Thirteen Things I learned about upgrading to WordPress

The Theory is Simple, The Practice is not 
The Theory

You want to move from site A (in this case WordPress.Com), which has been good to you and your readers but you’ve outgrown, and move to site B (WordPress.Org) which is bigger, better and offers more bells and whistles.  It’s just simply a case of “It’s not you, It’s Me !”

The Practice …..
Bloggers Ego is dangerous

Hey, you’ve dabbled in WordPress.Com for a while now, there’s not much that you can’t do with it – you’re sure you can do yourself myself, no need for a developer or designer! You know what you want and, you’ve watched a few YouTube videos, and it looks quite easy ! Here’s my story on moving from WordPress.Com to WordPress.Org.

And there is where it all starts to do down hill – actually it’s more than that the actual feeling is that this ego trip feels like a jump off an Olympic Height Ski Jump the highest you can imagine, with the problem being that part way down the slope you discover that you have two left feet, have never really learnt to ski, aside from the nursery slopes, a long time ago which really doesn’t’ count and actually you never thought about how to land after the jump !

Your ego continues and you feel like the little snowball that you first started working on is growing momentum and at every turn it’s getting bigger and bigger. Upwards and onwards (in my case spiralling downards.. ) you carry on with plenty of lessons and new skills being learned as you find yourself on a unintentional Self taught Fastrack WordPress 101 BootCamp.

Be Ready Willing And Able to Multitask

You will spend a lot of time waiting for the progress bar to move along and for something to do something, anything, anything at all whilst you wait, and watch and wait a bit more, then of course, and you should have know this and planned for it really, your internet will no doubt drop out, usually at 98% complete when you were oh so close, and you will have to reload and start the process of watching and waiting all over again. During this time it’s useful to have something else to do, have multiple windows open on your laptop so you can multitask and do the day job, play a game, do your social media updates etc, heck I was even working on two laptops at one stage as it was taking so long. During this time your site will be ‘inactively active’ for quite a lot of the time when you are supposedly working on it but actually you are just watching a screen and hoping it will do something.

When WordPress says “Have Fun”  it doesn’t mean Have Fun !

What it means is “I’ve finished the import, all of it ! yes wasn’t I good to you” (actually you don’t see this very often) now you have to go make it work.  When it doesn’t say have fun, you definitely won’t have fun as it means the import has fallen over somewhere along the line and you will have to gear up and resuscitate it, or ignore it and move on, coz hey this is about the tenth time it’s fallen over and frankly you need a cup of coffee and you’ve forgotten to load the pesky thing again.

Be Prepared to make friends with strangers 

When things start going wrong, as they inevitably will, because you’ve shunned the experts due to that darn Bloggers Ego, you will now need to find some new expert friends who can help you along, theme administrators are a good source of help, as are people on Twitter who you may or may not know but have responded to your ‘SOS need help, please Re Tweet’ Tweet, various virtual support forums will be your new nightly read, and if you’ve really got time on your hands you can log a call with your on-line hosting company, be prepared for this one though as I’m fairly sure they are working on a different time reference point to us, a 31 minute call waiting time can easy stretch out to 45 minutes before you are able to ‘chat’ to the person who can help you, but as they are managing multiple chats expect to be held up for a long time before either they resolve the issue or you resolve to never chat to them again and vow to find the solution on your own.

Think of a Number, a big number and then multiply it many times 

Get your calculator out and start doing some sums, start with the web developer and designer who told you it would take X amounts of days and weeks, use X number and multiply it by your shoe size, the number of biscuits in a full pack, the number of raisons in your cereal bowl, your great Aunt’s year of birth and any other random number, you probably still haven’t got a figure high enough to equate to the amount of time you are working on this simple ‘move A to B’ project.

Google and Youtube will become your new best friends

In the dark hours when your new virtual support team are A) Having a life or B) Asleep you will turn to the dark web of constant Google or YouTube.  Searches usually starting with “how do I …” resulting in multiple open tabs each suggesting that they hold the answer  and invariably they don’t. Youtube is particularly good for making something really complicated seem like a doddle as you watch it and into a fiend as you try and do it yourself, anyway it’s now 3 am in the morning and you are desperately trying to figure out which countries are still awake so you can tap into them via Twitter and find an awake human helper ….

Your Second Best Friend will be Coffee

Oh yes, copious amounts of the strong stuff will keep you going and even when you are sleeping, will keep your mind fully active and alert meaning that you never feel completely rested throughout the whole process, oh the irony when I’m setting up a site called CoffeeCakesAndRunning, I need the coffee, want the cakes and simply have no time for running or am running out of time !

You discover the power of Snapchat ! 

