Starting a Blog from Scratch.

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Author R. Brady Frost at Perot Museum

Have you ever thought about starting a blog from scratch?

Building your own website and blog can be an exciting new project when first set out on your online publishing journey. There’s so much to learn and a whole world of people to connect with. But what about starting a blog from scratch when you’ve already been working on developing it for a couple of years?

You see, that’s exactly where I find myself right now.

The story starts with me being frustrated with my old hosting service, but it wasn’t always like that. We used to have a great relationship. My website and blog worked well and were very responsive. Whenever I needed support or assistance, they were right there to help. Then things changed. I started noticing problems after a bigger company swooped in and bought up the business. The change wasn’t immediate, but over time you could really see the difference. When my site started going down frequently, I contacted their support and was blown away by how rude the chat support specialist was. Unfortunately, this was just the tip of the iceberg.

A whole lot of assumptions.

Of course, you usually can’t blame starting over solely on your hosting company. I made some mistakes too. I thought I could trust an all-in-one WordPress migration plugin to do all the heavy lifting. I had several data exports going back to about six months ago. I thought I was covered. Then I jumped…

Okay, it wasn’t just any ol’ jump. I took a flying leap.

I’d never done a WordPress migration like this before, but it seemed pretty straight-forward. My research led me to believe that all I needed to do was switch over my hosting to the new location, shut down my old account, and then install the plugin and load up the export I’d created just prior to the move. After all, the export was huge, like over a gig! It was supposed to contain all my content, everything.

Author, R. Brady Frost
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R. Brady Frost

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Mistakes were made.

Yeah, not so fast there, Slick.

As soon as I went to import the data file, things started veering from the plan. The plugin now told me that my export file was too big, by a large margin, to qualify for the “free” plan. That would have been nice to know sooner. Without any such warning when I exported the file, I was now faced with an extortion-like situation. If I wanted my data out of the file, I’d need to make that purchase. I wasn’t happy about it, but it didn’t seem like I had any other choice. The old host had already closed my account. (I probably shouldn’t have been so hasty in trying to cut ties with them, but there’s that whole hindsight is 20/20 thing…)

I begrudgingly bought the over-priced add-on and loaded it up. Since the file was so large, it took a long time to upload. It seemed to go through without timing out, but then as the system attempted to process the restore it came back with an error. Oh man, you’ve got to be kidding me. All was not lost, however; as I mentioned earlier, I’d made a series of exports going all the way back to June. Surely, one of those files would work…

The plot thickens.

Can you imagine the mounting sense of foreboding as each of the export files failed?

It was like being stuck in one of those endless nights when you keep checking the alarm clock, each time counting down the amount of sleep you could get before work if you could only dose off. “If I fall asleep now, I’ll get 4 hours.” Then, “If I could just fall asleep now, I’ll get about 3 hours.” And on and on until you finally have to make that tough call. “Should I just give up now? If I fall asleep now, I’ll just end up being super tired and I might sleep in and be late for work…”

Decisions, decisions…

I guess in a way, I’m fortunate. I still have options. I can pay the old hosting company a nominal fee to get access to my scrubbed files. And while the plugin I thought would help with the process didn’t work, there are other options out there. But maybe this is a good thing.

Everyone on Facebook seems to be talking about how many celebrities died in 2016. It’s definitely a year of transitions, and when I look back at the performance of my blog over the years, one thing is very plain. I don’t think I ever really found my blogging voice. My old posts are a mishmash of scattered ideas and disjointed thoughts. I didn’t do a good job of cultivating a space where my ideal fans would like to hang out. This was most evident when examining the web traffic I got. My most regularly visited posts and pages had little if anything to do with my writing.

I’ve decided to take it on the chin this round. I’ve begun the process of requesting a refund from the folks who run the plugin/add-on. I mean, it didn’t do what was advertised, I’ve certainly lost any confidence in its ability to perform the task I need it to, and through my research into possible solutions, I discovered that many other people have started having these problems over time. I suppose it’s just another example of a company starting out with a good product or service and then going downhill from there.

No apologies.

I’m also going to take a cue from another popular sentiment I’ve been running into lately on social media. I’m not going to apologize for my lack of content, that’s a negative reaction to the situation. Instead, I’m going to thank you for having patience while I pick up the pieces and build an even better website and blog, one that’s better targeted to the content you’d like to read. If you have any suggestions, I’d love to read them in the comments below.

Would you like to read smaller bits of fiction like flash fiction pieces or short stories? Are you interested in reading tidbits of my writing process and see snippets of my current work as I’m writing it? Or are you hungry for little morsels of my day-to-day? Perhaps a combination of the above? By all means, tell me what you think! Because all of this, starting over, it’s for you.