As much as I’d like to take credit for being a visionary in updating my website, I was kind of forced into it. Since becoming a freelancer again, I had always thought about using WordPress for my site. However, since SharePoint came free with my Microsoft Office 365 business subscription, and my research found good things said about it, I decided to go that route. Well, two and a half years later, I’ve finally gone to WordPress.com. SharePoint forced my hand.
First, SharePoint is discontinuing its public website offerings, and my shutdown deadline was in March. So, within a few months, I would have had to do something anyhow.
However, SharePoint’s service was such that I had to make the move earlier than I thought. The last straw was an inability to even view my site on my browser. An error message kept popping up. When I contacted customer service, a fix didn’t seem imminent.
Yet there were plenty of other problems with my public SharePoint site. In no particular order: I lost Google ranking for dennisfurlan.com when typing my name Dennis Furlan. Instead, the Sharepoint URL would show up, somewhat further down the list; image scraping for social media sites, including Facebook, wasn’t workable; uploading a Favicon (which WordPress has called a blavatar (ha), but is now settling for “site icon”) was a mystery beyond my creative powers; SharePoint’s blogging platform was rudimentary: formatting was difficult, and you couldn’t even save drafts, if you can believe that; and I’m just scratching the surface here.
It’s not that SharePoint was a bad platform. I was able to customize a website template and make a decent go of it. But — and even Microsoft has acknowledged this — there are far better platforms out there, and I believe WordPress.com is one of them. You have to have some admiration for a company that’s sometimes willing to admit its weaknesses. And, to its credit, Microsoft is shutting down a service it can’t offer competitively in a competitive market. Instead, I believe SharePoint will continue to exist as an internal business platform, which has been its strength.
So, once I knew SharePoint wasn’t feasible for the long-term, I thought about other options. One was WordPress.org. I have some experience working with this platform. However, unlike WordPress.com, its .org sister forces you to essentially become your own website support department, which I could do, but I’d rather let someone else handle much of it. That’s what WordPress.com does. It hosts your site on their server, provides direct support, and everything is done through their service, versus your own resources. That’s definitely the way I prefer it, even if I have to pay the premium subscription fee. As an independent business, I’ve never been afraid to invest a little to get something deemed important.
As a result, I have this new WordPress.com website that will serve my needs more satisfactorily than Sharepoint. I really don’t need anything too fancy or sophisticated. The primary purpose of this site is to essentially serve as an extended website resume, as well as allow people to use it in a way many websites are used, which is to check a person or business out.
Now, I’ve done my share of SEO (search engine optimization) and targeted content marketing for clients. However, I really haven’t used my website this way. Frankly, I tend to get work in ways that don’t involve spending my own time to increase the odds of website traffic. Instead, either people find me through referrals or my postings on specialized job sites, or I find them through job searches. Having said all that, I can’t remember the last time I’ve engaged in a job search. For much of my freelance writing career, the jobs seem to find me somehow. Go figure.
I have also thought about migrating blog posts from my old SharePoint site. But, as with many website migrations, it’s easier said than done. Much of that material is available on my social network pages. Maybe I’ll migrate some of the better posts. We’ll see.
Nevertheless, my experience with this new WordPress.com website has been positive. The platform is fast and responsive. My Google ranking when typing my own name increased exponentially — only after a few minutes. With SharePoint, so much extra time was needed for simple things, such as adding images to blog posts. Not here. So, it looks like I’m getting what I’m paying for, although some more flexible customization would be nice. But I’m sure I can learn how to adjust CSS for this site specifically. I’ve done it on other sites, including SharePoint.
Well, I think that’s about enough for my introductory blog post. I hope you come back for more. I’m not sure if I’ll post an RSS feed yet, or that I’ll even have to. Social sharing buttons should be visible. Although WordPress.com isn’t easily customizable enough to change their location, or change many site functions, for that matter.
Also, please feel free to view the rest of my site. If you want to offer any feedback, by all means. Some advice on changing text margins, or other site elements, via CSS would be nice. If you find yourself intrigued by some of the services I offer, give me a shout. Until then.