Welcome to my New Blog!

  I feel thrilled, delighted and a few other gushy emotions, to welcome you to my new blog.

It’s taken a while. I bought the domain name a year ago and then decided to keep my writing blog where it was at Writing a River on Blogger. Then, when I did decide become a grown-up writer with her own url, I ran into a few of those things known as “technical difficulties.”

Okay, let’s be honest, most of those technical difficulties had less to do with computer malfunction than operator incompetence.

The good news is that I have learned so much about how to set up a blog in the last few weeks and can now share my new knowledge with other writers who feel equally overwhelmed by the vastness in this tiny corner of the computer world.

Usually I’m good with vastness. Sea and sky are completely unfathomable, but by the ocean, or under the stars, I fizz with energy, love and peace. (And yes my love of sea and sky is reflected in this blog’s design.) But put me in front of a numbers, symbols, codes and technical words though, and the thought of trying to understand the unfathomable feels exhausting and terrifying. At least it did until a few days ago.

If you are a writer who would like to blog, and you think themes are ideas explored in literary works, then the world of blogging will be just as baffling to you as it was to me not long ago.

Have you ever left a comment asking for advice on a blogging forum and understood only one word of the reply? (And that word was: “Hi.”)

That was me just a few weeks ago.

I thought I could handle it, largely because I thought my daughter could handle it. I thought all I had to do was squeal at her when I didn’t understand what to do, and she’d work her magic and get my blog looking beautiful.

That theory had flaws –

  • My daughter knows CSS, but she doesn’t know WordPress. She knows how to create themes on Tumblr. There’s a differences or two (or two thousand.)
  • The theory didn’t account for me making a mistake before we’d even begun.
Mistakes I made and lessons I’ve learned.

I have another WordPress blog, Inquiring Parent, that’s been hosted by Go Daddy for a year. The hosting came free with a blogging course I took. When that year was almost up, I started exploring other hosts, thinking I might change.

My first mistake was checking the renewal date of my domains but not my hosting account. I assumed they were the same. I was wrong. Last year, after getting the hosting deal, I must have procrastinated for a couple of weeks before I bought the domains. So the renewal dates didn’t tally and hosting’s expiry was looming.

Lesson learned: check renewal date of hosting, even if your domain renewal date is still a few weeks away.

Moving a blog to another host takes time, particularly if it isn’t already set up on cPanel. I’d never even heard of cPanel, and had no idea if my blog had one or not! By the time I’d figured out it didn’t, I had less than a week left till expiry day! One company I contacted said it took at least a week. You could say I felt a little overwhelmed.

In the end, I decided to stay with Go Daddy, upgrading to a package that allows up to five blogs. While this saved having to transfer Inquiring Parent to a new hosting company, it still needed move to a new server. A very patient man at Go Daddy’s Tech support talked me through this task.

I now know what a cPanel is! (It stands for Control Panel – now that took a lot of figuring out didn’t it?)

Because I planned to have 2 blogs on the same account, this nice man explained that I needed to pick one as the primary blog. I don’t think that’s the technical name for it, but the important part is I chose this domain. After all, it is my name, so it made sense. Transferring Inquiring Parent before I’d set up this blog possibly made less sense. (In my defence, I had been “live-chatting” or phone-chatting to blog hosts for days, and with time zone differences most of these chats went on till late at night. Plus, just looking at that cPanel had me in a mild panic.)

Still a few days later, I thought I knew enough to set up this blog on my own. I remember very clearly looking at the button that said: Enable Multi-site, and saying to myself, “I must not click that.”

Apparently, I went ahead and clicked it anyway.

I’m can’t tell you all the problems of having an unintentional multi-site, but I do know that it makes following instructions for how to add anything to your blog mighty confusing! When you have a multi-site you become “network admin,” but you are also a user. So there are two dashboards – the network and your blog’s dashboard.

I didn’t realise my mistake straight away because I thought this strange dashboard titled, “Network Admin,” must be something to do with having two blogs on the same cPanel. I was a little puzzled when I couldn’t reach Inquiring Parent’s dashboard from my Network Admin, but then I’ve spent most of the last year staring at Inquiring Parent’s dashboard feeling puzzled. Without Fabulous Blogging’s post on Categories and creating menus, it would still have two tabs on its menu bar. (This might be hard to believe, but really, I am intelligent. It’s just that until a few weeks ago I was scared I’d do something wrong and destroy my blog!)

Lesson learned: Having two blogs managed through one control panel does not mean they are on a network!

Still, I soldiered on, trying to decide on a theme. My daughter tested out Weaver II, available free for WordPress, but we couldn’t get the look I wanted, so I decided to spend some money. We narrowed it down to Prophoto, Genesis or X, a new theme from Themeco. I was close to settling on Prophoto, even though it was by far the most expensive, when we took another look at X. This theme is unusual because it has several designs built into one. Each framework is referred to as a “stack,” and when we went back for another look, Themeco had just launched a new stack: Ethos. That’s what you see on this blog!