Snapchatting your experience (narrating your story should I say) not only helps while away the hours, and days that you are at your laptop, but also scares the hell out of a whole bunch of people thinking they will make the change themselves. You suddenly feel like the brave explorer out there trying to find the Holy Grail of self transfer so that you can pass on your secrets to others, when really you are the mad one who turned down export support (at a cost of course) partly due to budget and partly due to your Bloggers Ego which we will now rename as Bloggers Quest to learn and develop new skills through a process of experiential learning – sounds so much more positive now do you think?  

You Become the IT literate (or illiterate) version of Sherlock Holmes (if he was a woman) 

As you search for the ever elusive answer to what seems like an innocent question :

why can’t ALL my posts be transferred along with ALL my image, ALL my tags, ALL my categories and ALL my images and, (just for the hell of it, actually it’s quite essential) is it possible that the images could be attached to the posts?   Seriously, that’s all I want to be able to do, I can figure out the rest myself.

You will become an auditor and a number person 

You are constantly checking numbers of Posts, Images, Comments etc between one site and the other, and trying to work out why the heck they aren’t the same when you Exported ALL information and imported ALL information, where do all the bits of missing data etc go …. 


You become an ‘expert’ in tech talk  

Gone are discussions with your pals about great places to eat and new finds, or travels to far away places, instead you will be talking CPanel, HTML, SQL Databases, XML files and CSS Code until the cows come home – even more worrying you now start understanding it and knowing what it all means and does. You will know your way around WordPress Admin Panel like a demon on speed (.com and .org) you know how to Import, Export, Bulk Delete (you will be doing that a lot) as well as Link, UnLink, DeLink, Install PlugIns etc, heck you forget to eat and tweet as you lose yourself down a rabbit hole of new techie geek knowledge that you never knew you needed to know until now.

You become an eternal optimist and have great respect for the professionals 

finally, as the end is near and you can see a glimpse of what site B will look like in all it’s glory, you start to feel jubilant and almost give out a little cheer, until you remember that you now have to figure out how to make the hidden site live.  It’s the ski jumpers equivalent of having to land safely before reaching the end of the run, and as you do this you have a decision to make, should you retire gracefully at the end moping your brow and vowing never to jump again, or do the “I’m invincible” endorphins kick in as you climb to the top and start all over again.

And Finally :

Debbie is the web designer and web developer behind CoffeeCakesAndRunning.Com – her new WordPress site which she can finally announce is launched !!  the still to be launched new website that she is designing and developing in her spare time. In the meantime she’s Editor at CoffeeCakesAndRunning.Me the website she has actually mastered and which is now switched off having moved to WordPress.Org hurrah !! .

In her spare time, Debbie is fuelled by Speciality Coffee and the hope that one day her dot com website will go live when she will then be available to design and develop yours too having gained a wealth of new skills !

Debbie cannot, ski nor has she ever ski jumped, but she imagines it’s pretty difficult and only for those with real skill and experience.

PS Debbie wrote this post whilst waiting for the pesky percentage bar to move as she is building the WordPress dot com site.

Psssss …. All image credits go to John Atkinson who it seems has done this journey with me with his super relevant cartoons. You can find John’s work at John Atkinson, Wrong Hands  Ps John is you ever need a web designer …. LOL

2015 in Review

As 2015 draws to an end it seems an apt time to look back at the year and to celebrate some of the successes of the year.

Top Posts Overall :

My top three posts this year in terms of readership numbers focus on Coffee with my article Independent Coffee Shops highlighting some of the best independent coffee shops, this post is quite dated now and a new post focussing on Speciality Coffee shops will be released in early January as the coffee scene in Dubai has really taken off over the last year or so.  Second most read post is one that I dashed off from the heart called “I don’t want you to come to Dubai…” from the heart posts as usually ones that get good readership and tend to be the posts that I can write quickly because the subject is something close to my heart, in this instance the place I call home Dubai, of course I do want you come to Dubai despite the controversial header, I want you to come and see it all from seven star to no star and beyond.  Finally, a post where I tried out one of Gok Wan’s recipes for Twice cooked pork is always a popular read and a dish that I make often, although to be honest I don’t always go for the twice cooked option preferring to just cook the dish ‘low and slow’ at a low temperature for a long time.

Travel

From a travel perspective my top posts focus on Kilimanjaro, Thailand and the Philippines with all of the posts getting similar numbers of readership and all of these locations being close to my heart whether it be for the adventure and challenge of Kilimanjaro or the adventure, exploration, hidden gems and darn good street food and beaches for Thailand and the Philippines.

Dubai

My best searched post was Independent Coffee Shops followed by I don’t want you to come to Dubai and then a Ramadan project close to my heart Filling the Blues where local start ups and residents come together during the month of Ramadan to distribute food to some of Dubai’s unsung heros, the many men in blue who work on our construction sites building Dubai literally from the foundations up.

