From Blogger to WordPress – My Move

I was new. My mistake was starting on Blogger. I loved Blogger, but I learned that in the long run, I needed to be in total control the blog. The bloggers I admire told me so. That meant I could not use blogger.com or WordPress.com. Instead, I needed to use the WordPress.org license or something similar on a domain I own.

There are obvious reasons for this. One reason, as one blogger called it, is “owning your own real-estate.” The example was this. He told a story of a family that opened a four-story bookstore and succeeded. The greedy landlord tripled the rent and that put them out of business.

Maybe there was not enough time to move. He did not tell the following details, but that was enough to convey his point. I saw the same thing happen to a coffee shop in my town. The shopping strip landlords raised the rent. The coffee shop owners just folded up instead of trying to move.

Another good reason for your owning a domain is independence. If you depend on others, the support could end any moment. We don’t expect that WordPress.com or Blogspot.com will suddenly stop their services, but they could make price changes or policy changes. When owning your own domain, you back up and move elsewhere if problems arise.

man moving a box
Moving a site can be as much work as moving a home.

Many things could happen if you are not independent. What if Google stops supporting the Blogger program? If that ever happens to a blog you frequent, how will you find it again? If the writer owned the domain and used Blogger as the host, he could have difficulty moving and lose the previous links to his site. It depends on how the hosts handle the closing.

I still did not want to move, but it would be easier sooner than later.

One woman told me that switching from WordPress.com to paid hosting was as mentally stressful as moving to a new house, only without the sore muscles! She assured me it was worth it as I gained the freedom to add things to the website as my needs changed. She mentioned how Chad R Allen said a site is for the long haul. It is wise to do the work to get a good foundation established early. It will pay off later.

The woman was correct! It was very stressful. It took a lot of time on a test site where the first year hosting was only $1. I still had an old domain name I could use that was $10 annually. I set up a WordPress site and began my education. I tested and tested, even spending 14 hours one day.

Once I was ready to launch I had to export my blog from Blogger and import it into WordPress. Blogger allows for that with great ease and WordPress allows for imports from Blogger. That part was easy enough but there was one big drawback. A lot of the posts had poor formatting from the migration. I had to look at every post and adjust it. Then I had to test from another browser and readjust.

It may have been faster to just redo them from scratch instead of using the import tool. Still, this was not the waste of time it appeared to be. The reason was because doing it that way made it possible to have my old links redirected to the new domain.

This is not necessarily as easy as it may sound, especially if you have never done this before. I had not. I found a site with a good article and tutorial on this the title was
How to Switch from Blogger to WordPress without Losing Google Rankings.”

It included a video to watch. That was helpful and put me on the way, but it was not 100% accurate.

Redirecting to the new domain was accurate and easy, but the code provided to enter into WordPress for handling the redirects was not correct. It may have been outdated. If you do not know PHP coding you are at a loss, like I was. Parts of the code showed as error on the WordPress site. I tried to google my way through but realized it was hopeless.

Not a total loss – I still had all my old posts and images so I could start again. I googled more and found there were WordPress plugins that handle the incoming Blogger redirects on the new domain once they arrived. The first two failed. The code they generated did not work.

On the third try, I found a plugin not tested for my version of WordPress. I gave it a go. It put out two sets of code. The code that should have worked did not. The code for another condition did.

Now all my old links from the past to the Blogger site get redirected to the proper address on the new domain. I don’t understand everything and why it worked, but it did. This means you also can do it. It is trial and error, along with persistence.

Next, there was another issue. After a few days of testing and checking, I had used 1 GB of bandwidth. That was surprising. On Blogger it was never a worry. Blogger does everything for you. They resize the image resolution for you. They host your photos for free. But when you have your own domain, you may run out of bandwidth if you use many pictures. It won’t matter if you are small and stay small, but if you grow and get thousands of visitors, the bandwidth will run out.

This means you need to pay your host for more bandwidth OR you need to find places to store them on the web for free or get then from places that host existing pictures. That way when the photos load, they are not using the bandwidth YOU are paying for using.

Two good places for photo hosting are Wikimedia Commons and Photobucket.  At Wikimedia Commons, the code and attributes to use their pictures is provided for you. The site navigates easily and there are thousands of searchable Creative Commons and public domain photos available.

A good place to store images is Photobucket. It is slow to navigate, but you can 2 GB of pictures there for free. If your needs increase, you need to pay for more storage. You can buy the option to have an ad-free browsing experience photobucket.com. I wrote to ask if site navigates faster when you pay for ad-free browsing and I got a standard reply that did not help. It seems logical that it would navigate faster but it will cost $14.99 to find out.

In Photobucket’s defense, they provide the code to embed your picture into your blog. In many ways, that outweighs the slow navigation. Maybe I am too impatient.

Picture of moving box
Photos can take a lot of space and use a lot of bandwidth.

A good trick is not to use the highest resolution for your images. You may need to do learn photo editing. This saves you storage space and speeds up the time it takes for your site to load. There many free editing programs on the internet if you don’t have one yet. I like Irfan View as it allows incrementally lowering the resolution or quality on a sliding scale. You download it onto your PC so it is faster than many web applications. Best of all it is free!

One more thing. Keep a backup of the photos you use and the attribute information on your computer and on a backup device. Although using photo hosting is free, you are depending on someone else. If you begin to have issues with your images loading from a particular site or if the site goes down for good, you need the ability to adapt quickly.

Perhaps you concluded that photo hosting is another version of “not owning your own real-estate.” I think you are correct. Using a photo host may not be for you. Maybe you want to reduce the picture resolution and just pay for the bandwidth from your host. It depends on if it is a hobby, or business, and how critical it is. It’s also a question of how many pictures you use and how large the files are along with the volume of traffic you get.

Overall the move was rough. I did not want to leave Blogger. Was I making a big mistake? I was leaving a place I had grown comfortable with and learned to love and traveling into the unknown. Still, I could go back if I had to do so. It almost felt like I was cheating! I wondered if that is how people feel when they leave their spouses for a sleeker younger model. I do not know having never done that. Still, it was troubling and emotional. It was consuming, time intensive, and exhausting.

My advice, if you start a blog or website for a serious reason, is getting a domain name for $10 – $20 per year. Shop for a good price. Find a good stable, not necessarily cheap, host and start there. You can get by for only $70 per year that way to start. You will have higher quality and faster loading.  The cheaper sites usually are slow loading and that is a turn off to people that visit. If just a few months later you give it up, you are out less than $100. If you stay with it, you are on a good foundation for the future. There are also hosts that specialize in WordPress sites such as HostGator. With HostGator, you can buy up as your needs increase.

This may sound difficult. Go in steps. If you only tackle one thing at a time, you will be fine. For example, I have not converted all my images yet. At this time, my traffic is low enough that it won’t matter for at least a short time. I have plenty of time to learn and do the work, with the luxury of going at my own pace. But it must be done or there will be a price later. If you have a big Blogger audience, you will need to plan better and work faster.

So why did I choose WordPress? Currently, it is the biggest platform available. It is easy to use and adapts to almost any need. There are lots of plugins and it is easy to find support groups and articles on the web. Word Press is also nice because it serves as a blog or website. You can eventually integrate a sister website into your blog site. You can configure the web pages differently from the blog pages, depending on what theme you use.

Speaking of themes, there are hundreds of professional looking WordPress themes that are free. You find hundreds more starting at only twenty dollars. The same is true for plugins.

One more thing – don’t forget to back up your blog on a regular schedule

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