The journey to this place began a while back. A while back when someone asked me why I don’t blog seriously. I dilly-dallied. The Kikuyu in me could not wrap my mind around how I was going to spend money to host my site. So I brushed him off. I told him I blog for fun. And who are you to judge me? Okay, I did not tell him that but that is what I was thinking. We all think that when we know we should and can do more but we don’t want to. Laziness.
For a while now I have learnt that you all love edifying information. I have realized that you love reading if the content adds value to your life. I have met people who only know me via my blogs. I have even got proposals from some other Kikuyus to make money from blogging and split it with them. Cough. All this got me thinking.
I needed to stop playing. I needed to go hard or go home. I was not doing this for me. I was doing it for us. For that girl who is Googling what his hug meant. For that guy who needed to know how life in Moi University is like. I needed to establish a platform that offered information on those trivial matters (depending on how you look at it) and future issues.
This site is in no small part inspired by peer pressure. My blogger friends all got domains this year. Even my non-blogger BFF got two on the eve I launched this one in secret! This site was pulled together by myself, with tons of help from Barrack. Armed with the will and an Internet connection, we got to work. It was on the 23rd of April 2014. Looking back at the chat, I can’t help but laugh.
S: Sawasawa. Now tell me what should be the first step to get my domain. I am very serious now. So serious. I need to get serious with my life.
B: Haha.. Step 1: Have the domain name Step 2: Send me cash I set it up for you That includes giving me info about you etc..Name, Birthdate, address etc
S: shikungigi.com. We already already established that. How much is it?
B: Yes I will have to compute that
S: I need details on how exactly you go about it bana. I need to know these things. 😀
B: Okay…you can do it by yourself 🙂 I host with Sasa Host They are affordable and customer care is reliable
S: Ehe go on I can’t do it by myself obviously 😛
The rest, as they say, is history. If you have thoughts on moving your blog to your own domain or you have been wondering what it takes, this is for you.
Day One: Setting Up and Installing WordPress
After making the decision, the next step was setting up on Sasahost. Paying up for the hosting took a few minutes really, Ksh 2,320 for domain registration and hosting. In between instructions from B and my multitasking, shikungigi.com was live. The next step was to install WordPress. I did this amidst B literally shouting in my ear (if he could) and getting lost in my unending rumblings over Hangouts. It’s never quite the same, talking and chatting.
Between setting up and installing WordPress, I learnt these things:
1. A lot of people host with Sasahost. I did not just take B’s word for it at first. I had to ask around just to be sure.
2. You can check who owns a certain domain on who.is. Just for fun, I checked out wanjikungigi.com and it was taken. B says we Kikuyus ran out of names thus the proliferation of Wanjikus. Oh well, I don’t need that one.
3. You need to extract all the WordPress files in the right folders for things to run right. And not doing it right is not the end of the world. You can undo most of the moves. Oh, you also need a database, clicks away thanks to the graphical CPanel.
4. B studied Art & Design in form one and two. Lol
That was day one.
Day Two: Installing a Theme and Importing Posts
Day two was look-for-a-WordPress-theme day. I am a sucker for the medium.com look. And boy did I search for a theme that is medium inspired. Google grew tired of me that day. Turns out I am not the only sucker for that clean, focus-on-the-content Medium look. (Of course you are not, Shiku. Get over yourself.) There are tons of blogs that discuss medium-like themes for WordPress. None of them makes the cut though. I installed five themes, still tucked away in here. The closest — at least to me — was the one I currently have. WPMedium. It has no left sidebar that toggles out of sight when you click away. B was also part of the quest to turn the web upside down for a theme. He stumbled upon this awesome one that I cannot even imagine buying right now. Cough. I am still, after all, Kikuyu. The closest theme to Medium right now is Ghostium. It is not even a WordPress theme. That was the point I learnt there’s a whole other blogging platform called Ghost upon which Ghostium runs.
