Rebuilding my blog from the ground up was as simple as imagining what I wanted it to be and then doing it. I have a self-hosted wordpress blog which means that I have the power to customize my blog any way that I choose. Self hosting can be just as empowering as clicking publish and if you’re hesitant to start, here is how I did it along with a few handy tips.
1. Find a reliable and FRIENDLY host!
I was hosting with bluehost and we have had a bit of a love/hate relationship as of late…mostly hate. I manage sites for others and I’ve found that godaddy has had the best service when things have gone haywire. Loading wordpress to godaddy was as simple as a click of a button. Once inside my blog, I saw that godaddy even started providing their own set of wordpress themes, which I am not using because I have a “thing” against standardization…oddly.
2. Planning the Theme: Design elements and layout tentative
My wordpress site is powered by a theme framework called Headway. A theme framework enables users to create custom layouts either with code or without. Headway requires zero coding and is 100% drag and drop. With that said, it also enables users to insert code for even more customization. With headway, I could layout my blog any way that I wanted and design it using its internal visual design editor. I actually drew out by blog by hand, loaded headway, added a few design elements and then proceeded to make my new banner as detailed below.
3. Create custom blog graphics using Canva.com
Once I established the size needed for my banner, I proceeded to canva to create it. I have an adobe creative cloud license but I love that canva is a FREE web based design tool with its own library of free and premium ($1) images. I’ll be honest and say that this one took a while to do because I wanted clean, personal, elegant and NOT campy. I am not a “real designer” so I don’t have an eye for color or layout but using canva, I don’t have to. I shared my design process with a few friends via the link provided by Canva. I even enabled “editing” which opened my banner to collaboration. I almost gave up and went back to adobe but the more that I “tinkered”, the closer that I got to the finished product.
Once the banner was complete, I uploaded the image through Headway’s design tool.
Update: After further discussion with my brand manager, I decided to go with the banner image shown above as it definitely added a new flavor to my blog. While he did not use canva, it is still most certainly a powerful tool!
4. Exporting the Old and Importing Into the New
WordPress has a menu option for exporting and importing located under “tools”. First, I exported my postings with attachments from rndesigns. If you are exporting and you have images, always choose the “with attachment” option. I made this mistake last time. Doing this kept my postings, images and comments in tact. The export file created an xml file which I saved to my desktop. In essence, Importing followed the same steps but in reverse. From “tools”, I chose import and followed the prompts. All of my postings were saved along with my images.
5. Fixing the Kinks
I never said this process was perfect. There were a few kinks but they were fixable.
- The disqus (social commenting) plugin doesn’t work with headway…yet. Until the new release, I had to disable disqus and stick to standard commenting. I do not like this btw.
- Mobile redirection was an issue for some reason. With a call to godaddy, I learned where the “convert to mobile” option was in my hosting panel and turned it off. Btw, thanks to my PLN for pointing this out!
- My canva image wouldn’t save. Canva is still in beta so every now and then, strange things happen. I did a screen capture with the image on 100% and the world was great again.
- I lost my stats from my old site and this was something that I wasn’t concerned with. With a simple redirect from my bluehost panel, all visitors will head to my new domain instead.
6. Know that it’s still a work in progress!
Today just happened to be a turquoise kind of day. I will more than likely change the layout again in the next six months and it’s ok. The beauty of self hosting is that my “brand of me ” (presenting my ideas) will always be my choice.