27 CommentsBlog-related, Business, Computers and Internet, Writing/Blogging

To my non-blogging friends: This will probably be gibberish to you.
Thank you for your indulgence.

Dear Webmaster 300px

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.
“Dear Webmaster”Who?Me???

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.

thanks for your help


Click on portraits to learn more about these great people and on the blog icons to visit their home pages.

Adrienne Smith

adrienne Smith


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 Lee

bren lee


all things bren - tumblr 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!


Corina Ramos

corina ramosworkfromhomeconceptsnot-now-moms-busyI 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 Rodrigues

corinne rodrigueseverydaygyaanwrite tribe

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

harleena singh

ahaNOWfreelance writer co.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 Bierens

jan bierens

jan bierens photography

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 Jones-Fiorentino

jennifer jones-fiorentino

pet center news

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 Buben

lisa buben

inspire to thrive

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 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 Farhang

omid farhang

omids site

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 Sadowski

paul sadowski


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.


Susan Neil

susan neil

write clever

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 Reckoningand is currently focused on writing more books.


Teresa Cypher

teresa cypher

dreamers lovers and star voyagers

wewriwaTeresa 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!

thanks for support

Please spread the love and share this post.

More blogging friends here

Looking forward to your comments!

Cartoons courtesy of BITSTRIPS Facebook app

Debbie D.
Canine Innkeeper in suburban Toronto, Canada, known as "The Doglady". Writer/website owner, photographer, animal lover, music fanatic, inveterate traveller. History, literature and cinema buff. Eternal "hippie/rockchick". Binational, German/Canadian and multilingual. Looking for the next adventure!
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  1. Wow! I seem to be reading blogs that I really NEEDED to read today. Lucky me! I took a hiatus from blogging for a while. I had only been blogging a couple years, went back to school and had to recently withdraw from the University. It became too much for my family (still have 4 at home). Anyhoo, I too have a wordpress blog, which I need to learn much about and my bloodspot blog as well, for that matter! I would love to learn more about HTML and all that other bloggy jazz. Thanks for sharing these ^^^ helpful people! 🙂

  2. You’ve done great. You know I’m .org person myself. It was fun to learn everything. I’m proud of what you’ve done.

    1. Hi Joyce; If you like it, then you might as well stick with it. I tried Blogger in the beginning, but preferred WordPress. Thanks for visiting! 🙂

  3. Hi Debbie,

    This is a lovely post, and a great way to celebrate the first anniversary of your self-hosted blog. I’m full of admiration for the way you’ve got to grips with so much of the backroom stuff that I tend to avoid – the very letters CSS send shivers down my spine! I’m afraid I gave up on that and resorted to a premium theme that’s easy to modify.

    It’s lovely to see some of my best blogging buddies mentioned here, too – I think the connections I’ve made with other bloggers has been, for me, the most rewarding aspect of running a blog.

    I’m very honoured to be mentioned along with all these other great bloggers – thank you very much for including me here, and especially for being so kind as to include a link to my book. It’s only a short story, though, so I’m not sure I can really call myself a novelist yet. I’ve been told it’s best to start with short stories, so that’s what I’m doing – I heard Stephen King say the novel is a “quagmire” a lot of younger writers stumble into before they’re ready – I’m not young, but I am a beginner when it comes to writing fiction, so I’m going to stay out of that swamp for a while and stick to writing short stories.

    I really love the varied nature of your blog, Debbie – it’s completely different from any other site I’ve come across, and full of genuinely fun, interesting content. I wish you every success in your endeavours to monetise it and hope all goes well for you in the months and years ahead. 🙂

    1. HI Sue; Book/novel….you’re now a PUBLISHED AUTHOR, something I aspire too, so you have my undying admiration. 🙂 I’m betting you’ll be writing a major tome one of these days! Thanks for your kind words about my blog. I strive to remain eclectic, when common wisdom says we have to find a niche. Phooey! Limitations make me chafe! 😛 As for the technical aspects, I do find them challenging, but also rewarding, when I figure something out on my own. The friendships are definitely a major benefit of this wonderful community and I’m glad we met!

