What I Have Learned From Having A Website/Blog For 7 Years by Sara Vaca

Sara Vaca
Sara Vaca

Hello, AEA365 readers! I’m Sara Vaca (frequent Saturday contributor to this blog), independent consultant specializing in evaluation of international development and in playing with data visualization. Since the start of my practice which started almost at the same time as my passion for dataviz, I’ve always had a website that has evolved over the years. Partially it is because I had moved to a small village in Southern France by that time, and I wanted to stay “connected.” Another reason is that I heard a coach saying that if you don’t have a website you are a “digital homeless” :-P.

Hot Tip: Looking back at your evolution can be a fun exercise. Going back in time and summarizing the phases my web space has gone through has made me smile and realize I have learned many things along the way. Here is a summary of my history:

Lessons Learned: These are some of my reflections over this time:

  1. As you and your practice evolve, your website evolves (should evolve) too. As you can see above, I took a number of shots in the dark until I found a formula that seems to work fine for me (for now).
  2. Not sure if it is necessary or such a big deal to have one, but it is certainly nice to have your own online home you can address people to, so they know more about you. In fact, I would say having a website is a useful product, along with your CV and motivation letters.
  3. Although I’m fine with my site now, you are never 100% satisfied with it. There new things you would like to add, fix things that could work better and even do deeper renovations – just like a real house 🙂
  4. Visiting other peoples “digital homes” helps you get new ideas and making your own, customized to your style and tone.
  5. If you are also blogging (you have one site within your website that renews with new posts like I do), committing to a certain periodicity helps you further produce and contribute to the community in your own way. Though I try, I am still quite irregular in my posting – and that makes me admire other bloggers that never miss their posting appointments. But having committed to do it (along with the encouragement from the many or few fans everybody has) helps me keep doing it.
  6. Ultimately, the whole exercise makes you learn about WordPress (or other website platforms), themes, plugins and some coding… But if it is too much, you can always hire a professional!

How do you feel about your website or creating one if you don’t? Thanks for reading.

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org . aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

3 thoughts on “What I Have Learned From Having A Website/Blog For 7 Years by Sara Vaca”

  1. Sara,
    Thank you for sharing your journey in regards to your website design. There is a push within our school and school board to create our own personal classroom webpages etc. and develop a stronger social media presence to showcase our work within our classroom and school. I have been hesitant thus far to begin to design my own in worry that I would not be able to measure up to others that have already been created.
    I really appreciated your comment that “I took a number of shots in the dark until I found a formula that works fine for me (for now)”. Your honesty about your growth and journey has given me some ideas on how to begin my own website. For someone who is a true beginner do you have a simple website builder site that you could recommend? I am hoping by the end of the school year I will no longer be “digitally homeless”.

    1. Hi, Shauna!
      There are plenty of tools, but I would really recommend WordPress (I use a paid theme called Divi from Elegant Themes) but there are hundreds for free, because in my opinion WordPress gives you more freedom (other tools may have a limited number of pages or similar) and I like to feel “free” in that sense). The learning curve is worth it in my opinion. But you can ask a savvy friend can set your website up in a “couple” of hours, I would say, once you know what you want (structure, texts, pictures, links between pages, etc.)… And this part (defining the content of your site) is in my opinion far more challenging than the technical part – but you do not need anything to do that! All the best! Let me know when you manage!

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