Welcome to the Barn – New Site Launch!

It has been a long, long journey to get here. As I write this I am listening to Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation,” and putting the finishing touches on this here brand new site that you are reading right now. Any posts dated prior to this are from my old Blogger address. Blogger has served me well the past few years, and was a great place to start a blog*. But the time had come to move on.

I had been considering a move to WordPress for awhile. While I loved my Blogger site, it was getting a bit outdated and cluttered. And when reading other blogs, I kept seeing themes and design that were just so  beautiful, modern, and streamlined.

beautiful, modern, and streamlined

During this time, Blogger had completely re-done their format with new design features and offered newer, more modern templates. Even a pretty cool Dynamic View feature. But I was still frustrated by limitations of design customization. So I started this: whenever I was out surfing the web, and came across a blog that had a professional-looking, beautiful and easy-to-funtion site, I would scroll all the way down to the bottom of the webpage, and look for the attribution, and this is what I usually found:

from "Your Guide for Moving from Blogger to WordPress" by Dave Clements

And then something else happened: Apple decided to move their MobileMe service over to iCloud.  I had been using my MobileMe account for email, and as a website host for my domain (www.westceltgypsy.com) ever since I moved from Homestead.com, where I first started my online career. So not only was I already looking at a new blog design, but now I was being forced to find a new web host as well. Up til now, my stand-alone site for my horses and my blog were two separate sites.

my old website, built with Apple's iWeb
my old Blogger blog

What I really wanted to do, if I was going to go through all this trouble anyway, was to take my horse website (westceltgypsy) and my blog (Chroi and Me) and blend them into one.

So I started really looking in to WordPress. Now for those of you new to it, there are TWO WordPresses:

  1. WordPress.com, where you can go and in about 10 minutes, have your very own blog for free, and
  2. WordPress.org, where you can go set up a self-hosted blog.

After starting with #1, WordPress.com, I got that same old Blogger frustration: I just couldn’t get it to look like I wanted it to look. I wanted certain fonts, certain design functions that I just couldn’t control at WP.com. So I looked into #2, WordPress.org, and although I knew it was going to be a HUGE learning curve, I decided to jump in.

*For those of you who are contemplating your own possible future in the blogoshpere, check around, and see what you prefer. There are other free blog sites out there (Live Journal), and some very nice pay-by-the-month sites (Typepad).  But my own recommendations, based on TONS of research, weeding out the garbage,  AND the fact that I am cheap, is this: stick with Blogger or WordPress.

Try Blogger if you:

  • are new to Blogging
  • need something simple; easy to learn and use
  • just need a free web presence that you can link to your other social media accounts
  • don’t know anything about code and don’t WANT to know
  • enjoy the power and reliability of Google (Blogger is powered by Google)

But go to WordPress if you:

  • are a little more web-savvy
  • are comfortable with tweaking a little bit of code every now and then (you don’t have to, but it helps)
  • are going for a more professional look (doesn’t look homemade; lots of design options)
  • like the idea of being part of something that is open-source
  • believe that this is just a jumping off point for you, and that in the future you will build your blog to something bigger and better

But most of all, like they say in the writing world, if you want to write a book, you need to read lots of books. If you want to start a blog, read lots of blogs. Find out what appeals to you, what turns you off; look at the attribution; read the comments; comment yourself. Be active and get involved. Just like the guy in the group that is so annoying because all he does is talk about himself, and promote his own projects, nobody likes the narcissistic blogger. You can only help yourself by being part of the conversation.

Why? Read on.

Right around the same time I started to learn WordPress.org, my bosses over at the catering company talked to me about helping them with their Social Media Marketing platform. At the time, they had a website, and a Facebook page that one of their kids had set up two years ago, and that no one could remember the password to. It had 6 likes. They were focused on just updating the Facebook page, but I told them that while Facebook is an incredible marketing tool, it is merely one spoke in the wheel of online marketing. I said, “You gotta have a blog.” Their response was, “Really?”

Really.

