Posted in Blogging

Websites Going Retro & Accidental Import

Last year, I first wrote about the project to recreate my old 2004 FFIV fansite, Sygnus Star, on the Neocities platform. Thanks to inspiration from the FFIV Pixel Remaster (which I still need to finishplaying) I’m pretty much done with the restoration of that site now.

I just happened to have kept all of the old files that were needed to rebuild the site from scratch. I did make some updates – this site existed before CSS and stylesheets were widely used – and I’ve learned a whole lot about HTML coding in terms of using CSS that I didn’t know in my youth.

You can check out the Sygnus Star recreation here!

I had so much fun with that project that while I could still tweak a few more things, the gears in my head started moving and I decided I wanted to make a whole nother retro page from scratch. This time, I chose to transform my secondary WordPress blog, Spot of Mummery, into a hand-coded HTML site.

There’s a number of reasons I chose to do this…

  • My WordPress subscription renewal was coming up and it felt like the cost to Support Neocities was equivalent or even a better deal for me (I can make up to 30 websites on one account and they even allow you to point a domain to each of them!)
  • Sustaining more than one blog with FFXIV content was starting to not make sense – there’s a lot in Spot of Mummery that doesn’t belong here on this blog, but a lot that did. It was starting to take content away from my main blog at that point.
  • I’m having an absolute ball building retro websites and the basic content of Spot of Mummery could absolutely fit into that niche!

So over the past week or so, I’ve been busy at work coding the new site.

Check out what I’ve done so far here!

I still have a bunch of work to do to transfer the remaining story content, but overall, I think it’s been a great move for me. I’ve been able to be much more creative and make the page exactly how I want it to be – something you just can’t do in a WordPress.com hosted environment (it’s sometimes hard to do even self-hosted).

Plus I’ve been learning a ton of new things as I find ways to work around not having PHP – CSS and Javascript power this site, but I’ve been able to install an art gallery, blog and more. Of course, I’ve had to rely on third party stuff for things like a guestbook, counter and chat box, but that was always the way even back in the day.

The one thing that I was snagged on was what to do with the blog itself. There was a LOT of content to pull over, and while I do have a blogging solution within the site, it’s not really meant for hundreds of posts (though it could handle them I think).

That’s when it occurred to me that I could maybe merge some content that felt relevant enough into this blog, and then transfer the rest of it to the static site over time. I wasn’t meaning to merge a great deal – just a little at a time – so I set up a one month export on the second blog.

Or, at least, I thought I was only exporting one month of content. Seems like WordPress had ideas of its own.

It wasn’t until I went to import here on this blog that I saw it trying to pull in over a thousand files!! I knew that the number of posts in that supposed one month period of time shouldn’t have been that big! But the import was already going, and there wasn’t anything I could do to stop it.

So yes, it ended up importing all of the posts in Spot of Mummery to this blog… which… wasn’t what I wanted it to do.

I’m already working through cleaning out non-relevant posts, but now I have another project on my hands. Thankfully, the images are still hosted over on my second blog, so there’s not a lot of broken pictures in the posts. But some of the posts may show up wonky and some of them simply don’t belong here.

If you see weird stuff floating around, I’m working on fixing it. And don’t be surprised if a number of the posts vanish, too, as I determine what belongs on the static site vs. what fits in here.

I guess on the upside, I’ve somewhat answered my own questions about whether I really need a second blog or not.

Posted in Blogging

500 WordPress Followers!

I just wanted to thank everyone who has followed and supported this blog – I’m super excited to have reached over 500 WordPress followers! So thank you very much!

I have a lot of writing I want to do soon here, but I’ve been distracted by HTML projects – of which I want to write a post to talk about, too!

I’ve lately been moving Spot of Mummery (which was my other gaming blog) to its own HTML-based site. This project has been tons of fun for me, but it’s left me questioning what to do with the blog portion of the old site.

At first, I considered moving it to static HTML, but I think it will be a lot of work for a lot of content that doesn’t play well with that environment. So now, I think the better option would be to merge it in here with this blog… and…

Yeah, I think you know where I’m going with that.

