by Brad Aldrich- One Flesh Marriage
In the hunt for the perfect platform we’ve reviewed Tumbler, Blogger, WordPress.com and now finally in part 4, we end at WordPress.org.
WordPress.Org is a self-hosted blog. This means that you pay for server space somewhere and then download and use the free WordPress.org program. This may sound expensive and complicated, but before you dismiss hosting all together consider the benefits.
All good hosting companies will walk you step by step through the process of installing WordPress. It is not complicated and takes only a few minutes work. After your initial install you get to design your site. WordPress.org uses themes and plugins to allow you to do just about anything you can imagine. There are millions of design options or themes, that allow you to pick the perfect look for your blog. Many themes are free, but premium themes are available for prices ranging from a few dollars to several hundred dollars for a full custom site. Changing your look is as easy as a few clicks. Deciding on your look might take a bit longer. In a later post we’ll show you a few places to start looking.
One of the most popular features of WordPress is its plugins. Developers all over the world write programs to add all sorts of features to your blog. These features include everything from fancy sharing buttons (see an example at the end of this post) security tools, fancy display features, and even automatically suggesting other posts on your blog for readers to continue reading. Best of all, a majority of these plugins are free. There are so many possibilities that we will be devoting another post in this series to some of the most popular plug-ins available.
CMBA Members, The Marriage Bed , Marriage Life and One Heart Beat are just a few great examples of websites built with WordPress.org. They show a glimpse of the great variety of possibilities available all using the WordPress platform.
It isn’t all roses at WordPress.org.
Some CMBA members have said that they feel overwhelmed by the amount of technical know how and set-up that a self-hosted site requires. All of those options I listed as positives can require some technical know how, or at least the patience to learn. You will quickly discover that just because you see something on another site, does not mean you can make it look that way on yours. There are some custom features that take computer know how (html and css) to achieve.
HTML is the language behind all blogs. Most formats (Blogger, WordPress.com included) allow you to work with the HTML code. This is sometimes necessary to get the look you desire, but coding know-how it isn’t absolutely necessary. For example, the chart in this post is only possible by adjusting the HTML. You could do it without using HTML, but it wouldn’t be in 2 columns. Sometimes a bit of HTML knowledge is all that is needed. For example, it is helpful to recognize if the picture you added to a post landed right in the middle of a sentence. As long as you recognize the code for the picture, you can move it quite easily.
WordPress is not a set it and forget it design. No website really is, but the availability of a multitude of options means you will be spending some time updating and adjusting. While set up of WordPress.org is easy, everyone I know who has a self-hosted site spends quite a bit of time in tweaks
This is also the only of the 4 formats we reviewed that is not free. To use WordPress.org you have to pay for hosting services, while not enormous it is an expense some CMBA members say they would rather not incur. We will continue to discuss what to look for in a host in a later post. For now I will highly recommend using BlueHost. I have had excellent service and support, and their prices are very competitive. (These links are affiliate links, meaning that if you click on them and make a purchase CMBA will receive a commission. That being said, I only use them because I believe in the service.)
What platform are you considering or are you using?
What features influenced your choice?