Blogger to WordPress: the Good, the Bad, and the Unexpected

On June 15th I made two huge moves. Kevin and I moved our family across the Pacific Ocean, and I* moved my blog from being hosted by Blogger to a self-hosted WordPress site. We spent months making both decisions, preparing for the moves, and we’ve spent the time since trying to untangle the mess that was created by both. I thought it would be cathartic for me to talk about the blogging side of it since I’ve spewed a gazillion words on the blog analyzing the Korea move. Irony at its best, folks.

[*I didn’t actually do any of the “migration” as it is called. I paid an expert to do so. I’ll review my results of that process later, but it’s important, I think when you’re trying to understand why some of the results came out the way they did.]

Let me explain why I moved from Blogger to WordPress. First, I’ve always admired the design of sites that are “self-hosted.” I am a visual person and aesthetics just… matter to me. Blogs like Conversion Diary and This Ain’t the Lyceum and Revolution of Love are visually pleasing and interactive. I daydreamed about my site as being that pretty, clean, and professional when I “grew up.” Call it blogger envy, if you like. I prefer blogger inspiration.

Secondly, I hated Blogger’s comment reply system. HATE. ED. I personally always want to know when someone replies to my comments on their blog, but the “subscribe to comments” feature is clunky at best, and overwhelming at worst. (I remember subscribing to “comment reply” on one of the more popular blogs and waking up to over 100 new emails, none of which were remotely related to me.) Around that time, I read an article on Christian Mommy Bloggers about connecting with your commenters. Most of the advice was for self-hosted WordPress users and some of the features seemed to be exactly what I was looking for.

Kevin calls me the IT department because I do enjoy figuring out techie things. But really, my knowledge of computer-related things is basic. So it’s kind of silly that my third reason is that I wanted a more powerful site. I’ll be honest: my traffic here is modest. It’s not like I need a powerful site to handle it all. But I do like to have control over the features on the blog, and over how I relate to people who visit here.

So there it is in a nutshell: the reasons I wanted to transfer to WordPress: beauty, relationships, and control.

And now for The Big Question: How has this whole thing worked out so far? Let me break it down:

The Good:

Social Butterfly: The Comment Reply plugin on WordPress is AWESOME. People comment, I reply, and an email is sent directly to them. I am an intensely social person, so I want people to know when I read their comment and how I respond to them. Ideally I’d like this space to be interactive, rather than just me sharing my own thoughts.  I love this feature with all my social heart. (Note: if you use this plugin, check your comment settings. Somehow my Comment Reply plugin was disabled and I only realized so when I was writing this post! The link above tells how to correct it easily.)

The Nerd Factor: I am a tinkerer. I like to tinker with things, and WordPress has endless capabilities that satisfy that desire.

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Check out all those menus on the sidebar! I could spend days in there if only for those pesky little things called responsibilities.

My Fair Lady: I love the way my blog looks. Love. Of course, it’s not perfect, but I don’t really mind that. It gives me freedom to dream about the changes I will make down the line. It’s kind of like redecorating my house, only a lot cheaper and there’s no heavy lifting.

 

The Bad:

Learning Curves: All those thingymabobbers to tinker with? They take a bit of getting used to. (See the parenthetical sentence a few paragraphs up.) They’re fun and useful, but only if you know how to manage them.

Format here, format there: While all my previous posts were imported, my formatting was not. For example, any posts that had numbers centered (all Quick Takes posts) or photos centered (every other post) needs to be revisited and reformatted. Just as I’m now at the putting-up-pictures stage in our new home, I’m also just now getting the urge to go through and reformat all my old posts. I’ll let you know when it’s all done… Sometime around the year 2029 would be my guess.

Where have all the flowers gone?: Hands down, the worst thing about the transfer has been that I lost quite a few regular visitors/commenters. I can’t quite nail down what caused the drop-off, but my suspicions include: some (not all) of my readers who subscribed to the blog via email may have gotten “lost” in the switchover, possibly some of the regular commenters followed me through the Blogger dashboard, or perhaps the new reply format is annoying for some? I do know that Bloglovin’ and Feedly didn’t recognize the new blog URL for awhile, but that’s fixed now. Whatever the cause, this aspect of the switch has been bumming me out for quite some time now.

 

The Unexpected:

The App: The WordPress app is awesome. I never used the Blogger app, mostly because by the time I knew of it, I knew more people that detested it than found it useful. I guess you should take my comment with a grain of salt since I don’t have anything to compare it to.  But I can do virtually anything on the app that I can do on the website, so I count this one in the “win” column.

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The Nerd Factor, part 2: a completely unexpected result is that I have learned to read and write a little bit of HTML code. I made those social media buttons on the right (using a tutorial) all by myself. I can now scan a section of HTML and get the general gist. It is not necessary to read or understand HTML to use WordPress, though. It’s just a fun little surprise I received by osmosis.

A note on paying someone to migrate your blog for you: I had a good experience with my… I don’t know what to call her: Blog Migration Lady? Whatever her preferred title is, she was professional and helpful and was willing to negotiate a fair price with me. The unintended negative side-effect was that I think the shortcut stunted me a bit. My theory is that hiring someone to do it for me allowed me to enter this new format without fully understanding it.  So issues like losing readers and formatting were a surprise to me.

Enough already with the blabbing: Would you do it over again?  Yes, I would.  But I would spend more time on the front end working out kinks, contacting regular readers, and making sure I understood WordPress before making the move.

