Whether you’re just getting ready to create your first website or your fifth, there are no shortage of options available, from all-in-one service providers like GoDaddy.com, Homestead, VistaPrint, and TherapySites, to doing it yourself, to hiring a professional designer or marketing firm to do it for you.
Unfortunately, with the one-stop, all-in-one service providers, you’re locked into their systems. You don’t truly “own” your website (see what happens to your site if you miss a payment) and may find the size of your site or its capabilities constrained by their platform (e.g. you may not be able to add more pages above a certain number without paying more, you may be unable to accept credit card payments, or you may not be able to layout your site in a way you’d truly like).
While services like those provided by VistaPrint and TherapySites can be very helpful in getting a site up and running within the next 24 hours, as a business owner you really should own and be able to exercise full control over business assets such as your website. This means either paying someone to set up your site for you or doing it yourself.
Fortunately, whichever of these two routes you decide to take, there is a powerful, easy-to-use platform that offers an almost limitless amount of control and customization over your website: WordPress!
As someone who began his Internet marketing career in the late 1990s by developing and hand-programming websites for coaches, therapists, and other small business owners, it’s taken me longer than many to jump on the WordPress bandwagon.
In fact, there’s something about the creative process and control that comes with hand-coding websites that I still appreciate, value, and have a hard time letting go of… But, I’ve finally become a WordPress convert over the past couple of years, and for a number of very important reasons.
Before we dive into the reasons why I believe almost every mental health professional should consider using WordPress for their website(s), I want to make sure I’m clear…
When I strongly advise my clients use WordPress for their websites, I’m not talking about hosting a free blog on WordPress.com. Instead, I’m referring to installing and configuring WordPress software on your own hosting provider. This distinction is an important one, and we’ll cover what you need to know about these two WordPress options in the near future.
Now, back to why I highly recommend you use WordPress for your business website…
I can’t begin to recount the number of times I’ve heard therapists’ frustrations over how difficult it is to make updates to their website or, even worse, that they have to wait for their webmaster to make changes for them, and always for an additional fee. You may know the feeling.
Likewise, I’ve had no small number of therapists come to me bemoaning the $40.00, $50.00, $60.00, or even $70.00 or more per month they’re paying for their current website; and this is for sites that are often little more than simple, brochure-style websites. While therapists are usually able to update their sites’ content on their own using many of these platforms, they are also locked into limited functionality and customization options and are often paying for features they’ll likely never use.
And these are just some of the tales of woe I hear from mental health professionals and other business owners who’ve actually gotten their websites up and running. All too many are still trying to figure out where to begin when it comes to getting their website off the ground. Fortunately, there’s hope…
WordPress to the Rescue
One of the reasons I was hesitant to start using WordPress for my clients and myself was that I had always regarded WordPress as a blogging platform.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with blogging. In fact, blogging can be a powerful means of communicating with current and prospective clients and referral sources and getting your message out in the marketplace. But blogging requires a sizable time commitment and isn’t right for everyone.
Unfortunately, what I didn’t realize – and what many still don’t understand – is that WordPress is much more than just one of the most powerful blogging tools available… it’s a powerful Content Management System (CMS) that can be used for far more than just blogging, and it’s FREE.
To be sure, WordPress was originally designed as a blogging platform. But, with a few simple modifications, it can be used to create and manage your website, whether or not you have any interest in writing and publishing a blog.
While content management systems such as WordPress can sometimes require a Web developer to set up and add new features, WordPress is a powerful website development and administration tool that is specifically designed to allow users with little knowledge of Web programming to create and manage website content with relative ease.
In fact, many of my clients have used WordPress to create their own websites – websites ranging from simple, brochure-style sites to highly-complex, multi-media- and membership-based websites – with little or no coding knowledge and little to no technical assistance.
And, even if you do decide to hire a professional to help you get your WordPress site up and running, the one-time cost of doing so almost always pays for itself within the first year.
Five Reasons to Use WordPress
There are numerous reasons why I recommend most therapists use WordPress to power their websites, but five of the top reasons you should use WordPress are:
- Content Management – Because WordPress was designed as a blogging platform, it is optimized for easily publishing and changing your site’s content. You can easily add and update your website’s content with little or no knowledge of HTML or other Web programming languages. So, say “good-bye” to complex software tools or having to “ask” your webmaster every time you want to update your website. Once you’ve got WordPress up and running, you can easily create and edit your website’s pages.
- Easy Setup – One-quick installation of WordPress is provided by many hosting providers, including HostGator and Bluehost. Additionally, there are thousands of free WordPress template designs and themes available for free, as well as countless others available for a nominal fee (usually in the neighborhood of $25.00 to $100.00). All of this means you can set up a clean, attractive, professional-looking website that is completely customizable in only a few hours for little to no cost.
- Additional Functionality – One of the main features of WordPress that has made it my Web publishing tool of choice is the thriving ecosystem of developers that are constantly creating new plug-ins and themes to increase WordPress’ functionality. In fact, WordPress just keeps getting better and better! Imagine being able to change your website’s design, add contact forms, polls, shopping carts, credit card processing, Twitter and Facebook feeds, upload images, audio, and streaming video, all without the need of a webmaster or any programming experience… WordPress makes it all possible and much, much more!
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – One of the requirements for achieving and maintaining top search engine rankings is a steady stream of fresh, unique content. Because WordPress was originally designed as a blogging tool, it provides an easy-to-use interface that allows you to easily update and add to your site’s content. And, with a couple of free, easy-to-install plug-ins, WordPress becomes an incredibly powerful SEO tool that can help make sure each page of your site is optimized for the search phrases you’re targeting and quickly propel your site to the top of the search engines.
- Support – Thanks to the thousands upon thousands of WordPress developers and millions of WordPress users, if you ever run into problems with your WordPress site or want to add custom features, all you need to do is type what you’re looking for into one of the search engines and you’ll quickly find the help you need. Better still, you own your site. You’re not beholden to any one company to host or manage your website, so you can shop around for the best support at the best prices.
For these reason and more, whether you have the time and inclination to create your website yourself or would rather pay someone to do it for you, I highly recommend your site be created using WordPress.
Stay tuned for more info, as we’ll be continuing to cover more reasons why you should be using WordPress in the near future, as well as how to install, configure, and use WordPress so you can make sure your site is as effective and profitable as possible.
And don’t forget to let us know your questions and comments below. What company or software is your website currently using? What experiences have you had, either positive or negative when setting up your website? We look forward to hearing from you!