I’m starting a new series of posts today, to share some of what I’ve learned about great software for running a low-budget, single-person home office. Â They will be grouped together under the category OneManOffice, pending the creation of a catchier, less sexist name. Â (Suggestions welcomed here.) Â
For the first post in this series, it seemed right to begin with the software that I use to manage this website: WordPress. Â There is lots of other software out there that will let you write a blog or manage a website, but I have been very pleased with WordPress. Â
What’s so good about it?
- It’s free. Â WordPress is open source software, which means that downloading and installing it is completely, 100% free. Â You can either create a free WordPress blog on WordPress.com, or install WordPress on your own website (more on that in just a moment).Â
- It’s easy to use. Â WordPress offers a straightforward dashboard for writing new posts and pages. Â It was recently updated to version 2.5, which (IMHO) improved the dashboard quite a bit. Â If you want to try it out, I would suggest creating a free blog at WordPress.com so that you can get a feel for the software before committing to it. Â
- It’s highly customizable. Â WordPress has an enormous community of developers and designers who create themes and plugins for it. Â A WordPress theme lets you customize the layout, colors, and overall look of your website, and there are hundreds – maybe thousands – of themes available for free. Â (For example, my theme was created by N. Design Studio.) Â Plugins let you add new capabilities to your website, like podcasting, stat-tracking, or linking to related content on the web, like I do with my Sphere Related Content plugin.Â
Like I said above, there are two options for using WordPress. Â The first is free blog hosting at WordPress.com. Â If you would like to have your own website (like http://www.mikehickerson.com), you will generally have to pay for it, but the prices are low (e.g. $10/month or less) for a personal website. Â We’re not talking CNN.com here, so there’s no reason to pay an arm and a leg. A lot of website hosts will install WordPress for you, and, as long as the hosting company meets the minimum requirements, you could install it yourself. Â WordPress provides a list of recommended hosting companies, and there is alsoÂ a group of WordPress experts who can install WordPress for you.
To keep it easy, I’d recommend finding a web hosting company that provides a “one click install” of WordPress. Â It’s just like it sounds: you click a button, and the hosting company does the rest. Â I useÂ DreamHost, and I have been very happy with them. Â (P.S. If you sign up for DreamHost via this link, I will receive a 10% referral fee for the life of your account.) Â But DreamHost is just one of many excellent web hosting companies. Â Shop around so that you can find a decent price and the features that you think you’ll use.