The technical hitches weren’t over – the biggest headache was trying to create a full-width header. As you can see, it’s there, so we succeeded! My daughter created the image, and when it didn’t fit, I spent a week messaging back and forth with Themeco’s support. (Partly it took so long because of differing time zones.) When I didn’t understand one of the replies, I rang Go Daddy’s staff. I’ve heard less than wonderful things about Go Daddy’s tech support, but, honestly, my experience is that these guys are close to saints!

0001-2494835-2My blog is no longer a multi-site, and today, all by myself I managed to find a solution to a problem with a cool feature on the Ethos Stack – the Topic Filter. Go over to my home page and take a look! Click any topic and without having to leave the page you will see the list of posts, all with thumbnails and extracts. Click a different topic and you’ll see a new list. Another cool feature is being able to make the bands of colour I’ve got in this post. I even managed to figure out how to do that just by following instructions and figuring it out!

In my next post, I’ll do a full review of the Ethos stack, and explain the problem I had with the filter and the easy solution I found!

Then, for those of you who have technical abilities akin to my own, over the next few posts I’ll be explaining why a cPanel isn’t as scary as it looks, as well as suggesting ways to avert a few blogging disasters. Explanations will be in plain English and with pictures.

So do come back soon. The sign up box for email is in the side bar just opposite the top of this post, or I’m on Bloglovin!

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  1. Oh Yvonne!!! This looks absolutely AMAZING!!!!! I am SO completely impressed with all you did to get this up and running! WOW. I cannot fathom all that work, and blood sweat and tears as it all unfolded. But you figured it ALL OUT!!

    My hubs is my ‘tech guy’ so I basically read the “hi” on all the info about this stuff. LOL

    LOVE LOVE LOVE this blog!! Beautifully done, my friend. WELL worth the efforts!!

  2. Author

    Yay! Christine! Yours is the first ever real comment on this blog (all the rest came sneaking over from Writing a River, except for the spam ones!)
    So glad you like the look of it too, I am so excited about it.
    Your husband must be a great guy to have around for these kinds of problems. Mine can take a computer apart and put it back together, but he doesn’t know anything about blogging! Still he just brought me a cup of tea, so I’m not complaining!
    Thank you so much for being my first commenter!!

  3. Congrats on the new blog! It looks great!

    Also, thanks or the unintentional reminder I needed to double check when my own hosting and domain needed to be renewed! I knew it was some time in July or August (turns out, it’s both! LOL).

  4. Congratulations. It always feels good to get it done 😉 I need to set up a reminder for when my stuff is supposed to renew. I shouldn’t count on getting that e-mail, it might go to spam or something.

    1. Author

      Thanks Kenya, and yes, it feels so good to have learned so much in such a short time! Setting up a reminder would be wise, yes!

    1. Author

      I better get writing then Carrie-Anne! 🙂
      I have taken quite a few screen-shots along the way, largely so I knew what to do if (when) it all went wrong and I needed to start again. However, it also means I should be able to illustrate my posts!

  5. very nice looking site… totally impressed by your persistence-accomplishment, I believe I have a ‘cpanel’ somewhere but I can say that I go to my site (on my server at blue host) less than twice a year.
    nice work.

    1. Author

      Thanks Clark! I’m really pleased with the site now. Less than twice a year is probably how often most people visit their cPanels! (Sounds so odd saying that doesn’t it?)

  6. Wow Yvonne that sounds like a nightmare! I’m so glad it’s over for you, and that your daughter and the tech staff at GoDaddy were so helpful. Julie’s tutorials can be so helpful, as well. Thank goodness you managed to do it all without falling completely to pieces.

    And well done for writing such a helpful and comprehensive post for anyone else in a similar situation as you.

    Hope the new blog goes beautifully well 🙂

    1. Author

      Oddly, LIzzi, it didn’t feel like a nightmare, at least not once I’d made the decision about hosting. That was by far the most stressful part!

      During the last call I had with Go Daddy, having explained my lack of knowledge to the nice tech support guy, he talked me through finding files in my cPanel and actually clicking on them to look inside! I’d not gone near them because – well – they might have exploded or something. 🙂 They didn’t!

      So anyway, the tech support guy said that soon I’d be able to build websites for other people and make lots of money. I have not reached that level of competence, but it did sum up how I’ve felt – all along I’ve been learning, learning, learning. There’s something really satisfying about being able to get to grips with something that has terrified you! And as you noticed, it does mean I can share what I’ve learned with people who feel how I did a few weeks ago.
      Thanks for your kind wishes! We both have new blogs now.

  7. Your site looks fantastic! I’m one of those people who thought themes were only things explored in literary texts until I started blogging. I’m still none the wiser when it comes to CSS and all the rest though. There is a lot of operator incompetence masquerading as computer malfunction at my house 🙂 Very pleased to hear your explanations are going to be in plain English with pics!

    1. Author

      Thanks Lizzy! I am really pleased with how it looks. Blogging does open up a whole new language to us doesn’t it? 😀

  8. Author

    Thanks Susan! These are among my favourite colours, sounds like maybe they are for you too?

  9. Gorgeous site. Lovely. Congratulations. I’m also impressed at your determination and new knowledge. I’m a new subscriber.

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