A Great Tip and Advice for Creating a Blog or Website (Part I)

If it is not already obvious from my previous post, I’m a big fan of WordPress.  A few months ago, using software from WordPress.com, I created a blog for a client who has a really interesting blog on Spanish speaking cultures.  The WordPress.com software was trivial to setup and relatively easy to use.  However the Blog was hosted on a WordPress server.  That meant WordPress was getting all of the traffic and associated benefits — including any potential revenue from Google ads.

We decided to migrate the website from the WordPress server and domain to the server and domain that is the home to the client’s main website (SpeakInSpanishNYC).   Coincidentally, I had the same problem.  Earlier in the year Google required that I transfer my Blog from my server and domain at http://aalbc.com/blog to their server and domain at http://aalbc.blogspot.com. I was not happy making the change and I effectively abandoned the Blog and spent the extra time (and more) developing my Facebook presence).    

I decided to make myself the guinea pig.  I would relaunch my blog on AALBC.com using software from WordPress.org. Note: the software from provided by WordPress.com and WordPress.org is similar, but there is one significant differences.

Sites built by WordPress.com are hosted on WordPress.com servers.  You can register your own domain and point it to the WordPress hosted site, but the site is managed by WordPress and you are limited in what you can do with your website.

The software available at WordPress.org is downloaded to your server and run from there.  As a result, you have complete control over your website or blog.  However with complete control comes complete responsibility for support and maintenance.  Given the ease of setup and modular design managing a WordPress site is not as daunting as it might sound.

If you have FTP access to your server, and know how to use it to transfer and manage files you have all the technical skill required to install the software.  In addition your server will require PHP version 5.2 or greater and MySQL version 5.0.15 or greater.  You don’t need to know what PHP or MySQL are, you just make sure they are installed on your server.  Simply call the company for host your web site and ask.

In my case, my Blog is just a small portion of the AALBC.com website, I use other tools and applications to maintain the rest of the web site.  As result, WordPress.org was the way to go for me.

I started the process of creating my Blog a few; spending an hour or two here and there, learning along the way.  This blog is the result.  I’m sure I’ll continue tweaking and making changes over time, but I’m very satisfied with the speed and quality of the results so far.

I’m so satisfied and excited, that I wanted to share my experience with others hoping that they would take advantage of WordPress and establish a web presence of their own.  One of the questions I’m most frequently asked when I speak to groups about the world wide web is, “I don’t have a big budget and I’m not super tech savvy, how do I create my own website?”  Today my answer would be, “WordPress is a very good way to get started”.

I want to be clear here: If you have the technical resources, over the long haul, nothing beats a custom built, standards based website.  Short of that, I have not seen anything that beats WordPress.org for creating a Blog or full blown website.

It is also important that I emphasize this to business owners, authors and any professional looking to establish and maintain website; an account on a social media platform (even one as grand as FaceBook) is not substitute for a proper website.

I have profiles on all of the large social media platforms; however I use them as tools to help promote my business.  If you don’t have complete control over your website and your own domain name (http://TheNameYouchose.com then your website and perhaps your very business is at the mercy of the likes of a FaceBook.

Here are the Plugins I Used To Customize My Blog:

Below is a screen shot of my blog, just before I published this post.  You’ll notice difference colored arrows pointing to different area of my Blog.   These are all the different Plugins I added to the Blog after installing the basic software.  I used a relatively simple theme called “Twenty Ten 1.1”.  It is one of over 1,000 found on WordPress.org.

I discovered all of these Plugins through Google searches by querying on the phrase “WordPress” and the feature I was interested in for example I Googled; “tweet this wordpress” (without the quotes).  To find a Plugin that allowed me to “Tweet” my Blog posts.  In fact, you may have discovered this Blog post via a tweet that I or someone else sent directly from this Blog

If I saw a Plugin that looked good I tested it out.  If I did not like it I deactivated it and deleted it from my server.

Continue on to Part II

Troy

Troy D. Johnson is the President, founder and webmaster of AALBC.com, LLC (The African American Literature Book Club). Launched in March of 1998, AALBC.com has grown to become the largest and most frequently visited website dedicated to books and films by and about people of African descent.

  • Jean Givan

    Thanks so much! That was very helpful!

  • awesome upon awesome Troy!!

    more more more!!!

    • Hi Sylvia, what else would you like me to cover?

  • Vernetta Norman-Forbes

    Wow! Looks and sounds great, I really appreciate this vital information. a very smart way-2-go , Troy!

    Thanks so much~~~~~

    Vernetta

    • Thanks Vernetta I really do hope people take advantage of WordPress but more importantly contribute something to the web.

  • Troy, thanks for sharing this. I’ve been using wordpress for my website for years. Although I may spend extra time getting templates to work to my specifications during setup, it saves time in the long run because it’s easy to maintain and make updates.

    • Yeah I agree Shelia. I found the templates so flexible I basically selected of the firsts one I saw.

  • I am a fan of WordPress.org too. I used to really be against it…until I learned how to put one up. 🙂 Now I love. Blogger is still cool (owned by Google) but WordPress got the juice. This is nice Troy. You rock.

    Peace, Pam
    http://www.youtube.com/pamperry1

    • Thanks Pam — You rock too!

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  • I absolutely love WordPress and am glad to see you’ve made the switch, Troy. Be sure to see my latest reply to you via FB. If you have any questions, please reach out. I’m no pro (yet), but I can do some pretty cool things with WordPress and am moving all my web clients over to the platform.

    Be sure to Google some of the premium themes. While Twenty Ten is nice–much nicer than the defaul theme in earlier versions of WordPress, what I love about the themes is that they’re a starting point vs going at it from scratch. You can take a theme and make it unique to you/your brand.

    And the absolute biggest benefit for WordPress is that your code/design is always separate from your content (posts, articles, etc.) so you can change it in seconds vs the months that it takes to cut/paste data from one site to the next. I love, love, love it!

    -Tee

    • I hear you Tee. The only place we seem to diverge is on WordPress’ utility for very large site — like AALBC.com.

      I have no issue using WordPress to handle the blog portion of my site, but I would not conisder it for the entire AALBC.com website. I need more control that even WordPress.com can provide.

      The default template is fine for me as well. I looked at a few others and determined I could customize it enough to meld into the current AALBC.com theme. I may pop a horizontal add banner at the top of the Blog but other than that I basically done for now.

  • The only disadvantage is that wordpress.org is very susceptible for hackers and it takes a little bit more maintenance. There have been a few nasty stories about it.

    WordPress is a very neat tool if you have a website that is information driven (such as newspapers, bulletin boards). But I would not be comfortable to say that wordpress.org is the best CMS for all business websites or small business sites. Custom Theme development is often more expensive then a basic HTML site. Some people may just need something simple (or much more). There are also options of integrating via RSS feed from a blog into a site. Many cute little tricks one can apply.

    • Hi Nathalie, thanks for the feedback. I was not aware that WordPress was more prone to hacker attacks that any other website. Any website is a potential target even big corporate site with score of technicans defending it 🙂

      I would not be confortable calling WordPress a CMS either, or even a true web development tool. It can accomplish both to a certain extent, but there are applications better suited for those respective tasks.

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