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.
Love this post! Yes wordpress has a lot more issues to consider than blogger, but I really love the variety you can get with it. You get a lot more control. I wish I’d read a post like this when I started out though! That 20/20 hindsight never ends. 🙂
“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.” haha, LOVE 😀
Exactly, thanks Lauren. I am so glad I made the switch!
Wow, there is so much to keep track of! I didn’t know it required all of this to move over. O_O I’m already on WordPress but I’m not self-hosted, I wonder if I’ll have to do all of this as well.
It isn’t really hard, in fact it is rather easy, but these are things you should know and make educated decisions about. Here is info on wordpress to wordpress. org moves:
Lupdilup (Loupe Duffy)
I’ve been using this site all day today 🙂 Carmel @Rabidreads did a great job moving me, and with all the new information I gotten here, I feel so much better about the move.
glad to hear it 🙂
I’m curious about the parent/child theme. I jumped in and made the switch, found a theme close to what I wanted and then did a reno to make it what I want. I also need to learn more about packing up. I see I have a plugin update but am scared to death to do it! lol
You can download everything into a zipfile. I have done updates and have been fine, but I am backing up my entire system daily and have my theme saved in a zip file.
Such great tips! I also didn’t do enough research before my move – but I think it’s one of those situations where how were you supposed to know to ask something you’d never knew could be a problem? I wish I’d seen a post like this one before my move so I could have done a bit more research… I’m still figuring out SEO too – it’s just so daunting! I do think that WP is pretty user friendly though, once you get used to it.
I researched a lot, but yes, would have really appreciated a list like this myself. I am loving WP though, and still think it’s the best decision I ever made.
Thank you for mentioning the parent/child theme thing. The instructions I followed did NOT mention that so I didn’t do it. Now I’m stuck being unable to update my theme until I’m ready for a redesign.
It can be done Jenna, but it involves dipping into the html codes and not doing updates can harm you since some are security updates.
A lot of great tips even for those of us who have had wordpress blogs. Thanks so much for posting this!!
Thanks Dani, some of it may seem daunting, but I like to know things whether I use them or not ..so I tried to share 🙂
I swear, I want to move just so I can get UBBP. I am very nervous for when I move but taking classes on web design should help. (I hope, lol)
Classes sound cool. Thankfully all of this info is readily available, and UBB was the best dang investment I ever made
So that’s what the parent theme/child theme relationship is. I never knew that. Thanks so much for the details.
It’s become so much easier to move things from blogger to WP than it used to be which is a huge relief. And the blogger image importer makes things so much easier.
I also always recommend immediately taking the meta data widget out of the sidebar. It’s an easier way for hackers to access the back end of your site or so I’ve been told.
And backing up is a must. First backing up the database and then downloading all the files and folders through an FTP client. It’s a good way to get back a previous site design if you mess things up.
I also just discovered a plugin that allows you to convert categories to tags so you’re not stuck with all those umpteen categories from blogger and can just keep them as tags.
And I’m definitely curious about the UBBP. May test it out on one of my alternate sites to get a feel for it. I’ve heard nothing but great things!
I saw that plugin for tags. Thankfully Carmel uncategorized mine so I am putting things where I want. So agree about backups and the transfer was relatively easy. Thanks for sharing Rachel 🙂
Excellent post, Kimba. This is great for people thinking of moving to a WordPress self-hosted blog. I also like to plan things and do lots of research! That’s one reason I’m taking a WordPress class right now. It does give some great information, but your post has a lot of info in it I bet I won’t get in the class.
Thanks Jan, I am the same way and hope you share tips you pick up as well 🙂
Great post Kim. So helpful to know what questions to ask and what to look out for. Still seems very scary though!
Thankfully all of the information is there. I love WP and don’t regret the move at all and honestly once you learn things ..the sky is the limit. You just need to educate yourself.
This is such a great post! I wish I had had something like it when I made the switch. There was a lot of “learn as you go.”
Exactly, and it may seem overwhelming but broken down each is really simple, you just need to be prepared to make these decisions and it’s better to know before. Thanks Christa
This is good, I need all this information, but I have to admit that it’s terrifying! I’m not sure I can do this, I’m no good at fixing things. I’m not good at computer stuff, period. I’ll start doing my research a little more though. Thanks for this!
I will say this Cadance, that unlike blogger where there is zero support WordPress and my host offer excellent, quick support and I have been able to find solid information. It seems scary but remember those first months on blogger, when we all knew nothing.
It does sound like a lot of work but worth it in the end!
Wow, the steps LOOK complicated, but you make it seem so easy! If I ever decide to switch over, this is the first place I’m going to look for advice! 🙂
Sarah @ Kitties Like Books Too
It’s not really, you just need to make sure you set up a parent/child theme, and get the necessary plugins to keep your site safe. The rest like categories, tags, SEO etc can be done as you go. I just think knowing what the best practices are before you move is important.
Melissa's Eclectic Bookshelf
Great tips! I did a lot of homework before making the move but when I did it was sort of spur of the moment and I wasn’t as prepared as I could have been. Knowledge definitely is key!
I don’t think we can ever be completely prepared, some things you simply stubble upon when you move to a new neighborhood.
I think I will rent my place for a while. There is just so much things you need to think about, but it might be good to do this next vacation when I have more time. I’m going to mark this post because it’s so helpful. Thanks for sharing 🙂
You have a lot going on right now, and yes research first, none of this is really complicated but I think its important to set-up shop correctly and use best practices from the onset.
Great tips Kimberly but this post is a little intimidating to newbies! Even if you do everything on your list, there will still be unforeseen blips. I didn’t think I’d EVER meet a bigger perfectionist than I! 😀 Hehe
Agreed, there will always be new things you come upon but I think it’s better to be informed so you can implement best practices. I encountered and had to address most of these within the first week.
Thanks Kimba as always a very informative how to.
thanks Debbie 🙂
Sharon - Obsession with Books
Ooh, so daunting! I have been really eager to read this post & to see how it all came together for you because I have been umming and ahhing about making the big move so thank you kindly for all of this information.
A great post Kimba!
It is worth the move Sharon 🙂
Jeez, that seems like a lot of work to move. I started my blog on WordPress, and a while back I thought about going to Blogger, and tried a few designs and post and thought I’d just stay with WP. 😉 I think it is pretty easy to use. Great post.
Then some of this you never had to deal with and I agree once you learn the ins-and-outs between blogger and WP, you will find WP offers more.
Thanks Kimba, I will have to come back to this post when I am ready to make the move 🙂 This is some great advice and tips and some that I can use right now!
thanks Chene, I am loving WP.
I seem to be staying on blogger :/
I liked you WP blog too 🙂
I see that a lot of bloggers are transferring to wordpress. It seems like a hard work but nothing you cannot tackle. Maybe one day I’ll do the same but right now I’m quite happy at blogger. 🙂
Agreed, once you get your feet wet, it is so much easier and allows more freedom.
oh man… this seems like it is hard work!!!
Not really, like anything new there is a learning curve, and educating yourself makes it exciting.