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It has been well over a year since I switched all my blogs from Blogger to WordPress, and it is one of the best decisions I have made for my blogs and my business.
You may remember a while back I wrote a post about how to start a blog. In that post, I recommend starting your blog on Blogger, a free blogging platform supported by Google. I still recommend starting out on Blogger because the interface is very easy to use and it’s free, so if you determine blogging is not for you, at least you didn’t make any financial investment. But if you are serious about blogging, at some point you are going to want to switch to self hosted WordPress.
There are other self hosted website building programs out there, such as Squarespace and Weebly. However, personally I decided to go with WordPress because it’s the industry standard and the majority of the bloggers I network with use WordPress. It simply seemed like the best option for me. It’s always a good idea to do your own research before getting started, so you can choose what’s right for you.
Also, know the difference between self hosted WordPress and WordPress.com. WordPress.com is like Blogger – it’s a free platform, meaning you do not need to pay for hosting or a URL. Your URL will be http://yourblogname.wordpress.com. Self hosted WordPress (WordPress.org) is free software, but you must purchase your own hosting and URL. I often see people get confused between the two. Also, if you’ve ever tried to leave a comment on a blog and it makes you create or log into a WordPress account – that is a WordPress.com blog. Their native commenting system leaves a lot to be desired! The self hosted WordPress native commenting system is much easier for blog readers to navigate, or you can install a third party commenting plugin (I use CommentLuv). So don’t let a frustrating commenting system keep you from switching to self hosted WordPress! There are lots of options to make commenting easier for your readers.
Why do I recommend ultimately blogging on the self hosted WordPress platform? There are many reasons:
– You own your content. If you’re not paying for hosting (through a service like HostGator), you do not own your content. FULL STOP. If your blog is on Blogger, Google owns your content. If your blog is on WordPress.com, WordPress owns your content. Google is infamous for disabling Blogger blogs with no warning and without giving you a great reason (they usually have a reason, but good luck trying to get a human on the phone to discuss it)! This doesn’t mean these platforms are bad, but you need to be aware.
– WordPress is highly customizable. Blogger has a great “drag and drop” interface that makes designing a blog very easy for newbies. Blogger is further customizable, if you know CSS. Most people don’t (I certainly do not!), but it is possible. With WordPress, there are thousands of “themes” available, some for free and some for a fee. You can browse and pick a theme that’s best for your type of blog. Also, with WordPress it’s easier to make small tweaks and get your blog layout exactly how you want it. Yes, you do need to know a little bit of CSS (or hire a wonderful designer) but it’s not too difficult.
– WordPress has built-in SEO* juice. I can’t explain it, but when I switched to WordPress, my blog stats SOARED. Search engines just seem to love WordPress. I’m not smart enough to understand the science behind it, but I’ve confirmed similar results with several of my blogging friends who have switched from Blogger to WordPress.
*SEO is “Search Engine Optimization,” or how well your site ranks in search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
How Do You Make the Switch?
Transferring from Blogger to WordPress may seem like a daunting task but it’s really not too tough! I did it myself with three of my blogs, using a guide I purchased from Blogelina. I did it myself because I had just been laid off from my office job, had a lot of time on my hands, and wanted to spend as little money as possible. However, if I had to do it over again I would definitely hire somebody to do it for me. It’s a lot of work, and it was VERY frustrating. Everything is fine now, but I wish I had saved myself the headache and paid to have it done for me. Expect a transfer to cost somewhere between $250-$400, spending on how much extra design you want included. I would be wary of any transfer service that charges less than $250 – quality work deserves a higher price tag. And also make sure you do your research and read reviews!
What Do You Need Before You Transfer?
To start you will need a good hosting plan. I have been using HostGator since I created my first WordPress blog a couple years ago. I have been very happy with their 24/7 customer service, especially via chat. There have been times where I was obsessively working on my site in the middle of the night, and their chat support is always “on.” One time I was messing around with coding and my entire site disappeared! Uhhhh … yikes! I hopped on the HostGator support chat and a rep patiently helped me get my site back, thank goodness! HostGator offers a variety of plans, depending on your level of traffic. I started with, and am still using, their Baby plan, which gives me plenty of bandwidth, storage, and unlimited domains (I currently own nine website URLs). And if you ARE switching to WordPress yourself, you can easily install WordPress with one click (or you can submit a ticket and ask Support to install it for you).
You will also need a WordPress theme. WordPress comes with a default, free theme which is totally fine. However, after a lot of research, I decided to purchase the Lifestyle Pro theme on the Genesis framework by Studiopress. The Lifestyle Pro theme has proven to be very versatile; I use it on three of my blogs and they all have slightly different layouts. All Studiopress themes look good “out of the box” so you don’t necessarily need to do any additional design changes, except to maybe tweak the colors and spacing.
And of course, you will need a URL. You may already have your own URL (www.yourblogname.com) and in that case, you will simply need to redirect it to your new hosting. If you don’t already have your own URL, you can purchase one through HostGator.
Ready to Get Started?
If you’re ready to make the switch from Blogger to WordPress, your first step should be to purchase hosting. When I first started out, I used Hostgator and I highly recommend them. Plans are starting as low as $3.45 per month*, which is a seriously good deal. Just use this link to make your purchase.
*For the first term; subject to change.