Expertise Comes in Shades of Gray

Yesterday there was a blog post suggesting WordPress sucks along with its top-notch themes Thesis (which I run here) and Headway (which I started my blog with and switched).

After commenting on the post, I saw a tweet about the same post suggesting the author was absent his morning java to have written something so ridiculously futile (that’s with a long “I” as the Borg say).

This got me thinking about expertise and how it’s defined. I am an expert in public relations; are you? Perhaps to some degree you are, and mayhap not to the same extent as I.

I am not an expert blogger, however, nor do I relish the steep learning curve the IT and back end present. This is the gist of what the aforementioned blog post said – the back end of any blog is a daunting adventure. To blog expertly, one needs mastery of the back end.

As my friend Gregg so aptly puts it, “Jayme, this should be like falling off a log to you.” So I cringe, nod my head, bow it in shame, and continue to attempt to do it all myself and make silly non-expert mistakes which eat my time and efficiency.  And, I insist I’m doing this for the sake of learning and becoming an expert…one day, sigh.

Next to those guys leap years ahead of me designing their blogs in cool themes and developing new WordPress apps, widgets, and plug-ins, I’d like to think my content rocks.

I know for a fact that expertise is a gift; the more you earn it, the more you need to give it away. That’s exactly what I’m doing here; helping the next peep merely stumble on the path rather than take a hard fall.

Expertise comes in all shades of gray; I’ve just begun to color. What tint are you?

Good Plans Don’t Break

Yesterday, my contractor tore through old dry wall in the family room and removed plumbing in a closet to cap off a wet bar. The plan was to make this room, built on a slab adjacent to a garage and two outside walls, livable during cold weather. With insulation to code and new dry wall, we’d be able to do our thing and not freeze (the heat never reached that room from the lower-level furnace about 800 feet away).

Good plan, eh?

Yes, until the first signs of termites showed up, and then the infestation of live ones, along with the fresh mouse droppings just under the bar countertop being removed IN the family room.

Good plan broken? Nope, “just” a derailment.

 A need for squeamish flexibility on my part to alter this and that, add some steps that require my immediate education about termites, a call to several experts, including the current service provider who apparently has not been delivering great service, and stop-gap measures (literally) to plug some holes. And, perhaps some solid wishful thinking that this, too, shall pass.

Segue to the blog and the trials and tribulations to launch. Those who read my tweets of pain during those horrid IT nights attempting to do what I didn’t know I didn’t know but eventually got a feel for appreciate what I’m talking about.

A good plan starts with the end result. It’s accented with steps required to reach and attain that goal and outcome. To blog:

  1. Get a Web host of your own and publish your blog on your own server. (That requires a lot of ancillary steps to make happen.)
  2. Select a foundational blogging platform. In my case WordPress (a fabulous content management system one can even use for a Web site).
  3. Choose a theme of the 1,194 available (I went with Headway and crashed; now am running Thesis). That was another obstacle with tech issues galore, and I had no idea without help to solve that issue.
  4. Design the blog with colors that match (easy, you think?), branding that flows, and a bunch of widgets that ensure a reputable image at first blush.
  5. Find a voice. Write daily. Fuel controversy. Feed commentary. Market the blog. Do SEO.

Within each of these steps are little land mines that cause derailment for any number of days, weeks, and even months. Currently, I’m on step four trying to solve branding issues.

The moral to these true and happening-now stories is about planning. No one attains a goal without a good plan and steps from A to B to get there. Success is about flexibility and permission (from self) to explore other options and avenues which may take you down a rickety path until you get righted and back on track.

No matter how established you are, know that good plans don’t break, they just take longer to make happen. Exploration is education.

That Blogging Quest

Today’s post ought to be short and sweet. When it comes to the blogging quest (read nightmare), that’s not a guarantee.

Thought of titling this as “Along came a spider…” but then would SEO put my blog in touch with arachnophobics (I coin words)? The spider in this case is Gregg Morris. My dear Tweep @greggvm yesterday took my blog effort and turned it upside down.

I no longer am using Headway on WordPress, I’m now on Thesis, and what a relief. I see light at the end of the tunnel, thanks to Gregg (I must remember to use 3 Gs). He took his valuable time and spent it with me yesterday to re-launch the blog theme into something without the kinked-up sutures in which Headway had captured me.

I trusted him although we had never spoken prior to yesterday. How? We tweet. Why? We tweet. (More on that later.)

Another blogger I respect, too, is Nicky Jameson. She is also a Thesis user, and she has a boatload of WordPress tutorials on her Web site which I purchased for a more-than-reasonable fee and downloaded (took an hour). Watched the first one on Feedburner and tinkered as I watched…it worked!

So, thanks, thanks to my extraordinary new/old friend Gregg, who without concern for his valued time, inserted himself into mine to come to the aid of a damsel in distress (who didn’t, is that “wouldn’t?” ask for help).

Koodles!

Blogging 101– More Perspire to Inspire

I’ve thought long and hard about whether to share my pain getting to this point. No matter. If I can inspire and perspire and help someone else lessen that experience, that’s the goal.

The blogging quest has been arduous. Is it me? As @GrantGriffiths points out “@Soulati, you’re making this too hard.” Grant is the maker of the WordPress Headway theme; of course, he’s wayyyy beyond any 101 of installation and design. Tutorials on Lynda.com were fabulous, especially for the how-to-self-install WordPress on your own Web site, which I did. The WordPress documentation (instructions), when read in tandem with the Lynda tutorial, were helpful, but still daunting.

Once the WordPress foundation went live, the Headway install took two minutes, exactly as was suggested by the gurus.

Then the design fun began. It’s been cool using the visual editor and seeing colors and fonts immediately; it’s so simple. Where I failed is how to get those darn widgets and sidebars to work; it is NOT intuitive, I don’t care what you say. They’re all here now, although you scroll to infinity to get there. I’m working on it!

What about these bold colors, I asked my colleague yesterday? And, she so politely said, “when I see these colors, I see you, Jayme.” Uh-huh. Probably need to think about the overall design one more time, then the content layout, then the header logo (not there yet).

I’m pretty excited I designed a Favicon using a JohnHaydon YouTube tutorial in about the same time he did. Would be remiss not mentioning the fab resources in @remarkablogger and Headway Hacks, along with Grant Griffiths and Clay Griffiths. And, then there are those other moral supporters i.e. @MarkWSchaefer who blogs at {grow}. Mark provided my inspiration to get here from there; he also kindly posted a first comment about inspiring and perspiring which was so fitting, I’m borrowing it.

It takes a village, you know. Koodles!