My Blog Migration Story: Part 2

My Blog Migration Story: From WordPress.com to WordPress.Org - Part 2 | The Thinking Closet

If you’re just tuning in now, click here to start with Part I of My Blog Migration Story. 

So, in Part 1, we covered the differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org, and why I’m choosing to migrate to WordPress.org.  Today, I’m going to devote this entire post to answering one simple (or maybe not-so-simple) question:

Q: How does one prepare for such a move?

A:  Preparation is my middle name…or at least, it should be, and it might even be a slight problem.  I can tend to over-prepare and pour way more time into something than is necessary.  I mean, I can’t even begin to track how many hours of time I have poured into preparing for this migration.  Truly, it was countless.  (I was totally that girl in college who loved research so much, it was hard to close the books and start writing.  I’m an information-gatherer, what can I say?)  However, if you’re not as much of a perfectionist, this process might be a lot quicker for you.  So keep in mind that there are many ways to go about a migration to WordPress.org.  This is just the route me-and-my-Type-A-self took.

And another disclaimer before we dive in: this post is going to have a bit of technical jargon and some sobering truths that may send those of you who were once contemplating this migration, running to the hills.  But stick with me.  I promise there will be a happy ending to this story.

Here’s a list of five of the things I have done to prepare for the migration:

1.  Gather Ideas for a Blog Redesign:

In addition to migrating to WordPress.org, I knew I wanted to take advantage of all of the customization options you can do in terms of layout and design, so since December, I’ve been gathering ideas out there in blogland for a redesign, just like I did when looking for inspiration to revamp my “About” page.

I’m not sure if everyone’s aware, but you can create “secret boards” on Pinterest — up to three of them — so I did just that and started pinning headers, sidebar titles, fonts…anything and everything that caught my eye.  It became like a digital moodboard.

Secret Board on Pinterest

Shhhhh! It’s a secret.

After a while, I started notice a few common threads that started popping up in the designs I pinned:

  • whimsical feel
  • handmade quality
  • muted colors
  • lots of white space
  • simple two-column layout

If you’re considering a redesign, I highly recommend doing the same.  Anytime you land on a site that catches your eye, try to pinpoint what about it draws you in.  After a while, you’ll start to notice common threads, too, which will help focus you when the time comes to give your blog a makeover!

Also, if you land on a site that you’re in love with, check out their sidebar for sponsors.  Usually, bloggers tend to swap buttons with bloggers of a similar aesthetic, so I found myself clicking those sidebar ads like a madwoman these past few months, and I landed on some pretty sweet spaces!

2.  Register a Web Domain:

If you’re considering ever moving to WordPress.org, register your new domain name now, my friends.  What’s a domain name?  Currently, mine is http://thethinkingcloset.wordpress.com.  Soon and very soon, it will be http://thinkingcloset.com.  [Yes, my new domain name will be painfully lacking the article, "the."  Someone had already purchased that domain (the nerve!), so after my pity party, I sucked it up and bought the shortened version.  Sigh.  Moving on now.]

You can buy new domains for around $9.99/year through sites like MyDomain.com and GoDaddy.com.  And don’t procrastinate on this step and risk losing the domain name of your dreams!  (I realize that sounded really saleswomany…but I promise I am not getting paid to promote any of the sites list in this post.  Just sharing my journey.)

3.  Hire a Web Host:

As you get closer to migration time, you’ll want to hire a web host.  What is a web host?  Well, after a quick Google search, I learned that a web host (also referred to as a server) is the place where your blog’s posts and pages are located or “hosted.”  It took me a while to wrap my mind around it, but here are some examples to help you understand.  Blogger is a host.  So, is WordPress.com.  However, WordPress.org is not; they just offer free WordPress software that you can download and use to build your site on your own hosting service.  (Hence the term “self-hosted WordPress.”)  Still tracking with me?

I had heard that Bluehost.com was a great web host, especially in terms of customer service, so that’s who I went with, but there are plenty of other options out there including the popular Hostgator.com.  Just do some research.  You can find web hosting for under $80/year and can get the best deal if you sign a contract for more than one year.

4.  Mentally Prepare Yourself for What’s to Come:

Moving my site from WordPress.com to WordPress.org means that I’m going to take a few heavy hits.  One in terms of my subscribers.  So in the ominous voice of Scar:

You can install a WordPress.com plug-in called JetPack that will help you transfer over your email subscribers from WordPress.com to your new self-hosted WordPress site.  However, I’ve been warned that there have been cases of 100 followers disappearing into thin air and being irretrievable as happened to this blogger.  Scary stuff.  You can bet I’ll be saying a prayer before we do that step.

