Today I learned something incredibly important if you’ve just set yourself a public challenge of blogging daily on a particular theme: in WordPress, if you pre-schedule a post to go live at a certain time, you better make sure you’ve used the scheduling dial correctly. (Make sure it’s a date in the future, click the OK button, then the Publish/Schedule button). Otherwise, your lovely post about cheap massages just languishes like tumbleweed in draft form, unpublished, unloved.
And, unwittingly, you might auto-schedule a tweet-out to a 404 page error. Sorry about that.
I’m on a crash course with WordPress at the moment.
I’ve been publishing online for 17 years, but have always used in-house, bespoke content management systems (CMS). They were hugely quirky – especially when it came to setting embargos, which always felt like you were risking your life when you were pre-loading a really big, seriously embargoed story (i.e. awards results) – but they were quirks that I’d come to learn well.
When I had to quickly set up my own site earlier this year, doing it in WordPress seemed a no-brainer. It really is an incredible out-of-the-box, open-source solution with an absolutely dizzying array of bells and whistles. Slightly too dizzying for technically-challenged brain to start with. It is no understatement to say that you can set up a WordPress website in five minutes. I did that. And then hid it and stared at it for several days wondering how exactly I would make it pretty.
Luckily, the wonderful Tim Groves (now happily double-barrelled as Jarmain-Groves after his wedding to Rich on Saturday) stepped in. Tim is a designer friend. Very talented (check out his portfolio here), very clever and very patient. Apart from building me a gorgeous website, Tim is now tutoring me in the ongoing delights of WordPress. I’ll keep experimenting and screwing up, he’ll keep correcting me and fixing my mistakes and I’ll share some of my lessons learned with you.
Another thing I’ve learned as part of my WordPress whirlwind is the importance of Themes. These are the design template layers that sit on top of WordPress and allow you to customize and personalize your site just the way you want it (the containers of all those bells and whistles – with countless more plug-ins available if you’re still not awed enough).
There are over 14,000 themes on Themeforest, one of the primary marketplaces for themes. I opted for Avada. While WordPress is free, you pay for the themes. Avada is one of the more expensive ones at $55, but I’d say it’s worth it.