Notice anything, readers? Ah! I couldn't pull the wool over your eyes. Wild Dingo had little face-lift. I spent a long time getting up close with the inner working of my WordPress website this year. If you know even a little about WordPress, you can understand how giving your site a face lift after 8 years can be a daunting task. Like all things-tech, I have a love-hate relationship with WordPress. Although, it's mostly a love relationship. It's been a long journey, but hopefully I am past the hump of the learning curve and caught up to the rest of the world of WordPress and I can soon get back to writing and entertaining you.
When I embarked on re-launching Wild Dingo as a business site again (don't worry, silly posts about the cracker and the criminal and Mr. Wild Dingo will resume) I had to make the painful decision to move homes. In the world of WordPress and the web, that means, move hosts. When it comes to moving homes or hosts, I will almost always choose moving homes. Moving an 18-year-old web site with no glitches is not an easy task. I don't get attached to most objects in life. If you come to my house and break anything, it's no sweat off my back. But this web site has been, and still is, a reflection of my creative self. I'm particularly attached to it, which made the move that much more stressful.
My new host is purely a managed WordPress environment with no email servers. That meant, I had to have two different locations, one for my web site, the other for my email. I had long-resisted changing hosts because after eighteen years of doing things one way, it made me uncomfortable to separate core business needs. In my head, it made no sense to separate my web site's physical location from its mail location. The analogy in my mind was like getting the mail sent to my house address at a location 25 miles away, which is what I had to do when I first moved to my actual home. It just seemed wrong to separate the two. On the other hand, the more involved I became in the power of WordPress as a Content Management Solution (CMS), the more I realized I truly needed a host specializing in WordPress, or my own darn server, shared with nobody else. I must admit, I really love the security I feel knowing my web site is on a managed WordPress environment, with a host that specializes in nothing but WordPress solutions.
Moving my email to Google, however, almost made me lose my mind and quit before I even got started. I spent days delving into what it meant to have an individual Google account (with or without G-mail), a G-suite account and a Chrome browser account and to where those accounts are tied. Google has this uncanny ability to tie everything together in a messy ball of string, whether you want it to or not. Has anyone actually read Google documentation? You can spend hours getting lost in their product line or technical documents.
Still, I needed a G-suite account because we have more than one email here at Wild Dingo and some email aliases as well. I was caught unawares when I purchased products I needed under my individual Google (free) account when I needed a G-Suite account and being logged into that first. Even a close associate of mine who worked at Google shared that they did not understand the algorithms used to tie your Google accounts to your browser accounts or elsewhere. Buyer beware! Whenever you set up anything in Google, it will automatically tie it to your logged-in Google account and un-linking those things can be tricky. The entire process made me appreciate that Google also had the incognito window feature to really understand how everything worked. I used it constantly for testing. Even with this harrowing experience, I chose to move my domain names to Google domains as well. I'd been wanting to change DNS providers for a while, so it was just one more house cleaning task. Oddly enough, a Google Domains customer service agent proved to be my best asset in helping me understand all the business units and product lines at Google--for now. Because we all know this too will change.
When I finally figured out the Google account system, it was time to set up G-mail. I love G-mail for its wicked spam filter. I don't love G-mail for its user interface. The genius designers at Google didn't feel the need to put any sort of clue on the super minimal email compose modal window to find the "from alias email" feature. The user basically must guess where to click in order for that option to be available. I sank to new depths as I nervously clicked my mouse all over the white screen insisting to the Google tech support agent on the phone that there was no option to select an alias in the "from" container. She was surprised as I was when I accidentally found it by clicking my mouse on some random white space. It's all fun and games when the customer teaches the tech support agent how to use their own tools.
When my basic business tools were all set up, I could start working on the design and coding of my web site again. Before I even got started, I managed to break the staging environment on my web host when I deleted one of my site-installs. At this point, I didn't know how or why it broke, I just wanted someone to fix it. My awesome new web host was on the ball and pieced my humpty-dumpty web site back together again. I was back to the coding-design-coding fiasco in no time.
I'm discovering it's not so easy running a freelance business as it used to be. Over the last year, I've blown through several new online and offline design applications, coding applications and WordPress plugins in order to give my site a face lift and re-position it as both a business and personal blog. It's not easy being the marketing specialist, graphic designer, communications strategist, coder, web-developer and WordPress specialist all in one, which is what any business today needs. I may be just a writer, but like all freelancers, I am a jack-of-all-trades. Now, does anyone need a writer?