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What Jumping Ship is Like, Part I

July 21, 2011

my recent experience switching from Blogger to WordPress

A year ago when I began blogging, I almost chose WordPress as my platform. Even as a blog-consumer, I was frustrated by Blogger’s service quirks. But I’m not technically gifted. Blogger’s reputation for being novice-friendly had great appeal, along with the fact that most of my blog friends were writing there; I figured they would be my technical support :).

They were. I learned the ropes of blogging on Blogger and put up with the service issues for ten months before migrating to WordPress. The question of the day is: Is jumping ship worth it?

barbie jumps ship

Barbie took the plunge.

In this post, I will review the process of migrating to WordPress. In the next post, I’ll discuss my satisfaction with result.

Registering on WordPress: a cinch.

Choosing a “Look”: Your satisfaction will depend upon whether you are trying to re-create your old blog or are open to some changes. Look for the feature that lets you search templates for the elements that are most important to you, like a customized header and the number of Widgets (the functions in your side-bars) you want to use. Once you find a template that suits you, customizing it is easy.

  • Header photo: WordPress prompts you to select a photo, then supplies a crop box custom-sized to your template. Drop the box over the slice of the photo you want in your header and you’re done. Much easier than Blogger.
  • Font: You’ll have to use the font that comes with your template unless you want to pay for an upgrade to customize it.
  • Customized blog designs:  I don’t know if WordPress supports the custom blog skins that are popular on Blogger. Your designer might know. If there is a redesign fee involved or a hosting upgrade required on WordPress, maybe wait to migrate until you are ready for a new look.
  • Widgets, etc.: Blogger and WordPress do not use the same vocabulary. You can count on spending some time clicking through the support pages to find the widget that does what you want it to do.

Bottom line on set up: This first step of setting up the new daysofwonderandgrace consumed the most time: about a  week of off-and-on tinkering. For me (remember I’m not techie and don’t have blocks of time so I was inefficient), about 8 hours.

Migrating the blog: This was very easy. WordPress did almost all of the work. I only needed to be at my computer the first few minutes to authorize WordPress accessing my Blogger account etc.  Once WordPress got down to work copying my files –it did not erase the originals on Blogger –I walked away. When I came back about 20 minutes later, I found the process stalled with about half of my posts copied. I selected the reset option and the rest of my files were copied without incident.

  • Posts copied very well with only a few very minor formatting issues.
  • Tags: WordPress changed my Blogger “Tags” into “Categories” so the transferred posts have no “Tags” which in WP are something else.
  • Photos transferred very well with only very minor  formatting issues.
  • Video: I have not checked. I had only one video clip on my old blog. But I did not purchase WP’s video-hosting upgrade so I guess it may not be here.
  • Comments copied well, but are sitting in a chronologically-ordered block in my WP Dashboard, unassociated with any post. This is annoying because some of your comments added real content to the original post on Blogger. I have not yet found a work-around.
  • Links copied perfectly. This is fine if the original link in Blogger was to an external site. However internal links (like to your own posts) will stay linked to the copy of that post on Blogger. This is a real pain for my style of blogging (compiling resources). I started to manually change the links over in my most popular posts –the ones that are indexes of links to other posts –and gave up. For now, I’ve settled for leaving my old blog open so those links will stay live. Any new material I add to those index posts will link to a WP post.

Bottom line on migrating: Moderately challanging for me on set-up but easy after that. Just be sure to consider what WordPress can and cannot do before you jump. More on that in Part II.

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