Also, another sad fact is that JetPack cannot transfer your WordPress Reader followers (other WordPress users who use the Reader to follow your blog), so you lose them all.  (Pit in stomach.)  Here’s an excerpt on that cold, hard reality via One Cool Site:

“Followers using the WordPress.com Reader cannot be transferred because there is no WordPress.org community. WordPress.org blogs are stand alone islands ie. there is no community Reader to transfer them to.”

I have grown a community of many, many WordPress Reader followers who I treasure dearly (you know who you are), so the thought of losing them all in one click makes me sick.

If you follow my blog in WordPress reader, PLEASE read this part: WordPress reader followers can easily resubscribe to your blog if they click on an old post in their reader and are redirected to the new site.  There will be new ways for them to follow along such as through R.S.S. feed, email, or bloglovin’.  But still…the likelyhood of keeping them all or regaining even half is probably very slim.  This was perhaps the toughest pill to swallow when making the decision to migrate.

Hence the need to mentally prepare for this loss.

Another sad fact is that after months of building up SEO with my current blog, by adopting a new url, Google essentially will see me as a brand new baby site, and I lose any authority or page rank that I’ve earned with them.  After only 5 months of blogging, it’s probably not a huge hit, but after Pinterest and craftgawker, search engines are my highest referrer of traffic.  So, I’ll have to build that up again.

I just have to keep reminding myself it’ll all be worth it in the end.

5.  Get Help.

This was some of the best advice I got from my Canadian, IKEA-lovin’, bloggy buddy, Alex from Northstory.  When I found out she had done the migration from WordPress.com to WordPress.org, I was quick to pick her brain and learn more about her experience to see if it was something I could do on my own.  After all, I consider myself pretty savvy on the computer…I can follow a tutorial like the best of them…I’m a “d.i.y.” girl through and through.  But oh, man, am I glad I talked to Alex.

Alex attempted the d.i.y. approach with her blog migration and faced a few “challenges,” shall we say.  I won’t attempt to summarize her story here because you can need to read it in her amazing words over at her blog, Northstory, by clicking here.  It’s every blogger’s nightmare.

The bottom line: Alex advised me that unless I had a basic knowledge of CSS and HTML (which I don’t), it would be wise to have a techie friend help me out with the migration and get things set up.  And so, I’ve taken her advice and enlisted the help of two lovely ladies:

  1. An html wizard who is going to install and configure my new site.  (In fact, she’s working on it right now.  Eek!)
  2. A sweet blogger who has the graphic design skill I lack to transfer the images in my head into something beautiful on the screen for a total blog redesign.

I can’t wait to introduce you to these two women and to reveal the new and improved version of The Thinking Closet!  (But don’t worry, it’ll still be the same cheesy goodness you’ve grown to love — I hope.)

Stick around and I’ll see you on the other side, where I’ll answer the question:

Q:  So, who are these lovely ladies who are helping you with the migration and redesign?

And of course, I’ll give you a tour of the new space!  See you in a few days.

Click here to read Part III of My Blog Migration Story.

This is Lauren, signing off.

Lovely comments so far...

  1. I heard that Bluehost were specialists with wordpress.

  2. This is very exciting! I’ll be praying for the migration and hope it goes as smoothly as possible and you don’t lose too many followers! You know I’ll find you wherever you may go…:-)

  3. Ok so here is the million dollar question: is WordPress.org easy to use for non code or HTML people once you’ve gotten it all set up with the help of a computer genius friend?? Do tell….
    X
    Suzanne

    • Good question, Suzanne. Hmmm….well, so far, yes! But I’ve only been fiddling with the new site for a few days. I’ll have to report back on that one in Part 4 or 5 of the story! So stay tuned. (But I do think you’d be just find if your computer genius friend was on speed-dial.)

  4. Hope all goes smoothly! With your wonderful writing and creative posts, I’m sure many of the people you “lose” will somehow find their way back to you and that whole SEO deal will get back up too!

    • Thanks, Jessica! I’m hoping that by some miracle, I’ll be able to bring everyone along with me…but if not, I’m trusting God to give me a peace about it. I appreciate your uplifting comments!

  5. We are all cheering you on! Can’t wait to see the new blog reveal! {Squeal!!!!} So excited for you!

  6. It will so be worth it! I can’t wait to see your new design!

  7. I have bluehost and they are terrific and I also use jetpack. Your situation about loosing your followers and your SEO just make me sick. Like you said, better to do it now than later. I can’t see all the things you’ve been storing up in your secret boards, the new site is going to look wonderful!