Strangely enough, I’m considering moving my fiddle content to a static HTML site, too. But I have enough work on my hands with all this moving and merging so I’m going to hold off on that. 😀

For now, just know all my sites and blogs are under construction and I hope to find a happy home and balance between them going forward! Thanks again for 500 follows and sending best wishes for a great October! 🎃

Posted in Blaugust, Blogging

Blaugust 26- The Importance of WordPress Reader

You can think of WordPress Reader as a cross between an RSS reader with a touch of social media vibes to it. If you own a blog hosted on WordPress.com then your blog is automatically connected to Reader, which helps to boost your posts to other WordPress bloggers (as long as you tag them properly).

You can even add RSS feeds and YouTube feeds (I’ve checked this!) to Reader, making it a great stream of content similar to an old skool RSS reader. You can not only follow other bloggers, but follow tags that you’re interested in, giving you access to new blogs that have similar interests.

I personally think that Reader is absolutely brilliant – all the usefulness of a RSS reader, the ability to Like and comment on other bloggers’ posts, and none of the drama that springs up around a social media site.

So why is it that I feel like Reader is extremely underutilized?

I might be wrong, but sometimes it seems like the users who make the most of Reader are bot accounts and those marketing blogs that follow you hoping that you’ll follow back. If this is the case, then that’s a shame because it’s a great system to help get your blog more traffic – but only if the community adopts it as a whole.

When I was making the choice between whether to make my secondary blog a WordPress.com blog vs. a WordPress.org blog, the major reason I chose WordPress.com was due to the exposure that Reader brings. Without the proper interest and social media presence, it can be difficult to build your first audience as a blogger. Sometimes it feels like you’re just blogging into the void on a self-hosted blog.

Reader helps with that – again, as long as you’re using tags on your blog posts – and can assist in getting your posts out there in front of other bloggers who are interested in the same topics. In fact, Reader accounts for quite a bit of this blog’s traffic so far. Here’s a look at my referrals since January:

This is a newer blog that has only been out there since December.

My top referrer is (thankfully) search engines, but that’s because I got a little lucky by writing a couple of posts that the search engines picked up on. But my second and fourth highest referrers are Reader and the WordPress app. Now, I’m going to guess that the app usage has to do with those who have followed my blog or are finding it through discovery – both related to Reader. So I’m going to lump them together.

That’s a pretty good chunk of my traffic that I wouldn’t have otherwise had without Reader.

About Reader

If you’re not familiar with Reader, when you log into your WordPress.com blog, you’ll find a button in the top left of the WP menu bar.

Clicking it will take you to the newest posts of the sites and blogs you’ve followed. Here you can like the posts, click to read the posts and even comment on the posts.

Looking at the menu, you can see there’s a lot more to Reader than just this.

Conversations show you comment threads on posts written by bloggers you follow and encourages you to add your own comments.

Search lets you search all of Reader based on topic or tag. From there, you can find new blogs based around that topic that you can follow.

My Likes shows a list of posts that you’ve liked in the past.

Lists – I haven’t messed with this yet, but now that I’ve looked at it, I could find a use for it. I’m guessing this allows you to group blogs and sites that you follow into lists.

Tags allows you to add tags (topics) that you’re interested in following. Anytime a blog tags a post with those words, you can see it here. Sorta like using a hashtag in Twitter.

This is so very important, but I often feel so many bloggers just overlook tagging their posts, and miss out on the exposure that Reader can give them! So much so, I plan on writing another post all around tags and the importance of tagging and following tags.

Following Blogs and Sites

An important part of Reader is following blogs. Doing this for WordPress blogs is super easy. As long as you’re logged into WordPress, you’ll see something like this on another WordPress blog, usually in the bottom right corner of the blog’s page:

Clicking Follow adds that blog to your Followed Sites list and allows you to see when new posts come out.

You can also follow sites that are not WordPress blogs – as long as that site has some kind of RSS feed behind it.

To do that, go to Followed Sites and click the Manage button on the page.

This shows you a list of sites you follow. But you can also manually add a site here in the Search or enter URL to follow bar.

And there you go – that site will now show up in your Followed Sites tab!

Next time, I’ll tackle talking about tags, following tags and the importance of properly tagging your WordPress posts so that Reader shares your posts with other Reader users.

Posted in Blaugust, Blogging

Blaugust 25- Should I Choose WordPress.com or WordPress.org?

