Day two of my favorite tools week brings WordPress.
Yes, WordPress was originally a blogging format, but it is so much more. With WordPress, there is absolutely NO reason to not have a FREE professional-looking, unlimited, easy to maintain website. Yes, I said free for the basic account which includes tons of free templates in addition to premium templates you can choose to pay for, unlimited pages and your own wordpress URL. So for instance, when I first signed up, I claimed http://www.authorcatjohnson.wordpress.com as my own. That was when I was still paying lots of money to GoDaddy to host my website. For a monthly fee, GoDaddy limited me to 5 pages maximum, charged me extra if I exceeded my bandwidth for the month, had a very limited amount of images I could host there, their design templates weren’t very nice and it used to take me all day to update my site with their built-in design program. I still pay a small annual fee to GoDaddy to register my catjohnson.net domain name, but now, for a nominal annual fee (something like $12 a year paid to WordPress) my domain is redirected to my free WordPress account so http://catjohnson.net appears in the top URL bar instead of my original wordpress-identified URL. I don’t have to keep my domain name or redirect it–I could have this website for absolutely free if I choose–but it looks more professional to have a custom domain.
Updates on WordPress are so quick and easy. I can even update by email if I want. I can create as many pages and subpages as I need. There is an app for my iPad and iPod Touch so I can easily approve comments and check stats from the road. My homepage is my blog page, but I can change that if I want to designate another landing page. If I could come up with what I’d want on that landing page, besides the latest news which is usually what I blog about anyway, I would. There are widgets, sidebars, link lists, image hosting, document hosting and a way to have your YouTube videos appear on your pages.
If I had the skills I could pay a small fee and edit my CSS so I could customize the appearance even more. Alas, I don’t have the skills or the time to learn, and I’m too much of a control freak to hire it out, so I’ll live with what I’ve got.
And the analytics are incredible! I can see how many page views I have daily and on which pages, what search engine terms visitors used to find my site (which proves endlessly amusing), incoming links, visitor clicks on my outgoing links. Everything I need to track traffic, which helps me determine which marketing efforts are yielding results.
You can register as many free blogs as you want. Both of the group blogs I contribute to–the Eat Something Sexy “Confessions of a Romance Writer” as well as the Wild & Wicked Cowboys blogs–are hosted on WordPress.
Now there is one catch–there seems to be both a WordPress.org and a WordPress.com. They’re kind of related but separate. .Org has more features (plugins) I think? I’m not exactly sure of the difference. .Com may be free and .Org a charge? Maybe someone better at this stuff than me can explain it. In anycase, I love the one I’m hosted on. It’s not perfect, but far more so than GoDaddy was and much cheaper! Check out some of your favorite authors’ websites and I bet you’ll be surprised at how many say “wordpress.com” at the very, very bottom of the page.