I have told you before that WordPress is the industry standard for bloggers. Certainly you have options (e.g., Blogger and Typepad), but if you want to put a more professional edge on your blog, add more functionality, and simply take it to the next level, you need to be looking at WordPress.
There are two versions of WordPress: WordPress.com and WordPress.org. Both are free, but one is hosted and one is not.
WordPress.com is the free, hosted version of WordPress and is a great place to start your first blog. You won’t have to worry about finding and paying for a server, but you’ll still have the functionality of WordPress and can learn the ins and outs before you commit to WordPress.org. WordPress.com does not allow you to run your own ads, but does occasionally run their own text ads on your blog (that’s how they keep it free).
WordPress.org is the free version of WordPress that allows you to host your blog on a third-party server and gives you free reign over everything related to your blog. You can mess with the CSS and PHP, put up ads, etc. From their site: “WordPress is what you use when you want to work with your blogging software, not fight it.”
Lisa at Simply His big-red-puffy-heart-loves WordPress.org and explains why:
Easy to use: I think WordPress is very easy to use once you give it a try. I know many people who think that WordPress is difficult to use when in fact, they are having trouble with css or html in their theme. And really, if you had WordPress set up for you — theme and all, it would be a piece of cake to go in and just write.
Widgets, Plugins and Themes: Because WordPress.org is open source [which means that the code is freely available and can be modified by anyone with the skill and inclination], many programmers out there have shared widgets, plugins and themes with you for free. You can find a Plugin to do just about anything you would want to do on your blog. A widget is basically a block of code you can add to your sidebars to customize what’s shown there. Themes are plentiful and customization is easy if you know html/css. [And, sometimes, even if you don’t.]
Jendi, at Jendi’s Journal, writes about why she loves WordPress. She started out with WordPress.com (the free, hosted WordPress) and eventually moved to WordPress.org (free, non-hosted WordPress) with her own domain name. Jendi says there was a bit of a learning curve at WordPress.com, but it was worth it. Her main reasons for loving WordPress are
- thousands of free themes
- easy-to-follow tutorials and forums
- hundreds of plug-ins work with WordPress
- control of your design and content
If you’re just starting out with a blog, WordPress.com may be a good option for you. You can learn how to use the WordPress interface and learn the basics via the tutorials and videos. Then, as you’re more comfortable and would like more control over your blog’s look and feel and it’s code, you can move to WordPress.org. Because they are essentially the same software, the migration should be fairly seamless.
I have only recently started using WordPress.org and wish I had known about WordPress.com and WordPress.org when I started. It would have been much easier to start with WP.com and move to WP.org when I was ready. Even so, I’ve found that any questions I have can be answered with a quick search. WordPress is so prolific there is no shortage of tutorials.
Also in this series:
- Choosing a Blogging Platform
- Choosing Blogger (Blogspot) as Your Blogging Platform
- Choosing Typepad as Your Blogging Platform
Further Reading & Tutorials: