Cindy Carlsson loves many things in life, among them – travel and photography. In fact, she’s spent the last many years traveling and photographing her way across our world. Her blog, Exploration Vacation, features photos and tips from Cindy’s travels to over 70 countries. Growing up in a rural area where almost no one traveled, Cindy was always curious about the rest of the world. As she grew older, she knew that travel, even world travel, was a way she could satisfy some of that curiosity. You can find Cindy on Instagram.
The granddaughter of immigrants, hearing talks of “the old country” growing up, Cindy felt connected to a family in Europe she had never met. She always assumed, someday, she’d meet them. Once her Dad returned home from overseas deployment in Germany, having been stationed in Berlin as it came back to life post the fall of the Berlin wall, she knew then she’d visit one day.
Photography it seems, was something almost as intertwined into Cindy’s family history as travel, her Dad’s parents met because of a new camera. Growing up, there were always old photos around. While stationed in Germany, Cindy’s dad even purchased a beautiful camera she now uses. “Taking pictures is as natural as breathing,” Cindy said when I asked her what piqued her interest in photography, “For as long as there have been cameras, they’ve been used to document people and places travelers encountered and brag about their travels, but sometimes I think there are too many cameras. It seems like everyone takes the same selfie in front of the same tourist sites; I wonder if they even really look at the site they are using as the backdrop.”
ExplorationVacation.net was originally hosted on Google’s Blogger platform, which was around 2005. Back then, Blogger was a free and easy way to get started with a Blog. But, soon after launching her site, Cindy began encountering the limitations of the platform and she began to research migrating to WordPress.
When asked about how her first migration went, Cindy mentioned “Ultimately I didn’t realize WordPress.com and WordPress.org were different!” She ended up with an account on WordPress.com and by the time she figured out her mistake, she was far enough in she stuck it out. With WordPress.com having similar limitations to Blogger, Cindy began plotting her next migration over to a self-hosted blog using the free WordPress.org application.
“It was miserable,” said Cindy. “It forced me to get under the hood of WordPress just to make things function correctly.” Migrating from WordPress.com to her own app forced Cindy to learn more about how WordPress works than she ever wanted to just to make the transfer and get her blog running correctly.
Cindy’s background, prior to dedicating her live to traveling and photographing the world, was in Government as a Public Policy & Land Use Strategist and when asked if she would say she’s tech-savvy said “I’m not at all technical! But I’ve never been afraid of technology either and have taught myself how to use a lot of programs over the years. I’m curious about everything, so I spend (too much) time trying to understand not only what I can do with WordPress and photo editing programs, but how they work and how I can modify them.”.
Cindy needed web help!
“These days it’s pretty easy to get started on WordPress because so many people use it”, Cindy said. It’s true! I read a statistic from January 4th, 2021 that states WordPress now powers 39.5 percent of the web. From that article, author Dan York notices, “What is more remarkable to me is to see that in December 2020, for the first time, the number of sites using WordPress passed the number of sites that were NOT using any form of content management system”. That’s an incredible stat! To put it another way — there are now more sites using WordPress than custom-developed applications.
Once Cindy found ChemiCloud, a lot of her anxieties about hosting and managing her own WordPress site disappeared.
“ChemiCloud customer service is fast – send in your question, get a cup of coffee, and there will probably be a response waiting when you return to your computer. And, more often than not, when I ask how to change a setting, I’ll get a message back that says: We changed it for you. Let us know if it doesn’t work.”
Wow. stated Cindy when I asked what she liked best about ChemiCloud.
“Support is also really patient“, said Cindy, which is something that’s really useful if you’re new to WordPress or web hosting. If you need to engage with customer support, you shouldn’t feel like they’re going to admonish you or quickly get rid of you. You want them to be empathetic and help you. Cindy mentioned she doesn’t really know what she’s doing sometimes, and her site is old and somewhat messy and can be difficult to optimize at times, and for the times she has questions or any difficulties, she’s thankful to the staff at ChemiCloud who have deep knowledge of not only our own hosting but a wide assortment of website issues.
“Even when my problem ends up unrelated to ChemiCloud, customer service often will help me to try to figure out what is going on and how I might fix it!” said Cindy. What more could you ask for?
With over 15,000 images on her site, Cindy can’t argue with the quality and reliability of her website. Her travel blog, though in a bit of a renovation phase to refocus more on Independent Travelers, is still performance-optimized and features some amazing content. The pandemic forced Cindy to cancel trips to Italy, Wales, and Madagascar this year, so she has a lot of lost travel to make up. While she renovates her site, we absolutely encourage you to check out her posts on Iceland, Bonaire, Egypt, and Bali!
Cindy mentioned she learned the “hard way” that you should start with a hosted WordPress site, not using WordPress.com or other “free” WordPress. Changing platforms, later on, can lead to ongoing problems, but ChemiCloud has been there to help with any growing pains or optimizations she’s needed. “Besides, Cindy added, “Nothing is ever really free and the cost of creating and maintaining a WordPress site can be pretty minimal anyway.”
Q&A With Cindy Carlsson
Many of our readers want to start a blog for something they’re passionate about, whether it’s travel or cooking, what are some tips and tricks you can offer them?
These days it’s pretty easy to get started on WordPress because so many people use it. There’s lots of guidance out there. That wasn’t as true when I started. Most information was written by and for web developers. I was lucky to understand half of what I read and I’m pretty sure I made every possible mistake when I started on WordPress because there just wasn’t good information available for people who weren’t coders. Now there is plenty of information available to get started.
What are some of your favorite WordPress plugins or ones you can’t live without?
“Right now with so many images on my site, my can’t live without plugins are Media Library Assistant (for managing all my photos) and Enable Media Replace (for swapping new, optimized images to replace old ones.
And I’d never give up WordFence Security. I see a LOT of attacks every day. WordFence does a phenomenal job at blocking those attacks. And it works smoothly with ChemiCloud, which isn’t the case with all hosts.”
Huge thanks to Cindy for spending some time to speak with ChemiCloud and answer our questions. Cindy had some great photos to share with us, we’ve featured a selection below!