Charity Gamble

Self-HostedWordpressVSBloggerThere has been a large debate for quite a while about what is better – Self-Hosted WordPress or Blogger. I’ll be honest, either one is perfectly fine and many people run highly popular blogs on both platforms.

Some people like to claim the WordPress (self-hosted) is always best because “you own your content and no one can shut your blog down.” Well, that’s not exactly true, now is it? Your host can shut down your hosting at any time for whatever reason it sees fit. Someone makes  formal complaint to your host about content on your blog? Your host can shut you down. Host decides they aren’t making enough money/can’t stay in business? Bye bye blog. Trust me, they don’t always tell you they’re shutting down. But you can backup your WordPress installation and files and start over elsewhere you say.

Yeah, and you can do the same on Blogger. It’s not that hard. Really. You can back up your blog and your template, and you don’t have to upload your images to Blogger to use them there – you can use services like TinyPic (my personal favorite for hosting images that need to be hotlinked) to host your images. Can Google shut down your blog for no apparent reason? Yes. But as I said above, so can your host. Does Google own your content? No. I’ve never seen anywhere in Google’s TOS for Blogger that says that they own your content. And in all honesty, I’ve never heard of a blogger having their Blogger blog shut down for absolutely no reason. If they shut down your blog, you’ve somehow gone agains their TOS.

Again, there are quite a few successful bloggers who use Blogger, not self-hosted WordPress and they’re just fine. Their blogs are on the internet, they haven’t been shut down, and not one of them has ever indicated that Google owns their content or that they’ve been told that their content is the property of Google. If that were true, you wouldn’t be able to export your blog posts out to WordPress later if you choose. You wouldn’t be able to delete posts. Because they’d belong to Google, not you.

I’ve also seen people say WordPress is better because it’s easier to use. I don’t know about that. A good friend of mine uses Blogger for her blog because she can understand it where she can’t understand WordPress at all. When she had a self-hosted WordPress blog, it was all she could do to log in and make a post. On Blogger, while she hasn’t gotten to the point of putting in a “custom” template yet, she can edit her chosen template, she figured out how to use a domain name and how to set it up. In WordPress, she couldn’t even figure out how to change her theme to a pre-installed theme. But I also know bloggers who look at Blogger’s interface and are utterly confused by it.

You have to figure out which platform works for you. Either platform is fine. You just have to make sure you backup your blog regularly.

The only platform I don’t suggest if you’re looking to have your blog be monetized is WordPress.com because they don’t allow monetization of blogs on that platform. If you want to use WordPress and make money from your blog you have to use self-hosted WordPress.

Conclusion: Blogger and WordPress (self-hosted) are equally fine to use. Blogger is especially good for those not wanting to pay for hosting because it’s free. You can add a domain name later if you wish. Self-hosted WordPress requires you to obtain hosting, domain names, etc. It can be much more costly to run a self-hosted WordPress blog than Blogger, so if you’re looking to start off cheap, you can start off on Blogger and if you feel it necessary, you can switch to self-hosted WordPress later on.


I’ve wondered exactly what a designer, graphic or web, wears to work. What they wear when working seems to vary greatly from designer to designer.

For example, I know graphic and web designers who do all of their work in jeans, t-shirts, shorts, flip-flops, sweatshirts, or their pajamas. I also know graphic and web designers who dress professionally every day.

According to one of my instructors, whenever she’s been at a gathering of designers there is a lot of pizza and beer, and everyone is wearing jeans and flip-flops or tennis shoes with t-shirts or sweatshirts. Yet another of my instructors says that the “dress code” is always very professional and that she’s pushing for the students to be required one day a week to come to school dressed professionally to “prepare us” for having to do so.

Myself, I’m of the opinion that I’m less professional when dressed professionally. Why? Because I’m uncomfortable! How am I supposed to act nice and do what I’m supposed to when I’m uncomfortable? I have never believed in the whole “if you dress professionally you’ll act professionally” thing—because it simply has never been true for me. I can act professionally no matter what I’m wearing. Being professional is a mindset—you don’t need special clothes to be professional—and I’ve seen plenty of people dressed professionally that quite frankly don’t act professional at all.

