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How to make an awesome small business website with WordPress

Why WordPress?

WordPress sites look good and are easy to set up and maintain. With WordPress I can choose my own domain name and pick a design to work with, all for a minimal cost ($0-$99).

To create a site for my small business, I chose WordPress.com (open source software and hosting) over free blogging software from WordPress.org because:

My focus is on writing and editing, not design.  WordPress Schwag WordPress.com is virtually maintenance free. I don’t want the work of hosting and maintaining a site.  If I want to post ads or access more plugins later, I can use this how-to guide for moving sites from WordPress.com to WordPress.org software.

My site needs are not complex. Creating a customized site using WordPress.org or other design software might make sense if I wanted to do much more than share written content. For more pros and cons check out WordPress.com vs WordPress.org

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Creating my WordPress Site

To create my site, I sign up at WordPress.com. Rather than opt for the free domain, I select my own domain name and mapping for $18 per year.

When signing up, I need to choose (or forego) individual upgrades, or select a bundle of upgrades for $99. The upgrade bundle includes:

Domain name and mapping. This is something I want and can get for $18.

An extra 10GB of space. The site already comes with 3GB. This is sufficient space for my site, as I won’t be uploading audio, video or many photos. I could always pay $20 to add the space later if my needs change.

No ads. I can opt to pay $30 per year for this upgrade. WordPress promises that ads will appear on only a very small percentage of page views. However, I wouldn’t want the wrong ads to appear on my small business site.

Custom Design. This $30 feature seems unnecessary, as I like the look of a simple WordPress site. I’ve built sites with Dreamweaver, html and Frontpage and I know the pain that can come with customizing a site’s design. If I do upgrade, it’ll be so my visited links change colour – surprisingly that’s a custom feature.

VideoPress. I don’t need this $60 feature, the one that makes the bundle worth it. You need VideoPress to add video to basic WordPress sites. Otherwise, you have to link to video elsewhere, or use free software that doesn’t work on all servers.

Making a Website, Not a Blog

I want my site to look less like a blog and more like a small business website. You can accomplish this in WordPress by doing several things via your Admin panel:

Go to Pages -> Add New. Name the page ‘Welcome’ and publish it. catching-up-on-e-mail-1_l

Go to Pages -> Add New. Name the page ‘Blog’ and publish it.

Go to Settings -> Reading. Indicate the Front Page will display a static page. Select ‘Welcome’ as your front page.  Select Blog as your posts page.

Use step 1 to create other new pages. Along with a Home page, I added About Me, Rates, Contact, and Blog. I reviewed similar businesses sites before settling on this layout. By the way, you can work in draft mode to keep your content hidden until you’re ready to publish. Or cut and paste content from a word document. Note: WordPress’ spellchecker is unreliable.

Remove comments on all of the static pages. To do this, go to Pages->All Pages, and hover over a page title to select Quick Edit. Uncheck comments.

In Quick Edit, you can set the order that your pages will appear in the menu. Just type the number in the Order box (i.e. Welcome 1, About me 2, and so on).

From Quick Edit, you can select the full-width page template or default template. I used the latter on the Blog page, so users can access other blog posts via the sidebar menu. Most of my static pages are built with the first template.

There you have it – my new website. WordPress really was easy to use. Next I’ll need to optimize.

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