The Real Blog Challenge

Fresh off successful completion of the 2013 A to Z Blog Challenge, I joined the Writers of Kern Blog Challenge completing the first round of eight posts. I signed on for the second round but fell behind because of another challenge.

In 2007, I began blogging with a WordPress hosted blog. WordPress is a publishing platform that makes it easy for anyone to publish online. The WordPress platform powers millions of websites and comes in two formats: the fully hosted version available at and the self-hosted version available at

At, bloggers don’t have to download software, pay for hosting, or manage a web server. Instead, they focus on creating content and letting WordPress handle the rest.

Self-hosting a WordPress blog requires some technical knowledge and places more responsibility on the blogger. The WordPress software is downloaded for free, but it must be installed on a web server before it will work.

I began with a WordPress hosted blog and made the move to a self-hosted blog after a couple of years. The self-hosted blog gave me more control over my blog’s access and appearance.

Recently, I wanted to make major changes to my blog’s structure and presentation elements. I explored installing a new theme. A blog’s theme is its skin, its public appearance. My search did not turn up a theme I liked as much as the theme I had. When I looked into revising the theme, I discovered it was no longer supported by WordPress. I contacted the foundry that produced the theme. They had an updated version they said I could revise by creating a child theme.

Whether performing a minor “tune-up” or a major overhaul, creating a child theme is the safest and easiest way to modify an existing blog theme. A child theme inherits all of the templates and functionality from its parent theme, but allows the blogger to make “non-destructive” changes to the parent theme because code in the child theme overrules code in the parent theme. However, looking at my theme’s code told me I was in over my head.

Web design interests me. I took a couple of web design classes a few years ago, not because I wanted a web design certificate but because I wanted access to the web design knowledge base. At this point in my life, I didn’t want to start attending classes again. What to do?

Answering the question led me to my favorite computer software application site, The Online Training Library is a learning platform that teaches a growing range of computer skills in video format to members through monthly and annual subscription-based plans. Looking through the course catalog, I found two recently published courses on WordPress: WordPress Essential Training and WordPress 3: Building Child Themes.

Both courses provide excellent information on the latest version of the WordPress platform. Diving into the second course, I spent a week going through the course videos several times. I applied each modification, meticulously following the course author’s step-by-step instructions. I finished with a theme that, in the words of the course author, takes my blog to “new levels of awsome-ness.” It was more work than I anticipated; but, I loved doing it because it’s challenging as well as creatively rewarding. Now I can change the theme any way I want.

So, it’s not just blogging. It’s blogging for the pleasure of blogging; and, the pleasure is intensified by knowing a blog’s beauty is more than “skin” deep.

I once heard of someone who, when asked the time, replied with instructions on building a clock. Asked about blogging, I would focus on content, not give instructions for building a blog theme or creating a child theme. For me, knowing what goes on under the blog’s hood is the real blog challenge.

0 thoughts on “The Real Blog Challenge

  1. Annis Cassells

    Oh, Dennis. You are way over my head on this theme and “under the hood” business. You are right. This is a real blog challenge. I admire your diligence and hard work. xoA

  2. Joan Raymond

    I really like the look of your blog since the changes. Nice to see you up and running again.
    The inner workings of blogs and technology are not my forte, but I admire those who can navigate inside and know what they are doing.

    1. Dennis VanderWerff Post author

      I’m pleased your like the changes to my blog. I really don’t know what I am doing; but, the wonder of the internet allows me to find people who do. The WordPress platform offers support forums that are truly supportive. It’s an amazing resource.


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