    • Christina, glad to know that Bluehost has been so great…and I’m looking forward to learning the ropes of Jetpack. Yes, the whole losing followers and SEO business was exactly why I tried to jump on this early in the year. Yuck-face. Trying to focus on the positive, though. Thanks for your enthusiastic support! It means ever so much.

  8. I’m really excited for you. Can’t wait to see the new blog!

  9. This is exciting! I know that no matter where you go or what your URL you’ll put together your best work. If anyone can do it… I know it is you! I’m really excited to see the new blog and all of the wonderful projects you’ll be doing there. Love you, girl!

  10. Can’t wait to see it!!! I’m sure it’s going to be fantastic :)

    • Thanks, Thalita. And can I just say how MUCH I am loving your new blog design? You must have done that recently…and girl, it is lookin’ good. We’ll have to swap stories sometime soon. I know you did the migration, too, and I’m so happy to see how you’re flourishing!

  11. I love this series – Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts/learnings/musings/and journey!

    • Aw, Leah, you are so welcome! I realize it may only be relevant to a small group of bloggers, but I know there were a few things I wish I had known when starting this process. So, even if I can just help one other blogger out, it’ll be worth it! :-)

  12. I am hanging on your every word, as I hope to make the migration myself. I am nervous about all of the things you have mentioned thus far in both segments. I am so excited for you! Thank you so much for sharing this thoroughly gathered information. I appreciate your easy to follow process. It is very well thought out, but I wouldn’t expect anything less from you.

    One thought, I wouldn’t worry too much about losing wordpress.xom followers (other fellow wordpress.com bloggers). If they truly appreciate your blog and you, they will be sure to follow and help you promote your new url (pointing finger at myslef, here).

    I value both you and your blog (hence, our little bloggity friendship/kinship) and would not allow myself to miss a single word, post, etc….

    Good luck to you!

    • Whoops! ‘.com’ not ‘.xom’.

    • It’s heavy stuff, isn’t it? It has been exhausting work even writing these migration posts, but it has helped synthesize some thoughts for me (as writing always does), and I’m eager to document it for others (like you, dear Christine) who might be following along in the weeks/months ahead. Happy to hear you’re trackin’ with me and not getting too bogged down by the jargon!

      Thanks for the reminder not to worry about losing followers (I need that). (I can tend to be a worrier.) And blogging isn’t about the numbers…it’s about the connections, so the bloggers that are already connected will find me. I have hope. And the ones who aren’t, then oh well, right?! I already have such an amazing group of followers who have outpoured so much support for me in this process. Thanks for being a ringleader in that regard! And my biggest flan. (Pun intended.)

      HUGE hug.

    • I’m eager to see how things work out for you but I’m also very nervous for you. It’s given me a lot to think about, as always. I’m sure I’ll be back to comment again after I stew it over. Going to read the link to Northstory and mull that over too. Thank you as always for sharing your story with us.

      • “Excited and scared” are two emotions that often go together for me…usually when I’m taking a risk. And I’m confident that this was one of those healthy risks and worth the fear and anxiety…though I still have a heaviness in my chest as I’m patiently impatiently awaiting the arrival of my email subscribers from WordPress.com. Once they show up, I’ll feel a lot better!

        Thanks for reading along and offering your input! I so appreciate you.

  13. Thanks for sharing your story…To go self-hosted was one of my goals last year and I got scared I’d lose everything so I opted not to. But you’re inspiring me to go for it this year:-) Can’t wait to see the big reveal!

    • I was worried about losing everything, too, but after some research, I suppose losing content is not as likely. WordPress.com backs up all blogs and you can easily export your current blog at any time as a back-up. It’s losing the followers that just disturbs the mind, doesn’t it? Know that I’ve got your back if you decide to migrate with me. Thanks for the support, Steph!

  14. wow, you have your work cut out for you – It will go great, just focus on the positive and that you are doing it now rather than in a year or so….I think everyone who is smart will want to keep up with you no matter what you URL is!

