Monday, January 26, 2015

5 Things to Consider About WordPress (from a casual blogger'sperspective)

Here's the thing. I can go on and on about the lovely features of WordPress and why you should transfer your blog to self hosted WP but you've probably read 10 million articles gushing about the same features.

Admittedly, I was attracted to self hosted WordPress for the features. I jumped the gun without thinking much of the other things that comes with the WordPress package. I don't regret it. Blogging is a huge passion of mine so I chose to invest in WordPress.

I am a casual blogger. I'm a full time student so blogging isn't my job. I don't earn money off my blog (aside from $0.01 from my Google Adsenses) or ten thousand sample products. I don't speak fluent HTML or CSS - I Google all the codes I need to customize the blog I want. I don't have fancy web designing/graphics skills. And I don't have 10k followers. Blogging is a passion of mine but I do it casually and for myself.

If you classify yourself as a "casual blogger" , here's five things to consider when switching over to self hosted WordPress.

1. The Cost

If your blog isn't aimed at generating an income of some sort, then your hobby for blogging just got slightly more expensive. You can host a WP blog without breaking the bank but compared to free Blogger or just a yearly fee to have a domain name, the cost is something to consider about self hosted WP.

On top of the hosting fees, you should consider the price of WordPress themes. They're much more expensive than a traditional Blogger template. For example, an average Blogger theme from a well known designer can cost about $150 (entire custom design) where as an entire WP theme can run you up about $500! Aside from premium themes, some best or custom plug-ins can cost you some money too.

Back on Blogger, I paid about $10/year. $10 for my domain name and I designed my own Blogger template. Since switching over to WordPress, my expenses have gone up to $60/year plus any additional themes I would buy in the future (which is unlikely).

2. HTML/CSS... and PHP

You've read that WP is extremely customizable and yes, it's true... if you know how to design a blog. I know the basic of HTML and CSS but don't talk to me about PHP. I didn't think it'd be THIS bad but yes, I would say you have to know more than the basics of coding for WP if you want to tweak your theme a bit.

Don't get me wrong. Most themes on WP have a simple customizer feature that allows you to edit basic stuff such as site title, widget placements and logo/banner. But if you want to center your entire menu or adjust the width of your blog, you'll have to go into your theme's files and start tweaking it a bit. It get's confusing when your basic knowledge of HTML is bolding, underlining, etc.

3. Strict Designs

Adding to the ability to speak fluent codes, if you're like me and sort of just want a template for your blog and be able to upload a lovely banner, tweak the colours to match your banner and call it day... well, that'll be tough.

Back on Blogger, I used the Simple Template. I made a new banner every now and then and edit the colours and fonts on my blog to everything looks nice. On WP, very few themes that I came across takes headers. Many of them are aimed towards businesses so they allow you to upload a 150x150 but not your fancy 875x346 banner. If it does, it might look distorted. The best way is to design a header that is based on the recommended pixel sizes that theme suggests. Sometimes it works out but most of the time it's just testing your creativity habits.

To fully customize your blog, you'll have to pay for premium themes or learn to code/design a WP blog.

4. Limited Support

Remember how you can easily Google your question and it'd give fool proof tutorials/CSS codes for Blogger to get your blog the way you want it to look? You can't do that with WP (unless it's with an extremely popular WP theme such as twentytweleve or twentyeleven). Sure you can send an e-mail to your theme's designer but most free themes would not have support. And while there is a chance that someone is asking the same question, there's a high chance that the solution won't work with your theme for many reasons.

There are so many sites that are dedicated to customizing Blogger and tips and tricks for Bloggers. Those sites rarely exist for WP and if they do, sometimes it gets confusing because all themes are different!

5. Viruses and Deleted Sites

Plugins? Super fun! I love checking out the plugins page and see which ones I can download. Same with themes! If I'm not in the mood to make a new header, I can easily transform the blog into a nicely coded site without any graphics (and without doing the work :P). So, if you're not gifted in Photoshop, don't worry - WordPress has SO many beautiful themes that are text based only that gives your blog a different and beautiful look.

That being said, the more you download for your blog, the higher the chances of getting a virus. There's also risks of hackers targeting WordPress blogs. There's a chance of deleting your entire blog with a push of a button. You can easily mess up your blog if you mistakenly delete part of a code. You can corrupt your blog if you accidentally delete a file.

It's scary.

But WordPress is so fun and so amazing! Despite my limitations, I don't regret switching over to WordPress. I'm currently taking coding classes online to help with my blog. I'm learning more about WordPress everyday. The list of features that everyone raves about is definitely worth it even with the tedious backstage work.

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