Custom post types are one of the most powerful features of WordPress.
But what is a custom post type, I hear you ask?
Well, a post type is a collection of content. The default post type in WordPress is posts (used for blog posts) but it is possible to create your own “custom” post types which can be used to group together certain types of content.
There are many benefits of using custom post types on a website. For example, they allow website owners to easily add new content to their website using an interface that they’re already familiar with if they’ve ever added a post or page to their WordPress website.
Also, you can group custom post type content together by creating your own custom taxonomies which work in a very similar way to categories and tags for blog posts in WordPress. And custom taxonomies allow you to make the content of your custom post types searchable and filterable.
In this post, I’m going to share 7 different ways you can use custom post types on a WordPress website.
1 | To create a directory website
I recently used custom post types to create a wedding supplier directory website for Unique Rebels Union. I set up a custom post type for supplier listings along with custom taxonomies to allow for categorisation of the different types of suppliers, their locations and their styles.
This enabled me to build the functionality that would allow users of the website to easily search and filter potential suppliers for their wedding based on their requirements.
2 | To create a video library
In 2020 we saw a lot of business have to adapt to the restrictions brought into place as a result of the pandemic (thanks, Covid) and to move their operations online.
One particular industry that has been hit hard is the fitness industry. Many fitness instructors, personal trainers and yoga studios have adapted by creating videos of their workouts and selling them online through a membership website, rather than selling memberships to their in-person classes. And honestly, I think this is a brilliant idea.
So where do custom post types come into play here? Well, it’s possible to create a video library using custom post types making it easy to add new workouts to the website. And similarly to the directory website, you can create custom taxonomies to group similar videos together. For example, by video length, by level of difficulty, by exercise type, etc.
3 | To share podcast episodes
If you have a podcast, you might like to share each episode on your website.
I see a lot of podcasters share their podcast directly through their main blog with a specific category for podcast episodes, but instead, you can create a custom post type specifically for podcast episodes so that your blog and podcast are completely separate elements.
Also, using this technique you can also host your podcast directly on your WordPress website, rather than using a 3rd party hosting tool. It involves a bit of custom work to get everything set up in the first place, but as custom post types have their own RSS feed, it’s possible to connect the RSS feed for your podcast to players like iTunes so you can easily submit each episode you add to popular podcast players.
4 | To create a portfolio
Another great way to use custom post types is to create a portfolio on your website to showcase your work.
I used custom post types to create the portfolio functionality on the Snug Designs WordPress themes as a lot of our customers are creative business owners who need a way to show off their work to potential clients.
I also set up a custom taxonomy for portfolio categories to help website owners keep their portfolios organised. Our customers can then easily link to the portfolio category pages on their main portfolio page to help users find their way around their portfolio.
5 | Affiliate shop
I often work with bloggers who make money through affiliate links on their website. And although there are affiliate programs that automatically generate shop widgets for bloggers to use on their websites, the design of them tends to be quite basic and it’s difficult to make them look good.
Also, bloggers who are just starting out might not be able to access these affiliate programs straightaway, but still want to make money through affiliate programmes that they can join from the get go, like Amazon Associates.
My solution? To build bespoke affiliate shop functionality using custom post types and custom fields. This allows the client can add the product to their website once and through the power of WordPress queries, these products can easily easily displayed on multiple pages of the website.
Now, I know this is possible to set up using plugins like WooCommerce and creating external/affiliate products, but why use a bulky plugin like this unless you really need to?
6 | Resource library
Finally, I wanted to show you a way I’ve used custom post types on my own website.
You may or may not be aware that I have a resource library on my website where I link to websites, software and other resources that I use and recommend to other website owners, developers and designers. And if you haven’t checked it out already, you can do so here.
I set this up using a custom post type called resources, and each resource is a separate post within that custom post type. Setting up my resource library using custom post types makes it easy to group resources together for organisational purposes.
You may also notice at the top of the page it shows the number of resources currently in the library. This number is automatically generated by a simple a WordPress query, and it change as I add or remove resources from the library.
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