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What is a Content Management System (CMS) and how does it help me as a writer?

Updated on March 9, 2012
 Use a CMS to monetize your writing
Use a CMS to monetize your writing

Making money with you own web site as a writer

In my Hub Making Money as a Writer: Beyond HubPages, I explained one way that I have been able to make money with both my own writing and the writing of freelancers who offer content on my web sites. In explaining my path, I mentioned that I used a Content Management System (CMS) to build and maintain these sites. It seems that I hit a nerve as several folks were interested in hearing more about what a CMS is, what it does, and how it can translate into money for writers.

Beyond just explaining the basics of a CMS, I thought it would be beneficial to explain why I chose my CMS, and how it helps me mange my sites while also proving for a rich user experience for the visitors to those sites.

First, we will review the basics Content Management Systems. A CMS is simply a platform from which to build a web site. The difference in a CMS and a normal HTML site is that a CMS maintains the information in a database, and they offer tremendous flexibility in terms of content delivery, updates, and presentation. Most writers are familiar with WordPress, which is simply a blogging CMS. Two other Content Managements Systems that are both free and very popular are Joomla and Drupal. In each of these platforms, you will find a robust community of engaged users, and plenty of modules that can add functionality to your site.

After reviewing three major CSMs, I chose Joomla as my platform. I also reviewed WordPress and Drupal, as potential contenders. I ultimately chose Joomla because it seemed to have the right combination of features, community interaction, and simplicity of use. To be clear, there is a bit of a learning curve with Joomla as with any application, but users can very quickly begin adding content and manage a site once it is up.

Once I made a selection, I loaded Joomla to my hosted server (Joomla is free by the way), and began to work through some design ideas for the site. Using the community forum, I found a “best of” site that matched closely with some of my design ideas. From there, I found an excellent Joomla freelancer in Vietnam, who created my template for about $225. (More on that in another hub)

My freelancer loaded my template and I began adding content to my site. With Joomla, it becomes rather easy to post and upload your new articles and they are very easily mapped to the hierarchy of the site. A Joomla tutorial can get you publishing almost immediately. Having designed my menus and hierarchies in advance, I then began adding content to each menu to fill in the sites information. I also contracted with freelance writers to add additional content more quickly. In less than a month, I had over 80 unique pages, and began moving up in the Google and Yahoo ranks for my keywords. These sites are now generating thousands of unique visitors per month, and they are producing income via Adsense. Now that I am beginning to hit some critical mass relative to traffic, I am working to monetize these sites in other ways.

This story will continue with additional hubs that expand on how my path to online earning and offer additional hubs that delve deeper into my path for making money as a writer and publisher.

Parent Hub:

Make Money Writing: Beyond HubPages

The example site discussed in this Hub:

Land Between the Lakes Guide


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    • T. R. Brown profile image

      T. R. Brown 6 years ago from Nashville, TN


      I am realy glad this is going to help you out. Thanks for reading!

    • lifelovemystery profile image

      Michelle Orelup 6 years ago from Houston, TX

      I've built a few custom sites on, but it is flash based so it doesn't appear on smart phones. I recently purchased another domain name and was looking for a new platform. This is wonderful information!

    • T. R. Brown profile image

      T. R. Brown 6 years ago from Nashville, TN

      Marisa and Naimishka,

      I hope that helps. I will add more hubs with additional detail soon.


    • Marisa Wright profile image

      Kate Swanson 6 years ago from Sydney

      "I have a few sites built in WordPress and I didn’t have to freelance those, so it is more user friendly." Ah, yes. Being able to build the site myself was one of my main criteria, and that's the reason I rejected Joomla - its learning curve seemed quite a bit steeper. Thanks for the explanation.

    • T. R. Brown profile image

      T. R. Brown 6 years ago from Nashville, TN

      Naimishika, thanks for the response. I does take time, but the opportunities are there.

    • T. R. Brown profile image

      T. R. Brown 6 years ago from Nashville, TN and Marisa thanks for the comments. I will add a link to a couple of my sites so you can check out the work my freelancer handled.

      I may write a more in-depth hub about how I chose Joomla, but the short version is that I was impressed with the some of the extensions that existed, and I felt like over time I could leverage Joomla's capabilities to build more sophisticated offerings. The directories, the comments, the social networking, etc. It seemed to be pretty robust, and while I like WordPress for some applications, it seemed at the time, to be a blogging platform rather than a full blown CMS (I understand it has improved in that regard). That said, I have a few sites built in WordPress and I didn’t have to freelance those, so it is more user friendly.

      As far as Drupal, I didn't get into it as deeply, because my research suggested that the learning curve was greater and the user community wasn't quite as large.

      That is the quick answer.

      Thanks so much for reading!

    • Marisa Wright profile image

      Kate Swanson 6 years ago from Sydney

      I went through the same process and ultimately chose Wordpress. I'd also love to see more information on this Hub as to how you compared the different programs and where Wordpress and Drupal fell short.

    • profile image 6 years ago from Ft Washington

      Thanks for the input T.R Brown. this is a good article. Having worked with CMS, Wordpress and joomla I expected you to go with word press. I'd love to get more insight on why you didn't. I also had a challenge finding a link to your site. What is this 225 website the freelancer built for you.

      God Bless and wish you the best.


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