WordPress is a blogging software that comes in two flavors. WordPress.org offers free software that you download and install on a server (most people rent server space from a hosting company). WordPress.com offers a hosted version of the software, a basic wordpress.com site is also free, but there are premium options that provide personalization (like using your own domain name) and customization (number of columns, header size, colors etc). A wordpress.org site is a good idea for someone who wants complete control of every aspect of their website or blog. A wordpress.com provides allows more of a point and click interface. The trade off is that you have limited options on wordpress.com, still for most end users wordpress.com will meet their needs.
A few careers ago, I was a website designer. This was in the early days of the Internet when if you wanted a website, you wrote the code by hand, in blood, up hill both ways. *Ahem* Sorry, I digress. I’ve always been fascinated by programming and HTML (the basic language behind web sites) came easy to me. When it came time to set up my personal blog, I had grand plans. I bought a domain (livefearlesslee.com), I researched hosting companies (finally choosing Surpass.com), downloaded the WordPress software and bought a license for Thesis design and template manager. I rubbed my hands together and though ‘this is gonna be fun.” It was, but it was also time consuming since my skills were a tad rusty. I got the blog up and formatted so it looked more or less how I wanted it to. I added a bell and a whistle or two but, by then, I’d had enough coding. I was anxious to get writing. I went great guns for a while but the blog design stayed stagnant. All my design plans got lost in the shuffle of work and life and the desire to write more than I wanted to program.
I KNEW I needed to update the layout. It wouldn’t be hard really all I had to do was find Thesis skin (design template) I liked and implement it. Sigh, there just weren’t enough hours in the day. It got to the point where I’d cringe every time I’d think about writing a post. I never have a shortage of things to say but ugh it looked so bad if I was going to spend time on the blog, I really should work ON the blog itself. It became yet another reason NOT to write and trust me, I don’t need anymore of those.
A few months ago I got a love note from Google basically saying “your website sucks”. Ok, they weren’t that harsh, but they pointed out that the design wasn’t mobile friendly and these days a large percentage of Internet viewing was done on phones and tablets. They also pointed out that in their next update, sites that weren’t responsive (meaning the site is easily viewed on either a desktop/laptop computer or a phone or tablet) would be ranked lower in the search results. This blog is mostly my experiences, but who knows maybe someone really needs a recipe for baked pork chops. I’d hate to deny them! The bigger issue was I wasn’t writing. So, I made the decision to move from wordpress.org to wordpress.com.
For now, this is a cost saver. The site itself is free and I chose a free theme. The only premium service I chose is using my own domain name that’s only $13 per year. I was paying $72 a year to host the site with Surpass. In the future, I can see myself adding more premium services, but for now, this is a good fit.
The move from wordpress.org to wordpress.com had a little bump, but I was able to trouble shoot my own problem by searching the wordpress.com support forum. Going forward, changing the theme is nothing more complicated than the click of a mouse. Yes, I limited to WordPress’s themes, but that’s like saying you can’t find anything to buy at Target. There are hundreds of free themes and paid themes are plentiful and they range in price. It’s hard to go from having full control to limited options, but the ease of use is worth it to me and there is excellent tech support! I hope this helps anyone else considering the change.
Do you self host your website/blog or do you use one of the free services?
A brief digression on Surpass, if you do find yourself in need of a web host, I have nothing but great things to say about Surpass, their up-time is awesome and their tech support is great. They even offer blanket service updates via Twitter. This is not a paid message, I’m just a happy customer.
Lee Laughlin is a writer, wife, and mom, frequently all of those things at once. You can find her on Twitter @Fearless. She blogs atLivefearlesslee.com and she is a regular contributor to the Concord Monitor. Her words have also appeared in a broad range of publications from community newspapers to the Boston Globe. She is currently working on her first novel, a work of contemporary, romantic fiction.