The quickest way for me to learn is to bootstrap and build something myself.
I have slowly built my website over time, learning as I go.
The upside of building my stuff is that I’m not reliant on someone else. I experiment and tweak things on my timeline. I own the schedule. If I break it, I know how to fix it or revert the change. If it’s a total screw up, I can ask someone can show me. Significant improvements to my site sometimes mean cutting and pasting bits of code from a google search result and then refreshing to see if it works.
If any WordPress developer peaked under my website’s hood, they would see the equivalent of a one-bedroom house with extensions like a loft, basement, and garage all stapled on that have not been built to code.
My father is also building his site, so sometimes it’s about us sharing notes about new intentional and accidental discoveries that pop up when we tinker with the website.
There’s no formal syllabus. The building roadmap is dictated by what I need next.
Building on the fly is like learning a new language. I prepared by attending some formal French classes when I lived in Luxembourg for a short period. None of that helped. When I arrived in Lux, I couldn’t even understand what people were saying, let alone have a conversation. I learned to get by over time by repeating phrases like ordering coffee, buying bus tickets, and asking for directions. These practical phrases were my building blocks.
It’s the same with building anything new. Look for tools you need to get from point A to point B. Then figure out how to get to point C. It won’t be pretty, but you’ll keep moving forward and being in control will empower you.
A couple of people have asked me why I haven’t switched to Medium as a publishing platform. Medium is beautiful and elegant, and I value the highlight function. I also think that Ev Williams has zeroed in the problem with traditional media and how its livelihood is tethered to the advertising model, clickbait and page views. The popularity of a piece doesn’t correlate to the journalistic quality; hence something salacious generates more revenue than a well researched long-form article on Climate Change or political corruption. I think the Medium team has the brainpower and dry powder to make a dent and help solve the problem, but it’s hard to ask writers to go along for the ride when their livelihood or lifework depends on it.
Until the publishing revenue model is fixed, platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn and Medium will continue to morph, experiment and adapt to survive. They’ll do what’s in the best interests of their shareholders, their advertisers and their employees.
I’ve been on WordPress for years and won’t be changing. My rational years ago and today are the same. Writers have to own their domain. It needs to be portable and backed up, and if the underlying platform changes then they can set up shop somewhere else.
Persistence is the secret ingredient to long term growth. I’ll use writing as an example. Check out non celebrity writers on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or WordPress. They write something most days (normally multiple things) and their followers start to expect a post on a daily basis. Some posts will be good, some brilliant and some forgettable – the point is that it’s dependable and persistent. Over time their readers see the musings and writings of the author as companion pieces to the day – like a morning coffee.
There’s the January gym crowd who start off with a bang and putter out around February, then there are the lifers who show up every morning and slowly get fit and stay fit. Lifers don’t have New Year’s resolutions because they have a standing daily exercise appointment that they don’t miss. It’s the same with writing. Never miss the appointment.
Persistence is underrated and underused because people think it’s obvious and table stakes for success. The reality is that most people give up early, so it normally does come down to the last person standing who gets the prize.
Show up every day. Persist
“Sometimes magic is just someone spending more time on something than anyone else might reasonably expect.” – Raymond Joseph Teller