If you are about to become a freelance translator (or other), you most likely have already decided to get a website or blog in order to promote your activity. Wise decision!
But if you made the choice of creating and managing your website/blog yourself, as I did, you should be aware that it does imply a lot of work, a good deal of frustration and even some moments of pure panic when the website crashes after you update your translation plugin and you have no idea how to fix it! Because well… it WILL happen!
I have had quite a few issues on my own over the last few years: layout suddenly getting completely messed up, images disappearing, or even a blank website and admin panel displaying nothing but a fatal error message! As you can imagine, it is quite stressful! And this is what inspired me to write this article. The below is based on my personal experience, and even if I cannot answer all questions – I am a translator and not a WordPress expert – I hope it can save you from massive stress.
Following a few simple steps will buy you some peace of mind.
There are quite a few CMS available out there and you will have to try them out in order to choose the one you like most. As far as I am concerned, I took some classes on how to create/manage a website with Joomla, but when the time came to start building sjcribe.com, I actually decided to work with WordPress. Why did I choose WordPress over Joomla? The main point of difference layed in the fact that Worpress has a very active community and support. Since I was a complete beginner with no html knowledge, I decided to play safe! To this day, I do not regret my choice: WordPress is a great tool in terms of website management. It is user friendly and quite easy to learn, pending of course that you have some basic IT skills.
What are the common sense rules to follow when using WordPress?
1. Choose the right template
One of the first task you will have to perform in order to build your website is to get a template. The offer is huge and you will most likely spend hours looking for the one that both matches your needs and taste. A lot of the templates can be customized so do not hesitate to try them out by using the live previews/tests when available.
My advice to you is to get a template that is regularly updated and that offers efficient and responsive support, even if it implies that you must pay for it. Trust me, the investment is worth every penny!
I personally use Karma by Theme Forest for sjcribe.com and Tempera by Cryout Creations for Cessens le Sapenay. I like both. As they are highly customizable, I was able to pretty much achieve what I wanted, with a lot of effort and time, and the need to get my hands into basic html coding. I contacted the support teams for troubleshooting quite a lot during the designing process and they have always been super helpful.
2. Run daily back-ups
When you website is ready, I recommend you to install a back-up plugin and to set-up automatic daily back-ups. You should also back-up your website before performing any change, such as extension update, and ideally save the files into an easy accessible storage. These habits will enable you to restore your website to its previous version in case anything goes wrong.
3. Install and update plugins
If like me you are not an expert in html/CSS coding, you will have to install plugins, whether it is to build a multilingual website, to block spam (useful if you manage a blog) or for back-ups, for example. When you do so, I would suggest you to check 3 elements:
- The plugin is updated on a regular basis
- The plugin has a good rating
- Most importantly, the plugin is compatible with your WordPress version
You will then need to update the plugins whenever available. However, before doing so, make sure that the new version is compatible with your WordPress version. If it is not, then you should start by updating WordPress. Remember that fatal error I was talking about earlier? Well, that is where it came from. I had not paid attention that the latest WPML update was not compatible with the WordPress version I was using… next thing I know is that the website and administration panel crashed right after the update. But fortunately, the WPML support team was able to help me the issue in just a few days. 🙂
4. When problems happen
You are done with the set-up and after hours of work your website is finally up and running. What an exciting feeling! But how frustrating when all of a sudden, something goes wrong.
Whatever the issue is, start by trying the below steps:
- Ensure you are using the latest WordPress version and if not, update it
- Deactivate all plugins and check if the issue remains. If not, reactivate plugins one after the other to identify the faulty one. Make sure it is up-to-date and if not, update it. If problem remains, you should contact the plugin owner for support or install an alternative one.
- Restore your website to its previous version
- Look online for similar problems and reapply suggested solutions
If none of the above work, then it is time to get help! Based on what happened (you ran a plugin or theme update, the issue is related to images, you get an error message, etc.), you may get an idea of what created the issue. In that case, you should report it directly to the appropriate support team.
If you cannot identify the cause, the WordPress community or support team should be able to help you.
And the reason why you should not panic is that someone will most likely be able to help! This has always been the case for me, and I have had my share of website issues.
5. Check these useful websites
To finish, here is a list of websites that I have found helpful when looking to troubleshoot my website.
Welcome to the website adventure and I wish you the best of luck and success!