WordPress is one of the best CMS used by millions of people around the world. For a matter of fact – it powers more than 26% of the top 10 million websites. WordPress is seen as a Blogging Platform. However, it is much more flexible and can be used in other ways like Forum, eCommerce site, membership site, job site, aggregator site, social network and much more.
In this article, we will list some of these unconventional ways in which you can use WordPress.
If you have a product or service, starting a forum allows your customers to ask their questions. Not only that, if someone is facing the same problem, he/she may search for similar threads and get their problem solved. Thus, they don’t have to ask you the same question again.
The bbPress forum plugin allows you to start a forum on your WordPress website. It allows the forum members to start new threads or discussions and can comment on existing threads.
2. Social Network
Can WordPress be used to create a social networking site like Facebook?
The answer is YES.
Using the BuddyPress plugin, you can start a niche community, networking site for professionals, student community and more.
It comes with features member profiles, messaging, notifications, groups, activity streams, and everything that one can expect from a social networking site. You can also integrate BuddyPress with the bbPress plugin to enhance its functionality.
3. Microblogging (Twitter Style Website)
Yes, you can start a microblogging site like Twitter using WordPress. How?
Ever heard of Prologue? Some years back, the company behind WordPress (Automattic) recreated WordPress to work as a Twitter clone. It got named Prologue and was available as a theme.
Presently, they launched a GPL theme with the name P2, which is available on WordPress.com and WordPress.org for free. Also, some P2 based themes like O2 etc takes your microblogging website to another level.
These themes turn the CMS into bare minimum necessities in outward appearance and offer front-end users to submit their mini blog posts. Based on permissions, you can run the site as a private network or open it to the public.
4. Aggregator Site
What is an aggregator website? Well, it is a website which shows some specific type of information from various sources. So do you want to start an aggregator site like Alltop? Don’t worry you can do that with the help of WordPress.
You can easily create such a site using a plugin called WP RSS Aggregator plugin. The basic plugin is available free in the WordPress.org Plugin Directory. You can also use premium add-ons to increase the functionality of your website.
Once you install the plugin, just get the feed URLs of the sources and add them to the plugin. That’s it. Now use the generated shortcode on any page or post, and it will show the aggregated content on your website. Easy, isn’t it?
5. Job Board
You can convert the WordPress CMS into a job listing site with the help of some plugins or job board themes. There is WP Job Manager to add, manage and categorize job listings. Create front-end forms for registered and unregistered users to submit and manage job listing.
There is the feature to add a URL or an email for job seekers to apply. Create accounts for employers to list jobs, edit, view applications and delete active job listings.
Similar plugins include Simple Job Board and Greenhouse Job Board. Through these plugins, a WordPress site can be turned into an active job listing site. These sites can be monetized through employer and employee memberships.
6. Review Site
The WordPress CMS can be useful to create an in-depth review site, useful for affiliate earning purposes. While a custom coded script is usable, plugins exist in the WordPress repository to make the work easier.
WP Review plugin from MyThemeShop has functionalities using which you can create a review site. Not only that, it includes review schema as well.
Schema is necessary for better SERP. The plugin works with Google-friendly formats and links to the Google structured data testing tool for perfect display. Users can also embed YouTube videos and create galleries in the review.
7. Invoicing & Billing
You can also turn the WordPress CMS installation into an inbuilt roster for clients and invoice. The option is perfect for SEO consultants, freelancers, and contractors.
There is the WP Invoice plugin to keep track of clients from the WP user database section. After an invoice is generated, the client receives an email with a description and a unique link to view and pay the invoice. All paid and unpaid invoices are on display at the dashboard.
Similarly, there is Sprout Invoices to create customized invoices and event client estimations. There is a full customization payment management option, along with client management and multi-currency support. It syncs with software like Harvest and Fresh Books and also offers tax options.
With both the plugins, a client can clear invoice through PayPal, check, Stripe, 2Checkout, Authorize.net and other gateways, available via their Paid options.