Food and drink

Too many places to write about, but posts about 5 star experiences are just as popular as street food, as are my recipes which cover family favourites through to recipes from both here in Dubai and on my travels.

As you would expect the readership numbers vary depending on the season, people like reading about outdoor experiences during Dubai’s winter and the cooler spring months and indoor experiences when it gets hotter outside.

My readers are from the UAE, The UK and the US so have a healthy interest on the overall food scene here in Dubai from Cupcakes and coffee to menus created by celebrity chefs with Michelin star credentials.

Health and Fitness

Popular posts that have stood the test of time have been those covering my various battles and challenges with weight and fitness, which continue today as well as an article I wrote on Wearing sunscreen (or not) as a way of dealing with skin cancer and how we battle to keep our vitamin D levels high.  With a case of malignant melanoma being diagnosed to someone close you can perhaps expect to hear more about this important health issue at some stage next year.

On Blogging

I’ve written a few posts about the challenges of blogging through the year including a post about Should you buy follows and likes which has caused some debate and some unfollows, hey that’s life not everyone will like what I write or the choices I make, but I will always be honest in how I write and be authentic to myself because that’s important to me.

FoodeMagdxb

It would be remiss of me not to mention the other big project of the year, as well as writing on this blog which is very much my personal space, I’m also Travel and Features Editor for FoodeMagdxb an e magazine about food and travel. You can read more about the magazine here, we have some huge and exciting plans for the magazine for 2016 for our readers and contributors so do keep an eye out for what we have planned and how you can get involved!

What’s in Store for CoffeeCakesAndRunning in 2016

The website will be fully upgraded and redesigned so it’s easier to read and search. I’m going to try to learn some more about the dreaded SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) so that more people can find my blog through Google Search and I’m going to focus on developing my photography skills as I want to do justice to match the beautiful things I get to experience as a result of this blog and because I love exploring and finding new things. 

There’s plenty of stuff whirring around in my head about what I want to do, a few new business projects might kick off shortly and there’s definitely a blog collaboration project which I’ll be writing about soon, but for now I don’t want to over complicate things by making promises that I may not keep, instead I prefer to say ‘watch this space‘ or ‘read this blog’ as 2016 will surely be a great year.

Before I sign off, I’ve had a fab 2015 – with some fantastic highs and some amazing experiences ! I’ve met some amazing people, travelled to some beautiful places, eaten and drunk to my hearts content, trained until I injured myself, had a few lows and some financial challenges and a ton of other stuff too, some of which I’ve shared on the blog and some of which remain personal but all of which have helped shape me, guide me and make me stronger, wiser and drink a ton of coffee !!  

Finally Have a Happy New Year wherever you are and I look forward to sharing 2016 with you as the year evolves.

With much love and a healthy sprinkling of Coffee, Cakes and …errr Running

Debbie

Image courtesy of FreePic.com

Writers Block ! Time to Refocus !

Yup ! It’s been too long … I’ve had a long hot summer here in Dubai and have barely written a post on CoffeeCakesAndRunning since I wrote about fasting during Ramadan.  Sometimes, I get what I will call “bloggers block”!

Every now and again I take a break from writing, it’s not a planned one, it kind of just happens, and if I’m honest just for a short while I fall out of love from blogging – yup truly I do.  I started my blog as something to do whilst recovering from surgery, a way to learn new skills and keep me occupied whilst I was housebound for four months.   My blog developed into a space to write about things that interested and excited me and, after some gently persuasion, also to share some personal and true stories of what was going on in my life and my real challenges with getting a balance between my love of good food and coffee and an ever increasing waistline which needed some drastic action.  And hence the name of the website – CoffeeCakesAndRunning in it’s broadest sense I was sharing my experience about Eating, Drinking, Exercise with some travel too – all things that I loved, though to be honest exercise is a ‘love / hate’ thing – mostly I’m in love with it and the buzz it gives me when I’m making progress and seeing progress, when I realise just how much exercise I have to do to burn off a Mille Feuille then it’s a hate thing LOL – but hey, life is all about choices huh?.

After a while the blog got recognised and then the invites from PR companies and restaurants etc began to flow.  At first it’s flattering after all who doesn’t like visiting lovely restaurants, getting sneak peaks into the kitchens, chatting to Chefs, meeting fellow foodies and being social?  But you know, the saying “There’s no such thing as a free lunchMilton Friedman, well of course it’s true – the invite comes with expectations usually that you will write about your experience and share it with others, which at the start is easy to do and doesn’t take too much time.  After a while it becomes difficult to manage as you just can’t go to everything you get an invite to, (the invites get more regular and suddenly you have multiple invites for the same evening). Not only this, but you don’t have the time to write about everything since you spend more time on your posts, and your photos, once quickly shot on a phone or basic camera, take more time to take since you are always trying to get better shots, and take longer to edit and upload.  Also, dining on the back of an invite is a very different experience than dining with no expectations as you are always ‘on duty’ observing service, making notes about the food, looking for good light for photos etc and sometimes I’ve reached home having dined but not experienced the evening at all being lost in the moment of trying to capture the evening for the blog but not actually relishing in the moment.

