Building your own website can be very rewarding, it’s extremely economical, and with a little luck and attention, it can even be fun. The following information is tailored to an attorney who is considering switching from FindLaw or Lawyers.com to WordPress, but most of it should apply to any small business or new website.
If you want to learn more about building a website, take a look at my site over at www.wordpress-start.com. It’s still pretty rough around the edges, but it gives some good information about the actual set up process. There is both a video and a step by step walk-through.
If you're looking to get your website from a provider like FindLaw, Lawyers.com or YellowPages.com over to WordPress and do it yourself, there is a LOT of upside:
Getting Easier All The Time
Just a few years ago, if you wanted to do a full WordPress install, you had to download the entire thing in a zip file and then FTP it up to a hosting place, connect a database, edit files…. I am telling you, not fun stuff, and not accessible to beginners in any way. That has all changed; Now most hosting companies offer a WordPress install that puts you (potentially anyhow) in the drivers seat of your new WordPress site in about five minutes.
As a person who earns his income by building websites, there’s part of me that’s terrified by just how inexpensive this can all be. If you sign up with BlueHost you’re entire website can cost as little as $4 or $5 a month if you commit for three years. More realistically, plan on spending about $75 up front for the first year, about $6 a month.
While it's very cost effective, there are some drawbacks of building your own law firm website.
You’ve Probably Never Done it Before
When people ask “why can’t I do my own divorce?” or “should I represent myself for this DWI?” the answer is no for all sorts of reasons, but I'd argue the primary reason is experience. What you really get when you hire a lawyer is someone who has done it before. Intimate with the process, understanding the nuance, knowing what to expect and how to handle tiny mishaps should they arise. It’s not like the filling out forms or being able to tie a tie is worth $250 an hour. It's the experience and know-how.
Same deal here. You CAN get that default template set up within minutes, but then what? I’m sure you’ve heard “WordPress is EASY!!”, and that’s true in the same sense that Water-skiing is easy….to people who have done it before and are already good at it. Watch anyone water-ski for the first time… that’s pretty much what you’re gonna look like. Well, I mean, you’re not going to actually get wet, or probably even be wearing a bathing suit, but that “I’m leaning forward too much and feel like this might all be a little bit out of control and I’m not sure what to do about it” part, well, that part is there.
Oh the Vernacular
I’ve been working on websites in many forms for well over 10 years now, and it never ceases to amaze me what a ridiculous set of jargon and vernacular is set up around the web. I’ve always thought it was sort of a “nerd revenge” where they’re sort of mad about not being invited to the party or whatever, so they’re home on Friday concocting a scheme where people have to say “Repoint the A-record to the new IP address and we'll wait for it to propagate” with a straight face. Well, WordPress is honestly worse. At it’s core, it’s really just about posts, pages, plug-ins, widgets, menus and themes. If you understand those words, and already know what they mean in the context of WordPress, you’ll probably do very well. If that sounds like mumbo-jumbo to you, well, you’re gonna need to read up a bit.
It's hard to say for sure, but if you want to take peak at what it looks like, this is a good place to start. That link will take you to a page where there is a video that I made as well as step by step instructions on how to set up hosting for WordPress on BlueHost.
For more information about starting your own website or blog on WordPress, click here. To return to the main page that describes the four options for setting up a site, click here. You can email, text or call me with any questions.