I’ve had a blog on WordPress.com for two years (thanks to my granddaughter Lorisa, age 11 at the time, who insisted). I’ve gotten pretty comfortable with it and have enjoyed using it to capture things I’m learning – mostly about writing, but also about playing the banjo – and to work through my thoughts about this and that. I think better with my fingers on a keyboard or holding a pen. Or a marker. I’m considering a future post extolling the glories of using a whiteboard to think.
But now I’m ready to graduate to a website of my own. I bought a domain (through Google Domains, $12/year) and signed up for a web hosting service (Site Ground, $3.95 a month). I’m using WordPress to build the site, with the aid of codex.wordpress.org, a step by step tutorial that suits my learning style to a T.
So many choices! I chose Google Domains, Site Ground, and WordPress because my uber-energetic writing friend Becki uses them, so I figured I’d piggyback off her research and – no small consideration – be able to ask her for help when I need it. Another factor was the speedy and helpful assistance I received via Site Ground’s chat support while setting up.
Then – to use Jetpack or not? The installation buttons and information are all over the place when I log in as admin. I found this blog post that convinced me to go ahead and do it. […] That was quick. Scared me a bit with its offer of a bunch of different plans starting at $39.99/year. What? No! Then I spotted a little button at the bottom that said “start with free.” Free is good.
Next was the critical choice of Theme. I started with the default WordPress theme for 2017 (creatively named Twentyseventeen) but then I met a writer whose website I love. Her name is Maren True and her website is marentrue.com. Maren uses Fluida and she said she didn’t mind if I copied her site, so I went ahead and activated Fluida – although I’m discovering my site is still going to look very different from hers by the time I’m through.
Loving the library
I think of myself as a trial-and-error learner, but that’s not exactly true. I prefer having a scaffold to hang information on and a net to catch me when the error part of trial-and-error shows up. It’s like traveling to a new city – I love discovering places on my own, but I still want a guidebook so I can make sure I don’t miss the best ones. My favorite guidebook at the moment is the Comic Guide by Nate Cooper. It seems to suit my learning style to a T. I don’t know how much I’ll actually use the html basics, since it seems like so much is already built in to WordPress and the Fluida theme, but I feel more comfortable knowing how to read the stuff that shows up when you right-click on a web page and ask to view the source.
Update: An expert to the rescue!
Well. I got distracted, and with one thing and another, my website was just hanging out there, unfinished, for several months. Now and then I’d think about finishing the setup, but as soon as I got started I realized I didn’t remember anything I’d done before. Lucky for me, I met Diane Shreve at a NaNoWriMo write-in.
Diane has lots of experience with WordPress, and she actually developed and maintains the website for a famous actor. When I met her, she gave me a few words of advice that helped kick-start my efforts to transition from draft mode to finished website. I made a bit of progress, but still had a bunch of nagging issues on my to-do list. The next time I saw her, we talked, and I discovered she was available. I hired her for a reasonable fee, and in less time than it would have taken me to review my notes on what I’d done so far, Diane transformed my clunky site to the elegant, professional-looking site you see before you. The current version uses the Brixton theme.
Here’s hoping I can keep it looking good.
If you have experience making this kind of transition or any advice for me, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.