30
Sep 12

Moving from Blogger to WordPress {Part 2: The How and How Much}

Has your head healed from all the exploding last time? Yes? Good, let’s get started.

Last time I told you why I switched to WordPress and gave you a general overview of WordPress, hosting, and themes. Let’s talk more about that, shall we?

Hosting

Using WordPress.org itself is free. You don’t need to pay to use it. However, it won’t work without hosting. That  you have to pay for.

There are lots of hosting options out there. I went with Bluehost, because they came highly recommended by several people, including Amy (Blogging with Amy) and the designer who did my actual transfer. Bluehost is a hosting company and you pay to use it. The only catch with them is that you pay up front. They draw you in with “As low as $5 per month!” but that actually means $5/month if you pay for 36 months all at once. If you have that much on hand, by all means, do that. I paid $8/month for one year, because I was paying a bunch of additional costs at the same time. Next year I’ll pay more at once, and get a lower rate.

DO NOT USE BLUEHOST. I repeat: DO NOT USE BLUEHOST. I have had nothing but problems with them from about a month in. In fact, right now (March ’13) I was supposed to be switched to their Pro server last night and they didn’t do the switch.

So yeah… DO NOT use Bluehost.

I know of one other hosting site, Hostgator, that allows you to pay per month as you go. I don’t know anything other about them though, so be sure to do your research.

Themes and Frameworks (i.e. Genesis)

Last time I told you I decided to use the Genesis framework and incorporate a child theme for my blog. (There are other options, like the Thesis framework and the free themes found on WordPress.org. I’m going to talk about Genesis because that is my experience.)

If you go to the Genesis website you can see all of their child themes. There are a ton to choose from. I used their theme-chooser tool to help me narrow down my choices. You can choose to narrow by color, custom features (like a custom header), theme category, layout.

Here’s where you will find a big difference between Blogger and WordPress. On Blogger you’re used to being able to go into your template and chose a new font color, font, or post width easy peasy. One click and it’s done. This is not so with WordPress. It’s all doable – but it requires changes to the CSS of your blog. Layout isn’t as easy as dragging one thing to a new location in WordPress either. There are certain areas (like sidebars) that you’re allowed to put things in and that’s it – unless you create a new area. Creating that needs code.

I don’t say all this to freak you out, although some of you probably are. It can all be done. The theme you choose does not have to look like that once you’re finished with it. It’s just easier if you choose a theme that has features you like (like width, navbar styles, layout, etc.) Things like colors can be (mostly) changed.

If you don’t believe me, let me give you my blog as an example. I chose the Pretty child theme. It looks like this, out-of-the box:

That’s not what this site looks like now, does it?

The Pretty theme had a “pink” color variation, and that’s the one I’m using. The background color, navbar color, and post title color came with the theme. I changed everything else.

When you’re choosing a theme pick one that has the layout that you want (Do you want two sidebars? Fancy drop-down menus? Customizable footers?). Most everything else can be changed.

{Amy also has a post on how to choose a child theme, if you’re interested.}

Genesis is a paid theme. I purchased Genesis with the Pretty theme for $79.95. That’s the cost for most themes + the Genesis framework.

Okay, still with me?

The last (huge) part of the switch: The Transfer.

Now, you can totally do this yourself. I know several bloggers who have.

Now, most of you know me. I’m a stressball even in calm times. The margin of error is huge when doing something as big as a blog transfer and I wanted no part of it. So I hired someone.

I did do some searching and found the costs for the switch can vary. I went with Five J’s Design for my switch, because she came highly recommended by both Jerri and Amy. I got my site all ready to go (all pretty and stuff) and then she took it from there. She handled my domain name transfer from GoDaddy, transferring my posts to Bluehost, moving my comments, and my feeds.

Oh, and she held my hand too. She talked me off  a ledge and totally didn’t quit me after I sent her 14 emails in an hour.

In other words, she was calm, collected, and did an awesome job.

At the time of my transfer, Joy charged $225 to move everything over. That included transferring my domain name, my posts and comments, changing all the links, and redirecting my feeds. If you do use her, say hi for me. (FYI, her site said she wasn’t accepting new business but she still does transfers even if she’s full on design at the moment, so just drop her an email.)

And that’s it! Easy peasy, right?

I know, I crack myself up sometimes.

In summary, choose a host. If you decide to go with Genesis, choose a theme. And then decide on how you’re going to transfer your stuff. Honestly, I think choosing my theme was the hardest part! It was like Sophie’s choice for blogging.

I have gotten a few questions about Picasa/Blogger storage space. I don’t know any definite answers. I had to upgrade so long ago that I only have to pay a small amount per year, instead of per month. I will direct you to this post and this one for the answer to that question. (Well, the typical lawyer-cover-your-bottom doesn’t-really-say-anything answer. In other words, if anyone has personal experience with this, let me know.)

And that last thing about storage space? If you’re like me and pay $5/year for your storage instead of $2.50/month, be sure to go check out your account on google and make sure your credit card and address are up to date. Otherwise they will automatically switch you to the new, fancier, more expensive plan when your year is up. Good to know, since mine is up next month!

Next time I am going to talk about personalizing your theme. Get your bookmarks list ready, because I’m going to give you lots of links to help you out!

Thanks for reading!

Again, I’m not an expert. This is just my experience and the costs that I paid. Please be sure to do your own research on themes and costs before making the jump.
This post may be linked to:  Chic-and-CraftyI’m Lovin’ it FridaysStrut your Stuff SaturdayWeekend Wrap Up Partyand all of these too!