WordPress is a strange animal. It comes in two flavors:

  • WordPress.com – A site that hosts your blog for you
  • WordPress.org – Where you download the software to install a self-hosted blog on a webhost

When I was making the move from Tumblr to WordPress, I thought and researched about the two options, trying to decide which way to go. I’m not a noob when it comes to WordPress – I’ve self-hosted for many years and also run my main gaming blog from WordPress.com. So, I’ve used both and seen both sides of the road.

Question: So which option is better?

Answer: It depends on what you need from a blog and what you’re looking to do with your blog. Also how much experience and knowledge you have running a website plays a big part of this.

WordPress.com – Pros and Cons

WordPress.com will host your blog for you with limitations based on the package you choose. Know that there is a free option, so if you’re a new blogger who doesn’t have the money to explore webhosting, this can be a good place to start.

Pros of WordPress.com

  • Free option – but with limitations and ads
  • Hassle-free setup and maintenance
  • WordPress.com will always keep your blog up to date – you never have to worry about updates
  • Own as many blogs as you like on one account
  • Peace of mind to known you can’t “break” your blog with incompatible plugins or bad templates
  • You are a part of WordPress Reader – a WP social media that connects all blogs at WordPress.com
  • Easy to select and try out templates
  • Seems to handle high traffic (more on that later)
  • You can use your own domain name if you purchase one and have a paid WP package
  • May be easier to build an audience thanks to WordPress Reader

Cons of WordPress.com

  • Ads on free blogs
  • Space limitations based on your package, especially for media
  • You can’t install your own plugins or templates (unless you pay for the more expensive packages)
  • You can’t edit the coding of your templates (unless you pay for the more expensive packages)

Basically, the limitations of WordPress.com are based on how much you’re willing to pay for your blog. However, while you might feel that not being able to install plugins or custom templates is a bad thing, these are often the very things that “break” a self-hosted blog and require troubleshooting to fix (I’ve been there, done that).

If you’re a newer blogger who just wants to experiment with WordPress without worrying that you’re going to install something that brings your website down (also been there), hosting with WordPress.com means that they take care of all of your maintenance. You’ll always be on the newest version and will never need to worry about updating – or that things will break your blog when it updates.

Also, you have direct connection to WordPress Reader – something that shouldn’t be undervalued. This can help you connect with other bloggers, follow blogs that you enjoy, and get your posts out there using WordPress.com’s built-in social media. Basically, it’s a good place to start building an audience.

WordPress.org – Pros and Cons

When you run a self-hosted blog, you get a lot more freedom. But you also have to support the cost of that blog, the maintenance of that blog, and if something breaks, it’s on you to find a fix (or hope that your website host has support for it).

Pros of WordPress.org

  • Use any plugins you want
  • Use any templates you want
  • Complete access to template codes for full customization
  • Complete control over your blog install and content
  • No limitation on space – aside from what your webhost limits

Cons of WordPress.org

  • Not free – you must pay for a domain and webhost
  • You will need a webhost and must play by the webhost’s rules about limits on storage, traffic, and server resources
  • Depending on the webhost, you may have to install WordPress on your own (or pay for someone to do it for you)
  • You have to maintain your own blog and ensure blog and plugins are up to date
  • If something breaks, it’s up to you to troubleshoot or find help
  • Webhosts may not be the expert on WordPress when it comes to troubleshooting
  • No direct connection to WordPress Reader
  • It’s up to you to spread the word about your blog and build an audience
  • Depending on your webhost, it may cost extra to have more than one blog (or you must know how to use things like subdomains and add-on domains to set it up)

While self-hosting gives you full creative flexibility and control over your blog, it also puts the responsibility of that blog squarely in your hands. If you don’t have experience with webhosts, coding, troubleshooting websites and things like that, this might not be the best option for you.

I’ve also had issues (many times) where due to how much resources my site was using on a shared host, the webhost actually pulled my blog down. This could have been because I had high traffic one day or because bots were messing with my site. I had to prove that my blog was up to date and that it wasn’t a plugin or something causing the resource issues.

This was really, really frustrating and it did require some know-how to get my host to put my site back up. This happened to me several times, and it prompted me to start shopping around for a new host. Ultimately, dealing with this problem was why I moved my main blog to WordPress.com – I have never had this issue since.

