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Thread: When should I start my own blog?

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    Default When should I start my own blog?

    Hi everyone,

    I am in the process of setting my own business as a freelance web designer developer (career change). I am hoping to start the re-design of my own portfolio site soon as it is a few years old and was more of an online resume.

    I now want to add a blog this time round and I am unsure whether I should start my blog now (as I know it will take some time to establish) whilst I am re-designing my portfolio and just simply create a new link to it from my current site.
    I will probably use WordPress to host my blog as I wish to learn to design/create themes in WordPress (I actually have a lot I want to learn before I get to WordPress though!) and I am not sure if I should just use a theme for the blog design or should I wait until my portfolio is re-designed and then find out how to transfer the html, css etc into WordPress? I would prefer the blog to look the same as the portfolio, give some coherence to them? But maybe I am being to fussy for the now. Is it more important to have something up and running now and then tie everything together as I learn my new skills.

    I had thought of re-designing my portfolio site in WordPress, but as I said earlier, there are other things I think I should learn that are more important first.

    I am at the very beginnings of this long road, and I know I have a lot to learn (and will forever be learning too in this profession) both with web technologies/platforms and on the business side and I would appreciate any advice on this.

    Thanks
    I hope that made sense to you all. I do tend to ramble but hey, I'm Scottish.

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    As long as design of the blog reflects well on your professional skills, I'd say get it started. It may not be the great testament to your design skills that you hope it will one day be, but if it does not reflect poorly on your professional abilities, it is better to take the first step now. Presumably few people will be looking at it in the earliest stages, which is why launching it, getting it indexed, and beginning to build quality content are more important than waiting until you understand working with WordPress.

    Conversely, you must select a template that shows that you understand the elements of good design. If it looks bad, whether you created it or not is beside the point.

    By the way, since your references to your existing portfolio and website sound like you already have web design experience, I suspect that you won't have a great deal of trouble learning to apply your design skills to WordPress. I'm a lawyer, not a web designer, but even I can tinker with the css to modify a template without breaking anything. I'd never try any of the heavy lifting that designers like our revered vangogh and Harold Mansfield do, but I can change a font or a color. If you are an experienced designer and already have the knowledge and talent to create a well designed website, tailoring your own blog in WordPress should not be a big jump.

    You also have the option of using an experienced web designer to help get the WordPress site up and running, and later you can use your own skills to make it your own.

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    Hey,

    Blogs are always a good way to get a following of interested people and to just get your name out there as a leader in your field. They also help bring more traffic to your site. Just a heads up there are many tutorials on youtube that you can take a look at that expalin how to make amazing blogs via word press. I am personally using weebly because they have a blog option that is easy to attach.

    The one tip I will give you is blog your entire experience. So blog your transition time right now, the troubles you are facing, once you have everything up blog that you made it. That way the people following you can relate with your story because they were there to witness it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MinternetMike View Post
    ...

    I now want to add a blog this time round and I am unsure whether I should start my blog now (as I know it will take some time to establish) whilst I am re-designing my portfolio and just simply create a new link to it from my current site.
    I will probably use WordPress to host my blog as I wish to learn to design/create themes in WordPress (I actually have a lot I want to learn before I get to WordPress though!) and I am not sure if I should just use a theme for the blog design or should I wait until my portfolio is re-designed and then find out how to transfer the html, css etc into WordPress? I would prefer the blog to look the same as the portfolio, give some coherence to them?

    Why not just use WordPress for all of it? There are some very nice Portfolio and every other kind of themes out there. Literally thousands of WordPress templates out there.
    If you already know HTML and CSS basics, you can easily customize an existing Premium WordPress theme so that it looks nothing like the original and has a style if it's own.

    Building the website one way and then trying to attach a separate WordPress blog to it is definitely recreating more work, for what is likely to be an inferior result.

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    David, Akoma and Harold, thanks very much for your advice! Greatly appreciated and giving me a positive vibe too, so thanks. I feel a bit better hearing you guys saying pretty much what I was thinking.

