online” now and can take as much time as they need to “figure it out” because they can have me do it in the interim.
Group 2: I Could Do It – But You’re Faster! – People who are technically savvy and quite comfortable with life and business online who’ve realized that their website has been on their to-do list for way too long and will likely remain there unless they outsource getting it done. These folks know what they want to be done, understand what’s required, and can “speak the language”. They could probably even do it themselves, but need to delegate the project to another pair of hands so they can have it in this lifetime. Once their site is built or updated, they’re happy to take it back and maintain it themselves. They’ll call again when they’ve got another major project and sometimes they’ll call for some one-on-one tutoring in between. Some of these clients transition back to having me maintain it because their business has grown and they don’t have the time or it’s more cost-effective to delegate to me.
Group 3: Everyone Else – The people somewhere in the middle. Not surprisingly, this is the biggest group for me.
As you might imagine, meeting and serving the needs of this kind of diversity kept me hopping. Not that I don’t like to hop, mind you, it just got a little crazy, at times. A bigger problem, though, was that I could only take on so many new projects because maintaining the sites I built was not practical for the majority of my clients. Making simple changes required me, and as my client base grew, I had less time to take on new projects. Worse, because I’m a stickler for customer service, I could never take a real day “off”, much less a vacation. That stunk. So, I had to find a solution that worked for them and for me.
How Blogging For Fun Changed Everything
About three years ago, I started my first blog over at Blogger. As I recall, there was nothing more magical about that choice than it was the first option I was exposed to because it belonged to Google, and I used Google A LOT.
At the time, I blogged because it was easier for me than writing in a journal. Blogging made sense to me because a) I type WAY faster than I write with a pen (and much neater, too) and b) it was online and fit nicely with the fact that I spent 18 hours a day with my butt planted in this chair, fingers on a keyboard. But it wasn’t long before Blogger started pissing me off.
I didn’t like any of Blogger’s templates, really, and changing them was a pain in the butt, even for me. On top of that, I still couldn’t take a vacation unless I wanted to have nothing new posted while I was away because even though you could start a post and save it as a draft, you couldn’t set it to publish on a certain date. Then a blogger friend I’d made, who was more fed up with Blogger at the time than I was, made the switch to WordPress. For weeks thereafter, I read about how much she loved WordPress and all things she could do now that she couldn’t do before at Blogger. I grew curious and started exploring WordPress.org.
Looking back, the funniest part is that I didn’t know you could build a free blog (like you could at Blogger) at WordPress.com. My friend had not only switched to WordPress, but she got her own hosting account at the same time, which explained (I now know) many of the groovy changes I was seeing at her blog. I began to wonder if I could convert an entire site to WordPress without making it look like a blog. Guess what? I could. And did. My coaching website was my guinea pig. What you see today is called a magazine-style blog (yeah, a little more complicated than a traditional website built in WordPress, but SO worth the extra development time.)
That went so well, I converted all my other sites to WordPress, learned a WHOLE LOT in the process, and was able to spend a whole lot LESS TIME (once built) maintaining my own sites because working in WordPress is so easy. Then it dawned on me: if I converted my client base to WordPress, it would be easy for them, too. I could free up a truckload of time and holy smokes – maybe even take a day off! Even the timidest, techno-phobic among them could easily make simple changes here and there as required. One client, in particular, beamed with pride when she said, “Suzanne, it’s so great to be able to say I maintain MY OWN website!”
Why All This Might Matter To You
More bang for your buck – plain and simple.
- A WordPress site costs a lot less to build than one built from scratch. Why? Because you’re building on an existing solid foundation, it’s object-oriented, like Legos on steroids.
- If you can type a subject, an email, and click send, you can type a title, a post, and click publish. No longer are you stuck waiting on me to do things for you – you can maintain your site yourself now if you’re so inclined.
- WordPress, itself, is like catnip to search engines. So you hit the ground running with a distinct SEO advantage, without all the head-scratching and mind-bending. Out of the box, it’s like that.
- The built-in RSS functionality allows you to alert those interested in your updates immediately and without all the headache of email.
Most of all, I have yet to ask myself, “I wonder if I could do ____ in WordPress?” and not be able to find a way. Because it’s constantly evolving and stays abreast of emerging web trends, it’s never boring. I can create great WordPress sites for my clients that meet them at whatever experience and skill level they’re at. Finally, I have a solution to offer that meets the needs of all three groups of clients I have. Gotta love that!