The final big thing to consider is where your audience is coming from. As a self-hosted blog, you aren’t directly connected to WordPress Reader. Sure, people can follow your blog through Reader, but when you write a new post, Reader doesn’t put it out there for other bloggers to read. This is a feature that only supports WordPress.com blogs.

With a self-hosted blog, you have to build your audience using your own social media or ways of getting the word out. This was the major point for me when I fully moved from Tumblr. I’d actually already had a self-hosted Spot of Mummery blog, and it rarely got traffic. So I decided to move it to WordPress.com where I could take advantage of WordPress Reader, and it’s doing far, far better than when it was self-hosted.

I could go on for a while about the experiences I’ve had over the years with both forms of blog hosting. There’s positives and negatives about each one – you just gotta decide what works best for the blog and project you’re building.

And keep in mind, you can always pack up and transfer the content of your blog anytime. This just takes a little know-how, time and work, but it can be done.

Posted in Blaugust, Blogging

Blaugust 24- Creating an Archive Page on WordPress

While I’m writing this quickie tutorial based around the idea of making an archive of posts for a series, you can actually use this for just about any reason. This is how to create an Archive page that automatically adds new posts based on a category you create.

For example, here’s an archive page for Spot of Simmery:

You can create the layout however you like it – such as add an image and columns like I did.

This post is going to focus on how to make that list of posts that automatically update without you needing to come to the page to update it every time.

Step 1 – Create a WordPress Category for your series of posts. Again, this doesn’t have to be a series – this works with any category. You do this by clicking Posts and then Categories. Then create the category you want to use for your archive.

Step 2 – Assign that Category to posts in your series. Remember to assign that specific category to the posts you want to appear on the archive page. You can also go back and assign that category to existing posts by editing those posts and updating them. You can find the Categories section under the Posts tab in the right-hand menu when you’re creating or editing a post.

Step 3 – Create a new Page to serve as your Archive page. Design this page however you like.

Step 4 – Add a Latest Posts block to the page. This is the widget that will list your posts.

Step 5- Set up your Latest Posts block in the right-hand menu. With the new block selected, ensure you’re looking at the Block tab in the right-hand menu. If you don’t see this menu, click the gear icon in the top right corner of the screen.

It should look like the picture to the right.

You can configure it any way that you like, but this is an example of how to make this look like a text list of posts. I don’t enable things like content or images, but you can if that fits your archive style.

I ensure that the order is Oldest to newest so that the readers see posts from first to last in proper order.

Then, enter the category in the Categories box – this is the most important for making sure this displays the posts you want it to show.

Further below that, also take a look at Number of Items. The max number of posts it can display is 100, so that should give you plenty of wiggle room to post a long series if you want. I keep that number fairly high so that I never have to worry about it.

Once you save the page, that block should display the posts in the category that you set up. Every time you write a new post and assign it to that category, the post will show up in that block – creating an archive page that you never need to worry about updating manually.

And if you decide there are some posts that you don’t want to include in this archive anymore, all you have to do is edit the post and remove the category.

Posted in Blaugust, Blogging

Blaugust 8- Moving from Tumblr to WordPress – Things to Know

This will likely be the last post I write about Tumblr during Blaugust, but I did want to capture some things that are important to think about when you make a move away from Tumblr.

In this case, I moved a 2 and a half year Tumblr to a WordPress.com install. This was a HUGE amount of content and work. This wasn’t the first time I’ve done this sort of export-import, but it was the first time I’ve done one with years worth of content.

Exporting a Backup from Tumblr

The first thing to know is that you can export your Tumblr blog at any time. You don’t even need to be moving it. This is a good way to back up your Tumblr, which is something you should do from time to time, just in case.

To locate Tumblr backup, click Settings from the account icon menu.

Then, on the right hand side of the Settings page, click the blog you want to back up from your list of Tumblr blogs.

Scroll down all the way to the bottom of this page to click the Export.

You’ll see a message that indicates the export is processing. Depending on the size of the blog, this could take some time.

When it’s done, this will change to a Download backup button – you may have to refresh the page to see this. You’ll also get an email from Tumblr to let you know it’s done.

Click the button to download the zip file and you’ve successfully exported! You’ll notice in the Zip file that you have an additional Zip file for posts, but more importantly, you have a Media folder that contains all your images – you’re going to need them!

