How to Grow a WordPress Site: Run It Like a Business
When you think about the best way to manage your WordPress site, your first thought probably goes to the three S’s: security, speed, and SEO.
While these are essential parts of maintaining and managing the outward appearance of a WordPress site, there is a lot more you should be aware of behind the scenes in order to effectively manage your site. This goes for your own WordPress business’s site as well as the sites you build for clients.
In essence, the key to successfully managing a WordPress site is to tap into well-known business management best practices and then apply those same principles to your site. This way, you can use a more holistic approach that covers all aspects of the site and not just the internal mechanisms that ensure that it stays secure, fast, and optimized for search (though those still matter, too).
If you’d like to learn how to better manage your WordPress site, check out the following 10 tips.
10 Tips to Better Manage Your WordPress Site
When you approach the management of a WordPress site, think about it like this: you are not just a WordPress developer; you are a WordPress business owner. And, as a business owner, you should be concerned with hitting not just short-term, but long-term business goals. Performance and security will, of course, remain a part of that, but they’re not the only factors that matter to you now.
So, as a WordPress business owner managing your WordPress site (or the sites of your clients), here are 10 tips to help you keep better track of everything.
1. Set Goals
When you’re in the process of building a new WordPress site, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the immediate goals:
- Build a site that’s fast.
- Build a site that’s responsive.
- Build a site that won’t break under the slightest security threat or user error.
But there are long-term goals you need to think about as well. For instance:
- How many conversions will it take for you or your client to make a profit?
- How many visitors per day are needed in order to hit that conversion goal?
- Will this site need to scale at some point?
Take some time to think about what you envision for this website beyond just the aesthetics and performance. While a well-designed site is great, your client won’t be happy if it doesn’t do the job it was meant to do. If the site is not converting it will end up costing them even more money in the future to.
2. Use the Right Tools
What would you think if a plumber came to your house, but only had a hammer in your toolkit? You’d probably ask them to leave and go get the right tools to fix your leaky faucet. Your clients have the same expectations when it comes to their websites. They don’t want you using antiquated methodologies or tools. They want the best-of-the-best and they expect you to know how to use them.
Specifically, you should use:
- The right kind of hosting type and plan for the website (if you have a say in it).
- Only trusted WordPress themes and plugins.
- Wireframing, prototyping, storyboarding, and other tools that streamline the process and improve results.
- The latest web design trends and conversion generation techniques.
- Scalable solutions so it’s easy to update the site in the future.
These shouldn’t be the kinds of things you figure out on the job. They should be in place and part of your process before entering into any new project with a client. Your own website should make use of these best practices as well.
3. Monitor Costs
When you’re managing a business, there are certain matters you have to focus on like growing a steady and loyal base of customers and building a positive reputation for the brand. At the end of the day, though, if your business can’t turn a profit, all that well-intentioned work won’t matter. So it’s important to keep an eye on your WordPress site’s costs.
This includes things like:
- Web hosting plan and add-ons
- Premium WordPress theme
- Premium WordPress plugins
- WordPress design and development tools
- Managed WordPress services
- Other costs associated with client management, team coordination, etc.
This is important for two reasons. Firstly, by sticking to a budget, you can ensure you get more money coming in than you invested into the website. Secondly, having an understanding of the costs of building and maintaining a website helps you determine what the actual ROI is for the website which, in turn, helps you more accurately value your services in the future.
Establishing strict and well-organized processes doesn’t seem like much fun or like it’s conducive to creativity. Nevertheless, it’s what will enable you to free yourself from the burden of having to actively think about what your next activity or move needs to be. In doing so, you can be more agile and creative in your web development work.
In order to approach this with a business mindset, the key is to create set processes and schedules for everything you do, including:
- Finding clients
- Web development tasks
- Non-development tasks for your projects
- Business management tasks
In order to keep track of all the ways you organize your site and business, use checklists and documentation to take the guesswork out of it.
5. Stay Focused
It’s too easy to become distracted by a vibrating smartphone or a ping from a co-worker these days. If you’re hoping to hit your WordPress site’s goals and want to do so within the budget you’ve set, then you need to stay focused. Fortunately, there are a number of productivity apps that will help with this.
I’d also suggest minimizing distractions in the WordPress dashboard by decluttering (for you) or white labeling (for your client). It will keep your digital workspace clean and enable you to focus on the parts of WordPress that need your attention.
6. Empower Your Employees
When you first started out as a WordPress developer, you probably went into it with the mindset of “I’ll just do it myself”. However, as your WordPress business grew, your projects became larger, and you found yourself managing greater quantities of them simultaneously, you needed to hire help. This can get tricky in WordPress.
