When it comes to starting a blog, there are a host of platforms to choose from for building your website. Everyone has their own opinion as to which is best, which means you’ll need to wade through a lot of reviews to find the ideal option for you.
For me, WordPress was the obvious choice. The decision was a blend of chance, personal preference, and financial considerations. So far, I haven’t regretted it at all.
In the hope that it will help you determine whether you want to blog with WordPress yourself, I’ve decided to share a little introduction to the platform. I’ve followed it with four key reasons I use it to run this site. Let’s dive in!
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What Is WordPress?
First, a vocabulary lesson. WordPress is a “Content Management System” (CMS). This means it’s an online platform primarily for writing, formatting, and publishing articles (and, to a lesser extent, images and other media):
WordPress was created by bloggers for blogging. If you’re attempting to get into the hobby or industry yourself, using this platform to do so will mean you’re in good company. It has all the basic features you need to create a website and start writing posts without any coding knowledge.
To add to WordPress’ credibility, it’s expanded over the past decade and a half to create all kinds of websites. It’s now the platform behind more than a third of the sites on the web.
There’s a whole lot more that could be said about the platform’s history, the programming behind it, and what it can do. I’ll touch on a few of these concepts below, but digging into all of them would make for a very long post.
I also want to note that I’m going to be focusing on self-hosted WordPress (WordPress.org), not the hosted platform WordPress.com.
If you want more information about what goes into launching a site with WordPress, check out my guide on How to Start a Blog.
Why I Blog With WordPress (4 Key Reasons)
When I finally decided to start my own blog, choosing a platform to do it on was a no-brainer. However, if you’re not familiar with the various options available for building a website, you may want to consider the four points below to determine if it could be the right choice for you, too.
1. It’s the Platform I’m Familiar With
I was introduced to WordPress right after I finished my undergraduate degree. I’d been hired to write posts for a digital media platform, and it happened to be the CMS they used.
I barely scratched the surface of WordPress’ capabilities back then. But the fact that I knew my way around the platform even a little bit made it possible for me to build upon my experience and knowledge to the point where, when it came time to start my own blog, I didn’t contemplate doing it without WordPress.
All that said, if you’re already familiar with another platform, it very well could make sense for you to stick with it when launching your own site.
You can save yourself a lot of time if you don’t have to learn a new interface. Becoming an expert in one system can help you execute more advanced techniques for building and managing your blog, too.
2. It Gives You Control Over Your Content
When you start a blog, you’re carving out a space for yourself online. The last thing you want is for your platform to dictate what you display to your readers and how you share your content.
WordPress gives you more control over your content than platforms like Squarespace, Weebly, and Wix. This comes down to the fact that WordPress is a CMS, while these others are website builders.
There are some key differences between the two types of platforms:
- Software that you install on a server owned by another company (host). You have to do some degree of maintenance (such as installing updates).
- Focuses on creating, storing, and managing content (e.g., blog posts).
- You have access to your website’s server, and switching between platforms is relatively easy.
- Hosted platforms that take care of the technical stuff for you. Maintenance, security, and other necessities are included in your package.
- Focuses on designing static pages.
- You do not have access to the server, and changing platforms is difficult since each has its own proprietary system.
The key here is that with a CMS, you get to choose your hosting provider and the type of server you want to store your site on. This influences the amount of traffic your site can receive without crashing, how fast your content loads, and the extent to which you can grow your site through adding more posts as well as advanced features.
Another thing to keep in mind is that many website builders will place ads for their services on your site. You can usually pay to remove them, but you should have control over the brands your blog reps.
Plus, you aren’t getting paid to share these ads on your site. They’re the price you pay for your “free” account with the platform.
With WordPress, you get to decide whether or not you display ads on your blog, as well as how you do so. You always get paid for advertising other brands, rather than paying not to advertise for your platform.
3. There Are Extensive Customization Options
Another challenge of using a website builder like Squarespace or Wix is that they tend to churn out fairly generic sites. With limited templates and layouts available, it’s somewhat inevitable that your website will look like others built with the same platform.
WordPress has a huge range of extensions available to help you customize your site. They fall into two categories:
- Themes primarily control what your site looks like. They determine the layout of your posts and pages, as well as features such as your navigation menu and sidebar. Many are geared towards particular types of sites and will include some secondary functionality related to that niche. For example, you can find blog themes that will display related content at the end of your posts.
- Plugins focus on extending your site’s functionality. They enable users to turn their WordPress sites into online stores, track website analytics, apply Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and security best practices, and hundreds of other tasks.
There are literally tens of thousands of themes and plugins out there, and many are available for free. Between choosing a unique theme and mixing matching plugins, you can completely customize your site so that it doesn’t look like any other on the web.
4. It’s Relatively Affordable
When you start looking into self-hosted WordPress, you’ll probably see several mentions of how it’s “free”:
This is technically true. The platform is free, but you’ll need to pay for hosting and a domain at minimum. You may also want to invest in a premium theme or plugins. However, WordPress is still relatively affordable when compared with other platforms.
For reference, here’s how much I’ve spent on this website in its first year:
|Hosting (DreamHost Shared Unlimited plan)||$83.40/year|
|DreamShield Security (optional)||$3/month|
A few items of note here. Firstly, my hosting plan’s sign up promotion included my domain’s first year of registration. Next year, I’ll have to pay a renewal fee in order to keep it.
Also, my hosting plan includes a custom email address. This was a big reason I chose a slightly more expensive package.
I use a free theme, but I do have one premium plugin that I bought during a Black Friday sale at 40% off. The pricing for this tool is subscription-based, so I’ll have to pay a renewal fee on that next year as well.
This brings the cost of launching and maintaining my blog with WordPress to $172.80 for its first year. You could do it for less without premium plugins or additional security and a cheaper hosting plan.
Compare that with Squarespace’s Business Plan, which runs for $18 per month ($216 per year). It also has additional renewal fees for both domains and custom email addresses.
Choosing a platform to build your blog on is a serious decision. Switching to a different one isn’t always easy, as it can be time-consuming and costly. It’s smarter to do your research and select the right one the first time around than to jump into something you don’t understand.
I personally prefer to use self-hosted WordPress. I chose it for four key reasons:
- It’s the platform I’m the most familiar with.
- It gives you control over your content.
- There are extensive customization options.
- It’s relatively affordable.
Have questions about WordPress? Let me know in the comments, and don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter!
Featured Image Credit: Unsplash.