Importing to WordPress

You can import from Tumblr to both a WordPress.com blog and a self-hosted WordPress, too. It’s just a bit more tricky to do it on a self-hosted blog.

On your WordPress admin dashboard, click Tools and then Import.

For WordPress.com, you’ll have to click Choose from a full list to see the Tumblr option. On a self-hosted WordPress, you will have to first install the importer if you don’t already have it and then Run Importer.

If you haven’t already connected to a Tumblr account, click Connect to Tumblr to begin. It will automatically detect whatever Tumblr account you’re logged into on that browser. Just give it read and write access.

For a self-hosted WordPress, you’ll have to go through an extra couple steps to connect to Tumblr. Follow the on screen instructions on how to register with Tumblr APIs and get the keys you need to make the connection.

Once the connection is made, you’ll see a list of Tumblrs hosted on your Tumblr account. Now all you have to do is click the Import this Blog button next to the Tumblr you want to import.

Let the import run its course and you’ll find all of your Tumblr posts moved to your WordPress!

Things To Know

Here are some things to know about this Tumblr import. I’m not going into the how-to in this section because that would make this post hugely long.

This imports ALL Tumblr posts. That means everything you’ve ever reblogged. Anytime you answered an ask. Photo posts. Media posts. It imports it all.

That means you’re going to have to sort through and clean up posts you don’t want on your WordPress. WordPress does its best to recreate your Tumblr posts the way you made them. However, WordPress and Tumblr layouts and templates are very different, and WordPress cannot always match Tumblr’s formatting.

Spend some time looking through the posts you’ve imported to see if anything turned out wonky. Chances are, it will, especially if you have posts that included lots of in-line quoting from multiple Tumblr users. You probably can’t fix these posts and will need to be ready to delete anything that is beyond help.

You’ll also probably want to go through and delete Tumblr reblog posts and content that originated from other Tumblr users. If you really want to keep posts that are reblogs, it’s better to embed the original content in the WordPress post. I also deleted any posts with asks I answered or anytime I directly wrote to another Tumblr user because in the context of a WordPress blog, it doesn’t make sense to the reader to see this.

Your media doesn’t always transfer. Every time I’ve imported from Tumblr my pictures didn’t move into the WordPress media section with the transfer.

While the pictures still show in your posts, these pictures are directly hotlinked to the original images hosted by Tumblr. This means that if you intend to delete your Tumblr, or if you remove that content from Tumblr, it will break all of the images on your WordPress.

This requires further clean up and is why I suggested that you exported from Tumblr first. The Media folder you got from your export should contain all of your images. And yes, what I’m heavily suggesting is that you take the time to go through all the posts one at a time and Replace the images with files you upload directly to your WordPress.

Click on the image and click Replace to upload a new image

Yes, this is a lot of work. But if you’re making a complete move away from Tumblr, you should make sure all of your media is hosted on WordPress and not linking back to Tumblr.

I also suggest you hold off on deleting your Tumblr (if that’s your intention) until after you’ve moved all your media over. Otherwise, you’ll have a bunch of broken pictures and you may not remember what picture belongs to what post!

So the bottom line is: If you intend on moving from Tumblr to WordPress, the import is the easiest part. Know that it’s going to take time to clean out posts you don’t want on your WordPress and time to upload and replace media that didn’t move over with the import.

However, the peace of mind of having all your content hosted in the place you want it is worth it. Good luck!

Posted in Blogging

WordPress Personal Plan Storage Upgrade!

Last night, I heard my phone buzz.

I looked over and saw an alert from WordPress that said nothing but “Storage Upgrade!”

I got excited. I opened the app and saw this:

2016-12-19-22-23-04

I got very excited. I started looking around for more information. Sure enough, on the WordPress plans page, it notes that all free blogs still have 3 GB of space, but the Personal paid accounts now have 6 GB!

This is a huge deal! I say that because storage space was one limitation that worried me when I moved over to WordPress.com hosting.

I noted in my Moving Post:

3GB storage space for images is pretty low for me. I’ve been spoiled by having “unlimited” space for many years. Already, my blog has that over 40% full.

Now that I’m only using 21% of my storage space, I feel much more at ease about things, and much more content in the choice I made to move this blog here.

