If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you know I recently transferred from Blogger to Wordpress. I have had questions about why and how I did it, so today I’m going to address those.
First the why; there are actually a few reasons. I am all for using free tools until you outgrow them or have a definite reason to switch, and I had gotten to that point with Blogger. To be clear, I am on a self-hosted site running Wordpress, not wordpress.com, which is the free hosted version of Wordpress and has a lot of restrictions on it, particularly in regard to monetization. When I say I outgrew Blogger, I mean that this has become a business for me, and I felt I was doing myself, my audience and my sponsors a disservice by not using what is considered the best platform for blogging by the industry. Wordpress is considered the best for a few reasons; two of the big ones are:
- Better search engine optimization (SEO). It seems counterintuitive since Blogger is a Google product and Google drives a huge chunk of search engine traffic, but self-hosted Wordpress sites have more options for SEO customization. And better SEO usually=more traffic
- Many, many, many more themes and plugins, making your site endlessly more customizable. Which is not to say that you can’t customize with Blogger if you learn to hack the HTML (and I did have quite a bit of customization I had integrated), just that it’s often easier with Wordpress.
But the biggest reason that I switched: As a self-hosted Wordpress blog, you own your content. When you start a Blogger blog, you agree to Google’s Terms of Service for it. It is not unheard of for blogs to be shut down by Google for TOS violations, and then where would you be? Granted, it’s rare, but it does happen. And I had gotten to the point that this risk, however small, was unacceptable.
In addition, I kept hearing about traffic boosts from other bloggers I knew who transferred to Wordpress, so I want to share some stats with you. I have been on Wordpress for 4 weeks. During that time I had 2 days (right after I switched) where the blog traffic was low and the blog was behaving a little wonky as nameservers updated, so traffic dropped. I was also coming off the Easy T-shirt Skirt post going viral and getting pinned and shared a ton, which happened right before the switch. But still, comparing the 4 weeks on Wordpress (which included the two unusually low traffic days) and the 4 weeks before (which included 3 unusually high traffic days due to the t-shirt skirt) my pageviews still went up 20% and the number of unique visitors to my blog went up 30%. I don’t attribute this entirely to the platform switch as I was doing a few other things to bring in traffic, but another stat to compare seems very much related to the switch, and that is my traffic from google searches. Comparing the same two 4 week time periods, my traffic from google searches went up 48%.
To look at those numbers graphically, here is a chart comparing the last 4 weeks on Blogger with the first 4 weeks on Wordpress:
There is one huge con to switching, though, besides the time and effort to switch, and that is that self-hosted Wordpress is NOT free, like Blogger. Here’s how the costs from my switch added up
1 year’s hosting (through Hostgator) $63
Ebook to switch $25
Premium theme (highly recommended) $80
Coaching to help with customization $55
Total cost $223. Now granted, you could make this a little cheaper by not getting the premium theme or sticking with the customization that comes with your theme. All of the themes I looked at gave you at least several choices in color, layout and allowed you to upload a custom header. But of course I wanted it to look like my old blogger site -which meant learning some CSS and getting coaching on how to do custom menu buttons, etc. And the premium themes (I run Genesis Framework; Thesis is the other big one that is often recommended) help your site work better, and then the customizations reside in what’s called a child theme, which means that when you update your Wordpress software you don’t lose all your customization. As long as I was going to switch, I needed to go ahead and do those things as well.
For more pros and cons of each platform and a great infographic on how to choose the best one for your particular situation, my friend Andrea of The Train to Crazy wrote a great article here. She quoted me as I had just completed my switch.
Now on to the how; I looked around for someone to do the transfer for me, but then I stumbled across this ebook
Kristi, the author, blogs at Addicted to Decorating. And since she offers on the page to complete the transfer for you at her regular rate if you muck it up, I figured what did I have to lose? Personally, I always like to learn how to do things myself in case I ever have to repeat them, but that’s just me as a DIY gal. Also, in the back of my head, I was thinking that if I hated Wordpress I could switch myself back and I wasn’t out a lot of money. And finally, she promises her method won’t lose your feed subscribers or your traffic from Pinterest and other sites linking to your blog. That has been my experience of it, as evidenced by the traffic stats I talked about above.
I also hired Kristi after I completed my transfer to do some CSS coaching for me so I could learn how to do some of the customizations I wanted to do. We set up a time for a phone call, both logged in to my Wordpress dashboard, and voila – an hour later I had what I wanted and I knew how to repeat it if I needed to.
If the thought of doing your own transfer makes you go cross-eyed or you consider yourself technology challenged, I would highly recommend Kristi. But if you’re like me and want to try it yourself, I highly recommend her ebook. It’s $24.95 and worth every penny; the step by step screenshots are soooo helpful. And just FYI, I am not affiliated with Kristi in any way except that I bought and loved her book (and it worked perfectly for me) and that I hired her for tech help. I’m not an affiliate and I don’t get a kickback or anything from her, I just think this is a great product.
As for Wordpress love – the best comparison I can think of is switching from a PC to a Mac (which I did a couple years ago). At first you get frustrated trying (and often failing) to do things you used to know how to do easily, but soon you’re over the learning hump (I think it was about 2 weeks for me with both switches) and you start to love the new system. With the one exception – I haven’t found an easy way to change font size within a post in WP, so if you know that trick, could you please point me in the right direction?
This will probably be the last I talk specifically about Blogger vs. Wordpress and transferring, but if you have specific questions I didn’t answer, feel free to comment below or email me.
One thing I actually don’t like about your switch (although it is minor) is the way posts are laid out. Now there is just a ‘main menu’ type list with just a small picture and few sentences leading you in. I can see why you want ‘the hook’ and the ability to see more of your work/projects at a glance, but it also means I can’t just easily browse though your blog now and see what those posts are. Instead I must click on each specific post. When I get to the end of a post I have to click back to your main main menu and then click on a new post instead of just having the previous post right afterwards. Having the multiple steps is more time consuming/annoying and it is not as visually interesting as before (to me).
Thanks for the comment – I have added a plugin to my site now so you should see arrows on the right and left of your screen when you’re in a single post. Click those to go to the next or previous post – and you can skip going back to the main menu.
I love all this detail! Thank you for writing it all out. I don’t have any plans to switch in the near future, but I will reference this if I do. I find it all very interesting 🙂
This is the most useful/best post on switching blogging platforms. Thank you for sharing!!!!
My friend Susannah is always at me to switch to Wordpress, and one day I swear I will. When you did the switch it was awesome to watch, so thank you so much for this post!
I would suspect that part of the increase in page views is because now when your posts show up in RSS readers, you only get a sentence or two as opposed to the whole post. That means if someone wants to read the whole post, they have to go to the page. I rarely subscribe to blogs that don’t show the whole post in a reader due to not having time to click through only to find out the post wasn’t something relevant to me. I understand that this has become a business decision for you, but while you may gain some more page views in one respect, you may lose some subscribers in another respect. I have enjoyed reading your blog and hope you will reconsider how you send your posts out to the rss readers.
I have no doubt this is probably part of the increase in pageviews, but my subscribers numbers have actually gone up about 25% too, so I think most of it is due to that.
I think blog readers and blog writers have to come to an understanding that content isn’t free. To write the amount that I do takes time, and I am thankful that is supported by advertising, but the tradeoff is that I have to get eyes over to my site where the ads are seen.
Might I suggest another way to read blogs? Check out the Google next button – I use this instead of my reader now. It automatically goes to the next RSS feed you follow, and you can see the title instantly in your browser as it loads the whole post. If the title intrigues me, I’ve got the whole post there to read, and if not, I just click next again.