The result of all of this, is that after a while unless you are very focussed, you get to a point where you lose clarify about why you started the blog and the sort of thing that you wanted to focus on and the blog becomes a chore and not a passion, this is what happened to me over the summer.

After a while the volume of invites and expectations put on you gets to a point where the inbox that used to be fun to manage turned into a chore, complete overload and if I’m completely honest produced pressure that I just didn’t need, you see writing on my blog isn’t what pays my bills it’s just something I do in my spare time, it’s supposed to be fun.  It   rarely makes me any money, in fact it costs me money to host my website, buy my equipment, travel to and from events etc all from my own pocket.  The great thing is that as the blog is not a paid for blog, I’m free to take a break when I choose to do so without pressure.

So where does that leave me? Well – I’ve come out of my hibernation feeling renewed and full of energy and with an action plan that’s led by me.

  • CoffeeCakesAndRunning website is going to be completely resigned so it’s easier to read and navigate through plus it will be hosted on a different platform giving me an opportunity to earn money from it with paid ads etc if I want to in the future, it also means I can do a lot more exciting things with my website in terms of it’s look and feel.
  • I am going to write about things that interest me, be it travel, food and exercise or just life observations.
  • I will only accept invites where I want to write about the topic/restaurant etc and not through a feeling of obligation.
  • I will not provide my work for free for print publications in return for ‘exposure’ since this really doesn’t work
  • I will always disclose where I was a guest or have been hosted – this is for my website, Facebook and instagram (I feel that my followers should be aware of this)
  • I will always be honest and authentic to my readers and will only endorse things that I like, enjoy or genuine believe in.

I’m writing this post whilst sat at the gym, I’ve done a workout and I’m just waiting to do a class and I’m feeling happier than I have in a while.  This is one of the quickest posts I’ve written and one of the easiest as it feels good to share and to also be confident about being authentic and going back to writing about what I started this blog for.


For the avoidance of doubt : this post is all about writing on my blog as CoffeeCakesAndRunning, and not about writing for my job which is Travel and Features Editor for FoodeMagdxb, as that’s a whole different space.  Writing for the magazine is completely different than writing for the blog and I am working on how to make that clearer to everyone who contacts me as I don’t want to mislead of cause confusion.  

When I’m working on FoodeMagdxb I’m focusing on deadlines, editorial calendars, marketing plans, creative ideas, Chef interviews, readership numbers etc and like any other job, the post, which I love, comes with responsibilities, relationships and obligations which are both professional and commercial.

Writing for CoffeeCakesAndRunning, is a completely unpaid passion project, born out of a desire to learn a new skill and to share experiences etc which has led to my role on FoodeMagdxb.

So dear PR Teams and Marketing Teams who I have met, built relationships with or who have added me to one of your distribution lists, please don’t be offended if I can’t or don’t accept all of your invites as CoffeeCakesAndRunning it’s not personal, but more about me writing for fun and pleasure about things that are of personal interest to me and fit my blog.  On the flipside do please consider working with FoodeMagdxb in the future if you like the format of the magazine and our approach, we are a commercial e-magazine featuring the work of prominent bloggers in the region, we commission original content from respected bloggers, we work with clients on content driven marketing, we share our passion for food and travel with our readers in an engaging manner, we believe in paying our bloggers for their content and will be happy to send you our media kit on request. 


And as for the featured image? Well I guess it just spoke to me on a few angles, I am rediscovering my love for travel and adventure, which always pairs perfectly with good food and I can and am in charge of where this little blog will take me.

I found it at BrainyQuote a fab place to look for inspiration.

Should you buy followers & likes etc ….

Once upon a time, when I first set my blog up and quickly signed up to twitter and Facebook etc, I never thought anyone was going to read my blog, let alone “Like” *it, “Share” *it or “Comment” on *it, or  to find *it interesting enough to start “Following” *it and by *it I guess actually I mean me (or alter ego me), since whenever I tweet, instagram or share something on Facebook or my blog and all the other channels that I find myself using, actually it’s me, or my view, my image(s), my experience or something that I like, find funny, or can associate with that readers, followers, fans etc respond to in some shape or form whether it be a like, a comment, a retweet, or to favourite a tweet etc. Essentially it’s a two way ‘on-line conversation’ and of course it can be a ‘multi person on-line conversation’ if more people join in. Not only is a conversation, it can also be a measure Continue reading