So you may have noticed I didn’t post much last month. While I have been crazy busy – and not just in real life – that’s actually not the main reason why. You also may have noticed a new layout and design here on While He Was Napping. Weeelll, I did it. I switched to WordPress. So, that’s the main reason I’ve been MIA out here on the front end. I’ve been trying to get everything all set back up and functioning. I wasn’t exactly planning to move before the end of the year – as if my life isn’t busy enough without having to learn a new blogging skill set, figure out servers and FTP clients and redesign my whole site. Although “redesign” is a loose term here. But here I am. So how did I get here?
There’s a lot I want to share and a lot more that I could say, but there are hundreds of articles and posts on moving from Blogger to WordPress; believe me, I think I read them all. This isn’t a how-to, mostly because I really have no idea how to do it. I couldn’t give you a step-by-step if I wanted to. But, I can give you some info and a heads up that might make your switch a bit easier. These are the things I wish someone had told me before I plunged in head-first.
– Research, research, research! I had planned to spend the next three months researching just what I wanted out of my move. That’s not what happened at all! I was flying by the seat of my pants. The ideal move would take 2-3 days to completely get everything transferred and set up. I’ve been trying to get things ironed out for nearly four weeks… because I’ve had to do things by trial and error, rather than having a good idea of what I want and how to get it. Try to choose a theme (Genesis is highly recommended and it’s the one thing I didn’t really think much about. So, far I’ve been happy with it) and a child theme, if you choose, before you start your move. I decided to buy the Genesis framework and add a child theme later if I couldn’t get things to look the way I wanted. I’ve tried about five child themes… so check it out before you jump into the fire. Take your time and make sure you feel comfortable with moving before you do it! That’s my biggest regret.
– Not all hosting companies are equal. This is where I got into trouble. As I mentioned, I wasn’t planning to switch before the end of the year. But I started looking at hosting companies and the one I was considering had a sale going on… and it ended in TWO DAYS! I debated as long as I could, but I didn’t want to let the deal go so I decided . I’ll just transfer over slowly, I though. Except, I learned pretty quickly, it doesn’t work that way. But I’ll get there in a minute. After doing some research, I discovered the hosting company I’d chosen had notoriously slow page load speeds for blog-type sites, but did well for sites that were more commerce-based and not so content heavy. And, while it was a good price, it wasn’t that much lower than this hosts regular costs. I totally fell for that “SALE!” banner. I realized I needed to look for a hosting service that fit my needs, not the cheapest one I could find. Decide what is important to you (load speed, dedicated server space, commerce friendly options, downtime, etc) and then look for a deal on that. I ended up switching server hosts and that set me back about 48 hours in my transfer. Then I had to go through the process of getting my original purchase refunded. Helpful hint: if you do end up needing to switching hosts, do it and then try to get your refund. It’s harder for them to convince you to stay if you’ve already moved.
– If you aren’t setting up a new domain, you need to switch everything over as quickly as possible. More accurately, once you start the transfer process, don’t stop! Why? Because people can’t access your Blogger site and your WordPress site at the same time if you only have one domain. I was going down a list of steps I’d found “to successfully transfer your website” and stopped for the night after doing something I really wasn’t sure I’d done correctly, let alone what it actually did. It was changing my server name. It took me almost 24 hours before I realized that all outside links (Pinterest, anyone?) linked to my new WordPress site… that had absolutely nothing on it. Whoops. And it took me a whole day to get things moved over to where it was all accessible again.
– The Set Up. There’s A LOT more set-up than I realized before you even get to the whole transfer part. I had this vision in my head that transferring over my 1,000+ posts and nearly 5,000 comments would be the hard part. HA! Because I wasn’t purchasing a domain name from my hosting company (I did that a couple years ago through Blogger and Google), I had the option of moving my domain. Everything I read, it sounded like it was advantageous to switch, so I decided I would. But, I didn’t know how. It was just a whole ‘nother step. Then there’s choosing a theme. And a child theme. Then comes the importing part…
– The WordPress Jargon. Theme. Child theme. Plug-ins. SEO Optimized. Responsive widgets and themes. CSS styling. While I has heard these terms, I didn’t really understand them. Genesis is an awesome theme, but the design is incredibly simplistic. Unless you are good (and I mean like pro level ninja skills) at coding or simplistic black and white is your ideal design, you’ll want a child theme. There are probably hundreds of thousands of child themes out there. Choosing one is like picking the perfect grain of sand from a beach! Because I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of child themes, I ended up choosing one of the child themes offered from Studio Press, for simplicity sake. And they had a 30 day guarantee (that I actually ended up using). But I had no ideas for redesigning my site and that took some extra time.
