Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Website work, steep learning curves...

My Brain Is Full

Since this blog is about how I want to work for myself, I thought I would do a post now and then about how I actually plan to make a living from home, from my computer, and document how I am doing it, as I go along.

If it works for me, maybe it will work for you. And you'll have all of my posts to check so you don't make the same mistakes I do. You'll make lots of your own of course, but at least you won't make as many as I have.

So, here's the story so far:

I know more about computers than some, but failed my programming classes, well Javascript and C++ anyway. I did learn HTML but never learned CSS and PHP because I was busy at a different kind of job when they came along.  So coding is not my thing. I am not a newbie, I guess, but I am definitely a writer, not a hacker. 

I have been working on my website for about six weeks.  I am using Wordpress theme twenty-eleven, because it is older and has all of the kinks worked out of it, well, for the most part.

I decided on Wordpress because it is free, it is a stable platform and more importantly, there is a great deal of support on line for tweaking it (if you can find it). 

A few months ago I purchased my website name and setup an account with a hosting company.  At that point I simply parked my name. This means that if you had searched for my website you would have seen a site where the name was unavailable but my web host had a page advertising their wares.  Why park your website when you aren't using it? Because any company that uses that empty space to place an ad will pay you revenue, they'll pay for the ad they put in that empty space. Okay, it's not a lot of money, but every penny counts!

Next thing I did, before signing up with Wordpress was to begin my research and writing for the website. You don't need anything but a plain text editor to write with and research can be done online, or at the library, or both.  I used online resources and my local library for my research.  I wanted to have about 20 pages of text ready before I signed up with Wordpress.

Original image by shawncampbell.

While I was writing and researching I also planned out my website structure using just plain paper and a pencil. High tech huh?  I wrote down topics I wanted to cover in different areas of the page. Then I re-organised things into main topics, subtopics, things I might just post about, etc.  This gave my research direction. I knew what I had to research, where to start and what to leave until later.

I went out and bought two books about Wordpress, one about websites in general and one about AdSense. I prefer to learn by reading. Nothing wrong with learning online too, but I find reading the computer screen for hours can be really hard on the eyes. (Note: being online an hour or so before bedtime can give you insomnia because of the backlit screen, it interferes with the production of melatonin, which helps you sleep.)

 I bought: Wordpress for Dummies by Lisa Sabin-Wilson;WordPress 24-hour Trainer by George Plumley; Build Your First Website in Simple Steps by Joe Kraynak and The AdSense Code by Joel Comm.

About two months ago I began creating pages, just text to begin with.  I created about 5 pages and then ran into a page that really needed a table to set out a lot of information that would look better in a table than a list. That's when I decided to setup Wordpress and explore a bit about what I had been reading.

I went to my host site and installed Wordpress right from the host site. It took less than 15 minutes, including creating a database (that's where my text files will live).  Once that was done I had a working website with nothing in it.  So, I created a couple of pages by simply cutting and pasting the pages I had written in my plain text editor into the Create a Page forms.  Now I had something to work with.
Using Build Your First Website I went to a site called bannerfans  and created the banner for my site. It was quick and easy. I saved two or three different banners to try out and uploaded my favourite.And that was about it for the first stage. 

I did some searching to find a way to create a table in Wordpress. I discovered I could use a Plugin. I found one that seemed to have a good rating, so I downloaded it from inside my Wordpress dashboard and installed and activated.  I entered my data and presto I had a big beautiful table. I wasn't happy with the size of the text, and I couldn't figure out how to make it larger, so I started a list of 'things to fix' for later on and moved on to writing again.

For the next few weeks I created pages, uploaded them (with no photos yet) and made notes on things I wanted to figure out how to change: like changing the text in the footer of every page, creating a different menu, removing the one from the top and putting along the side, getting rid of the big white space above my nice header, etc. 

Next time I post about my website in progress I'll try to outline some of the tweaks I made and how I made them. This will definitely save you a lot of time if you decide to create a Wordpress site using the twentyeleven them. Just figuring out how to make a tiny little bit of text smaller took me over 2 hours and 13 visits to different websites before I found the answer that worked!

In the meantime I'm still writing and still learning. I can't remember where I first heard it, but I think it might have been a cartoon of a little boy who just got home from school complaining to his mother, "My brain is full."  That's how I'm feeling right now.

The Fun Stuff

If you've read my profile you'll know the reason I'm making websites is to make money from home, so I can live anywhere in the world and make a living. My hope is a lovely home somewhere in Portugal and the good news for today is that I have booked a month's vacation in Portugal mid-February to mid-March 2012. We're planning two weeks in the mountains and two weeks in the south on the beach. This is what makes all the work worthwhile.
Silves castle Portugal

 Never give up your dreams!

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