When challenges come my way, I like to think I have a pretty positive, “can do” attitude. I will always try to give my best. So, a few weeks ago when I realized my site was causing me frustration, I knew it was time for an upgrade. Since I shifted my focus to more photography rather than just personal posts, I felt like the site needed more than a few changes here and there. My goal was to completely overhaul the site.
Good Morning, everyone! So… if you follow along with the blog through email, you received a post on Friday evening with very similar content. As a few last minute adjustments were being made, the post was accidentally published (the “publish” button is very close to the “preview” button). The post was deleted from the blog so that I could finish the edits; however, there was no way to recall the emailed information. I finished the post this weekend, and this morning you are reading the final version. I hope you enjoy!
Sitting down to blog this morning after breaking for a few weeks feels so different. It reminds me of seeing someone from my childhood that I haven’t seen in years. Like out of the blue running into each other in the grocery store aisle as I am slowly browsing and crossing items off my list. We stop. Make small chat. And as I stand there listening to how her life is today, I realize how much that person has grown. You are not the same and neither is she. That is how I feel about the last few months and this site. We’ve grown.
I wanted this space to feel more professional. More like a space I was proud to call my own. My goal was to update the template (that is the layout of the blog and site) and add content pages. In addition to site changes, I wanted to redefine my purpose and become more focused on what type of information I share to readers here and on social media. Overall, the goal was to make a few updates that I could accomplish over a few weekends. I mean how hard could it be, right. Right?
I should mention that this was the first time I had ever tackled so many improvements to my site all at once. Here is a breakdown of how making these changes went.
Attempt #1: On the first weekend in March, I attempted my first rounds of updates. I began with updating the template, which means I set out to change the way the blog appeared. Eight hours later, I still couldn’t get the space to work with how I pictured it. So, I put the information back to exactly how it was. Weekend One = Failed Attempt. I kept this first attempt to myself mentioning just a few words to Charles. I had already made up my mind that I would try again the following week, and I didn’t need any further help. I could do this, right. Right?
Attempt #2: On weekend two, I took a different approach and tried a completely different template that was geared towards a non-photography related blog. Even as a type this, that option would have never worked. This is a photography blog. What was I thinking? After several hours of pushing updates, I still didn’t have a space I loved. However, I did have a space that had changes. I started mentioning to a few friends and family members that I was having trouble, but I wasn’t sure what to do next.
Attempt #3: On weekend three, in my mind I felt I was making a little head way. I had continued working with the different approach thinking that if I could get something completed it would be better than no updates at all. Even if the space didn’t look exactly how I wanted it to appear nor function easily, anything would be better than nothing at this point. Frustration started to appear. I should mention that I date an extremely sweet guy who has more patience than myself. And to top it off, Charles has a technical background. Now, you would think I would ask him for help sooner rather than later, but that is not how I work. Or at least that is one thing I am learning about myself. At this point, he saw my frustrations began to build and decided it was time to offer his expertise. After a long night of working on a site that didn’t feel like me, we stopped. He went to the gym, and I needed time to clear my head. I had a quick shower, grabbed a notebook, and began to write. That is how I clear my mind.
March 19, 2016. I see two choices in front of me tonight. Easy versus hard. Short-term versus long-term. Sleep-filled night versus sleepless days ahead. The first choice is simple. It is the choice that after many long hours of working at this I want to choose. It is the easy choice. I could walk away. I could. I could walk away and stop and breathe. No one would think any differently. I could give myself the “I tried” talk and let that settle. Let that be enough. But, truthfully does “easy” ever satisfy? And what about the second choice? The one that will force me to learn and grow and potentially walk away with success after many long nights. If I don’t choose her, will she always be in the back of mind? Did you really give it your all, Ash? Did you really try everything? She is the choice that is whispering simple words to me tonight. Do not let this situation get the best of you. I repeat. Do not let this situation get the best of you. So, here I am tonight. Tired. Frustrated. Alone. Sitting with my words and my heart. I have only one worry on my mind tonight though. Do I have the strength to choose the second choice?
That was the longest Saturday night in March that I ever experienced. After I wrote those words, I closed my notebook. I walked to the computer and stood on top of a chair to write on the marker board next to it. I grabbed a blue marker, popped the cap off, and threw my decisions on a whiteboard:
1| The site must be simple in layout and easy to navigate.
2| The blog must be organized, must have a space for a “follow along” section and categories, and must be easy to access.
3|The site must feel like me.
I placed the cap on the marker and stepped down from the chair. It was time for bed. And my mission for the next morning was clear to me.
After church that Sunday morning, I pulled out my laptop and was determined to get something accomplished. As soon as I accessed the site, I saw flaws and updates that I wanted to change. Just like that I was back at it again. I was determined to do this upgrade, However, barely thirty minutes into working, frustration began to set in again.
“Grab a chair and your laptop,” Charles said as he stood there watching me give frustrating eyes to the screen. I should mention that some days I really do hate asking for help. I really do. I know people are willing, but I also understand that I am a hands-on learner. I like to try something my self first to see if I can figure it out. I should also mention that I am like a mama bear when it comes this site and this part of my life. Simply put, I protect this space with all that I have. The thought of having someone work on my business and not put their heart and soul into it like I have is just plain scary. But, as I continually learn in life, some experiences are met to humble you. And although I didn’t realize it at the time, that is exactly what was happening here. So, I grabbed my laptop and a chair and quietly sat. In less than a few hours, my site was upgraded. He had this space looking exactly how I pictured it in my mind. Professional. Simple. And feeling more like me.
Here are a few updates that you will see around the site:
1 | We updated the template associated with the site and changed the layout. In the past, my immediate focus was the blog, which meant that I had a template that focused more on that area. However, now that I am positioning myself to pursue more photography, I wanted to grow into a template and layout that would allow me to include more of my photographs in the future.
2 | We added to the site navigation (that is the lovely pink bar at the top) and added content pages. We moved the information available on the site navigation around until it flowed easily. Also, we initially had two pages for readers to check out as they spent their time here. Now, we have added a Home Page (if you click on Ashley Landry all the way to the left) and a Q + A Page to communicate to clients my experience. We also made a few updates to the About Page and renamed it the Welcome Page.
3 | Lastly, I have been really researching to find my purpose for social media and focusing on my target audience that I want to reach. As I define more of this information, my goal is to provide beneficial information on this site and on social media in general.
Each day as I pull up this site, I have the biggest smile on my face because I can see how far this process has brought me and how much I have learned. And these experiences are priceless. Feel free to look around! I am beyond excited with how everything turned out. I am looking forward to placing my work and words all throughout this space. And, I hope these improvements will provide a better experience for you as follow along with my story!
So, tell me what do you enjoy most about the new site?
Enjoy your week, friends!