My Week in Blogging Hell

For me, this past week has been Blogging Hell. Literally. You know, the week where you catch your haggard reflection in the mirror and desperately moan to yourself “why did I ever decide to self-host?”

In terms of technology, nothing worked. I spent several days repeatedly clearing my history and restarting my computer due to the dreaded (and frequent) ‘Bad Gateway’ message. Bringing me to the full height of despair, a couple of blogging friends contacted me to say that when they tried to log onto my site, they received a message stating, “This connection is not private. This website may be impersonating www.retirementreflections.com to steal your personal and financial information.”

I’ve been accused of many things before. But a cyber thief? Ouch!

As I was saying, not a good week. #Understatement.

I have a SSL certificate from the company I self-host with, which is supposed to indicate that my website is secure. Despite my Herculean efforts, I could not achieve the coveted ‘little green lock’ (the one beside the URL in the browser) confirming that my site is valid and the connection private. I read articles. I watched YouTube tutorials. I downloaded plugins. I hung out with Blue Host/Word Press ‘Happiness Engineers’. The ‘Engineers’ directed me to more articles and plugins. Argghh!

In desperation, I paid an online technology service to help. After much drama (please don’t ask) they were able to solve the problem by using the free site, ‘Why No Padlock?’ Double Argghhh!! Why hadn’t the Happiness Engineers, or YouTube, told me about that one?

Turns out, I had a badge on my site (yup, one single image) that was listed as ‘http’ instead of ‘https.’ And that teeny-weeny missing ‘s’ caused all this commotion!!

So now I have the coveted little green lock nestled neatly beside my blog address. And, because of my nerd-like tendencies, I also have a small ‘shield’ logo, showing that ‘Firefox is blocking domains known to track users.’ (This added protection also claims to load pages “44% faster”!) Since you can never be too cautious, I have recently added Antiviral Software (free with Sophos) on my MAC. Nothing like a week in Blogging Hell to cause a little paranoia!

So, how was your week?

57 Replies to “My Week in Blogging Hell”

  1. Oh, I wish the Happiness Engineers had been able to sort out your problem. It would have been so fitting, especially in December since the term ‘Happiness Engineer’ makes me think of wizened little elves with wicked grins.
    Still… glad you are now certified, stable, trustworthy, credible, protected….Don’t you just feel as if you are standing taller, a kind of Superwoman of the blogging world? Kudos.

    1. Hi, Karen –
      I’m not exactly feeling like Superwoman, but I do greatly appreciate your very kind words.
      I have given self-hosting three weeks to run smoothly. On January 1, my BlueHost contract is up for renewal. If further tech concerns arise, it will be WordPress.com for me. Stay tuned!
      Retirement Reflections recently posted…My Week in Blogging HellMy Profile

  2. Having worked with IT guys before, they actually want you to solve your problems yourself which is why they send you to other sites. So those that will actively help you with a resolution, hang on to them! Worth their weight in gold!

    Glad you were able to fix your site!

    1. Hi, Marian – I agree that it makes sense for ‘Technology Experts’ to ‘teach us to fish’ instead of magically solving each individual issue for us. In this case, there was a simple fix (whynopadlock.com). If the Happiness Engineers had let me know that, it would have saved me $$ for contacting a paid expert. Thanks for dropping by!
      Retirement Reflections recently posted…My Week in Blogging HellMy Profile

  3. What a week! Glad you crawled out of blogging hell. I went to hear Handel’s Messiah. I imagine there was a song just for your predicament. On unfettered blogging.

  4. Hi Donna! Isn’t it amazing how such a little thing can be so traumatic for us bloggers! I think we’ve all had week’s like yours where it takes HOURS and HOURS to figure out what’s gone wrong. While writing and blogging have many advantages (and hopefully that’s why we all do it) the truth is there are lots of housekeeping issues that most people have no idea also go along with the job. The thing I always tell myself is that figuring these things through (even when you end up hiring someone to help) keep my brain young and flexible. Who needs to study a new language when we are learning something constantly. Glad to hear your “week” has ended and that there is smooth sailing ahead. ~Kathy
    Kathy @ SMART Living 365.com recently posted…Getting Naked, Dropping the BS, and Embracing The Integrity AdvantageMy Profile

    1. Hi, Kathy – Thank you for your wise comments. I usually chug along with self-hosting by ‘Youtubing’ issues that arise. When that strategy does not work, and I have no one near me whom I can ask to help, it can be very, very frustrating. Lucky for you that you do not live nearby. I would have definitely appeared on your doorstep! 🙂
      Retirement Reflections recently posted…My Week in Blogging HellMy Profile

  5. Oh my. I think if I hit that type of blogging hell, I would take it as a sign from the universe to stop blogging. Glad you got through it. Isn’t there a song…if you’re going through hell, keep on going! I know who to call if I ever have issues (I’m on WordPress…so while less options for personalization, hopefully less issues like you faced).

  6. Technology can be challenging – especially for those of us who were not introduced to it until we were well past our teen years. I have found though, there is always someone out there who can figure out our issues. Hope it gets better!
    Karen recently posted…One hike, two daysMy Profile

    1. Hi, Karen – You are correct about technology being challenging…especially for those of us who began our careers without personal computers, mobile phones or tablets. I am currently listing all of my technological issues (and potential technological issues) and saving them up for when my children are home for Christmas. Shhhh, please don’t tell them!
      Retirement Reflections recently posted…My Week in Blogging HellMy Profile

  7. My heart goes out to you, Donna. I went through a week like that when I set up my online store and also had trouble with the SSL certificate. My top banner never did come back the way I wanted it. I was ready to throw the towel in, and go back to writing with a fountain pen and parchment paper! I hope you aren’t too traumatized after your week from blogging hell!

    1. Hi, Molly – A fountain pen and parchment paper sounds ideal! At one point, I would have settled for smoke signals! I’m sorry to hear that your top banner never did come back properly. Since my week-long ‘episode’, I have had one additional ‘Bad Gateway’ error that continues to make me cautious. I took it as my computer’s way of saying, “Don’t relax…I can crash again anytime!”
      Retirement Reflections recently posted…My Week in Blogging HellMy Profile

  8. I’m so sorry to hear this, Donna. Technical issues are so frustrating, aren’t they? The past two days at the day job, we’ve been locked out of all of our files, internet and email. Someone using ransomware has high jacked the county’s servers and are asking for 23k…it’s crazy! I hope everything works out for you.

  9. Oh my… I’m glad I’m on WP.com. I’m just not all that interested in becoming an expert in IT stuff. If you do decide to swim back to the children’s end of the pool (the water is fine here!), make sure you can bring all of your followers with you. Terri had trouble with this when she made the transition… maybe the Happiness Engineers can help you with that… or not. Good luck!
    Janis @ RetirementallyChallenged.com recently posted…GratiTuesday: My healthMy Profile

    1. Hi, Janis – I was all set to make the switch….then at the last minute, I remembered Terri’s tale and panicked. As I mentioned in comments above, I’m giving it three weeks to see if any new errors arise. Regarding hosting costs, my current Bluehost/WP.org site costs the same as a Premium WP account. I would need Premium to keep my same domain name. So…..it all depends if the ‘Bad Gateways’ or ‘missing green lock’ reoccur. Fingers crossed that they don’t.
      Retirement Reflections recently posted…My Week in Blogging HellMy Profile

  10. I’m so glad to hear you’ve got it all sorted! I can assure you I have the little green padlock showing up on your site and all looks great! What a worrying time for you though, especially at this busy time of the year. All’s well that ends well as my mother always says 🙂 I must say I’ve had a most relaxing week but am getting tired of keeping up with technology (Pinterest is my problem child this week). I’m like Kathy, I’ve always treated it as a way to keep up with technology and keep the brain ticking over just like learning a new language but sometimes it gets the better of me and I want to throw my hands in the air and just walk away! Enjoy your week 🙂
    Debbie Harris recently posted…This is what happens behind the scenes at Christmas timeMy Profile

    1. Hi, Debbie – I never have gotten the hang of Pinterest. I certainly do not need another ‘Technology Problem Child’! I agree that challenging ourselves to learn new things is important and rewarding….but there does come a point where I’d simply prefer to be drinking a Margarita (or seven!) 🙂
      Retirement Reflections recently posted…My Week in Blogging HellMy Profile

  11. Ouch! I hate it when technology doesn’t behave and defies resolution. I’m glad you finally found the solution, but it sure wasn’t a painless journey 😕
    If ever I start to consider self-hosting, I will use your experience as a cautionary tale 😉
    Joanne Sisco recently posted…Will You Remember Me?My Profile

    1. Hi, Joanne – I remember your recent ‘Technology Hell’ post well. I agree, it’s seldom painless.
      I use WordPress.com for our town’s Newcomers’ Website that I helped to initiate and maintain. If starting my blog all over again (insert horror here) I would definitely go with WordPress.com and avoid WordPress.org.
      Retirement Reflections recently posted…My Week in Blogging HellMy Profile

  12. Blogger blogs aren’t able to get the magic green lock yet and I’m not particularly worried at this point. It’s certainly becoming important – especially for those who sell through their blog (I’m not one of those!) I haven’t experienced the pain you’ve had this week and I’m incredibly grateful for that – self hosted has drawbacks at times and I don’t regret sticking with Blogger for that reason. If they don’t get around to figuring out the https stuff I might have to change to WordPress and I’m dreading that and the effort it would entail!
    Leanne recently posted…GUEST POST – DEE FROM BLOGGING GRANDMOTHERSMy Profile

    1. Hi, Leanne – I love the look of your blog. I, too, hope that you do not need to change it.
      If I had a crystal ball to guarantee me that I would not lose pieces of my current site, or followers….I would switch to WordPress.com in a heartbeat! Stay posted…

  13. So sorry to hear about your nightmare. Yikes! And so unfortunate that the WordPress / Blue Host people couldn’t help you better. That should be their job. But, from experience and loads of frustration with Blue Host, we know nothing is easy or straightforward. The biggest question I have is why do you need an https page? There is no banking information or anything crazy personal going on at your blog…
    Liesbet recently posted…IWSG Writing Update December 2017 – Finished First DraftMy Profile

    1. You pose an excellent question, Liesbet.

      Bluehost offers free ‘https:’ for their users. The reasons that they give for encouraging the switch include:

      1. Google uses ‘https’ as a factor in its search rankings. (It is also rumored that Google will be weighing https more and more in the future).
      2. Chrome and Firefox give a small green padlock symbol to ‘https’ sites to show that the site is secure.
      3. Without ‘https’ or the padlock symbols, readers may receive a message that your site is not secure. This is what happened to me.

      If your readers are not receiving any error or security warning messages then your site should be fine.

      Oh, the joys of self-hosting!
      Retirement Reflections recently posted…My Week in Blogging HellMy Profile

      1. Thanks for the explanation, Donna. It seems to me that they are mostly after your money. And, apparently a lot of time and frustration.

        The only valid point of the three is maybe the Google ranking, but SEO does a much better job with that than the “secured” status. As far as our blogs go and it ranking high on Google, we would need a lot of very unique words and word combinations (other than when someone types in the blog’s title). And, I doubt people who look at the CNN (and leave a comment) or other “unsecured” websites get a message that the site is not secure.

        Just our two cents. That being said, I am very glad you got it all figured out now. I hate internet and website nightmares!!!
        Liesbet recently posted…IWSG Writing Update December 2017 – Finished First DraftMy Profile

        1. Thanks, Liesbet – My driving concern was that some regular and savvy readers were being blocked out of my site. It was likely a combination of factors that caused this (on both my site and theirs) but as soon as I attempted to address this issue I thought I’d better go for a ‘clean bill of health’.
          Retirement Reflections recently posted…My Week in Blogging HellMy Profile

  14. Donna when I first saw the title of your post in my email feed, I thought you had been inundated from guest posting on Hugh’s blog (would have been a good thing)! Then I read your nightmare. I guess you remember what I went through when the images started disappearing (not good for a photo-blogger). When I went back to free WP I am still happy to be here! I have to tell you that when this happened to me, the Happiness Engineer painstakingly worked with me over a two week period, all while I was traveling in Spokane and celebrating hubby’s birthday. Plus I was working off a Surface Pro 3 (smallest screen ever), which incidentally stopped working in December of last year, which tells me that my broken blog literally broke my computer! I’m glad things are back to normal for you, and I will keep my fingers crossed!