The best plug-ins depend on what you what your site to do. I tried a lot, I mean A LOT, of plug-ins and have it narrowed down to about 8. But you have to have an idea of what you’re looking for because there are almost as many plug-ins as there are child themes. And when WordPress is updated, developers have to update their plug-ins to make sure they remain compatible. Not all developers do. So, some plug-ins don’t work like they used to. You have to spend some time checking them out.
Responsive pretty much just means that the theme or widget will adjust to the many, many, many screen sizes that are out there. That way things look good when they are viewed, regardless of whether it’s on a large desktop screen or a tiny little cell phone. Definitely a first world problem, getting your internet site to look good on any size screen, but design is an important part of a website.
– WordPress ISN’T magic! So after I transferred everything over my Google Analytics stats almost doubled. I was in heaven and actually thought, “wow, WordPress really is magic!” You guys, it’s really not. It’s a great blogging platform and can do amazing things, but it’s not magic and it won’t double your page views at the snap of your fingers. And turns out, the Analytics plug-in does the same thing as when you paste the code into your theme manually. Can I just tell you how disappointing it is to cut your monthly page views in half when you think you’re this awesome rock star completely dominating a new platform? It’s a sad day. However, your page views shouldn’t really drop much either. I don’t get tens of thousands of page views a day, but my traffic stayed pretty consistent through out the transfer.
– WordPress also isn’t Blogger. Did Captain Obvious just walk in the room? I know what you’re thinking, ‘hello, duh!’ right? But let me explain. I’ve been blogging for over 5 years. On Blogger. The longer I spend on WordPress, the more similarities I can see and realize it’s really not that different. But, when I first got here, I was so frustrated with the new layout and that I couldn’t figure out how to make things do what I wanted them to. I had to let go of my
– ‘No Coding Needed’, not ‘No Coding Allowed’. Confession: I can’t code… but I think I can. My friend, Christina, very accurately described it as “you know enough code to get yourself in trouble”. The beauty of WordPress is that you don’t need to code… well, anything… if you don’t want to. But, I had gotten it in my head that I WASN’T ALLOWED TO code anything. And that’s not true. I don’t suggest messing with your parent theme, since that’s usually the basic functions, if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing; but absolutely play with your child theme, if you want to. Change fonts and colors and the form of your site, without messing up the function, by making adjustments to your child theme. You CAN code, but you don’t have to.
– You CAN move to WordPress yourself! Sure, it’s overwhelming. But as long as you back up your site, you should be okay (I actually created a complete duplicate of my Blogger blog content on a separate .blogspot blog, just in case I completely screwed things up). If you get stuck and can’t undo a major mishap, simply reset everything and start over. Not really what you want to do after a week of work, but the option is there if you really need it. I’m sure it would have been easier and possibly less stressful to hire someone to do the transfer for me, but I’m glad I didn’t. I really couldn’t afford to hire someone and I talked to people who did, and things still got messed up! I have this weird control freak thing and if something’s going to get messed up, I’m gonna be the one to do the messing. With Google, you can do anything. In my many searches, wpbeginner.com came up time and time again. Awesome tutorials with step-by-step instructions all broken down. And they have a YouTube channel to really walk you through things. It’s an amazing resource, so bookmark that baby if you’re going to be moving soon.
I wasn’t planning on switching to WordPress but my unplanned move taught me a few things. I’ve only been here for a month, but it’s been a good move so far. I don’t regret starting with Blogger and I don’t even wish I’d switched sooner. I think the timing was good. Another confession: I actually really only switched because I couldn’t figure out a way to make gallery pages that didn’t require a huge chunk of work – I haven’t gotten that far yet. My biggest regret is not knowing enough beforehand. Knowledge is power, people. School House Rock was right.