Its been nearly a month since I moved my blog content from a Blogger account to a self hosted WordPress to match my new branding of Make and Fable. If you got lost at the ‘self-hosted’part of that sentence, or you understood but think it sounds like a lot of scary hard work, read on!
A bit of a disclaimer: I’m not an expert at this, I learnt by researching and asking for help, but I can’t be held responsible for anything weird that happens to your blog as a result of following this guide. I’m just an amateur who struggled to find everything I needed, in a language I understood, all in the one place and figured other would benefit from what I have learnt.
Lets first explain the why before we get to the what and how. I had been with Blogger for nearly 6 years and it suited me perfectly well for most of that time. However, as my business changed, so did what my blog needed. I felt that I needed a more professional look and versatile blog (read more about my business change here).
So on to the ‘what’ for those of you confused (its ok, I was too!) Both Blogger and WordPress.com as easy to set up and run blog platforms. They give you a free web address, with the catch that it will be www.yourblogname.blogger.com or www.yourblogname.wordpress.com. For most people with a personal, hobby or side project blog that’s not really an issue. But when your blog is part of your business, you might want both the flexibility and more professional look that a www.yourblog.com name can give you. To get this, you have to use WordPress.org self hosted. That sounds scary right? I put it off for SO LONG because I did. But there are tools to help you and as long as you do things in the right order it will be fine, promise.
Step 1 Find a Host Provider
There are lots of Hosting companies out there like GoDaddy, BlueHost, 123 Reg, but I went with TSO Host (affiliate link) because they came recommended by the lovely folks at Blogtacular. And I am really happy with their service so far, like when I forgot all my logins and passwords and they sorted it out despite being a bank holiday weekend! In fact I love them so much that if you sign up with them and use the code MANDF10 at checkout it, will give you 10% off hosting! Choose WordPress Hosting, which gives you a domain name, web space and email addresses. There are different options depending on how big your blog is and how much traffic its gets. I went with Standard.
Step 2 Set Up WordPress
Once you are signed up with a provider and got a domain name a hosting package they give you the option to set up WordPress. With TSOHost it was in the cPanel (control panel) , other providers may vary, but they are used to us newbies getting confused so contact them if you need help! Its just like installing software on your computer, except you are installing it on your blog webspace
Step 3 Theme
Unlike Blogger and the free WordPress.com, a self-hosted WordPress.org site gives you much more control and this means a lot more choice! The first thing to choose for your new WordPress blog is a Theme. Themes are the layouts for your blog and there are ones that come packaged with WordPress, free ones you download, premium ones you pay for or you can pay someone to design a bespoke one. I went with a free one I downloaded called Freedom. Good places to look are My Theme Shop and ThemeForest. Then you can add to your theme with Plugins. There are great for new WordPress users because they automate a lot of features that came automatically with Blogger but would otherwise need HTML or CSS code in WordPress. Plugins will get a whole post to themselves at some point I think!
Step 4 Backup your Blogger
Ok, you have a WordPress site. Now to prepare your Blogger content to be transferred over. First off we are going to save the content and layout from Blogger so that if the worst happens you can restore it. Log into Blogger click on Settings -Other. Along the top of this page should be the option to Export Blog. Click to create .xml file of your blog. Now to back up your layout. Go to Template and click on ‘Backup/Restore’ in the top right corner. Click on the ‘Download Full Template’ button.
Step 5 Permalinks
Permalinks are the unique addresses of your pages that people may have linked to from other sites. Blogger sets these out in a particular way, so we have to tell WordPress to do it the same so people who click on a link going to a page on your old site get redirected to the same page on your new blog. From your WordPress dashboard click on ‘Settings’ then ‘Permalinks’. Choose the ‘Month and Name’ option, but do double check in case for some reason your Blogger settings might be different.
Step 6 Importing to WordPress
Ok, now for the move! Luckily, there are wonderful plugins that can make this a lot simpler. I chose Blogger Imported Extended 3.1. To get any plugin click on ‘Plugins’ from the WordPress menu, and ‘Add New’. From here you can search for plugins. Choose ‘Install Now’ and then ‘Activate Plugin’. Depending on the plugin, some appear as a main menu option others just stay in the plugins menu. Follow the instructions to link to your Blogger, where it will bring over all your posts, comments and images. It won’t bring any pages or widgets though. Depending on how big your Blogger site is this might take a while. I had trouble with the Importer timing out and not importing all of my images properly. I think this is because a lot of my early image posts have HUGE file sizes! But it wasn’t too bad as the images still come up in my posts, just don’t in my media library.
Step 7 Redirecting Traffic to WordPress
My site gets a lot of traffic from craft tutorials I have previously submitted to Craftgawker , so I wanted people who clicked on those old links to be redirected to the same project page, but on my new site. But don’t panic, there’s a plugin for that! The catchily titled Blogger to WordPress plugin guides you through the process. Find and install the plugin as before. It will create a new main menu option called Blogger to WordPress Redirection. Click on that and follow the instructions. They helpfully provide step by step instructions along with screenshots , but its really so simple. Just go to ‘Template’ then at the bottom of the page click ‘Revert to Classic Template’. The plugin generates a piece of HTML code that you copy then go to your Bloggers ‘Template’ page and click on ‘Edit HTML’. Yes I know, HTML sounds scary, but stick with me. Paste the HTML in place of the existing code and click ‘Save Template’. That’s it. If you are like me you will now excitedly start clicking links to make sure they work! I would add that before starting the plugin, I reverted my Blogger Template to Classic and turned off my mobile theme.
That is the basic outline of what I did. There are loads of other things I have done and even more I still need to do to get Make and Fable looking and working as I want, but I’m still proud of myself for getting this far.I hope this is useful to anyone else trying to move from a Blogger account to a WordPress, I’m so glad I have done it!