Technology is empowering. It doesn’t take as long to establish your online presence as it used to. We all want a smooth startup and that’s why we opted for taking our business online, right?
You can easily assemble a crew of WordPress developers and designers, buy decent hosting, pick one of the free or premium WordPress themes, install some plugins, begin creating WordPress products, and start your own WordPress shop.
Weeell no, not exactly.
When I first got on that road (along with a couple of my friends) all I ever heard were fairy tales about owning a WordPress shop. We thought that enthusiasm beats all. We thought that it would be easy, but we were mistaken.
Let me break it down for you, so you don’t make the same mistakes I did.
Before even thinking about igniting your idea online, get in touch with the people who have done something similar and try to identify the things that make their timepiece tick. You’ll be surprised to see how many of them are willing to help you.
We’ve all read books about startups and how they’ve made it, but those are edited stories and the reality is a little different. It involves a lot of ups and downs, which you can try to overcome if you reach out and ask questions — so don’t feel shy.
Instead of giving you lists of products and services to get your WordPress startup quickly on its feet, let me show you how to do this yourself.
WordPress hosting is your startup’s foundation
Back in the day, there weren’t so many managed WordPress hosting solutions. However since then, WordPress has emerged as one of the biggest players, if not the biggest, in the space — there are hundreds of them.
We’ve moved our website several times, tried a couple of shared and not-so shared server solutions, with and without integrated content delivery networks. We tried to optimize the web performance of our website and spent time configuring cache plugins, .htaccess files, and what not. But, it’s not worth the hassle.
All those little things put you farther away from realizing your idea. Instead, go for managed WordPress hosting, and spend more cash up-front, so you save time and effort for what really matters – your business philosophy, branding, and establishing and nurturing your company culture.
Hosting is the foundation that should satisfy all your present and future needs, so select reputable partners, read reviews, get in touch with the company, and see for yourself how they handle queries and support questions. There are a lot of paid, subjective reviews floating around, so don’t rely on those.
I’ve never liked the sound of “Human resources.” Don’t treat people as resources. Treat them as people and they’ll treat you the same.
When we were starting, there were three of us and we really didn’t need more people. One designer, one developer, one internet marketing guy (me) and no one really in charge, which is never a good idea. If there’s a whole bunch of you, you have to establish and document your responsibilities, otherwise it quickly becomes a mess.
If you don’t have friends who are designers or developers, you can hire them on http://jobs.wordpress.net/, where you can even find people seeking partnerships. I’ve had the opportunity to meet several quality WordPress developers there, but don’t be surprised to get a lot of emails from individuals who are looking for a quick buck without even reading your business proposal.
WordPress products to get your business up and running fast
WordPress themes are essentially skins, which should take care of the visuals and nothing else. Only once you identify the need for extra functionality, can you start searching for plugins to help you pull that off.
WordPress themes and plugins complement each other and should not overlap.
Themes and child themes, which I encourage you to use every time you can, should be as light as a feather.
Free, magnificent WordPress themes
There’s one neat way to choose a great looking and code-singing free WordPress theme. Browse WordPress.com theme repository, where only high-quality and best-looking themes are offered. You’ll find that some of them are free and some are paid. Most of the free WordPress themes can be found in the WordPress.org theme repository, where you can download and install them on your domain.
I believe that in the beginning we should’ve focused more on creating products rather than on designing our website, creating relationships with others in the WordPress community, and writing content. Those are all great and I’m really starting to see how much all that helped me get some writing gigs and valuable connections, but if you don’t focus on products, you’re vastly limiting your credibility and authority.
We always had a very minimalist theme, which allowed our content to do the talking and used only a couple of plugins for gathering subscribers and social share buttons, so users would enjoy browsing our website.
Oh, splendor! Free WordPress plugins
Yes, I’ve heard it before – Nothing is for free. And it’s true. If you choose a free module, how can you be sure it will be supported or updated in the future?
You can’t, that’s the problem with free stuff, but the landscape doesn’t change that much with premium WordPress products. Often, they’re bloated with unnecessary lines of code that offer extended functionality at the cost of lousy security and stability.
When it comes to plugins, you’ll need to do some research and find authors that do update them regularly and offer timely support. Only install those that enable functionality you absolutely must have.
The basic, most important online rule is that if the plugin’s functionality doesn’t meet a specific need, then you don’t need it. Seems like common sense, but you already know how inviting the Internet can be and how hard it is to resist.
I found that plain lists work best. If TextEdit or Notepad can’t handle your priorities, then you’re doing something fundamentally wrong. You shouldn’t need complex tagging or color labeling to sort out your email or tasks. Spend some time thinking about what you really need, instead of writing down every single thought or issue.
We believed that there wouldn’t be so many unknowns in the startup equation. This is what I’ve learned over the years of being a part of our WordPress startup:
- You’ll be most nimble when you don’t carry much weight – use light themes, few plugins and fast, reliable managed hosting
- You’ll easily focus on things that matter when you don’t have distractions – branding and your business philosophy will clear the road for you
- You’ll be most productive once you set your priorities and just follow the road – thinking ahead saves time
- Don’t assume, but define the responsibilities for each member of your team at the beginning or conflicts will emerge – good relationships are built on the basis of mutual understanding and nurturing
It’s much harder than you think, it takes more time than you can imagine, but it’s worth the ride. You’ll get to know yourself in the process, learn a whole lot about what you love, and meet a bunch of cool people, which the WordPress community is made of.
Use the comments to share your stories about starting your own WordPress business! I’d love to exchange experiences with you!
Images via unsplash.com
Dragan is a co-founder at ThematoSoup and WordPress blogger for hire, interested in minimalism and lean startups.