Last week I talked about why you need a platform before you’re published or even contracted. I also mentioned that I advocate self-hosted WordPress. I know many of you are Blogger fans, and I want to explain why I believe WordPress is the better option.
Why should authors use self-hosted WordPress?
1. Because guests can subscribe to comments for a single post.
Do you get how valuable that is? As an author who is frequently a guest on other people’s blogs, think how awesome it is when I can click “subscribe to comments” and know I’ll be notified by email when someone comments on my guest post or interview! This allows me to interact with interested folks whether it’s that day or several weeks later. I don’t need to keep checking back.
It also allows the commenter to be notified if the post’s author comes back and answers his or her question. Everyone’s time is worth something, isn’t it? We want to be heard, but we can’t spend all our waking hours ensuring it.
2. Because spam comments are nearly nonexistent.
I love this. I’m part of a small group blog on Blogger where as many as 60 spam comments a day are logged if the captcha is turned off. But who likes jumping through the silly captcha hoops? No one, that’s who.
Akismet is a free plugin for a self-hosted WordPress site that assesses every comment to see if it looks like spam. It automatically shuttles spammy comments into a separate folder so you can check them yourself if you want to. I quit doing that after months of Akismet never being wrong. Very occasionally it will let an innocent-looking spam comment through, but it’s rare. This plugin is gold.
3. Because the look of your site is completely customizable.
I’ll admit Blogger’s drag-and-drop WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) dashboard looks great. It beats hunting through html code for the snippets to customize.
Both platforms allow you to apply various themes. There are companies who create WordPress themes and sell them, but there are plenty of free ones that will work for you as long as you need them to. You can change them without rebuilding everything (in most cases).
You can add and arrange as many pages as you want or need. You can have a blog on the front page or behind a tab. One sidebar, two sidebars, no sidebar—the choice is yours.
You can add custom contact forms, polls, shopping carts, podcasts, slideshows, squeeze pages—whatever you desire. In virtually every case, there are free plugins and paid plugins, so you can choose what suits your budget now and upgrade later if you need more options.
WordPress sites are also easy to integrate with social media.
- 4 Reasons authors should use self-hosted WordPress: click to tweet
- Are you on self-hosted WordPress? Should you be? 4 Reasons why the answer is YES! click to tweet
4. Because you can do it yourself.
I’m no techno-geek, trust me. Yet I’ve built and maintained several WordPress websites over the past five years. I’ve taught myself some basic HTML and know where to look up coding I don’t use often.
When I began to need a more complex theme than the available free ones, I hired Margaret McGaffey Fisk to launch my author site into a paid theme, which I can now maintain on my own with occasional forays into Google or asking Margaret if I can’t remember how to do something.
I think it’s very important for anyone to be able to maintain their own site, even if they hire the grunt work out. You want to—nay, need to—be able to tweak things on the fly.
In short, there is no better platform available in 2013 for helping you build your platform!
Image of hands courtesy of Teerapun at FreeDigitalPhotos.net