  15. WoooHooo! I am so pleased your migration has been successful. I was catching up with all of your goings on on your blog and commenting on things only to realise you have already made the switch! lol. I am sorry it has taken me so long to catch up with your adventures but it looks like you have done an outstanding job. I am very proud of you :D
    Everything looks amazing and so seamless. How are you finding it all?
    I have, of course, added your new site to my bloglovin’ follow list, and I can’t wait to hear more about your migration story. I am no where near ready to make a move to .com yet but it is so interesting knowing what it involved in the process.
    Congratulations, a very big well done and continuing good luck sent your way xxx

    • Congrats on being the FIRST to comment on the new site, Hannah! I’m so glad you found me, and thanks for resubscribing through bloglovin’. I’m LOVING the new site but it definitely was a huge effort. Will share Part 3 of my Blog Migration Story shortly, which should fill in more details. But, bottom is that I’m SO glad you’re here and thanks for the well wishes, friend. Seriously, the support from my bloggy buddies has been immeasurable. xo

  16. Congrats on the move, Lauren. The new digs are simply stunning!

  17. Nice to see the migration is complete!!! I love the look, so fresh and so clean! (by the by thanks for the info on migration and sorry I’ve not been back in touch yet. I can be a bad blogger :) Congrats again – I am very excited for you!

    • Thanks, girl! Yes, fresh and clean with room to breathe is what we were going for. I’m glad you feel it! No worries about not getting back to me. I’m so behind in emails and blog reading this week, it’ll take me a while to get back on track! Ha ha.

  18. LOOKS GREAT!!! Happy 4 ya!

  19. Congrats. It is a lot of work. I am working on an online pattern page and because of the sheer volume of work involved it isn’t up yet. It will be though and it is a very satisfying work to see up and running. Well done you! :)

  20. Laur,
    I really like the way you painted the room with the Thinking Closet in it. I always knew we should have painted it more creatively back then. Only took you 20 years or so to do it right!
    Love the new site.
    Dad

    • Ha ha! Yes, better late than never right? It’s funny…a lot of the colors in this blog design were similar to the colors in those wallpaper sample books I used to create with in The Thinking Closet. Didn’t intentionally plan that…it might have been fiddling around in my subconscious!

      Thanks for your support, Dad! I’m lovin’ it, too. Great to chat tonight, even briefly!

  21. by the way, I love the header. And all of the little bits fit well together. Very nice. Beautiful new layout.

    • Thanks! I love the header, too. I have a post all ready to go where I’ll introduce you to the talented and creative woman behind the design. She really helped tie things together and make it more cohesive. That’s what I was hoping for at least, so your comment really affirmed that!

  22. The new space looks great! Congrats on the domain. I feel really special having my own domain name, don’t you?

  23. Lauren, I’m really loving your migration story. Gives me a lot to think about as I start weighing the pros and cons for my own personal blogging journey.
    I also appreciate ‘The Lion King Be Prepared’ nod! And in turn, need to share with you what my husband and I always think of when we hear the words ‘Be Prepared’:
    http://youtu.be/ExjClj2dXYM

    Kenley :-)

    • Ha ha. Kenley, I think I need to give you access to my Netflix queue and just have you start adding movies. I loved watching the Hoodwinks clip (can you believe that I haven’t seen it yet?)…I could help but bop my head!

      • Haha, we may have to look into that! In the meantime, I highly recommend watching Hoodwinked (currently not on Netflix). I really think you’ll like it — very funny and cute!

  24. Enjoying reading the full migration story! Man, I knew it was a lot of work, but this gives me a clearer picture of the amount of research and work involved. Proud of you, my courageous sister! Time to read onto part 3….

    • Glad I was able to paint a clearer picture of the process, especially for folk who might be considering the migration. It is not for the faint of heart…or to be knocked out in one afternoon. Thankfully, I very much enjoy research, so that part of the process was really quite fun! And this line made me blush: “Proud of you, my courageous sister!” Aw, shucks.

  25. You are summing everything up so nicely :) love the secret board on pinterest idea. I’m starting mine right away!

    • My secret board on Pinterest continues to grow even now after the migration. It’s just a great way for me to collect ideas and inspiration as I mosey around blogland. Hope it helps you as you dreamcast!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] here to read Part II of My Blog Migration Story and find out the [...]

  2. [...] The Thinking Closet – I know Lauren has already received this award, I’ve seen it on her blog. However I find her inspiring. I only found her recently and really do love reading the majority of her posts so far. (even though I’m not a D.Y.I.er at this point.) I’m closely following her progress in converting her blog to a .com. [...]

  3. [...] But before the tour, let me answer the question that I left you hanging with at the end of Part 2: [...]

  4. [...] here for Part II of My Blog Migration Story to find out the [...]

  5. [...] mentioned in Part 2 that I created a secret board on Pinterest as a space to collect ideas for my blog redesign. [...]

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