So what do you think? Do you think designers should wear professional clothing or casual clothing?

Image Courtesy ClipartPanda.com
I want to tell you about my experience with going to school for Web Design. Please note that not all students will claim to have this particular experience with the school I attended – but this was my experience and what I’ve discovered since graduating with my Associate of Arts from my previous college.
In 2011 I was in Colorado staying with a friend of mine. She was getting ready to go back to school to get her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. I started thinking that it was about time I took my desire to be a web designer seriously and actually get the proper education for it by going to school.
My friend was going through University of Phoenix for her degree and since I saw that they had a web design program, I decided to join her at University of Phoenix. Little did I know what a mistake that was going to turn out to be.
I wasn’t surprised when the first classes were more or less general education classes, because every college has general education courses they want you to take as part of your degree program. The actual “program essential” classes started my second year of schooling. Perfect! But not so much…
The first “program essential” class I had to take was a networking class. Wait a minute. I’m designing web pages and web sites, not installing the company’s network. There is absolutely no need for me to know how to set up a network. But I rolled with it. At the same time, I was taking a programming essentials class. Again, no real need for that because HTML and CSS are not programming languages. I don’t need to know how to write a program to design a website. Although I suppose the programming class could have been a pre-cursor to another class I’ll mention in a few minutes.
Then came a class in image manipulation. This class was literally bottom-of-the-barrel, ridiculously basic Photoshop use. We barely learned to edit photos and create the absolute worst graphics I’ve ever seen. At the same time, I had to take the first of 2 Web Design classes. Here is where I really started to question my classes and training. Our instructor was using a textbook that had no less than three updated editions after the one we were using. The textbook we were using spoke of HMTL 4.01 and XHTML as if they had literally just started being used. CSS was another thing that was “just getting started” in the mainstream of web design according to our textbook. Our instructor required that our projects be written in Adobe Dreamweaver and that we use a table layout. No one used a table layout in 2011. HTML5 and CSS3 were forbidden subjects. I was actually reprimanded by my instructor for even mentioning them. She even required a flash element to be present in our final project even though few sites were using flash for anything other than games.
The Web Design II instructor was just as bad. Even worse, along with round two of outdated textbooks and outdated web design requirements for final projects, I had another class – JavaScript. It was actually called Web Systems and was supposed to cover JavaScript, DHTML (which no one was using anymore by that time), and a few other script-type things, including basic PHP scripting (although technically it can be used as a programming language) – which is probably why I had to take the programming class. However, we only covered JavaScript and he made us put scripts for a dropdown menu bar (the kind of thing we do with CSS – and could at that time as well) and a pop-up box that asked for the user’s name and displayed a Hello message on the page with the user’s name (I haven’t seen one of those in so long, I don’t think anyone actually uses that script anymore) on our final projects.
I was happy when I graduated with my AA because now I felt I could go out and get web design jobs. Right up until I saw what I was being asked to do with an Associate’s Degree. Jobs I’d look at required nothing more than an AA or AS in Web Design, but required skills I’d never been given. Some jobs wanted InDesign experience – which I didn’t have. Other jobs required PHP skills, which again, I didn’t have. Still other jobs required responsive web design skills – which I hadn’t been taught. Some wanted you to be an expert in Photoshop, which I wasn’t.
I literally wasted $30,000 worth of student loans on a degree that was useless because the skills I actually needed had never been taught at University of Phoenix. I’ve spoken with other graduates of the University of Phoenix’s web design program over the years – some say their experience was just like mine. Others say they had a great experience and were able to get web design jobs almost immediately. I guess it really depended on who you got for instructors. As for me, I state I have the AA in Web Design from University of Phoenix because I do – but I’m now back in school at a local college I  know will provide me the proper training and skills I need, because a lot of web designers in my area graduated from my current school.
The moral of the story: be careful where you get your education in your desired field. Make sure the school is legitimate. See if you can find others who have graduated from the program and ask about their experiences. Make sure they were able to find jobs and that their skill sets were adequate after graduation. Don’t be like me and just jump on the first college you see that has a degree program in your desired field, even if it isn’t web design. Trust me, you’ll be better off for it.
Even though I run this particular blog on Blogger, I use WordPress for my other blogs. One of my favorite things about WordPress is the ability to expand its functionality via the use of plugins. Need WordPress to do something it normally doesn’t do? Search the plugin database – it’s probably in there! So here is a list of my favorite WordPress plugins to use.

