Advent of the Insurgent Creative, Day 22 – WordPress

The internet is the “killer app” that enables the Insurgent Creative life — it levels the playing field by offering audience aggregation, tools for production, distribution and more. As I’ve stated a number of times during this series, the best way for a creative to make a living is to get their products out to as many high-traffic platforms as possible. Even with this wide presence, though, it is best for you to have a single central site for your efforts. Your website can serve as a secondary sales source (behind the market-leading sites), an informational source for news and updates, and the center for your marketing efforts, by offering a single location to which you can direct customers. With hosting as cheaply available as it is today, the only remaining hurdle for the Insurgent Creative is the design of the site itself. If you have coding skills in HTML, CSS, Javascript, etc., you can take care of the nuts-and-bolts of this yourself. If you don’t (or even if you do, but prefer to rely on an open-source framework that you can then customize), your best option for content management is, in my opinion, WordPress.

WordPress is a PHP and MySQL-powered platform, free for download, using customizable template system and plug-in architecture. It currently is the most popular content management system on the internet, with a huge user base, and a vibrant community producing add-ons, plug-ins and templates that can meet any need you might have. This blog is run on WordPress, as are all of my sites (Adamant Entertainment and the Far West website, for example).

There are themes available for every conceivable site use, from magazine-style websites to artist’s portfolios. Many of these are freely available, although, to be honest, I tend to use premium professional themes, because they usually are more robustly tested, more stable, continually updated to reflect the latest iteration of the WordPress software, and offer support as part of their purchase price. My favorite premium theme company is Viva Themes, who charge $45 per theme. This blog is built from their Method theme, Far West is customized from the Amantina theme, and Adamant’s site was built around Republica. I’ve found their coding to be easily understood and adaptable, and the support forums covered any questions I have had.

There are plug-ins for a nearly countless variety of functions available for WordPress, and again, some are free and some are premium. One of the more important tools you should look into is some sort of eCommerce platform, allowing you to run a webstore on your site. Even though most of your sales will most likely occur via the market-leading site in your particular niche (Amazon if you’re writing books, for example), it’s always a good idea to be able to sell through your own site as well (not the least of which is because you earn a greater percentage of the sale price).

The eCommerce plug-in that I use (currently on Adamant’s webstore, and coming soon to the FAR WEST site as well) is Cart66. Cart66 costs $89 per year for a single-site license, integrates with most payment processors, and enables the selling of everything from digitally-delivered product to physical products and services. Here’s an overview of how it works:

Cart66 Overview from Lee Blue on Vimeo.

There are more ways to adapt WordPress than I could possible cover in a single blog entry — in fact, there are dozens of books that have been written about it, with more coming every month. I’m sure that some of you reading this have recommendations for really useful plug-ins, great themes and more — and I invite you to add them via the comments below.

3 Replies to “Advent of the Insurgent Creative, Day 22 – WordPress”

  1. Do you know of a cheaper/free shopping cart plugin option? I used to be a lot more on the up-and-up about WP plugins but it’s been a few years since I wanted to do a shopping cart on my own site.

  2. There are other options, of course (including just using Amazon Payments or Paypal buttons in HTML on a standard WordPress page), but I tend to err on the side of premium stuff, because the adage of “you get what you pay for” holds pretty true — and I especially don’t want to mess around with something as important as e-commerce.

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