If you missed this ReadyTalk webinar the other day, you can catch a recorded version here. We had special guest Don Campbell, one of the world's pre-eminent experts on the WordPress platform and President of Expand2Web. In short, if you have no money, no resources, and no technical skills– no problem! You can get an easy to use site for free– just pay a few bucks a month to have it hosted somewhere. Let's go over some of the key takeaways from the webinar, plus answer a few common questions we received:
- Isn't WordPress just blogging software? While that's what it's most commonly used for, WordPress can be your non-profit community, a video gallery, a shopping cart, a news publication, or anything in-between. There are modules called plug-ins that you can add to your site to perform nearly any function you can think of. With a community of tens of thousands of developers and millions of sites on WordPress, it's likely you'll find what you need. There are also thousands of free themes, which are pre-made templates– some you can pay for, too.
- How is this free? The open source software movement is about software that is designed by a community versus a corporation. This volunteer effort has built Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP, and most of the technology that powers the Internet and the largest sites on the Internet. While you don't have a support contact, you can ask questions in the forums and get help from thousands of others. Odds are that you'll not need to do this, since you'll probably be able to get what you want without needing a programmer.
- Is it safe? Like any software, there are always security concerns. Our advice is to keep your version up-to-date, so that you have the latest security patches. Do this and you're unlikely to have any issues. Your bigger concern will likely be spammers who will leave fake comments on your site– a nuisance, but one you can filter out, just like via your spam guard in your email.
- But I'm not technical. No worries– if you can use a web-based email tool, you can update your website without a hassle. This software is designed for ordinary people to use. But if you are a programmer or know one, there certainly are things that you can tweak.
- What's the catch of free WordPress versus a site that would cost me $100k? That site which costs you $100k probably has time built in for design labor, project management, custom engineering to integrate different databases, and so forth. Thus, if you don't have a lot of money, hunt for one of thousands of free themes, so that you can either get by with no labor cost or can hire someone for $100 to customize something you already like that is close. A proprietary expensive platform is not "better" or safer– what you're paying for is labor.
- What's the offer of the free theme I've heard about? BlitzLocal is offering a free WordPress theme designed specifically for non-profits, as a courtesy to attendees of the ReadyTalk Non-Profit Webinar series. There is no catch. The theme is free– but you will need to find a hosting company for between $5 and $20 a month. And if you want customization, you will have to pay someone to do it, whether BlitzLocal, a friend, or a freelancer on a job board.
Stay tuned for the next two webinars in the Non-Profit Series on Google Grants (featuring representatives from Google and NTEN) and then on Facebook (with special guest Jon Fougner of Facebook).