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Blessing in disguise – the reset I didn’t know I needed

Last week Thursday I broke my website. I don’t mean something glitched. I mean I caused irrevocable damage that my host needed to reset it. Default settings. Clean slate. Oy vey.

I’ve mentioned before that this is a learning process for me. I’ve gone on an adventure and I’m figuring it out as I go along. Thank you therapy for helping me find coping mechanisms under stress instead of getting more anxious. I mean it. If this had happened earlier in the year, I would have been distraught.

Instead, I laughed, a lot. Trust me to break something this badly when all I wanted to do was create a cool new home page. It turns out that when you want to load foundational elements they can’t go on top of all the other customisations and layers. It’s quite logical now, in hindsight of course, because it makes sense that the “starter” bits need to be there first, right? Well, I didn’t give this any thought Thursday evening when I had some time on my hands and decided to fiddle.

Ruin is the road to transformation. – Liz Gilbert, Eat Pray Love

We can’t truly transform if we don’t break down what isn’t working first. And most of the time we don’t know it’s not working. We just keep going with the programming we have and expect a different outcome. Am I still talking about a website? Yeah probably not, but it applies here too.

It turns out that resetting and starting from scratch is a blessing in disguise. Just when I thought all was lost, it allowed me to put my newfound skills to work. Over the past three months, I’ve learned plenty about WordPress, its themes and plugins, and instead of making small changes here and there, the reset allowed me to set up the website I envisioned all along. I loaded the templates I wanted and customised every container, block, widget, link, page, colour – you name it!

It’s taken me all weekend, but I’m super proud of the result.

So here’s my advice if you want to set up your own website, and you’re like me – not a developer.

    • Get a host. I use domains.co.za and they’re fantastic. Well-priced, excellent service and you get this nifty dashboard that even a novice can understand.
    • Load WordPress (domains will do this for you).
    • Choose a theme. Do some research on what themes are suited to the type of website you want to set up.
    • Research. Research. And more research. Seriously, google everything. For example: what’s the best WordPress theme for a podcast? What plugins do I need to optimise the Astra theme? How do I get the page title to not show? How do I resize an image? Literally anything, google it. There will be an article, blog post, or forum on everything you ask. You will not be the first person to want to know how to do something.
    • Find the free version of everything you can before you commit to paying for expensive plugins or software that you are not sure you’ll keep in the long run. Pay for the good stuff. Your hosting is a must.
    • Be kind to yourself. Yeah, I said that. You will feel stupid for sure when you can’t figure something out, but you will also feel tremendously rewarded when you do. It’s OK to be a beginner at something.

My most important piece of advice is that even if you’ve set it up and it doesn’t make you happy, it’s not a failure. You learned so much with every step that you know you can do it again – and better because you will see where you went wrong the first time.

You only fail when you don’t try.

With all that said, I’m feeling excited about my new site. Besides the awesome new home page giving you a bit more info on what to expect on the rest of the site, I’ve also done the following:

    • I’ve reloaded the content as best I could recovering from screenshots and early drafts. (I’m currently researching backup plugins to prevent this from happening again. We get smarter from our mistakes.) 
    • I’ve added new images made with Canva Pro. I finally figured it out and the paid version makes my life easier.
    • I created a page dedicated to the YOU ChooseDay feature which as of December will happen on the 1st ChooseDay (or Tuesday) of every month (instead of weekly because I have so much planned, I need to have time for it all). 
    • Imported the subscriber database (thankfully this was a plugin that works independently from WordPress too). If you don’t get an update when this is posted, please try to subscribe again – maybe it needs a “yes I’m still interested” nudge.

What I could not do, unfortunately, is recover the comments you lovely people left on my content. Feel free to make it weird and go comment again! I’m here for it!

The site looks better, flows better, and hopefully showcases my content better, so talking about comments, let me know what you think!

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