Many of you use WordPress.com as a platform for your personal blogs, but it can also be your online home for your business. We have tools and features to help you establish a professional web presence, and support when you have questions.
Meet Erica Varlese, Happiness Engineer and Support Lead for WordPress.com Business. Erica is a New York-based writer, customer service maven, dog lover, and espresso fiend. Since 2011, she’s helped nearly thirty thousand WordPress.com users via email, forums, live chat, and in-person at conferences and WordCamps. We asked Erica for her tips on using WordPress.com for business, getting the support you need, and dos and don’ts.
What advice would you give someone who wants to use WordPress.com to create a site for their business?
For many businesses, the focus is on building a standard website, not a blog. WordPress.com is great for blogging, and flexible enough to use for your website as well. Want to make a website for your business? Some key steps to take:
Use pages, not posts.
WordPress.com has two different content types: pages and posts. For bloggers, the post reigns supreme! But for those creating a website, a page allows you to create static content. It’s not uncommon for new users to create an About post, only to realize later they wanted to make an About page. So, publish pages about essential information — your location, hours, services, etc. — to create the structure you need for a standard website.
Create a static home page.
Your WordPress.com site displays your posts page (a list of your recent posts) by default. When creating a website, you probably want to reserve your home page as a welcome page, so visitors can learn more about your company. To set up a static front page, create a new page and then select it as your home page via your Reading Settings.
Don’t dismiss adding a blog.
For new businesses, it may seem like a blog is unnecessary. But you can set up a “News” or “Blog” page separate from your home page (in your Reading Settings) and display fresh, updated content.
You can connect with your customers on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, and more by activating Publicize in Settings >> Sharing.
Tell us about the live chat support option for WordPress.com Business customers.
With WordPress.com Business, users can get in touch via forums and direct email support, but also through a live chat service with Happiness Engineers, available on weekdays from 9 am to 5 pm EST. So, let’s say you’re trying to upload a header image, but you keep getting an error. You can click on the chat box, and we’ll work through it with you in real time. Together, we can solve a problem in a few minutes.
Our team is small — there are eleven — and we see the same users and have gotten to know them. It’s great to chat with folks and watch their sites come along.
So you are looking for support…
You live chat with many WP.com Business users each day. Do you have advice to give to these users, before they seek help, to ensure they get the best support they need?
If you’re starting out with WordPress.com, explore the Support pages and Learn WordPress.com first to get familiar and find answers to basic questions. This way, in live chat, you can better explain your issue. Many of the suggestions for emailing support hold true for live chat. If you run into a specific problem, have examples handy to share with your Happiness Engineer. Let us know which browsers you’ve checked your site in if you’re having layout issues.
What insider tips for choosing a theme can you offer small business owners?
For WordPress.com Business users, the go-to place for themes is the Theme Showcase, and at no extra cost, you can choose from any of our premium themes. (If you buy a premium theme from another website, it’s not possible to upload it to your WordPress.com Business site.) But if there’s a theme you really like, check our showcase to see if we offer it — or suggest it to us.
Business site examples? We have some!
Priced at $299/year, WordPress.com Business might be pricey for some budgets. What advice do you have for the frugal business owner who wants a basic site?
- Almost all of the upgrades and features included in WordPress.com Business can be bought separately — like Custom Design — with the exception of live chat and unlimited premium themes. If it’s outside of your budget, start with one of our free themes that has a customizable header and widget area.
- If you start with a theme that supports a custom header and widgets, take advantage of photo editing services like PicMonkey to create your own header. Adding images to your sidebar using Image Widgets can spruce up your site, too. (Customization is possible without the Custom Design upgrade).
- For business, a must-have upgrade is a custom domain. It professionalizes your site and is yours as long as you continue to renew it. Business owners spend a lot of effort branding their company, so make sure you’re the one and only owner of prettypooches.com or delectablecakes.com before someone else registers the domain.
Thanks, Erica, for chatting with us! Not sure about WordPress.com Business? Try it out for 30 days. If you’re not satisfied, we’ll refund your money. (Note that for the domain registration-related portion of the upgrade, the refund window is 48 hours.)
And as always, you can consult our Support site or ask questions in the forums, where you can get answers from the community.