When I got my first clients and started building websites I knew some HTML and enough CSS to get in trouble. I read all the tutorials I could find and expanded my skillsets as quickly as I could. I knew almost nothing about programming at the time and when a client told me she wanted to have a blog (this was back in 2006), I did some research and discovered WordPress.
WordPress promised to be easy to install and customize. For someone who still had so much to learn, that promise was very appealing. I wasn’t disappointed. I installed WordPress and got to work building her site around it. The project was hacky, to be sure, but it was the best I could do at the time. Most importantly, WordPress helped me get the job done.
That’s the key. With WordPress available to me, I could suddenly accomplish so much more as a developer. And, as WordPress has matured and the developer community has grown with it, the range of what you can accomplish with WordPress has steadily increased.
If you are interested in becoming a web developer or have already started, here are 7 reasons why I believe you should be building your business (at least in the beginning) around WordPress:
- Giant Shoulders
WordPress was built and continues to be developed by a team and a community of experts. Thousands and thousands of hours have gone into making WordPress what it is today and, as you put WordPress to work, you are able to stand on the shoulders of the proverbial giants who’ve gone before you. (Thanks, Bernard)
- Low Barrier of Entry
You don’t need to have had any prior experience in web development to begin making websites on WordPress. Don’t misunderstand, it is still hard work and there will be much to learn. You’re going to see progress quickly, though, and be encouraged to keep learning and getting work done.
- Diverse Theme Marketplace
One of the beauties of WordPress is the ability to install a theme and have a beautiful, functional site design up and running in minutes. WordPress has a very diverse theme marketplace, ranging from its own official theme repository, to a large list of commercial theme developers, to separate theme marketplaces (Themeforest, ElegantThemes, Mojo Themes, etc), all the way to specialty groups making themes for specific audiences (ChurchThemes.net). Before you start building your own themes, put the theme marketplace to work.
- Plugins That Get Things Done
One of my favorite aspects of WordPress is the ability to expand its functionality with plugins. In the early days I used plugins to solve all sorts of challenges that I just wasn’t capable of solving on my own. Today, there are some fantastic plugins available and great communities that support them. A few examples include Gravity Forms, WordPress SEO, Shopp, Members, and BuddyPress.
- Built For People
WordPress was built with low-tech users in mind. It started out as a simple blogging platform, with a goal of helping people blog as effortlessly and painlessly as possible. As it’s grown, it has held true to that goal, continuing to refine its interfaces (see how WordPress changed from 2003 to 2009) and focus on improving the experience.
- Support Community
WordPress has a fantastic support community. I have had hundreds of questions over the years and found answers through others who’ve already asked the same question or through asking the question myself. The WordPress Support Forums can be a good place to start. You can even find help by asking on Twitter. My favorite resource by far is the WordPress Community on StackExchange.
- Solid Track Record
WordPress has grown steadily over the years and as its level of expectation and responsibility has increased, the core developers and community have continued to deliver. It has had a strong past and, accordingly, I expect it to have a bright future.
Along with those 7 reasons, I do have a few pieces of advice and caution to consider as you build your business around WordPress.
- Educate Yourself
Do not, for a moment, settle with what you know today. Keep learning. Read books on WordPress. Follow the blogs of WordPress developers you respect. Read Smashing Magazine. Ask questions. Figure out the best practices and keep improving. WordPress grows quickly and it’s important for anyone building their business around WordPress to stay up-to-date.
- Take Security Seriously
The dark side of WordPress’ popularity is that it has become a target for vandals and thieves. They look for security holes and exploit them to their own gain. One of the best ways to stay secure is to go with managed WordPress hosting (WPEngine and Zippykid are great choices) and let them handle it for you. If you opt for doing it yourself, keep WordPress up-to-date and learn about security.
- Maintain Plugin Sanity
A sure sign of a beginner is the use of a lot of plugins to accomplish relatively simple tasks. That’s ok in the beginning! As you grow, though, cut back and figure out ways to accomplish tasks without relying on one more plugin. That will help keep you sane when it comes to updating and managing changes and it improves on blog security (the majority of compromises come through poorly built plugins).
- Exercise The Golden Rule
As you’ve freely received from the WordPress community, freely give. Be willing to help others get started, support the developers who make your life easier by buying their themes and plugins and spreading the word about them. Answer questions in the support communities. Consider what would happen if all those resources disappeared.
Those are the reasons I have built a business around WordPress and why I think you should do the same.
New! How I Can Help You
If you’ve decided to build your business around WordPress, I’d like to help you! I am developing a course to teach the very best of what I have learned over the past 6 years. If you’re just getting started or not even sure where to begin, this course is perfect for you. Learn more about the course and pre-order today! Also, if you haven’t already, be sure to sign up for my free course, four weeks to your first client.