OneManOffice: WordPress

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.  They will be grouped together under the category OneManOffice, pending the creation of a catchier, less sexist name.  (Suggestions welcomed here.)  

For the first post in this series, it seemed right to begin with the software that I use to manage this website: WordPress.  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.  

What’s so good about it?

  • It’s free.  WordPress is open source software, which means that downloading and installing it is completely, 100% free.  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). 
  • It’s easy to use.  WordPress offers a straightforward dashboard for writing new posts and pages.  It was recently updated to version 2.5, which (IMHO) improved the dashboard quite a bit.  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.  
  • It’s highly customizable.  WordPress has an enormous community of developers and designers who create themes and plugins for it.  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.  (For example, my theme was created by N. Design Studio.)  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. 

Like I said above, there are two options for using WordPress.  The first is free blog hosting at WordPress.com.  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.   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.  WordPress provides a list of recommended hosting companies, and there is also 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.  It’s just like it sounds: you click a button, and the hosting company does the rest.  I use DreamHost, and I have been very happy with them.  (P.S. If you sign up for DreamHost via this link, I will receive a 10% referral fee for the life of your account.)  But DreamHost is just one of many excellent web hosting companies.  Shop around so that you can find a decent price and the features that you think you’ll use.

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