WordPress is free software that you can use to create a website. In this post, I’ll be discussing WordPress self hosted (not wordpress.com, the hosted option).
Leaving Myths and Mysteries Behind
I can argue that WordPress is too difficult, too expensive, and too much work. But I can also just as easily argue the opposite, that it’s super easy, cheap, and not much work at all.
In this post, I’m going to do neither. I’m going to try and give you a simple overview of what to expect when you are building or owning a WordPress site. It could be that you are looking into setting up your own WP site or it could be that you are having a designer or developer set one up for you and will then be responsible for it’s care.
My bias is that I think WordPress is awesome. But after years of working with WordPress and those that use WordPress, I know that the best way forward for anyone looking for a website solution is a way forward that is informed. It’s good to be aware of what WordPress really entails and leave the myths and mysteries behind.
WordPress May Or May Not Be Difficult
A common complaint about WordPress from therapists is that it is too difficult to use. It’s true that WordPress is not a snap-your-fingers-and-voila type of solution.
There are a number of factors that will influence if WordPress is difficult or easy for you to get up and running and use:
- Your personality type – if you’re trying to DIY, personality types that are curious, ok with making mistakes, and excited by tech puzzles will be good matches for WordPress
- Your interest level in learning WordPress – some people love reading the WordPress codex at 3am or posting questions and implementing answers they get in the WordPress forums. It’s exciting to them! But for other people, maybe not so much.
- Your tech comfort level – those that are more comfortable with technology will be able to pick up parts of building or managing a WordPress site via intuition while those more tech adverse may have to learn things.
- Your experience with making websites – if you already have experience making websites either the design part, the code part, or even with a site builder, you may have an advantage moving towards WordPress because you’ll be familiar with design and website administration concepts that you can reference in a WordPress site.
- Your needed outcome – if you need a website that has a lot of integrations with other apps, a membership site, ecommerce, or other advanced functionalities, it will be more difficult to put together or maintain than a simple brochure website.
There are so many factors that can influence if WordPress will be “difficult” that it’s impossible to bunch everyone up into one group and say, WordPress is difficult for everyone and for every project. It’s highly individual if WordPress will feel easy or difficult.
Some therapists can be completely new to WordPress and build a simple site in a few hours while others might struggle for weeks or months.
A WordPress Website Needs Many Skills (But You Don’t Have To Have Them All)
From that group of therapists that believe that WordPress is difficult, you’ll often hear them say exactly that, “WordPress websites are difficult” but forget to specify what exactly about WordPress websites is difficult for them?
There is a long list of skills needed for creating a therapy website and when you move forward with WordPress, you will also add WordPress skills to that list.
So if you are approaching having a WordPress-driven website, consider these skills that are needed for a website and one running WordPress:
- Hosting and domains
- Installing and setting up plugins and themes
- Maintenance and Security
- Writing Content and Blog Posts
- Graphic Design
Some of the skills needed are common to any website like writing content and doing SEO, but some of it is specific to WordPress, like ability to install a theme or run your updates and backups.
The good news is because WordPress is so highly loved and used, it’s easy to find help for those parts of setting up or maintaining a WordPress site that are difficult, advanced, or not interesting for you.
Just because the skills are needed doesn’t mean you have to be the one to have all of them. Similar to how most therapists don’t learn how to construct a building in order to have an office, you don’t need to learn how to set up your own server to have a website.
WordPress is Budget Friendly, For Some People
There are myths in both directions when it comes to the cost of having a WordPress site. Some argue that it’s very expensive because of all the software and services you have to purchase to get it to look and function it’s best.
Others argue that it’s very cheap because all you really need is hosting and a domain and you’re good to go.
Again, some of this will depend on you. What skills do you have? How much DIY will you be able to do?
The more DIY you do, the more budget-friendly it will be but…
- How much DIY are you going to do?
- How much do you want to do?
- How much do you have time to do?
The Actual Costs Of WordPress Website
WordPress software itself is free!
Additionally, there are a lot of awesome and completely free plugins and themes. Themes help your WordPress website look good and plugins can add functionality and features. Most small solo private practice therapy websites don’t need premium plugins or themes and can use only free stuff.
The cost then in the case of using free WordPress software, free themes, and free plugins is only the website hosting and website domain.
If you do have a budget and a need for them, there are also hundreds of premium themes and plugins.
Here’s a breakdown of the lowest possible costs WordPress
- Hosting $60/year
- Domain $14/year
- WordPress Software $0
- Themes $0
- Plugins $0
Total minimum: $74/year + DIY hours
The Most Expensive Part of WordPress is Hiring Help
If you want someone else to install WordPress for you, if you want someone to design a custom theme just for you, if you want someone to load up your blog posts for the month and format them, if you want someone else to take backups, you will have to pay them for that.
Depending on you, you may be able to do much of this yourself or even enthusiastically want to. (Any control freaks in the house?). But if you have a budget for hiring help, it’s out there and plentiful for any WordPress task you can imagine.
Maintenance is Minimal, But it Still Needs Getting Done
WordPress really doesn’t take much to maintain but that doesn’t mean that you can just set up your WordPress site and then completely forget about it.
The absolute minimum maintenance you’ll need to do are things that are also central to security: running updates and taking backups.
And don’t forget – you will also need to maintain the home and address of your WordPress site: the hosting and domain. WordPress can’t help you if your domain registration expires or your hosting company gets closed down.
These pieces need to be maintained but with most good hosting and domain providers, you’ll get automated emails to let you know when your domain is expiring or you need to renew your hosting (or if you’ll have downtime due to maintenance on the server).
WordPress is Worth It!
Is WordPress a solution for everyone? Yes! It’s the best website solution out there for scaling your practice marketing due to it’s flexibility.
That said, there is no doubt about it, there can be a lot to learn.
The good news is if you anticipate there will be stuff to learn, no matter who you are or what your skills are, you will be able to proceed with your WordPress website with the clarity that will reduce frustration.
People who go into website creation with the expectation that everything is super easy and very quick are the ones that get frustrated. Knowing there will be bumps in the road make for more conscious driving.
Your website is your most central online marketing asset. If you clear some time and space for the awesome task of creating and caring for it, you’ll do excellently!
About Kat Love
Kat Love, founder of www.empathysites.com and www.katlove.com , builds and designs websites to help psychotherapists grow their practice’s online presence. Kat’s appreciation of therapists stems from the powerful healing that therapists helped them achieve following childhood sexual abuse and neglect.