For the past month, I’ve been learning about what’s really “under the hood”of my blog. It turns out to be even more complicated—and powerful—than I thought.
And now to our regularly scheduled blog post.
WordPress blogs are composed of four basic elements:
A lot on a blog changes besides the content. A lot changes outside the blog, too. (The best example of this is the new types of social media that keep cropping up. It’s important to integrate the popular ones with your blog.) Managing all of the elements and getting them to stay in synch can be difficult, time-consuming, or both. Any of them can potentially interfere with the others at any point in time. All of them are being constantly updated (improved!), which means you have to retest everything after you install an update or add a new feature.
Most are free, provided out of the goodness of people’s hearts—or, I might add in a very cynical way, their desire to test code for their businesses or hacking operations. You only have the word of the developer about how well they work and their level of compatibility with the version of WordPress you’re using. And there are literally tens of thousands of them now.
Anyway, after repeated notices about plug-in updates, I started performing them using the slow process recommended by my original blog builder. Backup the blog, update one plug-in, check its functionality, “deactivate” the plug-in if it caused any problems, and go on to the next plug-in. I did this in a half-hearted way until—
WordPress had two major updates that I was afraid to install because of the potential for breaking the plug-ins or even the whole blog. For months, I ignored repeated messages from WordPress. What I didn’t realize is that a lot of the plug-ins had already stopped working. Just quietly died away. The worst discovery was that the backup plug-ins had stalled out. Not backing up your blog is bad, bad, bad. I imagined losing nearly two years’ worth of writing, not having a site for clients or prospects to review, or even being hacked and having nothing to restore after the security leak was fixed.
Plus time was running out. My out-of-date blog was turning into a ticking time bomb.
BlogAid is a great resource created by MaAnna Stephenson. Here’s a direct link to her extensive list of extremely-reasonably-priced tutorial videos. She’s also available to build and maintain blogs. I won’t bore you with all of the details of our work together but when we’re finished, the blog will be fully updated, better set up for social media and subscriptions, and more safe and secure.
I’m just a writer and for many years, designers, production artists, and programmers “handled” my words and made them look nice in whatever media I had written them for. I wanted the blog very badly but didn’t want to work on it. Essentially, it’s as if I bought a car and drove it off the lot without either going to mechanics school or buying a maintenance contract. However, thanks to this experience, I intend to learn more. I may never be fully independent, but at least I’ll know what a blog consultant is talking about the next time I have a problem.
If you don’t have a blog yet but want one, you have a number of options: