How to export your blog without your head exploding

**Note: Apparently, I had written this almost two months ago and then gotten distracted before hitting POST. Ooops. That whole “where’s my website????” incident is now a blur of a memory.**

This is  a follow-up to my post from last week about the experience of trying to move my WP.com site over to a WP.org version so I can add some e-comm capabilities other than just a straight storefront.

Spoiler alert: life did not come to an end as I know it after all. Stressful week AF, yes, but I figured out how to export in pieces and want to share that for those who may someday avoid go through this same heart pounding thing:

After my fourth or fifth night of around 4 hours of sleep, I woke up with an idea. I revisited the admin page of my WP.com and took another look at the Export options. Although I found the instructions for this NO WHERE, I am officially putting them here right now. So, let me show you how to do this:

1. In WP Admin > Tools > Export. Choose the free option and click Start Export. This is how the next screen opened up with the box already checked for All content. Despite what it says there, unless your current blog has only two total pages, around 40 posts with tiny clipart and that’s about it, “All” won’t cut it. If you actually want all of your site to back up and export, you need to do it in pieces.

wpexport01

2. Start with your Posts by clicking that. If you post regularly, there’s a lot of stuff like on mine, so focus on the start and end date parameters. My dog merch site went back to December 2012. When I had erroneously believed “All” would cut it, I discovered it copied over only two pages, one of which was the first 45 posts from the blog that were from December 2012 through August 2014 (yet there are actually 342 posts, 23 pages, a lot of media and thus why I freaked). When I went back in to try to export again and clicked Posts, the option came up to select by date range, which is what I used to then successfully export in pieces. Do that. you can also change default “All” to specific options, like just what was published instead of the drafts.

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3. When you make your selection and then click Export, the next screen says it is being processed and a download link gets sent to your email. Open the email, click the link and download the export file to a (highly suggested) location you’ve created for these exports/backups (See below). Don’t be lazy and drop it randomly on your desktop. If you’re doing this in pieces due to volume like I was, you should make a special folder for it. I wound up with 11 zips and made folders as explained in red in the screen shot. When you unzip it, I highly recommend changing the name of the file immediately to whatever parameter you used, i.e.: MEDIA2019. Makes it easier to figure out since all the downloaded zips looked alike and there’s no telling what’s in it if you don’t label it yourself.

wpexport03

4. If you click once on your .XML file to see the preview, you’ll see that WP thoughtfully included instructions to go forward, but I’ll still keep walking ya’ll through it. At this point, go into your WP.org version site. WP Admin > Tools > Import. If the original site was something other than WordPress, choose that. If it was WordPress, select WordPress Run Importer toward the bottom. Upload each of the .XML files one at a time. When finished uploading, I personally went to the appropriate WP.org section (my pages, posts, media) to double check that I was happy the file got everything imported because if not, I’d go back and shrink the parameters of the export and re-export until I was happy everything was included – this is especially important if you are a heavy poster. Just double check.

Repeat Steps 2 through 4 for each export section you do. FYI, there is no penalty for importing something twice because you will simply get a message when the import is completed that “Suchandsuch.jpg already exists” as appropriate. Better too many than leaving something out.

There you go. I’ve been on WP.com with CaffeinatedMusic since 2008. As entrenched as some of my posts are in Google standings, there is no way I could see ever moving it to self-hosting elsewhere. But in my dog art studio’s case, its purpose as a blog was very minor as most of my human contact for the page comes through Facebook. Everybody’s needs are different, so really think about what you want, what you need, and what, if anything, are you willing to sacrifice if it doesn’t go as smoothly as you’d hoped.

When I get the new platform finished, I’ll update more on the where, what and how for those who are thinking about doing the same thing.

 

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Ever try to build an e-comm site?

BigBlackDogStudio.com shopA college class in Entrepreneurship basics required starting an e-comm venture from scratch. I had already begun the process, but that wasn’t acceptable; I needed to do a comparison and had to at least start the second option from scratch. Fair enough. What was the result? Interesting. Here’s the gist of my presentation (I won’t bore you with the slideshow version).

Sure, all the successful people try to tell you it’s easy. What they don’t tell you is that a lot of them just hired a company to make it magically appear on the internet for them so they can then take over and brag about how much money they’re making.

In July, I set out to begin my process of turning my original artwork – most of it drawn or painted by hand – into graphic design by (a) learning first how to convert or recreate it using Illustrator and Photoshop (successfully did that through Creative Cloud subscription), then (b) to find an acceptable company to handle the print-on-demand onto good quality shirts and other items (I’ve tried a few and found a highly-rated printer had crappy selection of apparel, so nope on them), and then (c) make all of the tech components work together so e-comm can actually start without my head exploding in the process. Spoiler alert: that last bit is the hard part.

What I’ve learned so far about making the last part happen (good, bad and wtf) in case anybody wants to be brave and take their creativity to a place where people actually pay you for being your awesomely creative self is as follows:

1.  Moving my BigBlackDogStudio.com WordPress.com blog over to WordPress.org hosting so that it could theoretically add e-comm was not as one-click simple as they like to make out. The “export” feature that encourages you to click “all” does not take into account the sheer volume of a long-standing blog. I followed those instructions, and when I imported the file to its new home, was horrified that only posts up through 2014 were present. My eyebrows didn’t come down for a week until I finally figured out on my own in mid-August how to download each year’s worth of posts separately in order to then “import” them to the .org version. You’d think that might warrant a caveat or at least a helpful hint posted in their tutorials, just putting that out there. Ahem.

2.  If you wish to use an order submission form or even just a subscriber optin through any platform other than those sponsored or favored by WP, good luck with that. Security issues simply block it. So as to your expended funds on existing CRM software? Don’t annoy yourself trying to integrate. Just use the WP-favored form and periodically download the list as a CSV file and upload new subscribers that way into your preferred CRM software. I personally use ClickFunnels for my lead capture, but WP won’t let their optin embed on my site. At all. There’s no point aggravating yourself. It’s an extra step going the CSV route or copy & paste or just manually entering, but it actually saves time knowing their rules and just playing by them.

3.  As an alternative to WP’s fair-haired child Woocommerce, I decided to check out Shopify. Rule #1: at the very beginning when they ask you what you want the name of your store to be, don’t put in spaces or else they insert dashes. If I wanted my site to be called “big-black-dog-studio,” I would have named it that to begin with. I don’t. Good thing there’s a 14-day free trial I let expire.

4.  Speaking of which, Shopify’s instructions for using a domain you already own requires switching the A and CNAME over to them. They don’t care who your registrar is, but you can create a new entity through them if you want. Trivia fact: a WP.org self-hosted site’s A and CNAME information being changed to Shopify equates to: “why the hell am I paying for WP.org self-hosting if I’m using Shopify as my platform?” Redundant expense is what that is. Can I simply add a subdomain to my WP.org domain and CNAME it over to Shopify? No. The A domain information must be Shopify’s IP address. So, how about Shopifying the A and CNAME info with them, and then creating a subdomain for your blog? Why bother when you can add a blog page and other non-selling pages through Shopify as a platform? So, this comes down to an “either – or” situation. Pick one: WP.org + Woocommerce or Shopify.

5.  Printful vs. Customcat comparison. They both have high marks for their print quality because I’ve ordered sample merch from both. “Direct to garment” or DTG printing is different than traditional screen printing as the inks embed into the fabric versus being a layer of paint melted on top of the fabric. What that means is that if your designs are super-rich and vibrant in color, some of that is going to be dulled by DTG technique. Translation: instead of a piece of paper going through your printer, you could stick a t-shirt in there and have it print on the cloth. Screen printing necessitates set-up and clean-up, so that’s great for a large batch of printing, say, to create physical inventory if you have a brick-and-mortar shop. But for taking online orders from anybody from anywhere online, screen-printing one item as requested is not feasible. Pick your battles and decide how you want to compromise if deep, vibrant color is part of your brand. Also keep in mind that while those bright and vibrant colors print out just find through DTG, the real trouble happens is when you try to print those bright colors on a dark t-shirt. Even Printful makes a point on their site explaining how on dark fabrics they do a white layer first as the base and then apply the color design because they know it’s a problem. Keep it in mind. Both Printful and Customcat get high marks from me for the quality of the printing, but the choices of apparel items available through Printful are few and most are not up to the kind of quality standards I would choose to wear. If I don’t like the quality, what will my customers think of the quality? Will they give my shop bad reviews based on the shirt quality as opposed to my fabulous designs? Yeah, probably. Customcat’s wide selection of apparel items include not only just about everything I saw on Printful, but a lot more. For instance, I want moisture-wicking athletic wear as well as heavy-duty t-shirts, not crap that will fall apart after a few washes. I had choices of wicking tees as well as the classic Hanes Beefy Tee on Customcat, but it wasn’t even an option on Printful. So noted.

6.  How did I get to the point I’m at? Customcat works well with Shopify and had their own app made to integrate the two. One less player in the game to worry about. Shopify allows me to add extra non-merch pages as well as blog posts on their platform like I can do with my blog. Customcat app on Shopify automatically handles shipping costs. I like that and went through the process of setting up a storefront there to test it out. Back over on my WP.org site using Woocommerce, I had used one of my WP.org domain names to test Printful’s Woocommerce app. Setup with the Printful app was easy, ordering was easy, products showed up at my door 7 to 10 days from the time I placed the order. Shirt quality of the Bella+ Canvass 3001 I was not so happy with at all. If you’re into the budget t-shirt market, go for it. It was easy and you use your WP.org account site. So, I then deleted all of that and reassigned the WP.org domain over to Shopify with the A and CNAME zones changed as mentioned above. I went through the Customcat app’s product creation process again for a t-shirt in range of sizes and three color choices. I hit export, and the product appeared on Shopify.

7.  That said, you’d think, “oh, Shopify is the clear winner” now wouldn’t you? It would be if I wanted to list every different colored product as a separate product instead of having one t-shirt show up on the site with a list of all its options. Nope. You have to manually go in and duplicate the variables. And it might be worth the trouble if it weren’t another $30 a month or well over $300 a year additional on top of what I’ve already got as tools in my arsenal.

BigBlackDogStudio.com logo

Bottom line: I let the Shopify free trial expire and switched my A and CNAME zones of the domain I used back to my WP.org hosting service, Bluehost. I am using WP.org with Woocommerce and using Customcat through their website as opposed to through their Shopify app. It’s like the middle ground and it’s working for me. Temperamental and glitchy as Woocommerce can be, it’s my better bet financially to get started with e-comm because I’m already in their house. In other words, when tempted by shiny objects, think about the value of renovating where you’re already planted versus jumping too quickly into the “fast and easy” claims out there. If, however, I were to start brand new with no deeply entrenched Google statistics behind me like on my 10 year old blogs, I’d happily go with Shopify for its clean, modern look and ability to still look and work well on mobile devices. Woocommerce is really cute to think that they’re as good at that, too.

So, my BigBlackDogStudio.com shop is simply part of my original blog. I moved all the extraneous pages (posts included) and content under one menu heading, and the only other menu choices now are “Cart” and “Shop.” I’m pretty happy with how it looks overall. Now, to just figure out how to get that darn “subscribe to our mailing list” optin function to work…….!

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The irony is not lost on me

So, as a music director, I often plan out upcoming music as far ahead as three months at a time. This may seem excessive to non-music folks, but in order to prepare who has to rehearse what, for how long a time period (believe it or not, some people don’t sight read for Jesus on Sundays well), and making sure the needed head count will be available on dates when their part is integral to a particular piece are all parts of the puzzle in music ministry to be paid attention to. Sometimes we have to adjust on the fly.

I am currently serving with a small congregation just building up a music ministry and the youth have truly stepped up front and center to participate. The song we (or rather, I) planned to go with the week’s readings is Kari Jobe’s, “I Am Not Alone.”

That is until my guitarist has to be out of town this weekend and my lead teens have a family event conflict…so effectively, I would be actually alone singing a song entitled “I Am Not Alone.”

The Kari Jobe song is officially getting pushed back a week until the group returns. Obviously.

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So, I got back from vacay two days ago

While the 10-day off-grid hiking trip in the Adirondacks was absolutely lovely and much-needed, I did not anticipate certain possible website problems when I returned.

I’ve spent the past two days putting out a forest fire of epic proportions.

My other website, BigBlackDogStudio.com, was scheduled to transfer over to a new host in order to add some simple e-comm capabilities. Estimated time for the transfer was given at 5 to 7 business days, so I hit “do it” the night before I left figuring it would be magically transferred by internet elves and ready for me to work my creative genius on post-hike.

I was under the firm impression that just as it looks on the WordPress.com blogging platform, so it would now appear just on the WordPress.org hosting version. It wasn’t.

When I typed in my BBDS address upon my return late Thursday evening, I was greeted with the gut-twisting: “Coming soon!”  screen. It’s better than the dreaded blue screen of death or “not found” at all, but still. Did I mention I was erroneously believing elves were going to fairy dust it over magically?

I took a deep breath and told myself I probably just had to hit “launch” or something to let the elves know I’m here and approving the transfer, so I logged into my account at the new host. It was a good thing I inspected. It was empty. Nada. Just the registration records were there.

Okay. I’m smart. I can figure this out and do this manually. Logged into WP.com, exported my site, and imported it into the new platform. Opened up the new “pages” and “posts” to make sure all had zippity-zapped to the new home. Hmmm.

Of the 342 posts going all the way back to 2012, only 45 of them transferred with the export function. Of the 23 separate pages in that site, 2 transferred, one of them being the 45 blog posts page from 2012 through 2014. That’s it. I exported/imported a second and third time just to make sure. Still way short of goal. [insert expletive].

So, apparently, twas not as easy-peasy as certain entities made it out to be. Good thing I used my free time hiking to write down a ton of creative ideas I’m going to be working on because that book might collect a bit of dust while I manually transfer over the other 297 posts with their images, re-entering all the meta data, etc. I’ve already managed to put the Pawz To Reflect Merch page back up, as it was today’s epic and successful job.

Can I simply not bother transferring most of those old posts? Sure, I can pick and choose just the more meaningful ones to me to preserve. I can probably just transfer most of the stack over here via some migrate feature as long as I downgrade the site back to its free status and before the next drum circle after the harvest occurs. When you’ve got years and years of SEO entrenchment, you seriously have to weigh the pros and cons of whether or not to move crap around on the internet. Shoot me for not merely creating a new domain for the e-comm stuff.

Am I the only one who ever expected technology and those who brag about its wonders that this kind of cold water splash happened to?

Update 8/17/19: Okay, life did not come to an end as I know it after all. Stressful week AF, yes, but I figured out how to export in pieces and want to share that for them that may someday go through this same heart pounding thing. See my August 17 post for a step-by-step.

Update 10/9/19: Ooops. Apparently, I never hit the “post” button on this. My bad. The lack of website issue in mid-August was highly distracting.

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Pawz to Reflect Merch is here!

They’re here! We are super excited to share our first promo video featuring the first “litter” of Pawz to Reflect Journals for Animal Lovers:

“Pawprints On My Heart.”

Each journal is 6×9, 164 pages with light grey lined interiors. Each of the 30 glossy covers features beautiful photography that wraps around the front and back covers of the book. Since every pet has unique markings, the focus is mainly on texture and colouring of fur to remind you of your favourite fur baby.

Collect the entire litter of journals or just the pick of the litter that reminds you of your special fur baby!

Click the Pawz to Reflect Merch tab above to see the covers and where to purchase!

Don’t see a cover yet that reminds you of your pet in this first litter? Not to worry, because more litters are on their way!

Comment below or reach out to us on our studio’s Facebook fan page and let us know what breed of pet you’ve got that you’d like us to feature in our next litter of fundraising journals.

And please be sure to share our posts with your friends to get the word out!

The more journals in our fundraising line we can sell, the more animals we can help.

By choosing to purchase a Pawz to Reflect Journal, you are helping the ongoing rescue efforts of groups Nemo loved.

THANK YOU for “adopting” a Pawz to Reflect Journal!

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Learning to alleviate webcam anxieties

As someone who has spent 35 years being very comfortable at the front of rooms of 1 to 500+ people, I am appalled at myself for being not so comfortable in front of a webcam. 

Three things I have done nearly all of my life that I know I am very good at:

1. I write.

2. I teach and demonstrate live in the room.

3. I pray through my fingers on the piano and can grow a music ministry team into worship leaders.

Whereas public speaking can freak many people out, I have sung in front of a packed congregation since I was a teenager. Live doesn’t phase me. 

Put a video recorder in front of me, however, and I get all nervous and jerky like it’s my first day.

I’m post-chemo now 3.5 years and my brain is feeling operational again, at least according to the 98 I got in Statistics last fall and the 97 in my Finance course this past spring. This summer, I decided it’s high time to up my game as far as my business goes. I’m taking my teaching and my design and writing forward like I’m driving a tank.

I started a new YouTube channel where I can host my business stuff: “Let Me Show You How To Do That”. I have to have a minimum of 100 subscribers before YouTube will allow me to personalize my channel name in the URL, but I’ve even got the domain registered and the email integration set up. I just finished an intensive 30-day immersion marketing program through ClickFunnels that I highly recommend and will be promoting (next one starts August 5 and was the best $100 I’ve ever spent on my business education, btw and I’ll do a whole separate posting on that!), got my software, got my designs and products ready for the print-on-demand sector, and I’m ready to get started.

Except for the fact that most buyers today (according to all the spun and re-spun news articles circulating from self-proclaimed gurus over the past year) don’t want to read so much about their interests as they supposedly want to watch a video for someone to show them whatever the thing is they are looking for: Google bought YouTube, so everybody should be doing video!

Hmmm. Video? Greaaaaat.

Literally, I suck at video. I’ve made cute dog videos of my pets and accompaniment tracks for my choirs and music team to practice to and they were mostly okay.

Part of my goal in 2019 is to force myself to get more comfy in front of a webcam. Sure, millennials can do it. They were born with a smartphone in their hands. I’ve still got a perfectly serviceable iPhone 4S that Apple finally stopped bothering me about updating. So, instead of buying a $1,000 new phone just for the camera, I got a $340 Osmo Action. Why not the GoPro? This one has front and back screens so if you’re in front of the camera, you can make sure you’re in the shot – much like my little phone. It’s a first-gen, but it’s not like I’m going to go jumping off a cliff or swim with sharks with the thing.

Note: it took a full day to figure out how to activate the thing via someone else’s iPad….. because my iPhone 4S’s operating system couldn’t run the app! LOL Ahhh, so.

I went Mac this past spring when ye olde Windows 7 laptop fritzed during my finance course. I was P.O.’d when Microsoft took down support for my XP and the fabulous MovieMaker software native to it, so I jumped out of that boat with a Mac mini, a 34″ wide LG monitor and a Logitech webcam. There’s a learning curve for someone who’s been desktop publishing since Windows 3.1 (Minesweeper ❤ anyone?), and I still feel like a monkey in a tutu trying to make some of these new softwares work.

So, let me show you how it’s going for me with this initial random video I made quickly just to put up and finish getting my new YouTube channel started. Warning: it’s kind of painful in a spazzy, babbling way.

 

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Back to Fit Chick Challenge

Oh, it’s on. Right now. Read more about it on the new page above and join me as well on my new Facebook Group for mutual support and guidance.

If you are new to CaffeinatedMusic, you might not know that during the past few years after going through chemo, I kinda fell off the blogosphere due to brain fog and lack of most coherent thought. I did a lot more over at my BigBlackDogStudio site than I did over here, but not with much focus.

I’m back and determined to make up for the lack of progress on my goals over the last five years of my life. Time to kick it up.

Time to rewind the clock back five years and get my body back, albeit now on the other side of the Big 5-0 and sans hormones. I’m up for the challenge.

Starting. Right. Now.

03-14-14 Fit Chick

03-14-14 Fit Chick before Hodgkins lymphoma. Time to kick it up and get my body back! (That would be MyNemo’s tookus photobombing the shot) ❤

 

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