Into the Bloggerverse

Want to start your own site? I’ve been wanting to put this site together for a while and I just never really got around to it until now, but it’s overdue and definitely time. Here I’ll mention some of the adventures so far.

I expect to focus primarily on my technical adventures in computer wonderland, and this blog is one of them so LET’S GET META.
I’ve only dabbled in WordPress a little bit and I’ve never set up my own instance so the setup is going slower than I like. What’s nice is they use the same exact interface components as wordpress.org/themes on the backend so I’m able to have friends help me dig through the layouts until I find one I like. I want to keep it minimal and user friendly, I don’t want to hit you in the face with massively useless pictures nor walls of text. I want to be helpful.

We’re on Day 4 and so far we have the server up, secured, stylized, and now I’m beginning to add other content pages. I’m going to try and write something every day. Here’s a few technical considerations I’ve encountered:

I owned the domain name I bought from Register.com for a few years, and the one thing that took a few days was realizing to have it work and the HTTPS lock, I needed to update my IP properly on register.com’s site and then change the name servers on that awful site to point to the DigitalOcean ones, in addition to using the letsencrypt.org tools on the command line.

I love DigitalOcean. You can run a website for $5-$10 a month, the cost of a music or TV subscription. Not getting paid to say this but I definitely recommend them, they’ve been reliable for me for years, and they have automatic preset installs like WordPress. I just had to say go and in under a minute I had a new Linux server to log into and fiddle with, that mostly worked as WordPress already. Be sure to update from the WordPress user interface, but if you focus on that side you should be able to get most of the setup happy using WordPress plugins and not worrying about the Linux side too much.

I’ll pick a lesser-known plugin to tell you about since I’m here: take a look at WP Night Mode. I made my site have a Night Mode toggle and set it on by default. Those who know, know. And to the rest who want it light: what’s wrong with you? and also you’re welcome. It takes a little setup of the colors you want it to use and you’ll want to use the shortcode wherever but I can’t recommend it more.

Some “fiddly” items of business you’ll want to deal with:
1) Go into customizing/themes and get to site identity and make sure you have an icon other than the WordPress one. Try to brand yourself a little bit.
2) Get stock images at Pexels, Unsplash, or Pixabay. I recommend searching them all when you’re looking for something specific. I’m traditionally a Pexels user but Unsplash is really coming through this week.
3) Find a plugin (I settled for the Yoast SEO one) that will put the featured image for your article in a link preview on social media. Test that and make sure it works, you want to come off professional and not a data-less link.
4) Find your menu and your sidebar for widgets and get those looking half decent. Get rid of any theme clutter you don’t explicitly want and organize the site so people can get around it easy. Remove any redundancy.
5) I’ll restate what I said above, get that HTTPS and lock icon ASAP so you don’t seem sketchy. You can grade your server at SSL Labs. Use other browsers and incognito to test because caching will make it act up even if it’s fixed. I took SSL Lab’s advice and disabled TLS 1.0/1.1 on my server.
6) Sort out Settings->Permalinks immediately. Once you decide how URLs are done it’s somewhat permanent or you break all your links on the web. I had to install Redirection to fix the ones already out there in the wild.
7) Under users you will find your avatar. Apparently you set it by making an account on Gravatar and it will show up soon once you have that set up.
8) Figure out how you are going to do categories and tags quickly. Don’t be using that stupid “Uncategorized” one. Categories are genres, and you should only have 2 or 3. You might even only have one. All else is a matter of tags. It takes time to figure out what they should be, but once you have a dozen or so posts, you should have more than enough info on what they should be.

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