To my non-blogging friends: This will probably be gibberish to you.
Thank you for your indulgence.
It’s been just over a year, (Jan. 18), since I took the plunge and switched my free WordPress.com blog to a self-hosted one at WordPress.org. For those not familiar, a free blog lets you use their hosting platform and they take care of all the behind the scenes maintenance. With a self-hosted one, you have to handle that yourself, and pay for the privilege! There are multiple advantages though, such as having total control of your site, from design to content.
Sound intimidating? Imagine my reaction when the first email came in.
Holy Shit! What have I got myself into here? Actually, I was somewhat ready for this, after one false start a couple of months earlier, which left me a nervous wreck. You can read all about that here.
Prior to making the switch, I had mastered some HTML tricks and started learning about CSS, in order to tweak the design of the blog, using a prefab theme. This was a huge learning curve and based solely on trial and error – and Google. I’d be lost without Google! Imagine the feeling of accomplishment, when, after months of trying, I finally figured out how to widen the content area! Yes, I could have asked for help, but much prefer to figure things out on my own.
My current challenge is taking steps towards monetization; an idea I’ve been resisting. Commercialism often stifles creativity and the last thing I want is for blogging to seem like a job and rob me of my muse. On the other hand, running a self-hosted website is time consuming and expensive, so it would be ideal to offset some of those costs. Who knows? Perhaps some day, after retiring from the dog business, I’ll become an online mogul, (or a best-selling author, whichever comes first).
The Blogosphere is a wonderful, supportive community, filled with people eager to help.
A big THANK YOU to those who have helped me along the way!
I wouldn’t have made it this far, without you.
I first discovered Adrienne’s site in the fall of 2012, while browsing the net, looking for blogging tips. There was a treasure trove of those, as well as a page where she invites people to “Promote Yourself“. This was perfect for a novice, but my expectations were fairly low at that point. She was obviously a VIP and surely wouldn’t take the time to interact with someone so inexperienced. Imagine my surprise when she replied within a few hours! She truly lives up to her reputation as the “Engagement Superstar”, giving freely of her knowledge and also sharing personal glimpses into her life. I’ve learned so much from her!
Bren first caught my attention commenting on Jan Bierens’ site. I followed the link to her blog, which was all about a handsome “Pibbles” named Titan. As a fellow dog person, there was an instant rapport. In the sidebar was a link to “My Girly Parts”, which, along with women’s issues and personal stories, also offered some great blogging tips. Bren invited me to write my inaugural guest post there and also accepted me into her “Bloggy-Verse”. She’s great at post promotion too!
I met Corina through Bren Lee. Her first website helps people find home-based jobs and I was curious about that. Not only did she take the time to offer advice, but we also became friends and share a love of dogs and rock music. Her other site, “Not Now Mom’s Busy”, talks about many aspects of life. A popular regular feature is “I’m Every Woman Weekly“, which curates interesting articles from various contributors. It was my honour to be included in that group.
Corinne is a talented writer and motivational speaker. We crossed paths often in the Blogosphere, but I became more familiar with her and her websites after joining “The Writer’s Post” Facebook group. From there, I discovered her “Write Tribe” site, which offers great advice, challenges and encouragement to writers. One was the weekly “55 Fiction” prompt. Imagine having to tell a complete story from beginning to end, using only 55 words! That was a fun exercise and prompted me to enter a contest, whereby you have to tell a story including seven specific words. Winning that really made my day and encouraged me! Corinne then invited me to write a guest post for her “Living Gratitude” series at “Everyday Gyaan”. Truly a challenge, as the subject matter was out of my comfort zone, but that’s a good thing!
Harleena Singh is another talented writer. Her excellent, in depth articles at Aha!NOW, a personal development blog, are not only insightful, but expertly researched. There’s also a “Share Your Problems” section, for those seeking advice. If Adrienne is the “Engagement Superstar”, then Harleena is the “Commenting Superstar”. It’s always a pleasure to read her responses! In addition to that, she has a formidable social media presence and is willing to engage and share. Her Freelance Writing site is her professional portfolio.
Jan is one of the first bloggers I started following regularly and through him, met several others. At the time he was dispensing blogging and technical advice with a sense of humour. He was also kind enough to answer my questions about self-hosted sites when I first expressed an interest. His attentions have now turned to something else he’s very good at – photography.
Jennifer approached me to write an article about pet-sitting for her weekly online magazine. That’s my area of knowledge so I had a lot to say. She suggested splitting it into Part I and Part II, airing a couple of weeks apart. That was great exposure, along with the many tweets, etc. as well. She does a wonderful job of putting this magazine together and even has a donations page for pet rescue organizations.
Lisa is an experienced webmaster and social media buff, whom I also met through Bren Lee. Her vast knowledge about Twitter and the ins and outs of the running a website are explained on her blog, for all of us to learn from. Want to know what’s new in the world of social media? Lisa has the answers and will tell you how it will help your site. She has a flair for engagement and I enjoy our conversations. We share a love of Southern California landscapes.
Mayura de Silva
Mayura is a web designer/developer/IT expert with a flair for teaching people. His site is all about blog improvement and he offers concise, step by step instructions, complete with illustrations. He makes everything seem so easy and thanks to him, they are. His professional services have a wonderful reputation, as seen by these testimonials. Also a master of engagement; his comments are thorough and a pleasure to read. We share a love of music and he enjoys my dog posts.
Omid is a self-described “computer [whiz] kid” and my personal guru. We met on a QnA forum, long before I started blogging. His site is a plethora of information and offers links to the best tools for computer safety and security. He’s my “go to” guy when I’m in a panic over something I can’t fix. Thanks to him, the loading speed of my blog has been much improved , despite all the widgets and gadgets on there. Always generous with his time; I’m proud to call him a close friend. Also a fellow music lover.
Paul is a retired web designer/developer and another close friend. His site is still active, in particular, a couple of fun and interesting pages which have reached international acclaim: Birthday Calculator and What Your Name Means. He’s one of my biggest boosters and has offered invaluable advice along the way. We share a distaste for winter weather, a love of music and an affinity for animals.
I met Sue through Adrienne’s blog. Her site is filled with excellent advice about writing well and reaping the benefits. Although “not a techie” (her words), she solved a problem between CCleaner and Google Chrome that was driving me nuts too! Her English Grammar Lessons are invaluable to every writer. We also share a love of animals and have traded dog stories. Sue is now a published novelist, with her ghost story, “The Reckoning” and is currently focused on writing more books.
Teresa and I met on the same QnA Forum as Omid. She’s another in a long line of talented writers I’ve had the pleasure of befriending online and it was thanks to her that I came to know many of them. She and two other wordsmiths run “Weekend Writing Warriors”, a Sunday writers’ blog hop, known as #8Sunday. It’s a friendly and supportive atmosphere for writers to share snippets from any type of work. Those with books can publicize them, as well. To be invited into that inner circle was a turning point, for me and my writing.
Last but not least, heartfelt thanks to my loyal followers and subscribers.
Without readers, there wouldn’t be much point.
Hope you’ll stay tuned and entertained!
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Looking forward to your comments!
Cartoons courtesy of BITSTRIPS Facebook app