WordPress is a PHP and MySQL-powered platform, free for download, using customizable template system and plug-in architecture. It currently is the most popular content management system on the internet, with a huge user base, and a vibrant community producing add-ons, plug-ins and templates that can meet any need you might have. This blog is run on WordPress, as are all of my sites (Adamant Entertainment and the Far West website, for example).
There are themes available for every conceivable site use, from magazine-style websites to artist’s portfolios. Many of these are freely available, although, to be honest, I tend to use premium professional themes, because they usually are more robustly tested, more stable, continually updated to reflect the latest iteration of the WordPress software, and offer support as part of their purchase price. My favorite premium theme company is Viva Themes, who charge $45 per theme. This blog is built from their Method theme, Far West is customized from the Amantina theme, and Adamant’s site was built around Republica. I’ve found their coding to be easily understood and adaptable, and the support forums covered any questions I have had.
There are plug-ins for a nearly countless variety of functions available for WordPress, and again, some are free and some are premium. One of the more important tools you should look into is some sort of eCommerce platform, allowing you to run a webstore on your site. Even though most of your sales will most likely occur via the market-leading site in your particular niche (Amazon if you’re writing books, for example), it’s always a good idea to be able to sell through your own site as well (not the least of which is because you earn a greater percentage of the sale price).
The eCommerce plug-in that I use (currently on Adamant’s webstore, and coming soon to the FAR WEST site as well) is Cart66. Cart66 costs $89 per year for a single-site license, integrates with most payment processors, and enables the selling of everything from digitally-delivered product to physical products and services. Here’s an overview of how it works:
Cart66 Overview from Lee Blue on Vimeo.
There are more ways to adapt WordPress than I could possible cover in a single blog entry — in fact, there are dozens of books that have been written about it, with more coming every month. I’m sure that some of you reading this have recommendations for really useful plug-ins, great themes and more — and I invite you to add them via the comments below.