Charity’s Favorite WordPress Plugins

  • Akismet – Keep those spam comments off your blog. Just remember to check the spam list regularly to ensure that it isn’t working overtime and sending legitimate comments to spam.
  • Google Analytics by Yoast – I used to use Google Analyticator, but discovered this plugin and I like it better. This one gives me a dashboard so I can check my analytics stats without having to go to Google.
  • Jetpack by WordPress – Yes, this plugin is bloated. Yes, it probably is contributing at least somewhat to the load time of my site. But the features are unreal and the plugin does the job of several plugins.
  • Link Manager – I prefer to manage my links via the link manager and have them in my sidebar – it makes things easier for me.
  • MailChimp Forms by MailMunch – Great way to build MailChimp list subscription forms without too much fuss.
  • Theme Check – I use this when I create themes to ensure I am adhering to WordPress standards for theme creation.
  • W3 Total Cache – Helps my blog run faster by serving up cached items.
  • Wordfence Security – I’ve been running this particular plugin on all my blogs for a while now. I love being able to use it ban IP addresses from which login attempts have come.
  • Book Review – I use this one on The Goth Girl Reads because it helps me format my book reviews and ensures I include all the pertinent information about the books I review.
  • Annual Archive – On some of my blogs, the archives go back so far, it is actually easier to have the archives be available by year instead of by month.
  • FD Footnotes – Footnotes – what more can I say?
  • Instagram Feed – Display an Instagram feed via your sidebar or a page using a shortcode.
  • Pinterest Pinboard Widget – Display your Pinterest feed on your blog.
  • Review Ratings – I use this for product reviews on Love, Music, & Magic – when I remember I have it installed!
  • RS FeedBurner – I use this to make it easier to redirect people from my WordPress feed to the FeedBurner version.
The above are mentioned by their specific names so they can be searched in the plugin repository. Be aware that some of them have not been updated for a while (Link Manager hasn’t been updated for about 3 years) so you may want to try other plugins of the same type if the one I’ve listed here hasn’t been updated for a while.
Image Courtesy Galorath.com
I started doing web design in 1999. Well, I should say I started doing web design by writing my own HTML code in 1999. I actually started doing web design with WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editors like AOLPress and FrontPage Lite back in 1997. I had websites on the usual suspects back then – Geocities, Tripod, Angelfire, Topcities, and a few others that weren’t quite as well known like Crosswinds. Of course, Geocities went the way of the do-do after a while, but Tripod, Angelfire, and Topcities still exist (funny enough, Topcities is now a free blog hosting service for WordPress blogs).
Back then when it came to personal sites, no one really seemed to care what your site looked like. It was supposed to be a reflection of you. There were a lot of sites with garish color schemes, black backgrounds with colored text that made you seen lines when you looked away from the screen, and oh my – everything was usually centered in a straight line down the page! You were lucky if the person even used multiple pages. But of course, these were just little personal home pages and most people were not particularly interested in whether or not they looked good to everyone else, as long as they liked it.
Times have changed. HTML 4.01 (which is what I learned) gave way to XHTML (the combination of XML and HTML). Then XHTML gave way to HTML5. I noticed CSS popping up around the same time XHTML was becoming the “in” thing to do (even though it had nothing to do with being “in” as much as being correct). I’m sure it was there before that, but I didn’t notice it as much – especially not external stylesheets. I learned everything as I went. I looked up tutorials and used sites like WebMonkey and W3Schools to teach myself what I needed to know. I rolled with all the changes as they came about.
Now I’m working in HTML5, using CSS3, and figuring out the ins and outs of the latest design trends like flat design. Web design has changed so much over the past 16 years, it’s amazing. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for web design.