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Sep 05

Moving From Blogger to WordPress {The Why and What}

Well, it’s been a week since I made my move to WordPress, and so far, so good. I’ve had a few kinks to work out, but I’m happy with the switch.

I’ve gotten a lot of questions about why and how I moved from Blogger to WordPress, and I want to answer those questions. I have a lot to talk about, so I think this will end up being a few part series, instead of one looooong post. There is so much that goes into making the switch: Why? How? When? What the heck do I do? What does it cost? I’m hoping I can answer some of those questions by telling you about my WordPress experience.

Before we start, I’ll let you know that I did not have my site professionally designed. I used a (paid) theme and I changed it up to my liking. I did not do the transfer from Blogger to WordPress myself – I would have probably died from the stress if I tried. By designing the site myself I was able to save a lot of money and I paid someone to do the transfer for me.

First of all, the big question: Why? Why switch from Blogger to WordPress?

The answer to that is unique for every blogger. Really, what I chose for me is not necessarily what you would choose for you. BUT, here are some of my reasons.

First, Blogger is free (which, yes, is a plus.) But Blogger owns your site. You may have your blog backed up on your computer, but ultimately Blogger owns it. Which means that, at any time, if they deem your content inappropriate, they can take your site down. Now, that never happened to me, but I did have some email hack problems awhile back, and I was locked out of Google Docs for several days. Why would Blogger be any different? Switching to a self-hosted WordPress site means that you can own your own blog. It’s hosted on a server that you pay for, but you own the content.

Second, I was very frustrated with Blogger and it’s non-existent help. Ever since Google started making changes to the Blogger interface, I couldn’t get answers to my questions. Things changed on my site for no reason (like the font default becoming Times – it wouldn’t let me change it back) and I could get no answers from Blogger.

Third, I want to grow my blog. I’m hoping one day it can become a lucrative source of income. Everything I’ve ever read about SEO (don’t ask, I still don’t get it) and growing your blog talks about making the move to WordPress. I knew a year ago I wanted to switch…it just took me this long to make a decision.

Of course, all the “popular kids” are self-hosted. I won’t lie; that did factor into my final decision. I always wanted to be popular in school. Instead I was the kid who sat in the upstairs hallway during lunch. That wasn’t my reason for switching…but it would be dishonest not to admit I thought about it!

Now, those are my reasons. You probably have different ones. I did a lot of Googling while I was trying to decide, and one of my searches landed me at Blogging with Amy. Her site is amazing; she has tutorials and info and lots of great articles. She even did a whole series on switching from Blogger to WordPress. I suggest you read it too; it explains things way better than I can.

{FYI, Amy has no idea who I am, but I reeeallly love her site. She is the first place I search when I have a WordPress question. Bookmark her site!}

Okay. So we talked about why WordPress. Now what the heck is it?

There are two kinds of WordPress sites: WordPress.com and WordPress.org. WordPress.com is a free blogging tool, like Blogger. WordPress.org is for self-hosting.

When you create a WordPress.org site, because it’s self-hosted, you need somewhere for it to live. That’s where a hosting service comes in. If you go to WordPress.org, it tells you the hosting companies it likes you to use. Most hosting companies out there will work, but WP has some favorites. You have to figure out the best one for you. A lot of this decision may be based on price, which is something we’ll talk about later.

Once you have a a host (I use Bluehost) and you have WordPress (.org NOT .com) installed, you need a theme.

Now. This is where it can get (even more?) confusing.

Worpress.org has lots of themes. A lot are even free. You can do a basic search on their site and find one you like. However, to take a basic theme on WordPress and make it “pretty”…well, you kinda need to know a lot of coding. And, if you mess up, you can affect the functionality of the site.

Some WordPress themes, like Genesis and Thesis, lay the basic framework for your site. Then you customize them with a child theme, which is the “pretty” you want for your blog. (I went with Genesis, so that’s what I’ll be talking about.)

Think of it like this: WordPress is the the brain, heart, and lungs of your blog. It’s how you control the site.  Genesis (or any other framework you choose) is the skeleton. It frames the body of the site. A child theme is the skin, the layer on top of the framework that you see. You can make (somewhat) easy changes to the child theme without having to make changes to the actual bones of your site.

I never considered going with a basic theme. A few other blogger friends who recently switched (Jerri, Shawn, and Lisa) all gave me the Genesis recommendation. (FYI, I did look into Thesis…but their website was way too confusing for me.)

If you visit the Genesis website, you can browse through all their child themes. There are a lot of them! They have a handy dandy theme-chooser tool you can play with. Choose options you want and it will help you narrow down your choices.

So, basically, once you decide you want to switch you need to choose your host and then choose your theme (or your framework, i.e. Genesis, and your child theme). Once you know what you want, then you can think about how and how much.

And I bet this is where your head has started to explode a little…right?

Let’s let all that sink in a bit. Next time I’ll talk more about Genesis, child themes, and costs.

I kind of have an idea of all the stuff I want to talk about during this series…but if there are any specific things you want to know, either ask in the comments or email me. I’ll add it to my list if I know the answer!

Thanks for reading!

I am not a expert on anything related to blogging. I am just chronicling my experience in this series. Please be sure to do your own research before attempting a large project like a transfer from Blogger to WordPress.

This post may be linked to:  Chic-and-CraftyI’m Lovin’ it FridaysStrut your Stuff SaturdayWeekend Wrap Up Partyand all of these too!