  4. This is great Debbie and I’m thrilled for all of your success! My biggest thrill in blogging has been all of the friendships and HUGE amount of support I’ve received. I was happily shocked on both accounts. Everyone wanting to mutually assist each other in getting more traffic to their site is so wonderful and something I’ve worked on from day one…to help others even being brand new! There also comes a point where we each only have so much time in the day to read and enjoy other’s posts and often we have to point our attention to the bloggers who are supportive vs those who are not. Terrific shout out to the folks above. We hope you have a great week, Debbie! 🙂

    1. HI Mike; It’s been an interesting journey and more to come! 🙂 The friendships and support have been wonderful and I’m happy to have met you, as well. BTW, You made it onto the blogroll in the sidebar and on Pinterest – high praise! 🙂 I really enjoy your blog and our exchanges in comments. You’re so right about concentrating on those people who actually show an interest and support you. Your title caught my eye – must check out what “Chicken stripping” is all about… Cheers!

  5. Hello Debbie!

    LOL…You had the same thought I did when I got an email calling me a webmaster because I feel like I haven’t mastered crap, LOL!

    It’s been over a year that I made the same change to a self-hosted blog and I’m so glad I did. The only bad thing is I’m technical support and well, I’m not techie 🙂 but thank goodness for a solid blogging community like ours to help us out when we find ourselves in a bind.

    It’s my goal to learn some HTML this year. I’m so scared of it but I’m determine to learn it…it’s good you got it down…it certainly helps and let’s you be more creative.

    It’s been great knowing you Debbie. From the moment I met you, you gave out this hippie vibe that I connected to right away. I think in my past life I was a hippie too ;).

    I fell in love with your writing especially about the days as a school girl and all the adventures. And your dog care business was exciting to me too.

    And your love of the same kind of music I love sealed the deal :).

    Thank you so much for this special shout out Debbie. You have me mentioned with some awesome people here and I’m truly honored!

    I know most of the folks you mentioned and they do deserve the shout out…Adrienne, Bren, Harleena, Lisa, Mayura, and Sue…y’all rock!

    I’m looking forward to meeting the others too :).

    Luv ya girl! Thanks again for this honor! Have a wonderful day hon!

    1. Hi Corina; You and I certainly did click, didn’t we? 🙂 Funny that we had the same thoughts about those “Dear Webmaster” emails too! It’s great to keep learning and there’s always something new to explore in the wonderful world of blogging. Good thing we have all these fabulous friends to help out. Thanks for the kind words and I’m glad you enjoy my scribblings. Luv ya back! (Speaking of things “hippie”, you’ll get a kick out of the “About Me” page, if you haven’t seen it already.) Cheers!

  6. Hey Debbie,

    What a great post and I think you’ve done so very well and I admire you for taking the plunge and moving over to a self-hosted blogging platform. I read a post last week I believe about everything with the dot com platform and I didn’t realize they had that many restrictions. I’ve never used it myself so it was a lesson learned.

    Thank you for this mention and I’m so glad we had the opportunity to get to know each other. I think that’s the problem with a lot of people new to the blogging world, they have come to learn that a lot of people they reach out to never respond to them. That’s why I wanted to be different and help those that need it. We all started at the beginning lost and feeling alone but look at this amazing list of bloggers that you are now friends with that have been there for you along the way. To me that’s what this journey is about.

    Thank you for the mention here and being included on this wonderful list of great people. Some I definitely know while others I’ve never met so I’ll have to check them out.

    Thanks again Debbie and you have an amazing week.


    1. Hi Adrienne; Getting that first response from you was a real thrill and I’m so glad we connected. To think I was just stumbling around online. How fortuitous! 🙂 Wouldn’t it be great if everyone thought the same way you do? Thanks for being there for all of us. It’s been a real pleasure getting to know you. Hope you have a great rest of the week, yourself.

  7. Hi Debbie.
    First of all, happy blogging anniversary! I can’t believe it has been a year of WordPress blogging now. You have come a long way since and I can see improvements in every field. Awesome.
    Over time our primary interests may change, but there’s always “the urge”. The urge to share. Stories, emotions, fun – a lot of things. I hope you will continue to do what you like to do – blogging. It’s very fulfilling and therapeutic sometimes. There is always something worth sharing…
    Thanks for mentioning me on your blog, I appreciate that! Ok now… where’s the cake, the drinkies? 😉

    1. HI Jan; Time flies, doesn’t it? 🙂 Glad you see some progress here. It’s been a steep learning curve, but also fun. Oh yes, blogging can certainly be therapeutic, as Bren also said and it’s definitely fulfilling. Nice to see you and have a beer on me. Prost!

  8. Hey Debbie! This is superfabulous! I remember when I made the plunge from free wp to wp.org and self host. I didn’t know hardly anything about html, css, or plugins. I was scared to death! But with the help of several other bloggers, and some you mentioned, I learned and I’m forever grateful!

