Lions and Tigers and Bears! Oh My!

Tuesday, October 15, 2019
That about describes how I’ve been feeling recently—as if I encounter wild animals every day. Oh, not literally, but between writing, my critique group, working on the newsletter for my Sisters in Crime chapter, marketing, and going all-in on selling books on Amazon, I feel like I’m always dodging a beast that might devour me. The latest crises had to do with my website.

Almost two years ago, I decided that I needed a more professional website for my author business. All the cool kids were using self-hosted WordPress sites, so I thought I needed one, too. I did a lot of research on various hosting companies, what theme I should use, and what plugins I should add. Eventually, I concluded that GoDaddy, where I already had my domain registered, actually gave the best pricing over the long term. Besides, I was familiar with them.

I then spent an agonizing couple of months while I battled with WordPress. Everyone says how easy WordPress is to use, but I found it anything but easy. Now, maybe it’s easy compared to hand coding HTML and CSS and Javascript, but there’s still an awful lot to learn. Eventually, with a lot of help from a writer friend, I managed to figure out what I was doing and put together my current website.



One thing I discovered over two years was how much maintenance WordPress sites take. Every time I log on to post a blog or update my books, one or more plugins (the stuff that enhances the functionality of a WordPress site) needs an update. Sometimes the theme needs an update. And sometimes the WordPress “engine” needs an update. Lately, something called PhP needed an update. This one came with dire warnings about possibly breaking your site, so you should run (you guessed it) a plugin to find problems. When I ran this a few months ago, it gave me cryptic and misleading messages (known as false positives, meaning there really wasn’t anything wrong except with the program trying to figure out if there was anything wrong). I decided to wait.

Meanwhile, I was getting closer to the time when I have to renew my hosting and payment for several of the premium plugins I added to the site. That’s several hundred dollars worth of expense. I longed for the day when my website was with Blogger. To me, Blogger was simple. If I wanted to put up a new blog, I wrote it offline and copied and pasted it into a form. Done in about five minutes. I’d also discovered in the meantime that several of the features that I’d been told were only available for WordPress could actually be done on a Blogger site. And I discovered a simple paid theme that implemented one of the things I’d always wanted: a slider which rotated through multiple pictures in the header area. Oh, and that “paid” theme cost me a whopping $19. Everything else was free from Google.

But it did take time to customize all that stuff exactly the way I wanted it, and I had writing to do, so the website became a lower priority than lots of other things. I had it scheduled to occur before the end of 2019 since those big payments to GoDaddy weren’t going to be due until early next year.

Well, this month, it became imperative that I upgrade that PhP thingie, so I downloaded another testing plugin for WordPress. That one wouldn’t run at all. I wondered if the reason it wouldn’t run was that I was so far behind on my PhP. So I decided to try to move everything early. Ugh.

I first wanted to move my domain from GoDaddy to Google. Google gives you 10 email addresses per domain free while GoDaddy only gives you one. Blogger gives you free SSL, which makes your website secure, which matters to Google searches, while GoDaddy charges for it.

Making that change requires several steps for the Internet authorities to allow it to go through. The first part happens on your existing registrar, which for me is GoDaddy. So I did step one, but ran into a problem with step two. I had to get GoDaddy tech support involved to get that one to work. But I made a mistake. When they got me into that screen of my account, I noticed I had a very old address and phone number listed with them. Wanting to make sure my information was correct, I changed those to the current one. Big mistake.

As a security measure, ICANN, the governing body for Internet usage, prevents a domain from being transferred if something about the registered owner changed within the last 60 days. :::Headdesk:::
Yeah, there went my plan to change my website now.

I was going to wait the two months, but then I, in my brilliance, decided there was a workaround for that. I’d forward my domain to Blogger! I used to do that before WordPress entered the picture. So I did.

Now that I had the new website as the one people would find on the Internet, I’d go back to WordPress, try that PhP upgrade, and plan out the steps to delete all of that. Except I couldn’t. There was no way to get back into my WordPress site now that it was no longer associated with a domain. :::Sigh:::

I’ve spent another couple of days putting things back the way they were (almost — there’s one thing I can’t put back without paying GoDaddy more money, which I’m not going to do right now) and giving myself time to figure out a plan to make the changeover. I’ll figure it all out by the end of October. I hope.

Meanwhile, if you want to take a look at the Blogger site (and you’re not already reading this there), you can find it at elisemstone.blogspot.com.

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