As you have figured out, I’m a self-employed, freelancer-type person. That means I’m not bound to a rigid schedule. That’s usually pretty cool. But it also means that when urgent matters or deadlines come up, things like holidays and weekends mean jack shit. More on that in a moment.
First, a preface
Since this blog is one cog in the wheel of my self-employment gig, it has to work well, right? Well it hasn’t been. I won’t bore you with too many of the behind-the-scenes mechanics and bullshit of how all this works. I’ll simply summarize by saying I’ve been needing to fix problems with my website’s outward appearance and backend guts for several years.
Well, I haven’t. I kept putting bandaids on it to keep it sort-of functional because I was overwhelmed by the enormity of the overhaul that was truly needed. But by doing that, I kept digging myself deeper and deeper into a pit of blogger despair. I was about as far from being deliberate about my blogging life as I could be.
That “learning-how-blogging-works” curve is part of the failure equation. I made a lot of mistakes in my early days that have lingered and propagated. The other half of the equation is that the tools and interfaces have evolved rapidly, leaving me completely in the dust. So after over the eight years of Val in Real Life’s existence, I found myself with a mind-blowing-cluster-of-a-mess of a blog without a clue how to start fixing it in earnest.
Which brings me to New Years Day and that whole “holidays don’t mean shit” scenario.
Into the fire on Day 1 of 2019
My mental paralysis ended in spectacular fashion on New Years Day. That’s when I realized the new WordPress Block Editor update and the back-end guts of my pathetic WordPress theme decided to part ways, leaving me with the smoldering ruins of a broken site. (WordPress is the content management system I use to publish this site, for you non-bloggery folks.)
Our houshold’s plans for a New Year’s Day sidecar ride went flying out the window. It was code red damage control time. The further I got into it, the more I realized how much was broken. The reality of all the details and bits that were completely fucked, not working, and sending my visitors bouncing on their merry way came crashing down. So instead of sticking around to bask in all things Val in Real Life, click on affiliate links, and visit my online storefronts, my readers were just slipping by.
Basically I’d been slowly closing for business as the site functionality deteriorated. I knew my traffic was off—like really off and getting worse—but I didn’t know why or how to fix it exactly. Then the puzzle pieces came together on New Year’s Day, forming a horrific picture.
Paying the piper
Mere triage was no longer viable. It was time to start from scratch. That meant breaking the entire site further in order to rebuild it.
Fortunately my dear man is basically a saint. In a tangle of cables, computers, hard drives, and enough coffee to cause cardiac arrest—not to mention a big ball of Val stress—we busted ass to put it back together as quickly as possible. We dropped everything else for two days while we resuscitated my site with a pretty new theme that works seamlessly with the current version of WordPress.
I’m still sifting through the debris, though. There are infinite little bits that need fixing and structure to refine as I learn the new block editor and this new theme. But I’m functional again and Google is slowly reindexing the site. Painful as it is, I’m better off for the crisis that helped bring it all to light. It was dumpster-fire light—but light nonetheless.
This blog has been a labor of love for ten years. It’s gone through a bunch of iterations in that time, as you can imagine. I only now feel like it’s been given it’s due. I think the new site looks great. This is the first time I truly like how my site looks and works.
That being said, all of the little broken bits will likely take me the bulk of this year to clean up. I’m taking the slow-and-steady approach. More than anything, I’m exceedingly grateful for my dear man. His patience and ability to help keep me from being crushed by the enormity of the project have kept me from simply riding my motorcycle off into the blogger sunset.
The glamorous life
So there you have it. A look into the trenches of my “glamorous” life.
I hope you like the all-new Val in Real Life. And do your chick a solid, will you? If you find something that’s broken, give me a shout. This is needle-in-a-haystack work that will go much faster with my fabulous readers helping me find everything.
Adventure on, friends!