8. Membership Sites
Internet Marketers sell products through membership sites, and WordPress CMS is a good option to create such membership sites. Matthew Woodward offers a detailed tutorial on how to create a membership site for a 6-figure income. There are a lot of membership plugins in the repository, fulfilling various purposes.
There is Paid Memberships Pro which is a complete suite of membership site tools. It enables the user to create multi-level membership options and offers the most popular payment gateways. There are 42+ add-ons, compatible with all WordPress themes and it is 100% GPL friendly. Another option is the Restrict Content Pro from Pippins Plugins.
If content dripping is essential, try Exchange and Member Press. Content dripping is a strategy to share content scheduled over a period. It is a common feature in high authority membership sites. Here is an interesting article on creating and running the first membership site on Copyblogger.
9. Business Directory
They are a resource for the Internet world. A localized business directory helps people get information about certain businesses. Further, the business directory creator can earn a decent income offering paid business listing.
Check out the Business Directory plugin to create a Yelp-like review directory or a directory similar to Yellow Pages. A widely installed versatile plugin, it allows acceptance of payments (one-time and recurring), allows featured sticky listing, creates multiple fee plans, downloads CSV files, support reCAPTCHA, implements Yoast SEO, display business location, offers ZIP-based radius searches and more. It’s a complete suite of services required to create a business directory site.
There is the Connections Business Directory to create a simple address book, maintain staff roster or a staff directory, and it is compatible with all interfaces. The Dashboard offers a quick glance of birthdays, current and upcoming anniversaries and more. The list is viewable regarding categories like family, individual and organization. There is full control over public and private listings. Data is downloadable in CSV format, and it comes with strong SEO customization.
Built for local publishers, the Broad Street plugin publicizes itself as the “first practical and portable business directory for WordPress”. Apart from the essentials of a business directory, this plugin allows a business to post messages on their official directory profile via Facebook, Twitter or a simple text message.
10. eCommerce Website
After blogging, eCommerce is perhaps the most common application given the availability of multiple high-end themes and plugins. However, it features here as an “unconventional” entry due to the indecisiveness experienced by new and existing eCommerce sellers to trust the CMS as a double platform. Instead, preference tilts towards creating an eCommerce site from scratch. While that’s perfectly alright, let’s see today how the WordPress CMS is equally suited to create awesome eCommerce sites.
Let’s begin with WooCommerce plugin, arguably the world’s favorite eCommerce solution for developers and store owners. With both free and paid option, the plugin offers endless flexibility and powers 30% of all online stores. Sell both physical and digital goods with multiple configurations, instant download options, and even affiliate goods. The paid version offers recurring subscription, bookings, and membership options. With more than 140 region-specific gateway integration, WooCommerce is the best eCommerce option out there for WordPress.
This is followed by Easy Digital Downloads, preferable for selling digital goods and WP eCommerce to sell goods anywhere and anytime. These plugins and integrations like Shopify completely overhaul the WordPress CMS and turn it into an eCommerce store with all the necessary features. With a quick support system, these services are user-friendly and scalable.
This is an example of an eCommerce site built with the paid WP eCommerce plugin. WordPress for eCommerce offers tons of benefits and customization without creating a single line of code, and it’s better suited to the budget.
WordPress can become a podcast channel. A new disruption, podcasts change the way audiences interact with a website. The Blubrry PowerPress Podcasting plugin is the #1 plugin on podcasting, with benefits like advanced SEO settings, audio/video options, multiple modules, iTunes and Google Play support and syncing with other podcasting applications. Create a subscribe page with Shortcodes and import your podcast from other channels like Squarespace, LibSyn, PodBean, and SoundCloud.
There is the Seriously Simple Podcasting plugin which uses the native WordPress interface and offers minimal settings. From the Dashboard, see podcast stats, publish podcast quickly, use any post type for publishing, robust RSS feed configures with Google Play, iTunes, and Stitcher and more makes this a good option for beginner podcasters. A list of other plugin options is available here.
WordPress is truly a versatile CMS platform. Not only blogging, but it is also customizable to suit any online publication needs.
Did I miss anything? Share any unconventional use of WordPress in the comment section.