What is WordPress?
WordPress, is a CMS – Content Management System which is extremely popular for starting and maintaining a blog (A blog is a collection of articles on a web page which has the most recent published article on top, and subsequent ones below it. Most of the blogs are organized in to categories, so that visitors can browse the topics that interest them). But WordPress is no way limited to blogging and its possible to create blogs looking like websites as well – the home page of this website is a good example. The theme that you select using the Content Management System (WordPress) determines how the site looks.
What can you do with WordPress?
The most obvious thing to do with WordPress is to start a blog. If you just want a company blog without having to put any advertisements on it, wordpress.com is a good place to start with. The blog can be created and hosted for free there (By the way, creating a blog these days is like creating an email – the tough part is to write quality articles consistently). You can even get your own domain name for your blog (For a small fee, you can have www.yourcompany.com instead of http://yourcompany.wordpress.com) and it is suggested to get your own domain right at the beginning. This is important because, you can get more readers from search engines if you have your own domain. It also makes your brand look more professional.
After you register with your email address and blog name (or domain), you can select a good looking theme that looks impressive and start publishing your first post (article) using the built-in editor, immediately. Its as simple as that! Of course, it may take a few days before search engines index your blog and readers start coming from there. But you can immediately give the URL (blog name) to all your company staff and partners, for them to see /read the blog using their Internet browser. You can encourage them to add their comments after every article (this feature can be turned off, if you don’t like) as the main advantage of blogs unlike any other traditional media is the participation of the readers by giving feedback on your article in the comments section. In fact, its a good practice to reply to comments, so that the readers feel involved and a healthy discussion can commence.
Most of the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) stuff is taken care by WordPress.com and you may just need to select a category for your post and a few keywords related to it. The keywords are called Post Tags and are useful to tell the search engine as to what the post is about. You can insert images (photos), videos, links and anything else that you might like to, using the simple to use WordPress editor. You can also buy a CSS upgrade to customize the look and design of your blog, but for that you need to know a bit of coding.
The next advanced level is to host your blog yourselves using any third party web-hosting service provider. For doing this, you need to register an account with one of the web-hosts (With most of them, you may need to pay one year rental in advance for hosting your blog for a year in their servers), and download (free of cost) the Self-hosted version of WordPress from WordPress.org and install it there. Most of the web-hosts allow you to auto-install WordPress using a single click (simple scripts), and if you are new, that would be the easiest way to start. Once WordPress is installed, you could start writing your blog posts/ do everything else with the same built-in editor that is used in WordPress.com.
There are a lot of advantages of using self hosted wordpress. One of them is the ability to download and install a wide variety of themes (both free and paid) that would give your blog the look (and navigation features) you expect. Second advantage is the ability to use plugins to extend the functionality of your blog / install new features. You can install a whole Forum/ Discussion board using a WordPress plugin! You can insert advertisements, install a gallery, have rotating text in your sidebar, have a contact form, and do much more using WordPress plugins. Most of these plugins are free of cost. Most importantly, with self hosted WordPress, your content belongs to you and you can decide whether you want to have advertisements in your blog or not.
Why you should start a company blog using WordPress?
It is better if you have a company blog and write there about the products and services that you offer. There are two advantages of doing that – people unaware of your company, but searching for the product that you offer, might visit you blog through search engines (and) existing customers and regular readers would know about the various products/ new product releases from the blog. Of course, you can always send a news letter informing them about the new products, but that’s what everyone else do! And besides, with newsletters, people cannot participate in the discussions. But with blogs, anyone can comment or ask a question, and you can reply back to them.
It is also possible to gauge the interest generated for a new product, by looking at the number of comments the post describing it has generated. Of course, you need to send the URL to all your employees, partners and customers to introduce the company blog and encourage them to subscribe to it using Google Reader or their email address. That way, they would be automatically notified when a new article comes up. In other words, a company blog can help your marketing efforts in an interesting and engaging way to the readers. It also creates more brand awareness and helps people to understand your products and services better.
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