There are lots of blogging platforms and I’ve tried several of them including Google’s Blogger. I also post occasionally on an Active Rain account. I don’t remember how I stumbled into using WordPress but I’m glad I did. Here’s what I like about it:
WordPress is part of a class of software called CMS or Content Management Systems. Other Content Management Systems include Joomla, Drupal, and Moodle, the latter specifically designed for educators. Although originally designed for blogging, WordPress allows you to create quite respectable websites for lots of purposes apart from blogging. I’ve used WordPress to create single property web sites for listings quite easily. Not as easy as some of the templates available, maybe, but easy enough if you have more time than money.
WordPress was developed as “open source” which means that it is constantly being worked on by a community of developers around the world for free. This community also maintains documentation and forums where lots of help is available for anyone struggling to use the software. You can also create your blog on WordPress.com for free if you are willing to be a subdomain of Workpress.com (for example http://wildphotography.wordpress.com/.) If you go directly to WordPress.com you can see just how easy it is and many more examples. I chose to a different path for this site, two local real estate sites and several miscellaneous sites where I wanted to use my own domain names. Most large hosting companies like GoDaddy.com have online processes that facilitate the set up of a WordPress site and hosting options for less than $100 annually.
There are also hundreds of free “Themes” available to give your site any look you want. There are also a number of sources of “premium” themes that add both function and design flexibility. They range in cost from a few dollars to maybe a $100. The premium theme I’m using for this site is called Thesis by Diythemes.com and cost a whopping $87. For $164 I can use it on as many sites as I want, which is great for developers.
There are also a plethora of widgets and plugins that are free and add additional flexibility and function. Important ones for anyone trying to attract traffic like most realtors would, take a lot of the drudgery out of search engine optimization and tracking results.
Ease of Use
There is always a trade-off between ease of use and flexibility. WordPress is no exception. If you want to keep it simple stick with Blogger or ActiveRain. But if you want to create a honest to gosh website with elements that you can control at a reasonable cost, WordPress is certainly way to go that I would recommend.
The good news is that using WordPress is getting easier and easier to use. I can say this not because I’ve climbed a steep learning curve to get there. Ironically, as soon as I master one area, it seems a new release comes out that makes my knowledge obsolete. The biggest example is how the software is updated. Once the software is installed on a host computer you will be notified through the dashboard panel of WordPress whenever a new update is available. In the past this meant downloading the software from the WordPress.org site, unzipping it on your hard drive and then using a FTP program like Filezilla to download it to your server, taking care not to overwrite and lose any customizations that you have done. By the time I was comfortable doing that a release became available that makes the update process a one click operation from the program dashboard.
Adding plug-ins used to involve a similiar process. But now you can search for, evaluate and install hundreds of plug-ins right from the WordPress dashboard.
If you want to explore WordPress some more, you can do so from WordPress.org, the site devoted to users that want to run WordPress with their own domain names.
Comments are welcome.