Two full months after my website was hit with malware and Google blacklisted me, tanking my online searchability and making my summer marketing efforts null and void, I’m finally done fine-tuning.

This recovery process has been the equivalent of rewiring and replumbing a house, then cleaning the carpets, painting the walls, and rearranging all the furniture. But hey, I did it mostly myself, so it was almost free.

I understand now why it costs $1-3,000 to build — or even rebuild — a website. Even a basic one like mine that uses a prefab theme. Even when all the copy and content have already been created.

I tracked my time from start to finish:

80 mind-numbing, infuriating hours

I started out logging individual tasks: “Test website for sneaky redirects,” “Try to figure out if sneaky redirects have stopped,” “Try to get email working,” and so forth. Finally, I just filed everything under “Deal with website bullshit.” That came out to 50 full hours, not counting the time the good people at Wordfence spent scrubbing the site of bugs or my very indulgent friend spent unbotching my amateur attempts at coding.

The last 30 hours were spent writing and rewriting content.

This is all time I was not spending editing, which is what actually pays my bills. But without a website and Google’s benediction, I was dead in the water. If I could have paid someone to take this nightmare off my hands, I would have done it in a heartbeat, but like most freelancers, I had more time than money. I just took it out of my sleep.

I could not explain to you how I spent all that time. There’s no way to account for it, because it sounds insane to tell you that I spent four hours trying to fix the font on my site header. Four. Full. Hours. All I wanted was to get rid of the small caps and make the words stop breaking across lines, like this:

All caps title words breaking across lines

 

Four hours later, I got this far:

small caps title

 

But I still couldn’t figure out how to change the small caps to lowercase.

I Googled everything, I did a CSS tutorial, I dug around in Themify forums and started tweaking the parent theme (against all advice). I declared that this would be my job in hell.

And of course I ended up deleting an important line of code. I had to send up an SOS and ask my friend to install my backup again. Which lost me another six hours or so of work that I hadn’t backed up yet, but redoing that didn’t take as long as figuring out how to do it in the first place.

(Note to self: Back up site today.)

(Note to reader: Duplicator is a good WordPress backup plugin.)

I don’t know how long it took my friend to fix the title; I knew better than to ask. But he fixed it, and I finally got the lowercase letters I’d been shooting for for ages:

 

Guess I’ll have to mess with the centering later.

Anyway, check out my new About page if you want to know what I’m actually good at. Working on that took forever, too, but it wasn’t anywhere near as painful. Later, writers.