Making the Switch to WordPress!

I’ve done it. After two something years with Google’s Blogger, I have finally made the jump to a self-hosted WordPress platform! Therefore, it feels only right that I spend some (ok, a lot) time talking about the transition. I want to make this clear from the get-go. There is absolutely nothing wrong with Blogger. I simply chose WordPress because I did my research ahead of time to learn about what a self-hosted WordPress installation has to offer for my blog and whatnot. Judging from what I read, I love it. A lot. Sure, I now have to pay a monthly hosting fee for Anotherwindowsblog but I believe it will be worth it in the long run. When you migrate from one system to another, no matter what it may be, there will always be a learning curve. You’re so used to doing something on one platform and now you have to learn a completely new system. The hardest part is weathering the rough storm during the beginning phases of a migration. Once you can accomplish that feat, a lot of the other things will start to fall into place and you’ll have a much easier time with it. The beginning phase in my opinion, believe it or not, is actually the research phase.

It took me quite a while to finally make the decision to make the switch. I already have around 185 posts or so published via Blogger and at certain points in time, I had a change of heart. One of the most important aspect of migrating from Blogger to WordPress is maintaining everything. From page ranks to permalinks, everything needs to be maintained in order for the migration to be considered successful. If not, then the process wouldn’t be called a migration. This is what got me worried the most and as you can already guess, the area where I focused a lot of my research on. But before I get into any of that, I want to go over some important notes about the so-called Blogger vs. WordPress debate. Obviously, I’m only a WordPress amateur as I write this but you should still take heed to what I have to say here!

    • You should NOT switch over to a WordPress.org or WordPress.com installation if you find nothing wrong with Blogger (or whatever blogging platform you are using at the moment). This seems fairly common sense but you’ll be surprised at how often someone wants to make a change just for the sake of saying that changed something without putting any thoughts into it whatsoever. You do not want to make this mistake. Blogger, similar to a hosted WordPress.com blog, is fantastic if you don’t fancy with doing everything yourself and don’t require more control over your blog. Therefore, switching from a blog hosted at Blogger to WordPress (not self-hosted) really doesn’t offer you a lot of benefits. The true game changer is making the switch from a blog hosted at Blogger (which is controlled by Google) to a truly self-hosted WordPress blog (which is controlled entirely by you).
    • A self-hosted WordPress installation requires medium to advance level of technical expertise. The million dollar question here is asking yourself whether you have the time and patience to learn it. I’ll let you know right now that yes, there will be a lot of reading and research involved. Sure, you can learn how to get a bare-bones WordPress installation up and running but do you have what it takes to go further than that? Remember, a self-hosted WordPress puts you in the driver seat. That means you get to control almost every aspect of your blog. I’m talking every aspect of it. If that sounds too intimidating, then it will be best to stay away from it. At the very least, do a test run and see how you do.
    • Having a self-hosted WordPress installation will cost you money. Self-hosted basically means you need to find a company/service which are called webhosts to help you host and deliver your data to your readers and visitors. Because storage and bandwidth costs money, you’ll have to pay a monthly fee for those services. There are free webhosts out there with 000webhost being the most popular but you’ll have to live with their limitations. Many webhosts offer you cheaper monthly rates as long as you sign-up for yearly contracts with them or pay ahead of time. Another fee you need to consider paying is for your domain name. This is usually a yearly fee and depending on your domain name, it shouldn’t amount to more than $10-$15 a year. A free domain registrar includes CO.CC, however, you’ll have to append the co.cc portion to the end of your domain.
    • Here is an awesome ten part video detailing pretty much everything you need to know about installing a self-hosted WordPress installation. I suggest you go over every part of the video and take notes while you are doing so. One of the guides I continuously referred to during my transition is located here. I didn’t follow every single step but it gave me a good idea of what I had to do in general.
    • If you are really paranoid at the thought of setting up your own WordPress blog, fear not. Without having to spend one penny, you can literally use the combination of both CO.CC to register for a free domain name and 000webhost as your free webhost. I used both in my practice run and everything worked out. It gave me a huge confidence boost. The procedures and steps you perform here is very similar to what you will be doing once you have purchased your real webhost and domain name elsewhere. Trust me, you can’t go wrong following this advice if you have never in your life set up a self-hosted WordPress installation before.

