If you’re a freelancer or small business owner, building your website is just the beginning of what you can do with WordPress as a CMS.
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If you’d like to take more control over your day-to-day administrative tasks, and rely less on third party software and hosted web applications, these days there’s not much that you can’t do with WordPress plugins.
These are a few ways that you can extend the functionality of WordPress to help you manage your business independently.
#1: Use WordPress as your invoicing system
As an alternative, you can actually run a fully-featured invoicing system on your WordPress site, that allows you to send itemized bills to your clients and integrate with payment gateways like Google Checkout, Authorize.net or PayPal.
Advantages of a WordPress-based invoicing platform
- Consolidate your admin tasks: If you run a business website on WordPress advertising your freelance services, it seems logical to integrate your billing system on the same site. Keeping more of your admin tasks in one place means getting them done quicker.
- Personalized branding: A fully-branded invoicing system gives you that extra bit of authority with clients and potential clients. Most hosted billing platforms offer white label branding options too, but you pay for it. Using WordPress is a free alternative.
#2: Turn your WordPress site into a customized job board
If you want to hire new talent for your own company, or outsource work to contractors, setting up your own unique job board gives you a lot more authority than simply listing on one of the major employment websites.
Big enterprises with cash to spare can use expensive software like Jobbex and SmartJobBoard to create their recruitment websites.
If you’re a smaller operation with a limited budget – WordPress to the rescue! With a combination of plugins and themes you can turn a WordPress site into a feature-rich and fully customized job board.
Advantages of running your own WordPress job site
- Achieve the exact style you’re looking for: There’s a good selection of job board themes for WordPress, which you can tweak and customize to your heart’s content, to achieve the perfect ‘look’ for your industry.
- Exclusivity: Instead of being a small fish in a big recruiting pond, your own customized job site can target a particular demographic more effectively. This is true of any job board software – using WordPress just makes the process easier and a whole lot cheaper.
#3: Use WordPress as a CRM
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) programs are useful if your client base is too big to keep track of in your head. The idea of a CRM is to organise all correspondence, transactions, file sharing etc. on a client-by-client basis, so you don’t lose track of any important data or communication.
If you want, you can shell out your hard-earned cash for a CRM platform like Highrise (from 37signals, the makers of BaseCamp). 37signal products get a lot of good reviews, but they don’t come cheap.
If you’re willing to put in a little more effort, there are plugins and themes available for WordPress – many of them free – that can emulate a lot of the functionality that a program like Highrise offers.
RoloPress is a free theme that turns your WordPress site into a contact management system. It’s been criticized by some for a lack of options and out-of-the-box functionality, but there’s an increasing number of plugins available that extend what you can do with RoloPress.
#4: Manage your email newsletter campaign in WordPress
Programs like Aweber and MailChimp are practically household names when somebody mentions ‘email marketing’. And for good reason: these programs make it nice and easy to keep your customers in the loop and leverage email as a marketing channel.
Once again, however, it’s possible to achieve the same results in WordPress with a simple plugin or two. Using an email newsletter plugin on your WordPress site means you don’t have to rely on third party providers – you have full control over the process.
Advantages of a self-hosted email newsletter manager
- No monthly membership fees – once you’ve installed a email newsletter plugin, you don’t need to pay any recurring costs to run your campaigns.
- Send branded emails that look like they’re straight from your own business (this feature is only available on more expensive plans with most email manager platforms).
- Collect subscribers on your WordPress site and manage your campaign from inside your dashboard. All your email admin is grouped together inside WordPress.
Our e-Newsletter plugin from WPMU dev lets you run professional email campaigns entirely within your own WordPress installation.
#5: Create a wiki engine with WordPress
A wiki is a vital tool for sharing information and resources within a business. Not so long ago, setting up your own wiki meant installing software like Wikimedia or Twiki, and then learning how to configure and use it. These days, you can do the whole thing on WordPress with far less hassle.
If you’re already familiar with WordPress, you really don’t need to learn another piece of software to create an editable, multi-user knowledge base. There are numerous plugins that can integrate a fully functional wiki into your WordPress installation, either on its own or alongside your main site/blog.
Tell us your experiences
Have you used any of the WordPress plugins mentioned in this article? Can you make a comparison between WordPress-based tools and their third party equivalent? We’re interested in hearing feedback from people who rely on WordPress to run their business.
Feature pic CC-licensed to Enrique Burgos.