I Hated it When WordPress Released Gutenberg Blocks
I have to admit it. I was in the camp of, “Never, ever will I switch to Gutenberg blocks.” Why? Like so many others, I have a little coding in my blood. Not C++, Visual Basic, or anything like that. I’ve simply enjoyed coding my websites in HTML. I hated drag-and-drop visual editors like Kompozer, Microsoft’s FrontPage and others like that. I despised WordPress (I know, right?). However, after spending a couple of hours editing a menu for the third time in a week, I started wondering more about this PHP script and how it might make my life easier.
It took a while, but after a few weeks of working on it, I was finally beginning to see the advantages of switching to WordPress and using the HTML coding option when necessary. WordPress was making my editing easier and I could still change up what I needed using CSS. I could concentrate on creating content instead of dealing with editing sites that I had already completed. Learning how to create sites locally was the closer. That I could work on sites without having to worry about whether or not I was going to break my online site was a relief.
When page builders became all the rage, I was caught up in it with that drag-and-drop mentality that had cropped up in HTML editors that utilized WYSIWYG coding. After working with a couple of very nice commercial page builders, I realized that even though they were faster to build a single page, it wasn’t any faster than editing it with my theme’s built-in landing page. Plus, if I canceled my subscription, the functionality of those pages was abysmal – if it existed at all – and all of the time I thought I was saving by using these editors was consumed on the other side by rewriting and reformatting what the page builders had left behind.
There were definitely advantages to using the builders, but not enough to deal with the hassle of learning new software and paying monthly membership fees or yearly membership fees or fighting with the extraneous code left behind when I canceled my subscriptions.
I started turning into the Marie Kondo of WordPress sites and began embracing a minimalist approach to building sites. Fewer plugins meant fewer conflicts and faster, more reliable websites. Fewer plugins also meant fewer attempted site hacks as there were fewer security holes created. Getting hosting with NameHero (my affiliate link) made life even easier since they have Litespeed caching, CloudFlare, Limited Logins and nightly backups, and Let’s Encrypt SSL available at no extra charge.
I ended my subscriptions to page builders and focused more on the content of a site and working on conversions instead of going back to working on editing. While I enjoy editing, it isn’t what brings in the money.
The Case for Gutenberg Blocks
So, I have turned to using Gutenberg blocks and whatever my theme allows me to do for building out websites. With the right theme and hosting, I build out e-commerce sites, review blogs or just about anything else without added scripts and plugins, so there’s no reason for purchasing and learning new software when I could be using that precious time riding my bicycle or drinking a New England IPA (I don’t do both at the same time). Support for the Classic Editor will officially end in December of this year (2021). While I’m sure it will be forked out and continue to be developed, it’s always going to be another plugin that needs to be updated and scanned for security flaws.
What else can I do with Gutenberg Blocks? There’s no limit, really. I don’t have to worry about short codes breaking my sites since there’s a block for that. There’s blocks for social media embeds. There’s a block for Contact forms, too.
Oh, and guess what? I can write up my entire web post in Google Docs and then copy and paste it into a blocks page or post and WordPress will keep the formatting and links. I love Google Docs for the Voice Typing tool but hated the hassle of copying it all to a text file, reformatting, and all the rest of the hoops, just to get it into my site. When I first heard about this trick, I tested it out and thought they were nuts. No matter which block I tried – HTML, CODE, TEXT – nothing worked. When I finally got it to work, I was floored. Guess which block you use? NONE.
How to Move a Google Docs Document into WordPress Posts or Pages
Select All in Google Docs – CTRL+A
Copy – CTRL+C
Go to your WordPress site
Add New Post or Page
Type in the Title
Select the first entry point where you’d usually start typing.
If you have images already in your Docs, they’ll be pasted but won’t show up later as they’re currently on your Google Drive. I usually keep mine in a folder, optimize them at TinyPNG.com, redownload them and then upload them as a group to my WordPress Media Library. Within posts and pages, there’s an option in image blocks to Edit as HTML (remember that one?). I open the Media Library in a separate tab, click on the image I have selected in the post to bring up the file. I copy that file URL and insert it into the URL that says “img src= “https – googledrive –”. I also add the alt tag, changed the block back to edit visually and that’s it.
I only have to do that for a few images so it takes less than 10 minutes to change them out.
The Case for Using Softaculous for Installing WordPress
Now, let’s address the Softaculous installer. If you figured that since I know how to build a site in HTML, I probably learned how to create a database and manually install WordPress, you’d be right. I was incensed once by finding extra code that had added links into my config file. They were there because of an installer.
However, having gone through the process of creating/editing the PDF tutorial for new users to install and use WordPress, I realized that Softaculous has advantages that are not available to me when I install WordPress manually.
Did I mention a PDF tutorial? It’s about getting started in affiliate marketing and you can download it here for free.
Yes, I did create the landing page for the above-mentioned PDF giveaway using blocks. It took about twenty minutes.
Softaculous Let’s You Login to WordPress via cPanel
When Softaculous is installed, it gives you an option to log into WordPress through cPanel via an icon. You simply click on an icon and you’re in. If you lose your WordPress admin password without Softaculous being installed, you have to climb into phpmyadmin and reset it from there. This is no fun and it’s a little unnerving since if you make one wrong move in your database, your site is trash.
Softaculous Gives You a Staging Area
Softaculous also gives you other advantages including being able to set up a staging site. Staging allows you to duplicate your WordPress site and work on it as if it were on a localhost while using the exact PHP configuration and everything else. You can then confidently make changes to the live site, knowing that it will all function just as it did in the staging area. As I’m about to update and change over all of my websites from the Classic Editor to WordPress to Gutenberg blocks, this would’ve been a huge time saver. Alas, my sites are manually installed and I’m stuck hoping that what worked on a localhost dupe will work as well when I go live.
**UPDATE** It turns out that you can migrate your WordPress site into Softaculous, even if you originally did a manual installation like I did. As long as the Softaculous WordPress Manager is enabled in your cPanel account, you can do this. Check out this video by Web Hosting Canada
Softaculous Let’s You Clone Your Site with One Click
The last thing I really enjoy about the staging area is that Softaculous will also allow you to clone a site. This means you can set up mini sites such as one page landing pages and re-edit them very quickly with no monthly subscriptions, and no third-party software at all. You simply migrate to a new domain or create a subdomain under your current top level domain.
So, I feel like I’m finally coming around to getting comfortable living in the 21st century with these new changes to building websites. It’ll take a little time to bring everything up to date, but the cleaner I can get this to be on the inside, the faster it’ll work out in the long run. Working out this post in Google Docs, everything here was completed in about two hours. It would’ve been less if I hadn’t taken a break for coffee and breakfast. This used to take all day. I’m gonna go make soup. Now, if only I could just convince my sister-in-law to dump her fifteen-year-old clamshell phone.