So you want to Move to Self-hosted WordPress? Things you should know before you move
Making a move to a self-hosted blog on WordPress is pretty exciting and can be a little nerve-racking. There are quite a few tutorials on how to make the move. Parajunkee offers an excellent one and Ashley at Nose Graze also suggested this RT Camp.
There a lot of things you need to consider and know beyond just the transfer. So before you move, educate yourself, research both moving and setting up a self-host. When I moved, I did my research, but unless you know what questions to ask you can hit some stumbling blocks. These things aren’t mentioned in moving topics and you discover them when you move in. Here are a few things I recommend you research.
1. Parent theme/child theme. Unlike blogger you will need to update your theme as new and improved updates become available. If you don’t set up a parent/child theme for updates, you will lose any changes you have made. Then you will need to go picking through files to add updates so you won’t lose your lovely changes. This is never a good idea! WordPress recommends parent/child themes as best practice. You can learn how to do this before you move HERE. There have been four updates to my theme this month alone!
2. Security!! This one is important, you need to keep hackers out, I am currently using Wordfence, but there are several to choose from. Some are free and others will cost you yearly. So research before you move.
3. Back-ups– While you should have been doing this in blogger, it is more important than ever on WP. Updates to plug-ins can sometimes cause issues or perhaps you had a security problem. My blog is backed up every evening, then compiled weekly. There are free and paid plug-ins options for this. Be sure and check with your host as well. Not all back-ups include your theme template so be sure you have backed that up before making changes to it. You want to be sure you are able to restore your complete blog should it become compromised.
4. Spam blocker- Add the Askmet plugin as soon as you open your WordPress account, it is a lifesaver.
5. Do you have pages on blogger? You will need to manually move those to WP. Plan to spend a little time fixing your last couple of posts on move in day. Depending on your theme, you will need to tweak them. You can also check for broken links within the blog. I used a plugin called Broken Line Checker. Mine were minimal. It shows them on your dashboard, and puts a line through them on posts alerting you that it is a broken. Most I encountered where from other sites that are now gone.
6. Writing Posts-You will learn to write your reviews in the text window..and guess what ..you will love it. I have complete control over how my post looks. I use to float back and forth between but find it is better to control things. You will need to learn some short code, and a few codes for spacing etc. Study up on basic codes HERE.
7. Yoast SEO– Do not be afraid of SEO..it is your friend and peeps it is not all that complicated. They do an excellent job of breaking down how to..so read up! Read about it before the move, so that you can implement best practices from the beginning.
8. Permalinks– Be sure to Configure Permalinks on new WordPress so that they resemble blogger and you don’t end up with oodles of 404 errors (page not found). You can read how to do that at RTCamp, just scroll down to Configuring Permalinks. Even doing this you will still see errors from old links. For example some of the links changed the date of my urls when the transfer occurred. Like this https://caffeinatedbookreviewer.com//2013/07 to https://caffeinatedbookreviewer.com//2012/08..why it did this I do not know. Sadly this is beyond my scope of knowledge and I am unable to correct those links. Thankfully 404 errors do not hurt your ranking..but if you are anything like me (anal) those errors bother the crap out of me..LOL I am reading some interesting things on SEO about editing and changed my 404 error page to offer suggested pages.
9. Plugins – they are awesome and can enhance your blog, but they are not all equal and each one slows down your blog’s load time. Research, asks other WP bloggers what they use and back-up blog before installing!!! Consider its impact on your blog’s load vs advantages. Before you add a new plugin, check known issues and compatibility issues with other plugins.
10. Update social media– Change all of your social settings, and media sites to your new blog’s URL. I am often surprised by how often I click on a website link in Twitter and find it doesn’t exist because blogger didn’t update!
11. Comments– there are a lot of options and I recommend researching them carefully.I am currently using commentluv and comment reply notification and I love it. Comment Luv provides a link to the last post from commenter. Comment Reply Notification sends email to commenter with your reply to their comment, or if someone else comments on their comment. I love this, there are no boxes to check and since comments and chatting are my absolute favorite thing, this was huge for me. This was what drew to me to Discus in blogger. I also use Jetpack’s Notifications. It places a talk icon on your WP toolbar that lets you see and comment back without going to posts and scrolling down to comment.
12. Surprises– Changing things like your wordpress.com password will impact things like oh…jetpack and you will need to update your website. *facepalm* Too many cookies will log you out when you move from dashboard to website. Clear your cookies and cache after a lot of changes.
13. Tags, Labels and Categories- It is important to know how these work and when they should and should not be used. For example you want very few categories, and the sky is the limit on tags. Read more from WordPress and ProBlogger.
14. Passwords Create a password that is strong and less likely to be hacked. Use upper and lowercase letters, symbols and numbers. Save every password you receive from host, etc both in an encrypted folder on pc and in a little notebook.
15. Naked Domain– www.yourdomainname.com or yourdomainname.com? Once you choose be sure to set things up, so that the other url points to your blog as well. You will also want to claim one as your preferred site see webmaster tool directions: here
16. Hiring Experts -If you decide to hire someone to help you move, go armed with questions and get references!!! Ask for referrals from other bloggers. There are a lot of peeps out there who can make the move..but they are what I would refer to as “hackers” and “patchers”. Sure they can do a transfer but they might not use best practices causing you problems that may be beyond your scope. Ask questions, lots of questions and never let anyone tell you that you are too picky or it happens..research, get on forums and ask experts.
17. Ownership– If something breaks, you, my friend are the mechanic of this lovely engine..and you will need to research, and fix error. Be sure you have alerts set up to your email or phone for issues. I have been lucky, but every choice I have made has been researched and I follow best practices. Please, research carefully do not open a forum thread for your issue and do what Cindy Lu at iknowalltheanswers.com says right away. She may be right..but always try to find three reliable sources before you try implementing any changes.
18. UBB– If you are a book blogger, budget for the Ultimate Book Blogger Plugin, it takes posting, and organizing to a whole new level.
I am glad I made the move, but in retrospect I would have researched a lot more and done things a little differently. They say hind site is 20/20. Sadly a lot of the questions I should have asked, I didn’t learn about until after I got my feet wet. While I am a total noob to WordPress and self-hosting I am sharing these with you, so that maybe the road can be a little clearer for you. I am sure that there are oodles of suggestions and tips I did not mention. If you have one I encourage you to mention it within your comment.
Think of it this way, Blogger was your rental home, and when there were issues beyond your little unit, you contacted the apartment manager and he fixed it. WordPress is like home ownership, if it’s broke, needs updating or springs a leak, it’s your responsibility to fix it. Sure it’s more responsibility and you will need to learn new skills but the rewards are endless. I mean seriously..i can do or say whatever I want here, without the rents TOS.
Please remember I am not an expert and these suggestions are based on my own personal experience, always research! If you have a question or tip you would like answered please email me.