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One of the first things I did when I went full-time freelance about five years ago was get a website built. A good friend of mine who’s a website developer offered to build my site for a great price — actually for free! — so I said, “Sure, thanks!”

And the site was pretty good. It had all the essentials necessary for a freelancer’s website — about me, samples of work, some client testimonials and my contact info — and it looked professional enough. Whenever I talked to prospects, I would send them to DonSadlerWriter.com for more details on my background and to view samples, but beyond this, I didn’t think about the website too much.

Then a couple of years later I had my SEO “light bulb” moment and rewrote all my website copy for search engine optimization. In the process, I decided my website could probably use freshening up, so I hired another website developer to build a new site for me using WordPress.

The Far End of Non-Techie

At the time, I had heard of WordPress but I didn’t know much about it, other than it was a tool that enabled even non-techies to build their websites themselves. Well, I’m on the far end of the non-techie scale (and I don’t mean the good end), so I decided hiring an expert to build my site would be money well spent, even if I was “supposed” to be able to do it myself.

The result, I’m pleased to say, exceeded my expectations. Not only did my site look much more polished and professional, but between my SEO copywriting and my designer’s SEO expertise, I immediately ranked in the top five on Google for my optimized search terms — and now I’m usually #2, trailing only a freelance job site.

But that’s not all. My eyes were also opened to the wonderful world of content management systems, which is what WordPress really is. And content management systems are about a whole lot more than just building a website.

With content management systems like WordPress, Ektron and Kentico, non-techies can not only build a website, but they can also make most site changes and updates very easily. This is changing the game when it comes to many aspects of online marketing, including content marketing.

Last week I was talking with Steve Herz, the CEO of one of my new clients, Moonstone Interactive, about content management systems. He said that before these systems were introduced, changing or updating a website was anything but easy. “You needed a working knowledge of HTML programming. And while HTML isn’t rocket science, it does require some training.”

So if a company wanted to make changes to its website, it would submit a work order to its online agency, which might take a couple of days (or longer) to make the change. Then the client would look at the change, possibly make a few tweaks, resubmit another work order, wait a couple of more days and … you get the picture.

But Steve says the process is very different with a content management system. “An employee can simply log into the website’s admin panel and make changes and updates using an edit tool in a dashboard that’s no more complicated than Microsoft Word. Then he or she clicks “preview” to review the change and “publish” if it looks good — and it’s done.”

The result: With a content management system, companies can now make website changes and updates themselves in less time than it used to take to write up a work order for their online agency. For example, Steve says it used to take one of his clients three months to get new brochures posted on their website. “Now it takes them less than 15 minutes.”

Managing Content Marketing Assets

In addition to making website changes and updates, content management systems can also be used to manage your content marketing assets. Publishing blogs is probably the simplest and best example. Here’s how it works for me:

Once I have written my newsletter article each month, I log into my WordPress website’s admin tool, click on “Add New Post,” copy and paste the article into the tool, do a few little SEO-boosting tasks, and click “Publish.” It takes less than 15 minutes. And remember, I’m about as non-techie as you can get!

Having a new WordPress website built enabled me to leverage the content I was creating for my monthly newsletter by also publishing it as a blog. The article you’re reading now comes to you as both an e-newsletter and it’s posted as a blog on my website. I call that “killing two birds with one stone,” if you’ll pardon the old cliché.

But publishing a blog is just scratching the surface of what you can do with a content management system. Once what Steve calls the “hygiene barrier” has been removed, you’re free to try new and innovative strategies with your website and content marketing initiatives.

One good example he points to is delivering personalized content based on unique website visitor behavior. “Or you could add a lead management or nurturing program like Marketo or Eloqua to your system.”