A big part of being self-employed – something that at almost 54 I’m trying for the first time – is having to figure things out for yourself. When you work with computers and software this can be especially vexing because the documentation just as often as not won’t tell you what you want to know no matter from how many angles you try viewing it. Oh sure, there’s the internet and its endless answers (or rather stabs at them) but unless you know specifically the right question to ask the whole getting-a-drink-from-a-firehose thing applies. There’s no helpful co-worker a few cubicles down who by knowing the field you both labor in and (hopefully) you as well can intuit what you’re actually asking no matter how clumsily you phrase it, no patient IT reps a phone call away who actually get paid to talk you down from an elevated level of vexation because the documentation is just no damn good (presuming you bothered to read it at all). It’s just you. That’s some scary shit right there.
So now I’ve started to get past the panic and discover how to adequately find my own answers (or in many cases compensate for them eluding me), I’m learning there is a corollary effect that makes complete sense: in these early stages, just about everything is going to take me longer than I think it will. A lot longer. I do a lot of my work with WordPress, plan to do a lot more, and while I’ve been using it coming up on four years now and can comfortably negotiate my way around the Dashboard the amount I still don’t know is staggering. In the WP support group meetings I attend (the closest thing I’ve found yet to that helpful coworker) I call myself a designer/developer because I’m simultaneously both and neither. “Professional tenderfoot” is a lot more accurate but to my knowledge that’s not yet a generally accepted label.
For the time being I devote three days a week to professional development, including paying work once I actually get some, and the other four to the novel I’m writing. This week one of those three days got entirely taken over along with part of the next by what I’d initially expected to be a short, relatively painless process: migrating one WP site to a new URL, then migrating it back.
Simple if you have the right plugins, right? Not really. The first site – let’s be imaginative and call it 1 – was stand-alone, a blog with well over a hundred entries and an extensive media library, to another location (a site we’ll call 2) before zapping it and reinstalling WP there as multi-site, then moving the blog back intact. (I could have converted 1 to multi-site without moving anything but that would have meant using sub-domains for the component sites instead of sub-directories and I wanted sub-directories.) I’d been coached on this process at the support group and it sounded fairly easy, four steps according to my notes, but what the coaching didn’t cover – what it never really could have – was all the little steps that had to happen before those four could begin, not to mention a few more in between once they’d started. Details of how it actually went follow in the next entry.