When this little site first started, it began on Blogger. It was a free option for me. After swapping another one of my sites to WordPress I decided it was time to take the leap for Joyfully Smitten too. I don’t have to worry about Blogger glitches anymore, I just have to worry about my site and the occasional host update. Overall, it’s been 8 months and I really love wordpress. I love the look and feel of the site, how much customization there is and that there is literally a plugin for nearly everything. I learned my way around Blogger too, I could code a Blogger site with my eyes closed by the time I switched and I did have to learn the differences between html and css but ultimately, I feel like that just added some value to my knowledge vault, which you can never have too much of.
At first, the idea of switching the last nearly 7 years of content from one site to another was a little…nerve wracking. I also needed to learn more about self-hosted or a wordpress.com site. A wordpress.com is free like blogger but there are a lot of limits with what you can do with the site design wise, but also regulations of what you can have on your sidebar (i.e. paid links aren’t allowed, nor are affiliates). It stressed me out and I was unsure about it but it was a smooth transition for me which was really great. It turns out, switching isn’t really that scary. So, today I’m sharing with you my site components – the guts – of my site.
The first thing you need for a self-hosted website on WordPress is hosting. I looked at my option, read reviews and I personally decided to go with Bluehost and I am still thrilled with that decision to this day.
Our site has never been down, it runs great and the customer service that Bluehost provides is helpful and fantastic. When I first signed up for Bluehost and started my WordPress journey I was completely out of my element and needed clarification on plenty of things. Live Chat was always available and helped me. If they couldn’t help with something because it was out of their control, they pointed me in the right direction. For example, I made a rookie mistake my first week of having WP inside my settings, couldn’t access anything I was borderline having a heart attack that all my hard work was lost. I hopped onto Live Chat and they just fixed it for me. Just two weeks ago I had an extra bracket in my coding that was causing an error on my site. I couldn’t access anything – que total panic mode – I tweeted them and wham, the next tweet said that I had an extra bracket in my coding and that they fixed it for me and all was smooth sailing.. Seriously people – the best customer service ever. If you are looking for a really great host, head there now and sign up – you get a free domain just for signing up.
When I signed up with Bluehost it was for my other site so I didn’t use the free domain name for Joyfully Smitten, but when it came time to renew my domain name with my previous registrar Bluehost made it super easy for me to switch over so that I could manage this domain name in the same place.
Framework isn’t a requirement, you can run your site just off of basic wordpress and hosting. However, I’d read really great things about Genesis Design Palette Pro. It has built in SEO, standard compliant CSS coding, flexbility and you can have several sites with just one license which is really great too. I purchased Genesis Design Palette Pro from StudioPress.com and not only do I never have to purchase it again, but I also get a discount if I choose to purchase another theme from them in the future. Super great, right? Yes. I highly recommend Genesis Design Palette Pro but again, it’s not required. I do have two sites currently running without it.
When I first started on WP back in February I found free themes and customized them how I wanted, however, when I decided to come back in full force this last time I wanted something that I didn’t have to do too much with. I literally look months trying to figure out the perfect theme but I kept coming back to Restored 316 Designs and she has so many beautiful themes I had to really take time to decide on the perfect one. The themes also run on Genesis which I wanted for this time around. I settled on the Lovely Theme and I’m very happy with it. Lauren has great tutorials on the site and links for customizing, not to mention she does an awesome job about emailing you back in a timely fashion and being really great.
The Complete Look & Feel.
I knew everything about how I wanted this site to look and feel when I finally knew my foundation of my site. There was no one better than the fabulously talented Emily of Em-Dash Paper Co. to complete my Logo. Her gorgeous penmanship is absolutely stunning and for months she wasn’t taking any custom projects, I tried back in March. But, she tweeted out she may consider taking a couple tiny projects before she closed customs for the time being – naturally, I hopped on it and she was so kind to take on my site. I couldn’t be more thrilled she accepted, the logo is everything I hoped it would be.
Naturally, I went to Candy of Verte Photography for my photography needs. Candy has been my photographer at least once a year for the last three years and there is no one that has even been able to snapshot how smitten I am with Ryan like Candy does. She just rocks it – just wait until I show your this year’s photos. I had a vision in my head for my about page – me in the front but Ryan and A in the background visibly there because although I’m the main writer of this site, they are the center of my world, I wanted them forwardly visible. She captured just that. Outside of that I wanted to make sure my sidebar image was light, but welcoming. My feel was for visitors to coming to my site to want to sip coffee and stay a while, have conversations with me.
**Updated 3/17/2015 with the new look and feel. Template used is Delightful Pro from Restored 316 Designs.
Overall, I’m extremely happy with how the site turned out. It looks and feels good in this space, it’s functional and efficient too.
In the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing the tools I use to maximize my time minimal time for blogging, as well as, my thoughts of WordPress and Blogger. I hope you’ll join me!
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