What is WordPress?
I just want to design and sell my POD stuff – what can WordPress do for me?
Isn’t social media like Twitter, Facebook and Google+ enough?
I’m confused! Is WordPress free or not?
Why wouldn’t I just use free blogging software like Blogger? or Posterous? or Tumblr?
OK, I’m convinced I should try WordPress. Now what?
You have a store on Zazzle, CafePress, Red Bubble, Printfection or another print-on-demand (POD) company and you want to market your products and present them in some sort of order and logic (left brain’s turn!). My recommendation is a WordPress website. For designers, these
are easy-peasy. You really don’t need much coding knowledge and not a whole lot of money.
This is a broad overview of why WordPress websites for designers is a logical, practical business choice. Some question and answer time does help people who are new to marketing via websites and blogging. Here are questions that come up a lot. Got another? Ask it in the comments!
Q: What is WordPress?
A: WordPress is web software you can use to create a website or a blog. It’s open source with thousands of themes to customize the appearance of your site and thousands of plugins to simplify how things work. According to Wikipedia, WordPress is the most popular content management system (CMS) used on the internet with over 1/5 of all new websites using it. WordPress can be used as a standalone CMS or blog or you can incorporate it into an existing site as a blog. (BTW, CMS just means it will look like a “regular” website.)
Q: I just want to design and sell my POD stuff – what can WordPress do for me?
A: Make you more money, plain and simple. A website of your own enables you to showcase print-on-demand products in a variety of ways, promote them over and over again and establish communications with customers. It’s a 24/7 storefront where the information and images you post remain searchable as long as the site is live. AND the referral links don’t get erased or hijacked by another entity!
Q: Isn’t social media like Twitter, Facebook and Google+ enough to promote my awesome store?
A: Unlikely! Social media works better if used WITH a website. Tweets and Facebook posts are viewed for seconds and then gone. Many people find it hard to keep their referral links intact with social media. (OK, I will speak for myself: I find it about impossible to get referrals from them. You may have better luck. Buy me a lottery ticket if you do, ok?) A website or blog gives an interested person more to look at and greatly increases your chances of getting referrals and sales. You can automate tweets and posts, too, to increase your reach and search rankings.
Q: I’m confused! Is WordPress free or not? Are there two different kinds of WordPress?
A: Yes, the software WordPress is always free. It’s the hosting of WordPress that varies and that changes the rules.
WordPress.COM sites are free software and free hosting. Your website name would be formatted like this:
You are not even required to purchase a domain name. You can add extras that cost money, but do fine without them. However, using a WordPress.COM site for a business blog can violate the terms of service (TOS) about advertising and affiliate links. Since a site to blog about POD products is going to have a lot of affiliate links and you’d likely want advertising banners, don’t go this route!
WordPress.ORG sites are free software but NOT FREE HOSTING. Nor is the domain name free. Your website name would be formatted like this:
Domains can be purchased for about $12/year (www.GoDaddy.com is a domain registrar I use) and inexpensive hosting (HostGator Web Hosting is a host I like) can be $4/month. So, you’d have to plan on budgeting $60 a year to have a WordPress.ORG blog. Or any kind of website of your own. (Yes, there are more options–we’ll get to those another time!)
Q: Why wouldn’t I just use free blogging software like Blogger,
Posterous or Tumblr?
A: You could, absolutely. Blogger, Posterous and Tumblr are easy and quick to start up. And free. So, why not?
Branding. A “real” domain name of your own does look more serious and professional. Using these sites, your website name would look like these:
Control. You are limited to what you can do with free sites. You can’t add Zazzle storefronts to them, for instance. You can email links to your products to them very simply, however.
Security. A couple of years ago, Blogger shut down some Zazzlers’ blogs for violating their TOS. I don’t think this would happen again based on reading their current TOS, but that sure made a lot of people nervous. You can’t be sure of keeping the domain name either with a free service. If someone else has the domain name, it could be awkward for you to have the Blogger or Posterous version of it. Just sayin’.
In fact, you could lose the name. Right now, there are some people nervous that Twitter has purchased Posterous and they are moving their blogs off of Posterous in a proactive move. I have three Posterous blogs, but I wouldn’t care much if they were taken away: they are not core to my business.
Using free sites versus a paid site under your control is very much like renting an apartment vs. owing your own house. In fact, the phenomenon has an Web 2.0 name: Digital Sharecropping. (Thank you, Nicholas Carr.) Not convinced? Go read Sonia Simone’s article on Copyblogger: The Most Dangerous Threat to Your Online Marketing Efforts.
[Update Note: Posterous.com was a popular free blogging service that many people used. It was very popular with Zazzlers as we could post products directly to it. They shut down in early 2013 (see story on Wikipedia). Some people transferred their blogs to WordPress, many others (including me) just abandoned them.
Q: I’m convinced! Now what?
A: Set yourself up in business!
- Register a domain name of your own
- Sign up with a hosting company
- Install WordPress
- Hire out or create your own website and add your POD and/or other products!
OK, it’s not quite that quick, but you could have a site up and running–complete with a Zazzle store–in a few hours. It all depends on how much is new to you and how elaborate you go!
Q: Help! I don’t know how to do this.
A: I can set up simple WordPress sites for you! Contact me. And I’m not the only one either, of course.
Best of luck!