    The one tip I will give you is blog your entire experience. So blog your transition time right now, the troubles you are facing, once you have everything up blog that you made it. That way the people following you can relate with your story because they were there to witness it.
    Akoma, you pretty much hit the nail on the head there with my aim for starting my blog now, so I can document my progress, troubles and triumphs along my journey.

    I hear what you are saying to Harold, especially regarding the creation of more work and probable inferior and incoherent results. My reluctance though, and maybe it is just me be over fussy, to use templates is I like to show my own design skills and not use 'off the shelf', ready made designs. Maybe I will browse through some themes and hack/modify it to my own taste and use it for the time being until I have mastered how to design with WordPress from scratch myself.

    Thanks again for the help guys

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    Quote Originally Posted by MinternetMike View Post
    I hear what you are saying to Harold, especially regarding the creation of more work and probable inferior and incoherent results. My reluctance though, and maybe it is just me be over fussy, to use templates is I like to show my own design skills and not use 'off the shelf', ready made designs. Maybe I will browse through some themes and hack/modify it to my own taste and use it for the time being until I have mastered how to design with WordPress from scratch myself.
    With some creativity, if you know CSS, have a general grasp of graphics and imagery, and a good feel for design you can take an off the shelf theme to use as a base and customize it so that it will look like something completely different than what you started with.

    If you build the site one way, and then the blog another, you are still going to have to change the blog template to match the main site. Basically creating 2 websites that look alike, but one with far less functionality and administrative control. Why design/style 2 identical sites on 2 different platforms?

    Not only that, but you'll be sending readers to a jacked up URL structure that basically takes them to a separate site. Not to mention that you'll have to SEO them separately. A HUGE pain in the butt. SEO is already hard enough.

    I customize templates all of the time either on new sites, or existing sites that need restyling. After while you get so good at it that you don't even see themes for what they are anymore, you see them for what they could be. As a developer or webmaster, themes are merely starting points. It's what you do with them that makes the difference. The real work with WordPress, at least for me, is in the functionality.

    Getting good at customizations will get you proficient in creating your own designs that MUCH faster. The practice of working with themes created by developers from all over the world, gives you the knowledge and experience to bang out your own custom design when needed. You get the benefit of 1000's of ideas and implementations..as well as mistakes. No designer has an unlimited arsenal of ideas. There's really only about 10 website styles out there....just implemented differently.

    Lastly (and MANY people will disagree with me here), there have been VERY FEW times that I have ever seen anyone ask for, or create something on WordPress that isn't a few CSS strokes, graphics, and imagery from something that is already out there. At least at this level. When you start talking about Government, News, and Corporate WordPress sites..some of those developments go into the 10's of $1000's of dollars...but it's function. The style part is easy in comparison.

    Which ever way you decide to go just make sure you are making it easy on yourself to manage going into the future, not harder.
    Last edited by Harold Mansfield; 08-10-2013 at 06:10 PM.

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    Harold, thanks very much for the invaluable advice and for sharing your wisdom. What you say makes complete sense to me (and cements some of what I am thinking) and I really appreciate your time and views. I had been thinking about dissecting and modifying themes as a means to learn the anatomy of WordPress and how it all fits together, but was unsure if that way would be an efficient way of learning the platform as opposed to just learning how it works (whether via YouTube vids or another resource). It is good to know that you, and I assume many others, do this on a frequent basis and recommend this as a good way to learn too.

    If you build the site one way, and then the blog another, you are still going to have to change the blog template to match the main site. Basically creating 2 websites that look alike, but one with far less functionality and administrative control. Why design/style 2 identical sites on 2 different platforms?
    Yeah, I 100% agree with you and it is the reason for my post [I don't mean for that to come across as condescending] as I was unsure what is the best way to proceed with getting my blog up and running asap and tie it in with my portfolio redesign, having never used WordPress in any capacity before.
    As I said before I am just starting out from a career change and I have big plans for where I want to go and I'm trying to prioritize my tasks, which your reply is helping me do. I am an idealist/perfectionist(?) and I know I'm impatient, wanting things to be in place too quick, I guess. It is heartening to know that I am going in the right direction and appreciate your (and David & Akoma's) suggestions and guidance.

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