While the mainstream world is still just catching on to blogging (“what’s a blog again?”) and the blogosphere goes through hot-and-cold spells, it is my firm belief that a blog is the simplest, most important, and FREE online resource to entrepreneurs, artists, freelancers and just about anyone else who wants their presence known. Basically your blog is your online “hub,” where your audience can find you, and which links to all of your other internet “spokes”: your website, Facebook page (a Facebook fan page is different from your personal profile), your Twitter account (yes, you DO need to be on Twitter), your Pinterest page and more. More on all of that in an upcoming article.

I started online with a very homemade-looking website with Homestead.com, moved to a better looking site built with iWeb, started a blog with Blogger, a Facebook page, a Twitter feed, and now this all-in-one totally sexy new WordPress self-hosted site. Along the way, I’ve sold 3 horses, started writing a novel, learned about writing, met some awesome people (who you will get to meet soon!), and now have others reading my work, and learning from me. In other words, I have been building an online presence, hopefully a positive one.

Part of the reason this latest chapter has taken so long is that I haven’t only been building one blog, I’ve been building two: this blog, the catering blog, plus a new Facebook Page and Twitter for them. Plus my fabulous job as a magazine and book merchandiser, driving for the caterers, feeding my boys and husband, laundry, housework, shopping, blah, blah, blah…yeah, I know, welcome to life in the 2010s, right? Everyone’s working about 12 jobs.

a delivery at one of my stores
your friendly neighborhood magazine lady

So to that end, I would like to say Thank You. Thanks for taking a little slice of ever-elusive time out of your busy day to stop by. I really do appreciate it. And I’m still surprised every time someone tells me that they read my blog. I still think it’s just me and my pajamas with a cup of coffee, blathering away into space. One thing that bloggers love? Comments. See that little box at the bottom of this page? Drop me a line, say hi, and let me know what you think. I’d love to hear from you.

For now, I am off on a much needed break. I’m heading up to the cool pines with my girl-friends for some R&R at a nice quiet, no wi-fi cabin. We will be reading gossip magazines, drinking wine, watching chick flicks and having pillow fights in our underwear.

Just kidding on that last one, wanted to make sure you were paying attention. :)

So welcome to the new WestCelt Gypsy/Chroi and Me site, please browse & read, and let me know what you think. I’ll be checking in on my phone.

Have a great weekend!

Heidi

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Published by

Heidi

www.westceltgypsy.com

6 thoughts on “Welcome to the Barn – New Site Launch!”

  1. Well, well, well. You did it! Congrats. It does look slick and sexy, like a well-designed magazine. I bet it feels AWESOME to have everything in one place…I sure like it. So good work, sister! Now it’s time to celebrate.

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  2. Great reading. I “get” you, and am so proud of all your accomplishments. Keep that creativity coming for all to enjoy. Heidi, you’re the greatest.

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  3. My head is spinning, but I’m a good scanner, skipping stuff I don’t need; however, I wish someone could explain how I got drawn into reading about 2 books you reviewed that I don’t care two hoots about! I guess the problem is that your writing is just so darn interesting, I get sucked into the adventure.

    BTW, somewhere along the winding trail, I saw about 2 seconds of a promise to see a sample chapter of your book. I don’t know where that went, but I WANT IT BACK – said with relish and a possible foot stamp!

    I’m so glad you’re not giving up on the Chroi and Me notes, and I hope you’re keeping that beautiful picture of Chroi up front. Not everything needs to change.

    And what’s this obsession with adverbs? People tawk da ways dey tawk – she said interestingly/amusingly/bewitchingly while watching his low-slung jeans, or whatever that was. I just want them to put their clothes back on and get on with the story. A lot of books read like someone wrote a decent story and some editor went back and threw in a sex scene every so many pages. If someone kills me, I don’t want the detectives having hot and steamy sex instead of looking for clues. But then, why would I even care? I’m dead. Just like this line of thinking.

    Love all you do!!

    Now I worry that you’ll be red-penciling everything I write. Payback sucks.

    Like

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