Out with the old. In with the new.

Out with the old. In with the new.

Usually at some point in the life cycle of a blog, the writer publishes a heartfelt post in which he or she apologizes for not keeping up with the blog. Life got in the way. Work got too busy. Some unavoidable complication or another caused them to turn a blind eye to the widening gaps between publication dates.

They write the post like a person who has to explain why he or she has to break it off with a significant other, who he genuinely likes, but – it turns out – just isn’t that into … for now. Someday, when the time is right, they will pick back up where they left off. When things slow down. Once he or she catches a break.

This isn’t that post for me.

It’s true that I haven’t written anything since last summer. But that’s because I’ve been learning valuable lessons about what it takes to run a blog.

Lesson 1: DIY Websites aren’t as easy as you’d think.

I assumed it would be pretty easy to create and manage a blog. There are so enough terrible blogs are out there to justify this belief. As it turns out, this is not true.

  • You need to register a domain and choices about what extra security measures you might need. Like, buying SSL certificates or else Google will steer people away from your site even though you don’t accept any confidential info.
  • You need to select a hosting company. How do you decide? I don’t know. I took the advice of another blogger who I admired, without realizing that she was promoting a certain company to earn money (grrr).
  • You have to buy a website theme if you want to have any control over the way it looks. And unless you pay extra to have the website built out for you, you have to do a decent amount of backend work to make it look like the demo you saw when you purchased it.
  • Hosting providers try to back you into the corner or buying multi-year contracts, automatically opting you into annual renewals.
  • Switching hosting providers isn’t intuitive unless you follow all of their rules, or have a certain level of backend tech skills.

When my contract was up for renewal, I decided to shop around. This wound up being a huge mistake for me.

Writer working on a website

Lesson 2: They will delete your website

When a hosting company says it is going to delete your database (i.e. all traces of your site) unless you renew your contract, it is not a joke.

I thought there might be some type of grace period. There wasn’t.

It was especially deceiving that some nice customer service rep offered to make a backup of my site after the expiration date. He failed to inform me that there was nothing to left to make a backup with. I actually didn’t find that out until last week – three months after I started this whole process.

Lesson 3: The second draft is better

If you know much about Ernest Hemingway, you’ve probably heard the famous story in which his then-wife attempted to bring a copy of his finished novel to him at the train station and then lost the whole thing. At first, he was devastated.  Completely destroyed over it. But in the process of rewriting the novel, he ended up creating something even new and better. The result was The Sun Also Rises, a book that many fanatics consider to be his best work.

Every writer feels betrayed when their initial work disappears. You hate to see those hours whirlpool down the drain. But then you get over the dread of starting from scratch. And you come up with something way better than you had in the first place.

I’m hoping that’s what happens here. I am trading out my personal travel blog that I started to document my experience living abroad for one that’s a little more versatile. With the experience I gained working on the first site,  I hope this one ends up being a little more polished, a little more deliberate, a little bit better all around.