Right around the start of the new year, I set out to change some structural things on my blog in the interest of SEO. My efforts to take the blog more seriously in 2018 led to a migration of all content from an outdated platform to a new, modern style. I spent more time writing. I spoke on a bloggers’ panel, attended a blogging conference, and developed a network of other writers. But tweaking the technical structure of my blog is my sticking point. Well, one day, I really messed things up, and every article I had written here for the past 7 years was just… gone. Poof.
I don’t know exactly how it happened, but it happened. A friend texted me and said, “Hey, did you know your blog is messed up? It’s like, gone.” I won’t go into much detail about exactly what I did because I don’t think there’s a lesson there; I doubt anyone would make the same mistakes I did in the same combination to achieve the same effect. All I’ll say is that in an effort to change my blog link structure, I broke all links on my blog, Googled the problem in true DIY style, and installed a plugin that was supposed to redirect the links. The effect was “catastrophic” (the term used by a WordPress expert I consulted after the fact).
When bad things happen, you can get frustrated/sad/angry/etc. You can say, “Why me?” or “Why was I so stupid?” OR you can figure out the lessons that are being presented to you. Here is what I learned from this “disaster”:
- Let me first say that I’m aware there are MUCH bigger problems and losses. I’ve experienced loss and emergencies before; we all do, and you haven’t, you will. In this instance, what was lost temporarily was writing and creative work that I love. Yet, it’s still only stuff. I was able to maintain an air of detachment during the site downtime, which did become more difficult as days went by without a fix. But it would have been MUCH harder if my blog was a major source of business for me. I’ve both been lucky and worked hard to be in the place that I am, where I can be detached in a situation like this. In the end, things inevitably get lost or destroyed. People fall ill and die. We have to accept the reality of loss and live as much as possible in the present. I’m very proud of the writing I’ve done on this blog, but I would have been ok if it had disappeared for good.
- I wouldn’t perform surgery on someone when I’m an anesthesiologist. Why would I try to solve programming issues when I can barely get my computer to work myself? If I’m really serious about my blog, I should spend money to have expert help with design and maintenance, so I will be doing this in the future. As a valueist, I’m all for doing things yourself when practical and appropriate, but there’s a fine line where you can get in over your head. I crossed it here, so I’m grateful for that lesson.
- Back up your work! And get prepared! This situation, along with some posts by fellow bloggers, have inspired me to be more prepared for either virtual or physical disaster. I didn’t even have a method for backing up the posts on my blog, which I should have addressed much sooner. I’m now going to work with a WordPress expert to install a proper backup system. Luckily, composing posts in the WordPress platform has a built-in autosave function, but if it didn’t, I’d also be looking to write in Word or some program that has autosaves during the process of writing itself. We’re also going to spend some time collating important documents, passwords, and things so they’re accessible in an emergency. Physician on Fire and Miss Bonnie MD recently blogged about the importance of legacy binders as part of your financial plans. In addition, I’m inspired by the list of essentials to have available in emergencies from EJ of Dads Dollars Debts, who lost his entire home in a huge California brush fire. You can find his first post about the ordeal here. That harrowing experienced changed his whole outlook on things and has actually turned him into a minimalist.
Have you ever lost something very dear to you? Did you get it back, and if not, how did you deal with the loss and what did you learn?