Many women in midlife think about blogging. What is the appeal?
I think that women of a certain age have raised families, had careers, etc. and realize they have a lot to say, but no one to listen—so they turn to blogging. They have many experiences that could help someone else who is struggling so they begin another type of mothering, but on their own terms. They want to make a difference in someone’s life.
You offer web design, branding, maintenance services, and more. How do you work with clients who are just getting started on their blog?
I have found the best way is just talking. I want to know their stories and how they want to express themselves. I feel that each site is like a personality and no two are alike. I build a relationship with my clients. It’s not my vision, it’s theirs, and I want it to look and feel exactly the way they want it. I have a questionnaire that I send out to clients in the beginning and we have multiple phone conversations throughout the process. I also create a secret Pinterest board so that they can show me what excites them when they can’t otherwise put it into words. It’s a process that doesn’t end until the client says it’s complete. Most clients end up in my maintenance group so the relationship continues for years.
Can you share examples of a few blogs that you’ve set up for women in midlife?
Sure, the first one that comes to mind is Carol Cassara’s website A Healing Spirit. Carol and I have enjoyed a business relationship that has turned into a friendship I treasure—as have most of my clients. My Left Breast I designed for Claudia Schmidt who is a breast cancer survivor and advocate. I recently designed a site for Elaine Ambrose, a hilarious midlife humorist and author. I created a site for McCormick Interiors, a designer extraordinaire, and a site for the lovely and fun Elizabeth Kirkpatrick at The Vintage Contessa, who shows midlife women how to have fun with fashion and style.
When looking for a web designer, what are your most important tips?
I think the most important thing is to find out if they are going to build your vision or theirs. I have found some designers do not want much client input. They only want to design what they think you want.
Also, find out how you are to communicate with each other. If you have to do everything by email it will take forever!
When is the job considered complete? When the client is satisfied or does the designer just do the basics and is gone? Building a website is only part of the process. There’s also setting up email service providers, shopping carts for selling, tripwires, etc. I try to provide everything you need to open your business, from start to finish.
For those seeking to set up a website on their own, what are your essential tips and tools?
I always start with WordPress.org. There’s a huge difference between that and free blogging platforms (like Blogger or WordPress.com). After I’ve installed that, I use a Genesis Framework and a premium StudioPress child theme. Then I start with the basics: security (WordFence plugin), backing up the site (Updraft Plus, connected to Dropbox), Akismet (spam plugin), and SEO (SEO by Yoast). Once I have the foundation set up, I can add the things that the client wants like email sign up forms (Genesis Enews and social media buttons (Simple Social Icons) after that it’s all individualized to fit the client’s needs.
My name is Rena McDaniel and I am an Alzheimer caregiver to my mom, a wife to my best friend and husband of 27 years, mother of two grown children, grandma to three-year old twins, and an accidental web designer and business owner.
I started my first site, The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver in 2013, when the isolation of being a disabled caregiver became too much. I love to write and have been featured on sites like Huffington Post, Alzheimer’s Reading Room, and Midlife Boulevard.
I soon found out that I loved the backend of WordPress, so I began to take steps to learn all I could. I became an apprentice to Julie Stoian for a year and a half then opened the doors to The Blogging 911 in February of 2016. And the rest, as they say, is history! My motto is: Appreciate the good, laugh at the crazy, & deal with the rest!