As Director of Technology and Marketing (titles both self-ascribed) for The Freestyle Entrepreneur (TFE), I’m pleased to bring our readers a complete face lift. Starting out in late 2006, our goal with TFE centered on getting a site where we could express our entrepreneurial thoughts up quickly and easily. TypePad, our original, full-service blogging framework, provided that and a whole lot more for about $15/month.
In the 14 months we’ve operated TFE, our technology and marketing prowess have grown considerably–if not our profitability. ;-( We found ourselves outgrowing our previous platform and possessing a desire to “get with the program”. After considerable research, we decided a move to WordPress would afford us certain advantages as well as accommodate new features and needs.
I highly recommend starting out leveraging one of the full-service blog providers: TypePad, Blogger, Live.com, etc. You will encounter no worries about hosting, DNS, domains, redirects, coding, up-time, scalability, SMTP, etc. (if you have no idea what I’m talking about…go full-service). However, a full-service blog provider also must, for this same reason, keep you in a box; their sandbox if you will. You must use the provider tools and while customization is possible, you’re limited to just those tools the provider puts forth. I was tired of living inside that box and, as a full-time developer with web master experience, was ready for a change.
Blogging is inexpensive. My personal blog Effective Thoughts is hosted for gratis courtesy of Google Blogger. As I wrote earlier, our premium-level TypePad account was only $15/month. This is very, very reasonable given all the service and features they provide. However, remarkably, most everything related to WordPress is free: themes, shared hosting (via WordPress.com), widgets–you name it. Our excellent new theme is courtesy of SoloStream, who, as of last year was yet to charge for this theme (they’ve since begun charging $50…still a bargain).
Our only true cost is hosting (well, and our time…but that’s another post). To post ads (hosting on WordPress.com does not allow advertisements) as well as achieve ultimate flexibility, we choose virtual, shared hosting with BlueHost. They are one of the top WordPress-recommended hosting providers and are also very reasonably priced. Because the WordPress software is also free, our total monthly costs dropped to under $10/month.
One of my personal goals from TFE is learning: both interactive/blog marketing and web content/platform management. With a full-service blogging platform, I learned much about plug-ins and blogging technique in general, but I missed the nitty-gritty. Don’t shield me from the cool stuff! I wanted to experience the SEM, the platform, developing some custom code, understand hosting, etc. I wanted to fulfill my desire to learn and experience new things.
Go Where the Cool Kids Are
Wil Schroter, of Go Big Network, gave a talk about interactive marketing I attended last year. Wil, a serial entrepreneur and an entrepreneurial legend in my town (Columbus, OH, USA), spoke about what he called going where the cool kids are. It was about attracting buzz, attention, being hip: not Long Tail but more Facebook, Google, Apple, in your face, getting it done, everyone wants to be involved kind of energy.
Ok, so WordPress isn’t that cool but it’s definitely where the cool kids are. Of the Technorati Top 100, over 1/3rd are on WordPress. So, as an implementer, that affords me a huge advantage with technology and marketing. If the top bloggers and many of the mainstream bloggers use WordPress, everything related to WordPress will correspondingly increase in quantity and value: writings on techniques, plug-ins, themes, hosting, advancements, etc. There’s a certain (warning: cheesy corporate term) synergy in using the same product lots of other folks do.
From here–the experiment continues. WordPress is certainly the best platform for TFE at this moment. This cannot be true for all blogs (If not, here’s a solid evaluation of free or almost free blogging platforms: “Powerful Software for Better Blogging“). But for now, self-hosted WordPress will provide us with the features and flexibility to meet our goals:
- Provide a forum for delivering great content assisting and guiding the small business owner (SBO), entrepreneur, solopreneur, retirepreneur, etc.
- Form a community
- Learning interactive and social marketing; web technologies
- Provide a platform to host TFE’s entrepreneurial endeavors
Stay tuned and thanks for joining us on this journey!