Blog guru, Tom Catalini
Blog Technology: The WordPress Progression
Tom Catalini blogs about People & Technology over at tomcatalini.com (http://www.tomcatalini.com/). He runs that and other sites on the WordPress platform and has shared lots of WordPress tips in is Website 101 blog post series (http://www.tomcatalini.com/category/website101/). He’s presented at WordCamp and PodCamp on similar topics. In this post Tom takes us through the WordPress progression so that those looking to get started with a blog can get a feel for what WordPress has to offer.
The WordPress Progression
WordPress is a popular blogging platform – and for good reason. It’s very, very, very easy to get started yet there is also virtually no upper limit to features and functionality. You can easily use WordPress as a foundation for a complete website, even if you need to manage complex interactions, conduct financial transactions, and build communities.
But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet. Let’s go back to the beginning and step through some key progression points for WordPress.
Level 1 – Get Started with WordPress.com
If you’re just starting out, you want things to be easy. And you need to focus on the content you’re going to create more than the technicalities of getting it published to the world. The first step in on the WordPress path meets that need.
WordPress.com is a free site for blogging, and it only takes a minute to setup an account. Once you’ve done that, you can start blogging immediately. The software is pretty intuitive and there are plenty of tutorials to help get you started. The point is, you really have no excuse anymore. So get started!
Level 2 – Customize Your WordPress.com Blog
Once you’re over the initial hurdle of deciding on a title for your blog and getting some content out there, you’ll probably want to make some tweaks. Again, there is no need to look further than WordPress.com. On the site you can choose different themes to adjust the look and feel of your site. You can configure how the basic layout will work, and you can easily plug in some predefined functionality like including updates from your Twitter feed, adding a search bar, or incorporating a photo album.
One big (and important) customization option is to use your own domain name for your blog, right on WordPress.com. You’ll pay a small fee for this, but it’s worth it. Once you establish your own domain name, you begin to build up search engine value for your content. Your domain, rather than WordPress.com, will be the target of links and search results. This is valuable, and it’s portable.
Level 3 – Take Full Control with WordPress.org
WordPress.com, configured with your own domain name, will take you a long way. There are tons of things you can do to customize your site and to add functionality. Eventually, though, you’ll run into a situation where something you want to customize just isn’t possible on the shared platform of WordPress.com. Not to worry, there’s an easy answer – WordPress.org.The name is confusing, but the WordPress.org site is the next progression on the WordPress path. WordPress.org is a site that allows you to download the WordPress software – the same software that powers WordPress.com sites – for free.
Now you can install it on your own hosting site (this will cost a few more bucks, and require a little more maintenance – but you’re progressing to a more sophisticated and savvy user, so that’s ok). Here, your options for customization become virtually limitless.
Rely on the WordPress Community
Going out on your own is a little scary and intimidating. It’s great to be able to have full control over the software platform, and to push the envelope further. But that means there will be more issues and that the problems will get more complex.
Not to worry – WordPress has a thriving community. There are millions of people using the platform and the community is extremely active in creating software modules you can use (most for free) to add functionality, themes that can give your site a really custom look and feel, and advice on solving common – and not so common – problems.
No More Excuses, Start Blogging!
WordPress can get you started and go to any level you like. As your needs get more sophisticated, you’ll need to dedicate more time to the technicalities – but the software won’t hold you back, and the community will help you every step of the way.
Go and get started. I look forward to reading your blog.