    1. Hi, Terri –
      I remember you saying that you received excellent attention from the WP Happiness Engineers. Hugh speaks highly of them as well.
      Did the Engineers offer to help you switch your site from WP .org to WP.com or did they just answer your questions as you needed it? Other than the pictures, did you lose any other pieces of your site when making the switch? Did you lose followers? I am still considering a switch but seriously do not wish to mess anything else up on my site. I appreciate your opinion on this.

  15. Hi Donna. Remember the days when you would have called upon the school’s IT help desk to come and fix the problem. I sometimes miss them desperately. My personal belief is that anything computerish should work period. I admire your tenacity in solving the problem. As for my past week, it was great. I was in the Florida Keys enjoying some time with my grandchildren with very little technology!

    1. Hi, Fran – Whenever anyone asks what I miss most about my career, I often (cheekily) say “the IT Department”! I understand that computers don’t always work as planned, but when you get constant runaround from the company you pay to host with, that is beyond frustrating!
      So glad that you are now enjoying the Florida Keys and your grandchildren. It sounds ideal!

    1. Hi, Dee – Thanks so much for being the first one to have alerted me about the security warnings for my site. I went onto our Blogging Grandmother’s Facebook Page yesterday to find the thread(s) where you discussed blog security….but I kept being distracted by other great posts and never did find that thread. If you can send me a direct link, I would love to read what you have written on this topic.

    1. Hi, Ally – Feel free to judge this (I would)!
      I knew very little (read here: ‘absolutely nothing) about blogging when I first set-up my site.
      I did some hasty research which lead me to the ‘WordPress Comparison Chart’ for .com / .org. The chart suggested that if you weren’t sure, then go with .org, which I did. My thinking was that I should go with the paid version (as that must be better, right?) and that it would save me from having to change later. At least my instinct about it being complicated to change versions was correct. Ironically, I am not considering that change!

      1. Interesting. I never saw that chart so I went with the free one, that I’ve now upgraded to a business account. One way or another WP gets some of your money, don’t they? Have a happy weekend. You deserve one after your week.

  16. Hi, Ally – Here’s the chart.
    WP, Bluehost, etc etc do have ways of getting money from bloggers. If I switch now to WP.com I would need to switch to the Premium version, so that I can keep my same domain name. The cost of Premium is the exact same cost of my current self-hosted plan. So, it all boils down to how well my self-hosted site behaves over the next two weeks before I make my decision. Stay tuned!
    Retirement Reflections recently posted…My Week in Blogging HellMy Profile

  17. Oh Donna, I feel for you. I am so technologically challenged, I live in fear of something going wrong on my self-hosted blog. So far no one has complained about getting warnings from my site, but I keep thinking I need to make the switch to https and I don’t even know where to start. Wish me luck!
    Christie Hawkes recently posted…Friday favorites: season firstsMy Profile

  18. Hi, Christie – Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I am happy to share what I know.
    • When you are ready to move to https, your hosting company is usually the best place to start. My company (Bluehost) offers ‘https’ to their account holders for free. They also do the set up for you….but youneed to ask for it.
    • My site was actively causing direct error messages for some of my readers (never a good thing). Readers who are cautious can click on the “i” near the domain name in the browser and check if a site is secure or not.
    • Chrome and Firefox issue ‘green padlock icons’ to sites that they certify as secure. You must have https for this. And (as I painfully learned) their can be no http links or images ANYWHERE on your site. If you get stuck in this maze, you can quickly find your error spot(s) by using “whynopadlock’ (internet based and free)!
    Good luck!
    Retirement Reflections recently posted…My Week in Blogging HellMy Profile

  19. Oh, Donna -I’m a little late reading this post, and I’m kinda glad! That there is scary stuff! I’m in a little IT hell myself, as I am creating a self-hosted business website for the hubs…I CAN NOT seem to get his business email account to function correctly…sometimes I have to just walk away!!! Arghhhh – Wait…didn’t I just say we can learn anything?????? #eventually! ~ Lynn
    Lynn ~ Encore Voyage recently posted…Retirement Learning – I Can Take Off Your Head!My Profile

  20. I think most of us go through weeks like this. I remember when I was not able to open WordPress on my Mac. It was like the end of the world for me. It took days to sort out, but I never want to go that experience ever again. I still have nightmares about it.
    Glad it’s all sorted now, Donna.
    Hugh Roberts recently posted…The Last ChristmasMy Profile

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