Author Blogging 101: Blogging Platforms & Why I Love WordPress

I had a book design website once. It was one of those “web 1.0″ websites that you put up because you know you need one, or at least everyone says you do.

It was built with a nifty Mac tool called Rapidweaver and for what it was, it was okay.

It took a lot of time to design and build the 6 or 8 pages and I struggled to get it working right. There were pages describing services and some samples of books I’d designed. The usual thing.

Looking at the little website, I realized there was one question I couldn’t answer:

Why would anyone ever come here twice?

Once you had read about the services and looked at the samples, there was nothing left to do. It was depressing. I couldn’t see how it was going to do me any good, although now I could point people to my company’s website.

Enter Blogging

I tried to use the tools that came with Rapidweaver to add a blog to the site, but it just wouldn’t work the way I wanted it to. And that turned out to be my good luck.

I started reading about blogging, and discovered WordPress.

Even though I had been reading blogs for a while, I had no idea there were different blogging platforms with their own strenths and weaknesses.

For instance, right now you can blog lots of different ways:

  • With WordPress.org software on your own domain
  • On the WordPress.com domain, where you can get a blog for free
  • On Google’s Blogger.com, another very popular platform
  • With Tumblr, where people who seem to like posting photos or other creative work blog
  • On TypePad, a platform hosting many top blogs
  • Or on Movable Type, another robust blogging platform used by big companies and small.

(Note that some of these services are completely free, some have a free trial that then turns into a subscription, and some rely on you setting up your own domain with an internet service provider [ISP]).

Everyone seemed to suggest WordPress software, and I soon understood why.

 

What’s Great About WordPress

Since WordPress is the only blogging platform I’ve used, this doesn’t imply anything about any of the others. But I was immediately struck by how easy it was to do things that once took me quite a while. You could easily:

  • Add an article (or post, in WordPress language), for instance. This took a fair amount of work on my static website. With the WordPress software, it was a matter of dumping the text in, filling in a few fields, and hitting “Publish.”
  • Add a page. In WordPress, you can add a page as easily as a post, and just as quickly.
  • Add stuff to the sidebar. WordPress also makes this very easy, with a whole bunch of pre-coded things like “Favorite Posts”-type lists. Once you’ve done that, it’s pretty easy to add other things like badges and social media widgets, too.
  • Change the look. With thousands of different “themes” available free, you can change the whole look and design of your site in a moment. The ability to customize the software is built right in.

It turned out it was much easier to reproduce the pages from my old website—some of which are still somewhere on this blog—and have a hybrid site. WordPress, along with all the amazing add-ins from thousands of developers, make it possible.

Expanding in Many Directions

WordPress is open-source software, and encourages all kinds of software that extend the way you can use it in many directions.

  1. Themes allow you to change the look of the site, add hierarchy, organize content for use by lots of different kinds of WordPress installations. They can also include their own programming abilities, creating photo portfolios or complete e-commerce sites on top of the WordPress foundation.
  2. Plugins add functions like membership site credentials, e-commerce capabilities, spam protection, new classes of Pages you can create, and thousands of other things.

But for blogging, right out of the box, without much customization at all, WordPress is powerful software that’s

  • constantly being improved
  • is available free of charge,
  • is supported by a huge community of users and developers
  • can grow with you for years to come.

That’s why I love WordPress. It made the transition to real blogging fun and enjoyable and immediately understandable. And the software just keeps getting better.

Data

The Book Designer blog runs on the Thesis theme by Chris Pearson.
There are 12 widgets in the 2 sidebars and 19 plugins that do everything from filtering out 106,872 spam comments (as of today), to providing contact forms, doing search engine optimization, creating audio players and the floating social media share buttons sliding up and down the left margin.

 

 

This is a reprint from Joel Friedlander‘s The Book Designer.

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