So, if you’re using WordPress’ Personal plan, you have an upgrade! If you’re using a free plan and are approaching the 3 GB limit, the Personal plan is a nice option to double your space for very little cost.

Posted in Blogging

Blogging Milestones: 1,000 Posts!

Yesterday, I received an announcement via WordPress that alerted me to the fact that I’ve published 1,000 posts on this blog. Somehow, I’d lost track of that and wasn’t paying any attention to my post number.

So, for a blog that’s going on 3 years old, that’s not too bad. Granted, this includes random YouTube videos, posts of my art and that sort of thing, too. However, I’ve removed a good chunk of content in the form of my Sims stories, because I wanted to divide that away from the main blog. I figure it equals out.

When I moved to WordPress.com about a month ago, it lost all my Followers and Likes. I actually had a good number of Followers to lose, so that was a bit annoying – if you followed me before, you’ll need to follow me again!

So, I’m building those up again, and have hit these milestones:

20followers

50likes

Again, not too bad for being here less than a month.

WordPress Reader

I’ve also discovered that when you have a WordPress.com hosted blog, you get the benefit of being connected to the Reader section. This is similar to Tumblr’s dashboard, where you can search by tags and follow blogs you enjoy… just a bit less cluttered and over-saturated.

In fact, I like this a whole lot better than a Tumblr because you can actually find interesting posts and new blogs to follow. The quality seems a good bit better than the constant stream of micro-blogging you see in Tumblr, too. Not to mention, you can have the best of all worlds if you attach a WordPress.com blog to a Tumblr account via sharing.

Boom! All the blogging! 

So, I’m happy that I made the jump over to WordPress.com as a host, if only to have that sense of a social media connection in the background for my blog. I know that I’ve discovered a number of blogs the past month, and other people have discovered me… who would have never found me otherwise as a self-hosted blog.

Blog on! 

Posted in Blogging

Making a Move

 

So, things look a little different around here, huh?

Yeah, remember how I was discussing the issues I’ve been having with inodes on my website host? Well, one of my thoughts was to move this blog to a separate host since it takes quite a bit of resources on the server.

I did some looking around and comparing, and as crazy as it sounds, I discovered moving my blog to a WordPress.com account was actually the best option for me. So why would I choose to move my self-hosted blog that had all the freedom of plugins and theme customization to a place where I’d lack all those things?

Here’s my thoughts on that.

First. I don’t want another Baby Croc plan. I don’t want to fork over another $12 a month just for one blog.

Well, there’s a lot of different hosts that tout WordPress hosting at a low price. They start you out at $2.00-something a month, and they catch you at the checkout by making you pay 36 months up front or something. And then, upon renewal, they jack the price up to $12 a month or more. I’m looking at you HostGator.

Some of them have a cap on how many visitors you can get in a month. I’m looking at you, BlueHost. So what happens if you have a popular post and you break 10K visits? Does your site shut down for the rest of them month? Do you pay a fee? Yeah, no.

So, a WordPress.com account is free. But I obviously wanted to use my domain name, so I ponied up the $2.99 a month for a year to have that.

The transfer went well. I have a huge site, and transferring the images took two days as the migration tool takes a loooong time, and I decided transferring a month at a time was best.

I did find a free theme that I liked, so that’s a plus. The lack of plugins isn’t as restricting as I thought it would be. Turns out there’s a lot of plugins I don’t really need.

The two things that I’m not so happy about is the lack of FTP for image retrieval and the low storage space.

Without FTP, all I can do is export media to another WordPress blog. This means that I’m going to have to be more careful about archiving images just in case I ever decide to make another move.

3GB storage space for images is pretty low for me. I’ve been spoiled by having “unlimited” space for many years. Already, my blog has that over 40% full. However, if I ever get to the point that I need more, I suppose I could upgrade, and it would still be cheaper than self-hosting.

The one positive is that all the traffic and resources that my blog has been generated is moving off of my self-hosted server. So it’s less I have to be concerned about. Hopefully keeping my domain will make it a smooth transition and no one will need to update links or anything.

I’ve discovered a few of my older posts are missing pictures from when I migrated from Clean Casuals to Aywren.com, and I’m fixing them as I have time. That was an issue even back on the self-hosted blog that I wasn’t aware of, though.

So far, so good. As long as WordPress.com remains reliable, I think this is a change for the better.