Have you ever considered a switch?  Why or why not?

Comments

  1. Love that the comment post inspired you!! Self-hosted blogs ROCK! Let us know if you have any questions!
    Nikki @ Christian Mommy Blogger recently posted…Creating Content Worth Reading Part 2 {9/3/2013 Twitter Chat Recap}My Profile

  2. First of all, your blog is beautiful! Yay for you and your wordpress switch. My husband is mr techie and he likes keeping up with all the new things. Hence, I first started my blog in Tumblr (it was the new up and coming at the time). But that was incredibly limiting and not the community I was trying to connect with. So, the switch to blogger was made and things have been better for sure, but I see all these beautiful blogs and experience a twinge of blog-envy. I have thought about switching to wordpress but think about the work and then I stop thinking about it. This comment section is pretty amazing though! And it would be nice to have more control on how to make the blog match the tone in my head and words. Not to mention the professional looking aspect! Oh, and blogger app isn’t too exciting. Excited for your switch and glad your happy about it. And, thanks for giving me some things to think about 🙂
    Amanda recently posted…Sunshine Days Coming to a CloseMy Profile

    • Thank you for your compliments, Amanda. You are too kind. If you do decide to make the switch, get in touch with me first and I’ll be happy to give you the do’s and don’ts that I discovered on my own.

  3. I’m still not sold. I feel like I can do any of the things that you posted on your “want” category on Blogger. I love Blogger. It’s like the plain jane, unassuming girl always being compared to her hipster sister with the nose ring and the successful indie band.

    Also, I hate the comments on WP. I don’t want to enter in my name. And my email. And my website. I just want to leave my comment and be done with it before someone smears poop on my walls.

    All this is to say- I am the WORST about learning new operating systems and will make the most extravagant excuses not to have to do so.

    But your new blog design is lovely.

    • Ha! Hipster I am not. But I understand what you mean about the comparison. And oh Mylanta I hope it doesn’t seem like I’m trying to sell something. More like a cautionary tale for those who do want to take the leap.

      I should clarify that I know that beautiful blogs are possible with Blogger, but you really have to work to get them. Your blog is a good example. Your banner and buttons are works of art, and in fact your whole blog has a very distinct feel. But the average Jane Schmane (like me) is going to have a much tougher time making the Blogger blogs look original. With WordPress there are so many free designs and many other ways to format that I think it would be far less likely to stumble upon a site that looks exactly like mine with a different banner. You have years more experience blogging than me, though, so perhaps I would have figured it out over time, but me = impatient.

      As to the comments: do you have a free WP account? I never enter my info for WP sites. It pops up as already filled in, just like Blogger does with my Google info. I ain’t got time fo’ poop on the walls either!

      Thanks for weighing in, Cari. I appreciate the feedback to be sure, especially from my blogging hero.

  4. Just finished having my blog migrated to WP, and I’ll be joining you in 2029 when we celebrate the final reformatting of our blogs. Yikes! I didn’t expect that at all. I knew Blogger added a lot of “junk” code, but I had no idea how it would mess up everything. The way my “migration lady” described it is that WP puts socks in a drawer. Blogger, however, puts socks in a small box – the small box in a large box – and the large box in the drawer. Soooo much extra clutter in the coding. 🙁

    Oh, well. Your site looks nice and “clean” on the new posts. Once you (and I) get over the learning curve, I’m sure you’re going to love making the switch. Fingers crossed…

    • That is a really interesting metaphor, Susan! It helps me visualize the cause of the formatting problems. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you, too.

  5. Grown up blog design?? What you talkin’ bout Willis?
    I’ll admit, it helps having a husband who’s a software engineer in helping with getting the blog “just so.” When he said to use WordPress, I didn’t argue. But you managed to get a swanky site without harassing your husband so huzzah!
    And yes, learning HTML is a handy talent that will allow you to do pretty much anything with your site. I find myself offering WordPress advice to friends on Facebook because I like tinkering with it so much.
    Kelly M. recently posted…Time To Call the Waaaaaaaambulance; Some Food For Thought With Your WhineMy Profile

  6. Thanks for the tech info… almost… almost makes me want to start a blog.

  7. I think your blog is beautiful, and you are so right, it is unique! But reading this I feel so much like a poser blogger. I actually never even think of the things you have covered here, and some things I don’t even know what you’re talking about. Me see words in my head. Me type. That’s about as deep as I go with blog analysis. Then I start to wonder if maybe I should care about all this stuff and I should be a tinkerer too and all that cool smart person stuff. But I think the pressure would kill me and I would just hit “delete blog” instead. For now, the web log will remain woefully plain, but still breathing…
    Rebekah Es recently posted…I am a Runner. I Run.My Profile

    • Hey, see that Comment Luv link at the bottom of your comment? It says, “I am a runner. I run.” Well, i am a tinkerer. I tink. (See what I did there?) We don’t all have to be the same. The blogoshpere would be boring if we were, right? You know that I love what you do on your blog, so just keep on keepin’ on. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  8. I don’t really have a problem with blogger except I agree about the problems of connecting on comments. I am really hating the google change for editing photos. I miss picasa, then the recent change, there isn’t a way I see to resize photos. Does wordpress have a photo management system or do your still have to use google? My techie son promises to help me when he returns from college, but I don’t know if I can wait ’til Christmas. 🙂
    Mary recently posted…pretty, happy, funny, realMy Profile