The Migration Experience

To be perfectly honest, the installation process wasn’t as hard as I initially thought it would be. Creating a blog these days is nothing new. Just about everyone have one. Therefore, making the installation process as easy as possible is a must. There’s still obviously technical stuff you need to understand but like I said above, if you’re not willing to put in the time to learn them, this might not be for you.

In my situation, all I needed to do was purchase a webhost. I chose Hostgator because of their popularity and their reputation for having a good uptime rating. This is important if you want to minimize any downtime for your blog. When your blog is down, then your readers will be locked out as well. During my time at Blogger, with the help of Google, I purchased a custom domain name. It turned out that this domain name was managed by GoDaddy. So, with a webhost and a custom domain name already purchased, I then had to instruct my domain name registrar (GoDaddy in my case) to direct new visitors heading to www.anotherwindowsblog.com to my Hostgator webhost. This is done via nameservers Hostgator provided me with after the signup process. Then I created the necessary database within Hostgator, attached an user account to that database and finally, upload the WordPress installation files via FTP. To perform the actual installation, I simply typed in my browser: www.anotherwindowsblog.com/wp-admin/install.php. I created my WordPress account and that was it! I honestly thought there was more to it but I was wrong. The installation procedure was completed!

I now had to begin the import process which gave me the most problems. The most important thing I had to do was to configure the permalink setting within WordPress to match that of Blogger. This allows the links from my blog post to remain the same after the import process. This is very important because if the links have changed, then you’ll have lost all of your page ranking with search engines and start over, which is not fun at all. The headache I experienced stemmed from the actual import process. WordPress includes a built-in plugin that allows you to easily perform the migration process but for some reason, it didn’t work well for me. I then realized that it had something to do with GoDaddy and I was out of luck. The importer tool was suppose to have connected to my Blogger blog and directly pull all of my posts and comments into my WordPress account. Since that didn’t work out, I had to manually export my blog post within Blogger to an XML file. I then found out that WordPress doesn’t accept that XML file type so I had to then convert it. Once I had it imported, I noticed that all of my categories were missing! I then had to manually create the categories back in WordPress and assign it back to each of my post!

Export

Convert

The next headache I experienced was due to comments. Back at Blogger, I used a third-party commenting system called IntenseDebate. Interestingly, IntenseDebate is a product of WordPress. Therefore, I initially had that happy feeling that everything would turn out alright! All I have to do is install the official IntenseDebate plugin, sign-in to my account and everything will be right where I left off in Blogger because the permalinks to all my posts didn’t change one bit. Wrong. The IntenseDebate plugin wouldn’t even allow me to sign-in to my account within WordPress! As it turns out, I’m not the only one. Luckily, I then found out that I had to manually once again, log-in to my IntenseDebate account via website, export my comments to an XML file and then manually import it back to WordPress. I found a plug-in called IntenseDebate XML Import to do exactly that. With the comments imported back to my blog, I am now getting rid of IntenseDebate and will be sticking with the default WordPress commenting system.

IDimport
The next problem I am still currently dealing with is a theme issue. Prior to migrating over, I already had a theme in mind to purchase and use. That theme is called Brainstorm and can be purchased over at Themeforest. However, only after I am finished with the migration process did I find out that for some reason my bank denied me from purchasing that theme! They marked it as fraudulent and although I spoke to them about it, I now have to call my bank and settle it with them if I want to buy from Themeforest! This particular problem is in no way related to WordPress itself.

After all is said and done, I would say that my migration experience didn’t went all that well in the beginning. However, due to the powerful system of WordPress and an excellent community (not to mention a plugin just for about anything you can think of), I had resolved my problems. It took some time but I got it done no less.

WordPress So Far…

I know I only moved to WordPress not even a week before typing this article up but so far, I just love it! One of the best things about WordPress is the amount of customization possible due to the thousands of plugin’s available that was impossible to achieve within Blogger. I’ve always thought a blog hosted at WordPress had a more professional feel to it than when compared to Blogger. The latter just seemed so simple. Obviously though, I’m sure there are many dozens of very popular and high-ranking sites hosted at Blogger. It’s just that a self-hosted WordPress site allows us so much more freedom to do whatever we feel like doing. Did I mention the theme support? WordPress has hundreds of professionally designed themes which you can download for free or purchase. Also, the vast amount of customization available within WordPress forces me to do a lot of research and learn just how I might be able to use it on my blog. Again, it’s a big challenge but if you can tough it out, I’m sure it will be an awesome experience for you as well.

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