As my first publication date approaches, I’ve realized that my website focuses more on my fellow writers than any readers I might pickup along this journey. And that’s a problem. I need to provide content for those future readers who might become fans, as well as anyone taking the writing journey with me.
I developed the original site in Python. (Did I mention I’m a jack of all trades?) But coding your own website also means updating that code for all the maintenance and any security updates that come along. And my primary job is not as a website developer. I’d rather be writing!
So I looked into finding another platform I could use easily without having to learn a new programming language. WordPress seemed to be the venue of choice amongst the author community and seemed like something I could pick up quickly. I took a course on Udemy and began building my new site.
I included a landing page where visitors can decide what type of content they want. If they find me as an author, they can go to the Reader’s Corner page. If they’ve stumbled across my writing tips and tricks, they can check out the Writer’s Hangout.
For now, I have the default landing page heading straight to the Writer’s Hangout. Once I publish the book, I’ll change that, so it starts with the Welcome page featuring the new book front and center.
I hope you like the new look and feel. Let me know in the comments.
For those of you curious about the process, I’ve detailed it below.
New Site Process
Figuring Out WordPress
For those who are interested, I took two Udemy courses: WordPress for Beginners by Andrew Williams and a more advanced course, WordPress Website Business Course by Gregg Davis. The beginners’ class was excellent and probably all you need to get started. I followed up with the advanced class because I wanted to understand some of the inner workings (like any amateur developer would).
Both courses explored different themes, some basic plugins to know, and how to customize the theme to suit your needs. I would recommend both courses, but start with the beginners’ class.
Migrating the Content
Once I figured how to use WordPress, and what theme fit my purposes, I built the site. Since I love figuring things out, this was a lot of fun.
Next came the work of loading the content from my existing site. This actually required some manual labor as I wasn’t able to use a simple migration program to transfer the data from a Python site to a WordPress site. But I made it through copying, formatting, and fixing the post content, adjusting image sizes and updating internal links. (Fingers crossed I didn’t miss any of those!)
Another thing I spent some time on was testing the contact and subscription forms. I set up two subscription forms—one for readers and one for writers—and I needed to test both. I got some funky results, but they seemed to work (mostly). I’ve got some tweaking to do there. And my contact form worked better than it did on the old site for sure.
Going Live (aka Headaches Abound)
The hairiest moment was actually going live with the new site. This required changing the WP site name, updating my DNS settings, and getting an SSL certificate assigned. (I’ve still got something funky going on there that I need to figure out. I’m afraid I’m going to have to get an expensive multi-site SSL, but I’m still troubleshooting, hoping I can resolve the issue with no extra money.)
Once the site was live, I logged into my Bitly account to update the shortened URLs used by my social media postings and found an ugly surprise there. Bitly had changed the free account and I could no longer modify my URLs. If I wanted to make changes, I had to upgrade to a $29/month account. Yikes!
This added one more big task to my go live checklist: manually updating all those past social media posts. Too bad Twitter doesn’t let you edit (yet). I spent most of the afternoon yesterday doing just that.
So the new site is up. It’s organized a bit more logically so I can add book information as I publish them. Let me know how you like it. And for sure let me know if you find any errors I need to correct.
Happy web surfing!