Well we’re finally in the clear and completely migrated over from Blogger to WordPress. Am I glad we made the switch? Absolutely. Would I ever want to do it again? No way. Just about every singe thing that could go wrong, did. Seriously it was the the perfect storm of lets-screw-up-everything. Except, unlike in the movie, Mark Walhberg didn’t show up to make things better.
Mark Wahlberg...so pretty
Before I go through exactly what happened, I want to re-emphasize that everything has been fixed and addressed thanks to Super Jeni (her newly appointed title) aka The Blog Maven. Jeni swooped in, worked her magic, and a measly eleven hours later, she had whipped everything into shape. Honestly, I don’t know what we would have done without her (more about Super Jeni later).
So, back to what happened. At the end of April, Blogger decided to break on us and completely disable the scheduling feature for thousands of blogs including ours. It was not fun. To make matters worse, it took them about 2 weeks to get around to fixing it. 2 weeks! We post at least once a day, but we couldn’t be around to manually post everyday. Our schedule got messed up, our traffic went down, and an all around sucky time was had by all.
Register your domain name as soon as possible
Julia and I had been talking semi seriously about switching to WordPress for over a year, and when this mess happened, we decided to go for it. We quickly realized our name had been taken already (I know, I know, I should have done that a long time ago), fortunately, the name we went with is shorter and we are very happy with Allthingsuf.com but in hindsight, I should have bought the domain before. So that’s tip #1
Choose a hosting company with excellent customer service
Next came choosing a hosting provider. There are a bunch of them. Not all of them are great. Find out which hosts designers trust and go with their picks. We went with HostGator. Maybe starting a site from scratch with them is good, but for us, not so much. Jeni spent hours on the phone with them trying to fix things and she should be sainted for it. If you’re not sure who to go with, Jeni has a great guide on her site to help you: The Best Hosting Companies for Bloggers
Get a flexible theme & don’t be afraid to go premium
Then came choosing a new theme. This was the fun part. We new we were going to go with a premium theme because we wanted greater customization ability and features that aren’t usually available with free themes. Again Jeni has another helpful guide about choosing themes: Best WordPress Themes
. The nice thing is that premium themes don’t have to cost that much. We went with one from ThemeForest
which only cost $29. And the customization options and page layouts were extensive (just like I wanted). There is still a ton of cool stuff we haven’t taken advantage of. I must have asked the designer dozens of questions and requested several customization and she always got back to me right away.
Evaluate your blog BEFORE switching to WordPress
After playing around with our new theme and getting lost in plugin land
, we were ready to pull the trigger. Or so we thought. I’d gone through dozens of Do-It-Yourself Blogger to WordPress guides, made note of the pitfalls they mentioned to avoid, the sometimes conflicting advice, and did a few walkthroughs to make sure I understood everything I would need to do. It was pretty straightforward, if not exactly simple. Everything was going exactly like it was supposed to until I tried to import our old Blogger posts into WordPress. With only 1/3 of our posts and comments transferred over, the importer said it was done. There were no error messages, no problems of any kind except for the posts not transferring. I hit the forums to try and figure out what went wrong. Turns out a lot of people had the same problem but no solutions. Turns out there’s a little known catch with WordPress’s importer that they don’t tell you about ANYWHERE. Basically, if you have a large site, anything over 15MB and ours is 5x that size (Jeni says anything over 400 posts is a gamble…) the wordpress importer won’t work for you. What?!? None of the guides I looked at mentioned this. Wordpress certainly didn’t.
Don’t be a hero. Get professional help
It was awful. It was embarrassing. It was beyond frustrating. I don’t know what I would have done without Jeni. I searched for a company to help me, but my eyes bugged out at the cost of their services. And that’s when I found Jeni.
She. Did. Everything. And I mean everything. She dealt with my host, fixed my import with some wicked cool coding skills, took care of 301 redirects (we still have one last thing to do this weekend dealing with our old site to hopefully keep our Google rank etc). I wish I’d known about Jeni before all this started as she could have saved all of us a lot of grief. She offers a ton of services that are extremely competitive in terms of pricing., and I can guarantee you won’t find a more helpful, knowledgeable person than Jeni.
Bottom line, do make the switch, but unless you’re an expert, don’t, don’t, don’t try to do it yourself. There are so many things that can go wrong and by then it’ll end up costing you more to fix everything than it would have just to hire a professional in the first place.