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.
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:
- An html wizard who is going to install and configure my new site. (In fact, she’s working on it right now. Eek!)
- 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.