5 Innovative Uses of WordPress for Business Owners

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.

WordPress Themes and Plugins for Running a Business
You can use WordPress themes and plugins to simplify your business admin

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

Send and Manage Invoices in WordPress

A lot of freelancers use web-based billing platforms like Freshbooks or Zoho to manage their finances. There are even some really old-fashioned folk out there who still use Excel spreadsheets.

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.

Suggested resources

WP-Invoice is one of the most commonly used plugins for this kind of application. You could also check out Web Invoice. Both plugins are free.

#2: Turn your WordPress site into a customized job board

Turn Your WordPress Site into a 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.

Suggested resources

WPJobBoard is a premium plugin that works with all WordPress themes. It’s a little on the pricey side, however. For a free alternative you could check out Job Manager.

#3: Use WordPress as a CRM

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.

Suggested resources

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

Run 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.

Suggested resources

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

Create a Wiki on Your WordPress Site

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.

Suggested resources

Wiki Pro is WPMU’s flagship plugin for adding a fully-featured wiki to your WordPress site. If you have more modest requirements, the free version Wiki Lite is also available.

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.

Tags

Comments (28)

    • Hi Vance,

      Thanks for the info. It looks like WordPress-based invoicing systems could be the next big trend for freelancers. I’m currently paying $20/month to use Freshbooks, but seriously considering making the switch after researching this article.

      Cheers
      Tim

  1. Let me preface my comment by saying I love WordPress. It’s done more for my career than my degree. But I have to disagree with using WordPress for some of the examples above.

    For example, it’s a good idea to use WordPress to manage and send your newsletter, but pretty soon your web host will suspend your hosting account for exceeding their email send limit.

    I think it’s important to use the right tool for the job, and if your only tool is a hammer everything looks like a nail. WordPress is great for lots of sites, but I think pushing the envelop too far may cause problems or upgrading headaches..

    • Hi David,

      Good point about the email limit – you need to make sure that your web host will accommodate the volume of emails that you’re sending. A hosting plan upgrade could be necessary for someone who’s running a serious email newsletter campaign.

      Cheers
      Tim

  2. Im a big fan of WP Invoice. Im a small business and do work for similar types of businesses. Whilst its not fully featured as some other software out there, it does do the job for our clients, and for me that is all that matters.

    • Hi Simon,

      Good to hear that a WordPress invoicing system is working well for you. Even if you don’t get quite as many features as with the hosted platforms like Freshbooks, for a lot of small business people the money saved is well worth it. Let’s hope we see some more development on the invoice plugin front soon!

      Cheers
      Tim

      • While it is nice to have options, I do want to point out that often with the lower fees of FreshBooks PayPal Business payment feature, if most of your clients are paying from a PayPal balance or e-check, you can easily make more money using FreshBooks than using a self-hosted invoicing system.

        If you are billing 1-3 clients at any amount, $700+/mo. up to 25 clients, or $1100+/mo. at any client level, FreshBooks and PayPal Business Payment could put more money in your pocket.

        So, you are not necessarily saving money by self-hosting. Plus, isn’t your time worth something too? =)

        I use FreshBooks and love it. So do my clients.

        • Hi Gerry,

          Thanks for the comment. I’m not quite sure what you mean when you say “you can easily make more money using FreshBooks than using a self-hosted invoicing system.”

          Care to elaborate on that?

          Cheers
          Tim

          • Keeping in mind that with a self-hosted invoicing system you don’t really pay anything at all, except your web hosting fees (which you were paying already if you have your own website).

          • If you are billing with your self-hosted invoice system via PayPal you are most likely using the Premiere or Business level, and therefore paying 2.9% to 3.9% plus $0.25 in fees for each invoice.

            Using FreshBooks and their PayPal Business Payments, you pay a flat $0.50 per invoice (provided it is paid for via PayPal balance or Bank Acct/e-Check.)

            FreshBooks is currently free for 1 to 3 clients, $19.95/mo for up to 25 clients or $29.95/mo for unlimited clients. If you are billing 1-3 clients at any amount, $700+/mo. up to 25 clients, or $1100+/mo. at any client level, FreshBooks and PayPal Business Payment could put more money in your pocket.

            Comparing what is actually collected (less PayPal fees and possibly FreshBooks fees) you could be making more money by using FreshBooks than a self-hosted invoice system.

  3. Hi everyone…
    In my case, i use WordPress for build social networks (with buddypress) for schools (is used for parents and teachers only). That is a good idea: publish information about your son/daughter while dad or mom work. Parents access to social network and know the child’s activities. In my area is a new trend! (Ecuador, small country lol).
    I’m seriously considering implement a Wiki… sounds great! Thanks for this post…

    • Hi Diego,

      Thanks for the comment, I’m glad you found the article useful. It sounds like what you’re running in Ecuador is similar to Edublogs.

      If you do a implement a Wiki on your WordPress site, we’d love to hear about the results.

      Good luck!
      Tim

    • Diego can you please explain shortly how and what plugin you used to create such solution ? as i am working towards creating a similar site.
      Thanks in advance.

Participate