Let’s just say this is not the end of my search. I decided to leave it at that for now. WIP.
Later on the same day, I began to import my blog posts from Blogger (blogspot.com) and WordPress.com. Quick lesson, just in case you don’t know this. Downloading WordPress on your own self-hosted blog means you are now in the WordPress.org crowd, like we are now. If you opened a blog on wordpress.com, you still need to import your posts if you ever make a move. The good thing is, WordPress has the import tools for this purpose. It is a pretty straight forward move and takes minutes, depending on how many posts you had on your blog.
I hit two snags at this point. One. I am the bright Google+ evangelist that had turned on Google+ comments on blogspot.com. Google+ comments cannot, obviously, be imported. They are however still floating around on Google+ space. I moped over that for days after this but I had to let them go. Otherwise, all other pictures, posts from both blogs and comments from wordpress.com were brought along here.
Two. I had turned on Publicize before I started importing. Publicize is a feature available on an invaluable plugin called Jetpack. Jetpack turns your self-hosted WordPress site into one that has all those sweet little features available to wordpress.com users. Forgive me if it is getting too technical. You will need to know this. So what did Publicize do? As the posts imported, it posted every single post I had ever written to my social networks without my knowledge. I only knew about it when an enraged (slight exaggeration) tweep told me I was filling his timeline with automated nonsense. Lol. And that was how a few people discovered this place before it was ready. So much for a grand entry into the world of serious bloggers. In retrospect, that was a pretty stupid move. Publicize and all other automatic sharing tools should be the last thing you ever turn on in this process.
That was day two.
Day Three: Redirecting Blogs
I was so excited about day three. This was the day I was going to redirect my existing blogs to this one. In layman’s terms, I was to make sure that whenever you clicked on the link shiqoue.blogspot.com or wanjikungigi.wordpress.com, they would lead you to a similar post here. I would be lying if I said it was that easy. Actually, look for that person who told you good things come easy. Look for him (it’s likely to be a him) and smack him in the face for feeding you with the biggest deception this side of the Sahara. Then do not listen to him ever again.
To cut the long story short, the redirection process that never was lasted a whole week. It takes a whole week for Shiku to throw in the towel on these kinds of minor issues. I wonder how long it would take for me to give up on someone I love. Hmmm… Anywho, I scoured through blogs and blogs of ‘expert advice’ that never worked, especially for Blogger redirection. I would tweak the code then something would happen, but not exactly what was supposed to happen. I did not even watch any motion picture that weekend. Go hard or go home, remember? Slowly, it began to dawn on me that I needed to move on. I am not a fan of transitions nor do I like losing stuff I have worked for. Who does, anyway? But I had to. (In case you are wondering what is the point of redirection, it is to keep your readers and authority on Google.)
Both Blogger and WordPress have official ways to redirect. Blogger gives you addresses to configure on your DNS settings. I did this with timely help from a customer care rep at Sasahost. Needless to say, that was a disaster. I ended up having two completely different sites. One with the www and one without. I ditched that redirection and asked Sasahost to revert back to original state as soon as possible. WordPress on the other hand, offers a paid solution for redirection. There was no way Shiku was going to pay for redirection for only 22 posts. Thank you very much.
All that search engine ranking I had garnered with my blogspot.com blog will have to be forgotten. It’s actually pretty easy to gain momentum with your own domain as I am learning with only one post up. My advice: If you have the dough, just start from your own domain from the very start. Thank me later. (And dare anyone get on my case for saying dough. Like who says dough any more? I do.)
So here we are. I have just shut down the two blogs. My work deskie also gave me pointers to achieving that left sidebar look. Off canvas navigation is what he called it. Don’t I just love this learning curve. I will get around implementing it one of these fine days.
New things. New resolve. Smarter work. Welcome to Thoughts and Stuff. If you are setting up your own domain, all the best.
Update: I did buy that awesome theme. I find it very hard to drop for another, years down the line. Love it. Oita by Elmastudio.