As I mentioned earlier, in a fit of megalomania, I thought I could make the whole site here pretty and presentable in a matter of hours.
I was so wrong!
The last time I really dabbled with WordPress in depth was sometime in 2017, then life and other things intervened and I didn’t really have the nerve to do any coding and programming anymore.
Skip seven years ahead and I’m a little bit lost. Almost everything is foolproof and has hardly anything to do with writing your own code.
There are plenty of other challenges to make up for it, though.
That’s why I came up with the idea to document my struggles.
– It’s content for the site.
– I’m practicing writing longer texts again.
– Maybe it will help someone who is at the same point as me.
In the Beginning
… or rather sometime around 2004 I had my first personal website. Also at that time I used it as a stockpile for my first attempts in digital art. Then came Livejournal and Facebook and the site disappeared into oblivion. This was followed by some not so serious projects, which all came to nothing because I either didn’t have the time or the desire to finish them.
So now I’m on what feels like my 10th attempt. The only difference – I’m older, not necessarily wiser and find plans now quite great.
At the time I am writing this, I have not yet read up on the subject of SEO again and am doing everything on the spur of the moment — so there may well be changes in the post later.
The idea to try again with a website came to me spontaneously when I realised that I’m drawing quite a lot again and don’t feel like venting on Facebook about any topics that are close to my heart. I also found a hard drive on which I have stored loads of photos.
At this point I would like to explicitly mention that this is not a commercial site. I am doing this for myself and not for a quick buck. This is the reason for all the following considerations and steps.
Since I work full time and also want to slowly get back into the whole subject, I had no interest in starting completely from scratch.
That’s why I decided to go straight for WordPress. In retrospect, maybe it wasn’t the smartest decision. But more about that later.
Three points were important to me:
– To be able to upload my drawings and photos and present them in an attractive way.
– To have a blog (yes, I know … so 2000ish)
– To be able to post everything quickly and easily.
I have some experience in web design and database management. That’s why I was looking for a provider that has stable servers and is not too expensive. I personally have had good experiences with Strato and Ionos. But everyone should decide for themselves and also weigh up what they want to do with the site.
The next IMPORTANT point — the appropriate name for the domain. If it goes well, it sticks. And you don’t want to be ashamed of it at some point. I may speak from experience.
Smokingbunny, Wurzelshakra …
In most cases, you get databases and email storage in addition to the domain. This makes perfect sense, as you can create your own mail accounts for the website, such as “email@example.com” or “firstname.lastname@example.org”. These are important for contact and the private e-mail address is not spammed.
If you then want to prepare something further, you have already created a folder with graphics right at the beginning. This means that you have thought about what you want to use as a header image, have prepared a FavIcon and (if desired) have the links to your own social media channels to hand.
Yes, those were the first things I forgot.
With the first WordPress installation comes the question of what theme to use. Don’t be put off by this. You can change it at any time. Nevertheless, it is a good idea to have a rough idea of what you mainly want to do with the website. A totally playful theme will certainly not be a good idea if you mainly want to blog about politics.
Set up more Basics
Make sure you have everything that is legally required at hand. This can vary depending on the country and region.
For example, I live in Germany and have registered the website here – so I have to deal with the GDPR and refer to data protection accordingly. An imprint and contact form can never hurt either. Regarding the imprint, different requirements apply for private websites than for commercial ones — at least in Germany. But please check this beforehand.
This is where the fun really starts
If the framework is in place (and no sandbox exists) first set something like a static landing page. Something that just says that there will be content here soon.
There are extra plug-ins for such pages, with which you can also set various options, such as links to social profiles, contact information, etc.
If you don't want to be as megalomaniac as I am, of course you do it differently anyway and set everything up in a test environment first. Seriously! Do that!
This leads to a tiresome WordPress problem that unfortunately hasn’t changed over the years: plug-ins. In fact, I think it’s become much more annoying. The amount of plug-ins can be quite overwhelming and you should not immediately install every one that is suggested. In any case, always check whether it works with your installation and preferably has already been tested.
Speaking of Content
Don’t create content and upload it in real time. You’ll tinker with the layout; you’ll probably change the content a lot the first time around until you’re reasonably happy.
Be sure to familiarise yourself with the differences between Portfolio, Hero Content and Featured Content.
Hero content is the thing you have to worry about the least on a private, non-commercial site for the time being. Just a short explanation:
Hero content is an idea for a brand that’s created to appeal to a mass audience. This content should be data-driven and researched thoroughly. Hero content is designed to expose as many potential customers as possible to a brand or business. We see Hero content every day.https://www.hallaminternet.com/how-to-create-great-hero-content-for-your-brand/
The portfolio and featured content is much more interesting for a private website in the beginning.
Using the portfolio block can directly draw attention to what is important to you and show what kind of projects you are working on.
There is a pretty good article on the WordPress site that explains the portfolio topic in detail.
Featured content can also draw attention to the main content of the page. Furthermore, it also helps visually in some cases by providing a tidier look.
In any case, you should think about what you actually want to do with the website beforehand. As I said, it was important for me to have a place where I can upload my stuff on my own responsibility. I also want to try blogging again. At the moment I expect to write mainly about digital art in any form, and maybe web design and tech. Plus my opinion on movies, series and books.
What will not be the topic is my current attempt to lose quite a few kilos or other very private matters.
Tip: Decide on some categories for the posts in advance. This will save you a lot of stress and you can link the categories yourself quickly and clearly.
A few further thoughts on the content
The most important thing, in my opinion, is to at least try to stick to grammar and spelling. That makes it easier for everyone to consume the content.
You should think about what you write and publish beforehand. Actually, this goes without saying – but it should be mentioned anyway. Your own website is not an anonymous dumping ground for information.
Also give credit — another No-Brainer. Cite your sources correctly, link to content that is not your own and make this as clear as possible. Don’t post anything from other people if they don’t want you to.
And finally, some unpopular opinions
Let’s be honest — a private website is more or less a vanity project. It should look nice and offer space for your own ideas.
And that’s why I think it’s exactly the right place to ask yourself what’s so annoying about many websites and at least try to make it a little bit better. For example, all the advertising is driving me crazy. Here a pop-up, there a banner — and with all the badly placed stuff, you can no longer see the actual content and lose the interest in reading further.
Do not make monitarisation your main goal. Instead, focus on letting off steam creatively. Try stuff out.
And have fun.