1. Create a Static Web Site
I’m amazed sometimes when people don’t understand why I would want to create a static web site using WordPress. There are 3 reasons this is the best solution I can think of:
- Sheer speed of Setup
- Plugins and Themes
- Future Growth
I can setup an entire WordPress web site including database and initial setup options in about 10 minutes. I can customize it very quickly with a theme. I can add a very detailed contact form in about 5 minutes with a simple plugin. With another plugin I can generate an XML sitemap to register with the 3 major search engines. To do the same with static HTML (even Dreamweaver) would take soooo much longer, and would require extra scripts for a contact form and XML sitemap.
2. Build a Directory
Web Directories are old school Internet! A Directory is just a listing of sites, categorized in some way. There are blog directories, business directories, web design directories – just about any niche you can think of is available. To this day people still like directories because unlike a search engine (with millions of results), a good directory usually has great sites categorized by exactly the topic you’re looking for. From a web site owner point of view, directories are usually viewed as a great way to build links, traffic, and authority for your site.
Most web directories are built on some custom PHP script developed specifically for that purpose. Many directories I’ve seen had a script running the main web site, and then WordPress installed in a sub-folder running a blog. You don’t need to do that, because you can actually easlily build your own directory right in WordPress.
3. Start a Classifieds Site
Maybe you’d like to start a classifieds site for your group, organization, commnity, or business. The coder of the open directory links plugin also makes a WP Classifieds WordPress Plugin!
It’s fully featured with post dates and view counts, and a fully featured submit form. Users can add contact information an image, and they have an wysiwig editor for ads! Users don’t have to create an account at all to submit ads, spam is controlled by captcha, and all category pages gave RSS links available for visitors.
4. Create an Article Repository
Maybe you’ve seen all those great article repositories online and thought it would be a great idea for a site of your own! It’s a great way to get free content and traffic, and there are lots of scripts and programs out there that make setting one up a breeze! With these plugins you can create your own article directory right in WordPress, and use all the normal WP features and functions available!
5. Make an Image Gallery
Are you a photographer? Are you the “tech guy” of your family tree? Are you in charge of the web site for a local group or organization? Having a baby or wedding? I can’t believe the amount of times I got an email with a link to somebody’s Yahoo account for pictures to a corporate event or small business picnic. I can’t count the number of photographers paying big amounts for online photo managers when there are free tools that would allow them to manage photos within their own web site. There are incredible free plugins available for WordPress for showcasing and displaying images.
NextGen Gallery is the end-all be-all of plugins for photo management in WordPress.
Some of it’s abilites are random pics in the sidebar:
It has the ability to manage hundreds and thousands of pictures in sortable and categorizable galleries. You can upload an entire zip file with pictures for inclusion, and it boasts a fully integrated flash slideshow.
6. Build a Review Site
Another great idea is to build a “Review Site” in WordPress. Let’s face it, the bulk of the blogs online are talking about something and giving an opinion (review). There are many sites that review products and services, and there are countless ways of displaying them. I had said that all 10 of my ideas in this article would be alternatives to blogging, but reviews can be done in pages, but also in running blog fashion with individual posts. It just depends on how you decide to setup your site and which plugins you decide to utilize.
One way to do this is with the Review Box plugin. By using a simple shortcode, you can add a “review box” to any page or post in which you can summarize up pros, cons, and then set a percentage rating:
7. Start a Discussion Forum
A discussion forum is probably one of the greatest sources of content you could ever ask for! It’s the epitomy of give and take online, usually people asking for help, and experts answering questions to give their expertise (and signature links) greater exposure.
There are countless hacks and plugins for integrating a “stand-alone” forum or bulletin boards into WordPress, but most people I’ve talked to don’t know that you can can actually create an entire forum inside WordPress itself!
I hope I don’t catch a lot of flak for this one, because WordPress aggregation is probably the single most abused feature available. It’s true, there are so many autoblogging plugins available it’s not funny – plugins that sploggers and spammers use to create sites with automatic content hoping to get indexed in search engines and make money for free on autopilot.
Aggregation can be used for good, and I don’t see that many web sites using it that way anymore. RSS feeds are available for readers to subscribe to your content. They are also available to keep track of the most recent updates, and you can aggregate the titles, links, and short excerpts of these updates on your web site for your readers (or even just for you). In addition, there are RSS feed available for things besides blogs you may not have even thought about, AND there are some plugins that provide aggregation without RSS at all – maybe they use an API!
9. Membership site
There are bunches of reasons you might want to have a closed “members only” web site. Maybe you need something only your family can access, or a private site for your business or club. Maybe you want to sell access to content, and you need part (or all) of your site walled off from public view.
Memberwing is a WordPress plugin that allows you to setup a membership site. Like many plugins there’s a free and a “pro” version. While the paid versions have all kinds of bells and whistles, the free version does exactly what most people would need, by using special tags it separates “teasers” from premium (paid) content. In this example you can see how content is hidden and users have options to either login or “become a member”.
10. eCommerce Site (online store)
There are plugins that allow you to simple sell single items using PayPal, that’s exactly why the ArtPal Plugin was developed (to sell art). You create a post with a few custom fields and voila! you’re selling art! You could of course use this plugin to sell just about anything using paypal, it doesn’t have to be art.
Maybe your blog accepts donations, or you have a very simple service that you charge for. For that I suggest the Easy Paypal Payment or Donation Accept Plugin:
If you want a solution even simpler than that – I offer you the Paypal Shortcodes Plugin. It doesn’t even have an admin interface – once enabled it allows you to add paypal buttons automatically in posts by using simple WP shortcodes:
You could use Fat Free Cart if you want a bone simple actual shopping cart – but you still want to sell on your blog and accept payments through paypal or google checkout. This plugin is very similar to ArtPal.
There are several plugins that go well beyond the “basics” of selling something through paypal. The eShop Plugin is packed with features such as several payment options, automatic email on successful purchase, multiple options for products, stats, and various shipping options. It seems quite mature, and there are many example stores to view.
By far the most popular though seems to be the eCommerce Plugin for WordPress. It boasts social networking hooks, payment options like paypal, google checkout, Authorize.net and more. It has one page checkout, and lots of documentation and community support. I have to admit, the example sites that use the eCommerce plugin look nearly identical to any of the big box retailers online storefronts: