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Based off of the best statistics, I’ve found, there are over 187 million blogs. People obviously love reading and writing blogs. There is little doubt then, that a business that doesn’t speak to its customers through blogging, is definitely alienating its customers.
In this day in age, it is very easy for any business owner, no matter how small, to create a website. These websites must build customer relationships, while pulling in business from all over the world. In the past, business owners needed to rely on extremely expensive web design companies to build them a site. Those days are now in the past, thanks to a fabulous program called WordPress.
WordPress, is a free blogging tool kit, that brings the power of internet blogging to the people. WordPress is the largest self-hosted blogging tool in the world, used on millions of sites and seen by tens of millions of people every day. The goal of this series of articles is to help people get started with WordPress. It really is quite easy.
There are two versions of WordPress. There is the blogging software you can use with WordPress, at wordpress.com. This operates in a way similar to most social networking systems like Myspace, Facebook, etc. There is another version, that you host on a hosting company, such as Go Daddy. This version can be downloaded from wordpress.org. If this is a bit confusing don’t worry. The video tutorials will show you exactly how to set up both of these versions of WordPress.
WordPress is so easy to use, because it takes care of all the technical stuff. This allows you, to spend all of your time writing. Whats better, is that WordPress allows you to easily create amazing tools and new web designs, with ease. We’ll get to them later.
A Few more Reasons why WordPress is Amazing
- It installs easily! Normally, it will take you no more than 5 minutes.
- It helps you organize all of your articles in a logical manor.
- Search engines absolutely love WordPress websites.
- If you follow this tutorial, your Google Page Ranking will probably be higher, than if you hired a web design firm.
- WordPress is not just used for blog websites. You can use it to create a traditional site as well.
- There are many pre-made web designs for you to pick from. If you want a new design for your entire site, you can have it in a few seconds, with no design or technical knowledge.
- Your customers want to interact with your website. WordPress provides you with easy to use enhancements that allow you to add bulletin boards, calendars, RSS feeds, video, audio, shopping carts, etc.
- It will block unwanted spam from your site.
The Difference between WordPress.com & WordPress.org Websites
As I mentioned before, a WordPress.com site is similar to a social networking site. It is hosted on WordPress computers. It is free, for the most part, and extremely easy to set up. Almost every technical activity is taken care of for you such as: saving your content, blocking spam, security, upgrading, and promotion.
Let’s go back to that free sort of comment. First, in my opinion, WordPress deserves every dollar they make. I just want to make that clear. Either way, if you want to gain special benefits at WordPress.com you must pay for the following (prices on December 2nd, 2009):
- The Custom CSS Upgrade allows you to use your own CSS (Cascading Style Sheet) to customize the appearance of your blog. CSS allows you to change fonts, colors, borders, backgrounds, and even the layout of the blog. The cost is $14.97 per year.
- If you want to use a custom domain name that doesn’t end with wordpress.com you can either pay WordPress $14.97 to both register and host your domain for a year. Or if you already own a domain name, they charge $9.97 for you to host that domain name on their servers.
- WordPress gives you 3 gigabytes of space to use for free on their computer. If you want more, you get 5 GB for $19.97 / year, 15 GB for $49.97 / year, or 25 GB for $89.97.
- If you don’t want WordPress to put ads on your site, you have to pay them $29.97 / year.
- There is a limit to the number of private users you can have on your site. If you wish to buy the unlimited users, instead of staying at the standard 35, that will cost you $29.97 / year.
Now if you want to host your own site and control everything, the version of WordPress found on wordpress.org, is the way to go. You will gain access to a larger number of web site designs, called themes. You will only be limited in size by your chosen hosting company. You will also gain access to a larger number of tools, called plug-ins. Plug-ins, give you access to tools such as: e-commerce systems, a wide assortment of media tools, and basically anything else you can imagine.
The negatives of hosting your own site include: you must pay a hosting site to host your site (avg. cost: $7 to $15 / month), it is more complicated to set up (many hosting companies will set upWordpress for you), you are responsible for upgrading your software, and your sites up time will only be as good as the hosting company. I personally, use Go Daddy for hosting, but there are a large number of other great hosting companies.
The minimum requirements a hosting company must meet include having, PHP version 4.3 or greater and MySQL version 4.0 or greater installed. It’s also probably in your best interest to install on a Linux rather than a Windows server. The best hosting companies include: Blue Host,DreamHost, MediaTemple, and Go Daddy.
In the next article, I will go into detail on how to create a WordPress.com account. You should do this even if you plan to host on your own site to gain access to Akismet, a great anti-spam tool. An additional benefit to starting with a WordPress.com account is that it gives you the opportunity to see if WordPress is right for you. Whether you chose to host on WordPress or from your own hosting company, the interface of WordPress is nearly identical. So, if you learn how to operate a blog on WordPress.com, you’ll know how to run WordPress on a separate hosting plan as well.