Several weeks ago Rachel asked me to write a post outlining the reasons WordPress is the best choice for your blog or website. My opinion about WordPress is based on my years of experience working with this program, the success I’ve had with it and the research I’ve done on it.
This post is directed at authors and other creatives. If you have a degree in computer programming, you probably don’t need my help. 🙂
I’ve been blogging since about 2006 on various platforms. I’ve used Typepad, Blogger, Tumblr, WordPress.com and WordPress.org. I’ve helped create sites on WIX. Honestly, there are a lot of platforms vying for your business. I’m sure that if you ask your fellow authors about their preferences, they will have an opinion about what platform you should use based on their experience.
It could be that your friends suggest what they are using because it is familiar, not because they have done the research and truly understand what is best from a technology point of view. That’s what I’m here for. I’ve got 15+ years teaching technology and I have done the research.
Your website is an essential addition to your author platform. You need a site that will, with very little work from you, rank well in a Google search so that readers can find you.
Let me explain why my choice is WordPress.
Since many authors starting out don’t make very much money from book sales, they need to offset the cost of expenses (ie a website) with their income. There isn’t a week that goes by when I don’t have someone telling me that they can’t afford to have a website. This is simply not the case.
WordPress has two versions: WordPress.com (which is free), and WordPress.org (which requires you to purchase a theme, register a domain, and purchase hosting).
If you choose the version of WordPress that isn’t free, the costs aren’t as high as you would be led to believe. In order to have a WordPress.org site, you need a domain (the address of your site), hosting (where you site lives), and a theme (what your site looks like to visitors).
Let’s price this out:
Domain Registration: Ranges from $9.99 to $14.99/year depending on where you register the domain.
Hosting: Range from $48.00/year at HostGator and BlueHost to $84.00/year at GoDaddy.
Theme: Free up to potentially hundreds of dollars.
Assuming that you decide on the cheapest of everything the cost comes to about $58.00/year. That averages out to about 16 cents a day.
And this assumes you’re paying. Don’t forget, there’s also the free option. Everyone can afford free. 🙂
The reason that you have a site is to share information with your readers about you and your book, tie together your social media accounts, offer a sign-up point for your newsletter, and possibly share current information by way of blog posts.
I do understand that many of you reading this post are authors or other creatives, and your skills lie in creating, not in technical things. But I also know that most of you manage to use Word to write your stories and allow your editor to edit them. Creating posts on a WordPress blog is really no different than a word processing program. Once your site has been set up, all you need to do is add content.
I thought I’d use the iconic Easy Button that is the trademark of the popular Canadian stationary store Staples at the beginning of this section to indicate that anyone can learn to use WordPress.
I frequently hear the complaint that there isn’t any help available for WordPress. Again, not true. Doing a quick Google search leads me to courses on Udemy.com for as little as $29.00, and just entering the search term “WordPress tutorial” on YouTube brings up 167,000 results. In addition, there are a lot of people like me who teach WordPress for a reasonable free.
I’ve taught teenagers to use WordPress, and I’ve taught 80-year-old grandmothers to use WordPress. If you can turn a computer on, you can learn WordPress.
Google and other search engine discoverability
Your website needs to be easily discovered by the various search engines. It needs to be found—you need to be found. When I search for a new author, I hope to see their website/blog showing up on the first couple of pages of a Google search, ideally the first one.
Study after study shows that WordPress, more than any other platform, is a favorite of Google. Google search bots just love WordPress – read about it here. Research shows that Google just loves finding and searching WordPress sites. Read more about it here, here and here. There’s just something about the way it is coded that makes Google happy. Even Google’s chief engineer Matt Cutts can wax philosophical about WordPress.
Because of this, WordPress sites innately rank higher in searches. This isn’t true of other choices that are available to create a site. Although most other platforms can end up at the same point that WordPress starts at for discoverability, in many cases you must do a lot of work to get there. There are blogs posts and YouTube videos available that describe what you need to do. I’ve read them and watched them. The posts leave me wondering why anyone would put that kind of work in unless they want a challenge. Again, an old saying – “Why re-invent the wheel?”
An old adage in business is “Shop where the Big Boys shop.” If you see a large number of big name companies using WordPress as the platform for their sites, you know it’s working for them, and it’ll work for you, too. I’m quite certain that they have done the research and come to the same conclusion I have.
Some examples of companies that use WordPress for their site are:
MIT Sloan, Vogue, CNN, Variety, TechCrunch, Fortune, Time Inc., Facebook Newsroom, Toyota, Glamour, Bloomberg Professional, Pulse by Target, The New Yorker, Sony Music, Xerox, Google Ventures (isn’t is interesting that Google Ventures uses WordPress and not Blogger for their site, considering Google owns Blogger…?).
Using WordPress is an investment, be it of your time, your money, or both, but, the long-term results far outweigh the costs. You are more likely to be discovered in searches, experience ease of use as you create and maintain your site, and, overall, be happier with how your site looks. After all, this site is a reflection of you—as a person and as an author.
You need something that complements you and your efforts. WordPress offers the opportunity to put your best foot forward.
About Barb Drozdowich:
Social Media and WordPress Consultant Barb Drozdowich has taught at Colleges and Universities, trained technical personnel in the banking industry and, most recently, used her expertise to help dozens of authors develop the social media platform needed to succeed in today’s fast evolving publishing world. She has published 6 books to help authors with various parts of their author platform, she owns Bakerview Consulting and manages the popular Romance Book blog, Sugarbeat’s Books.