If you’re starting a business, you’ll need a website. Having an online presence is necessary in this day and age. Given the abundance of hosting sites to choose from, which should you pick? Should you hire a professional website-design firm? Should you make your own website? Most importantly, how much time and money will it take to get everything done?
Every business is different and has its own needs. But I will answer another question that you might have: what can you do with WordPress.com? In fact, I’ll tell you how much can be done — in just one day — with a free WordPress.com website.
For the purpose of this article, I created a WordPress.com website for a fictitious garden and nature photography company. I am familiar with this line of work, as my wife and I own a seed company and take many photos in our garden throughout the year. To see what the pages referenced throughout this article look like, you can visit the WordPress.com site that I created for it. To note, rather than writing real copy for every part of the mock site, I used standard filler text (with a little humor mixed in).
Twenty-four hours, seven steps
1. Get started.
First, I went to WordPress.com and clicked the Get Started button. I created a new, free WordPress.com website for the fictitious garden and nature photography company mentioned above.
2. Choose your formatting.
WordPress.com’s setup process walked me right through the next four steps. I was prompted to choose the site format I wanted: blog, website, portfolio, or store. Since I was setting up a photography business website, I chose the website option.
3. Pick a theme.
Next, I was prompted to choose a theme. A theme — and the custom design touches you add to it — reflects your identity throughout the site; it’s similar to decorating a room in your house. WordPress.com offers hundreds of themes that are ready to use out of the box, so you don’t have to style and design everything yourself. There were three default themes that I could choose from, but I’d already perused the selection of free WordPress.com website themes ahead of time and knew which one I wanted to use. Rather than selecting one of the three themes recommended for me, I clicked Skip for Now in order to continue.
4. Name your site.
I was prompted to select a domain name. This is the URL where people can find my photography business online. I checked to see if “TFGardenPhotography” was available, since that’s the name I decided to give my fictitious business. Note that a free WordPress.com website would have the domain “www.tfgardenphotography.wordpress.com,” whereas a site on the Personal, Premium, or Business plans could choose a custom domain like “www.tfgardenphotography.com” (if it were still available). If I was creating a site for my actual business, I would have chosen the Premium or Business plans, because these offer additional tools for your website that are extra beneficial for businesses.
Since I am creating a page for a mock business in this case, I chose the free option.
5. Know your needs.
Once I selected my domain name, I had to pick a site plan that best suited my needs. I chose the free plan, but you can review the benefits and features of each plan here. As a business owner, the WordPress.com Business plan caught my eye due to its incorporation of Google Analytics. Google Analytics allows you to review in-depth site statistics that dig deep into your website’s traffic, including which pages people are visiting, comparisons over time, and other useful information to help you measure your website’s performance. I know firsthand how invaluable this data is for helping to improve both your website and your business. Additionally, I would want the ability to sell service packages and photography prints through my website, so I would choose a plugin (an add-on software that can introduce new features to your WordPress.com site) called WooCommerce, an option only available under the Business plan. Finally, I finished setting up my account by inputting my username, email address, and password.
6. Personalize your website.
Now the fun begins: personalizing the website! From the WordPress.com homepage, you can make your site look, feel, and read how you want it to. A few of the things you can do there include writing blog posts, creating new web pages, arranging your navigation menu, adding users (like your business partners), and adding a new theme or customizing your existing theme.
7. Add imagery and other features.
Creating a unique website is the hardest part of the process. It’s important to note that imagery is vital in making your website pop. Photographs add color, style, and personality to a site that might otherwise seem plain and boring. So be sure to use good, original photos!
There are many other bells and whistles that come with all WordPress.com websites. In particular, Jetpack is a suite of site enhancements and plugins that are built into WordPress.com sites. Jetpack includes features like advanced photo galleries (check out the mosaic format on the portfolio page), an integrated form builder that makes it easy to create and insert Contact forms on your site (like this one), the Photon Content Delivery Network (CDN) allows for the quick uploading and displaying of especially large images, and social media and email features that allow you to link social accounts to your site and incorporate an email signup form.
So, what can you do with WordPress.com in 24-hours? The answer: a lot. In just one day, you can create a website, choose the type of plan that best suites your needs, choose your domain name — your own little piece of the web — and customize your site to fit with your personal or business brand.