    I have met some fabulous people in blogging and most of them I call my friends now, like several of the fabulous bloggers you mentioned above. For me, blogging is therapeutic as well excited because of networking with so many people all over the world.

    Here’s to many more years of happy blogging and friendship Debbie! Thank you so much for the shoutout! 🙂

    1. Hi Bren; It was my pleasure and I’m glad you like the post. It’s been a great learning experience and I too, value the friendships that came from it. Definitely therapeutic at times and the world-wide connections are wonderful! Cheers to you and yes, many more years! Hugs to Titan ♥

  9. Hi Debbie,

    Thank you so much for the shout-out and it’s wonderful to be mentioned with so many awesome bloggers, most of whom I know 🙂

    I know how it feels when we make the switch and the completion of the first year is a great accomplishment in itself I’d say. I think the best part of blogging is that you get to meet so many new bloggers who turn out to be good friends over time and the interaction and bond only gets better, isn’t it? That’s what I truly love about the Blogosphere, and that’s exactly what keeps us here together.

    Thank you too for being a part of my blogging journey. It’s thanks to wonderful friends like you that my blog exists. Have a nice week ahead 🙂

    1. You are so right, Harleena! The connections we have made are truly the best part of the Blogosphere and I’m very glad to count you as a friend. 🙂 You have expanded your horizons recently as well and I wish you much success in your endeavours. Thanks for the lovely comments and enjoy your week! 🙂

    1. My pleasure, Omid and I’m honoured to be your friend! 🙂 You have “saved my bacon” so many times and I’m most grateful for that, as well. Thanks for visiting and have a great rest of the week.

  10. Hi Debbie,

    This is just WOW 🙂 Thank you so much for having me among these awesome bloggers and I’m honored! Aren’t we blessed to have ’em around? Congratulations to everyone and love to see dear friends within the list too.

    You know, this post is kinda like Valentine Week Special or something, eh? Turn the Music ON! 😉

    I just love your introductions and the way you linked to blogs using images Debbie 😉 That’s pretty cool! You got it right there – I discovered different genres of music, and enjoyed your woofie stories. Why not, you have become an inspiration when it comes to travelling too.

    I recall few moments as we talked about self-hosting before you make the switch here. I’m pretty sure you are glad now and of course, more work in the agenda too. Now, look where you are 🙂 Struggles have become sweet memories.

    I always find you have so much to share with us Debbie 🙂 It can be decorating, travelling, woofies, music and so. I wish if I could travel as much as you did in my age. But glad I started small now and loving the moments 🙂

    Wish you all the best for your future plans and I bet you can be a best selling author if you share your knowledge and life experiences dear 🙂 You know the best!

    You have a wonderful week Debbie 🙂


    1. Hi Mayura; Yes, the blogging world is filled with wonderful, friendly people and I’m so glad we met, also. 🙂 Music, dogs, travel are three of my main interests, along with writing, so the blog will always have something pertaining to these subjects. This is my creative outlet and I must go where the muse takes me. Stay tuned for more Greek Odyssey adventures!
      Glad you enjoyed the post; it was fun to do, with the images as links. Thanks for your lovely comments and have a great rest of the week! 🙂

  11. HI Debbie, glad you’ve got through the first year with body, mind and soul intact. 🙂 Learning about HTML and suchlike had me in stitches at first, I played about and like you say, you live to learn. and improve. I’m still under WordPress as Webmaster, and I won’t be paying for an upgrade yet, but all credit to you for doing so. Upwards and onwards for your future success. xPenx

    1. Thank you, Pen. 🙂 It has been a fascinating learning experience and there’s always something new to learn. As free sites go WordPress.com is pretty good and your blog looks great! 🙂 I was just starting to chafe at all the limitations and also had an eye to the future, in regards to generating a second income and to owning a site to sell my [future] books.

  12. Hi Debbie, I could relate to your first year. It was a huge learning curve when I started with retail sites online which led me to blog about it for friends that kept calling me with questions. There is always something new to be learned. The best thing I found was making friends via blogging, a benefit I didn’t know would happen in the beginning. Thanks for the wonderful mention and I don’t know everyone you have mentioned here so I will have to check out their blogs. We really can’t blog alone – it’s a shared adventure and the more – the merrier!
    Best wishes on going to the next step of moneitization Debbie.

    1. HI Lisa; Yes, it is a fantastic and sometimes frustrating learning experience! Thanks to you and the others, I’ve managed to keep my sanity through it all. 🙂 The friendship is a wonderful added bonus. Love this shared adventure! Have a great day.

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