Much like how you want to protect clients from doing damage to their websites after you’ve handed them over, you want to protect your WordPress sites from your employees. Granted, I’m sure you’ve hired people that are qualified for the task at hand and whom you trust, but that doesn’t mean they should be given unfettered access to every WordPress site.
So, your goal here is to empower your employees to manage the tasks they’re responsible for (and that will in turn lighten your own load), but keep them on a short leash. You can do this by:
- Giving them a unique login to the WordPress site.
- Limit their access to the WordPress dashboard based on what they need to do.
- Track user activity within WordPress.
Remember: this isn’t about micro-management. You hired them to do a job and so you want to give them free reign to do that. However, mistakes on your WordPress sites can do serious damage to your business and so you have to control what these users are able to do when you’re not watching over them.
7. Automate Wherever You Can
In addition to outsourcing tasks to employees, automation within WordPress is an essential part of improving your workflow. There are a number of ways you can do this, each of which will save you time while also improving how your WordPress site runs in the process.
For example, you can automate:
- The settings for your WordPress site, including permalink structure, metadata rules, blog setup, email notifications, and more.
- The security and backup process with plugins.
- Performance and speed, even in the face of traffic surges.
- Uptime monitoring.
- Security, performance, and SEO monitoring.
- Core, plugin, and theme updates.
8. Optimize Thoroughly
Search engine optimization is becoming more complicated as new types of content are used on WordPress sites. If you want to do a better job of managing your WordPress site, you should account for these new types of SEO while staying attuned to changes in Google’s algorithm so your site always plays by its rules.
- Here are 20 SEO steps for optimizing your WordPress site.
- Here are 9 ways to optimize your images for search.
- And here are 10 ways to optimize your videos for search.
Of course, you shouldn’t stop there. Every quarter, you should reassess your site’s SEO and update accordingly.
9. Add New Content Regularly
A static, unchanged website is no good to you or your visitors. For one, if you don’t have something new to share (e.g. a new blog post, a new deal on your services, a new animation technique to apply to your home page), then why do you have a website? Websites are an extension of your business–an entity that you want to see grow and not stagnate.
If you’re concerned that your site isn’t the kind that needs new content, think again.
- Web developers and designers have portfolios that could always use new work examples.
- Blogs could benefit from at least one new post a month.
- Businesses should have a strategic schedule of promotions that run throughout the year, which means pop-ups and other promotional widgets need updating.
- E-commerce sites often have new inventory, price changes, and annual blowout sales–all of which require the site be updated in real time to reflect that.
- Customer attitudes are always changing when it comes to trendy designs or conversion techniques, so your site needs to adapt alongside them.
Be diligent about keeping your site updated with new content. And if you find that you’re fresh out of new ideas for ways to add new content, then spend some time A/B testing. You’re bound to discover something new and worthy of changing after watching how your visitors respond to different elements on your site.
10. Schedule Site Reviews
Finally, it’s important to conduct WordPress site reviews at regular intervals. This may seem repetitive of the point above, but this is more about examining your site’s progress towards the overarching goals you established upfront.
One thing every business owner is well-aware of is that you can’t just establish goals, set your business (or website) on the path towards those goals, and then forget about them. That path is constantly changing and different variables can come into play that forces you to re-envision the goals you had for your website in the first place.
You have to actively monitor your progress and adjust your strategy accordingly. That’s why having a Google Analytics plugin and automated reports from the tool are a real blessing for WordPress developers. They help you keep an eye on what’s happening with the site and enable you to make smarter, more proof-based decisions about what to do with it going forward.
Everything you do for a WordPress site should reflect highly on you as a WordPress developer. This means:
- You know how to build a website from start-to-finish without a client having to instruct or remind you on how to do your job.
- You should be well-versed in the latest trends and how to execute them.
- You understand what makes for good web design and have valid reasons (and maybe even research) ready to go if a client should argue against that point.
- You should know how to create a website within a reasonable timeframe and at a fair, but competitive cost.
- You’re knowledgeable in all things related to web development as well as your chosen industry niche.
The goal here is to be a master of your domain and, sometimes, actions speak louder than words when you want to demonstrate this. When it comes to managing your WordPress site (or your clients’ sites), this means going beyond the security/speed/SEO holy trinity. This means having a fail-proof system in place that ensures you view your site as a business that needs regular care and upkeep and not just a piece of software that needs occasional maintenance.