Moving from Blogger to WordPress – ten lessons learnt the hard way (aka “The Long March”)

The Voice recently highlighted how popular Blogger is with new Liberal Democrat bloggers. But if you’ve started with Blogger and want to move over WordPress what do you do? Paul Walter recounts the lessons he learnt along the way:

NERD’S CORNER, with apologies to any grandmothers for ovum-evacuation lessons herein

On 28th September I decided, in a fit of conscience, to clear out all the posts from my Blog archive with other people’s photos in them. I did it the wrong way and, in a tantrum, deleted all my old blog posts and started a fresh blog on Blogger. WRONG.

Hard lesson 1: To bulk delete photos on Blogger, use Picasa Web – it’s easy peasy
Fortunately I had kept a back-up xml file. RIGHT.

Hard lesson 2: Always keep a back-up xml file of your old posts and comments before messing around with your blog.

Then, further showing my impetuous nature, I decided “To hell with it, I’ll move to WordPress”. WRONG

Hard lesson 3: Never move from Blogger to WordPress hastily or in a spasm of rage. If you don’t want to make a hobby of WordPress fiddling, then stay with Blogger for simple bish, bash, bosh blogging.

What you find, if you move to WordPress hastily, is that there are TWO WORDPRESSES.

Hard lesson 4: There are TWO WORDPRESSES.

Hard lesson 5: WORDPRESS.COM is OK (and free), but it’s just as OK as Blogger. You may as well stay on Blogger rather than moving to WordPress.com. Brutal but true.

Hard lesson 6: Run a mirror site on WordPress.com to see how it looks, while retaining/maintaining your old Blogger site. You’ll probably decide not to bother with WordPress.com mainly because it doesn’t allow Plug-ins.

Ah yes, Plug-ins. A vast array of wonderful little gizmos, mostly findable on WordPress.org which make the move from Blogger to WordPress worthwhile, but to take advantage of them you have to move to a hosted WordPress set-up. WordPress.com doesn’t allow you to do plug-ins even for the most basic sidebar adornment, which is standard in Blogger.

Hard lesson 7: If you’re going to move at all from Blogger, you’ll probably find, through a bit of mirror site testing, that it’s best to move to a hosted account WordPress through GoDaddy or some other hosting site. It will cost you a bit but it will allow you to use those fantastic Plug-ins.

I also found Artisteer.com which allowed me to design my own personalised WordPress template. It costs a bit though but it was worth it. However, one of the advantages of using a hosted WordPress account is that you have access to more free themes than you can shake a stick at, at WordPress.org.

Another tip is that Powerpoint is great for creating header graphics. Once you’ve created a graphic you like, save it as a .png file (jpegs tend to blur a bit) and bring it into your template.

Hard lesson 8: I would advise that, unless you want to stay with Blogger for a long time, it would be sensible NOT to buy a domain URL through them (Google) as they can be difficult to modify.

If you want to remove that “blogspot” bit from your URL, buy a domain through a domain seller like Go Daddy. You can then point your Blogger blog at it and, after leaving a month for search engines to settle down to the new URL, move across to a hosted WordPress (or even a WordPress.com blog if you must) using your domain name.

Hard lesson 9: Transferring your old Blogger post archive to WordPress can be a nightmare, especially if the archive is over 8 megabytes.

I ended up having to edit a 19 meg xml file to split it in two, which took me weeks to find the right editing suite. Phew!

Hard lesson 10: Export your Blogger xml file to your hard drive and then import it into a test/dummy WordPress.com blog first. Then transfer that via WordPress export/import to your new hosted WordPress account.

(If necessary split the file down into bits and put them on separate multiple WordPress.com dummy test blogs to make the files smaller than 8 mb).

The reason for hard lesson 10 is that I found that it takes literally AGES to try to transfer files to a hosted WordPress blog from Blogger. AGES. (But that may be an oddity of my server).

So after nearly eight weeks I have now finally completed the whole Blogger to WordPress move, with the last knockings of my old Blogger 3,600 posts and 2,000 comments coming onto my new blog here today. As I had started a test mirror site on WordPress.com, I have now enlarged and I am maintaining this web site as an ongoing mirror and back-up site (paulwalternewbury.wordpress.com). I’ve done this because I have been advised that hosted WordPress sites are vulnerable to outages etc, whilst WordPress.com accounts are very well backed up and covered for contingency. It’s good for the soul to have a mirror site, I think.

The lessons above have been learnt the hard way, so I hope they help others to do this whole move more easily than I did. It’s been worth it. Quite time consuming. But the Blog looks better and WordPress certainly provides plenty of fun, in terms of hobbyist fiddling. There is a little bit of kudos in being on WordPress, I feel. This is perhaps unfair on Blogger (and of course I should mention that other blogging platforms are available). But if you have “blogspot” in your URL, it is a bit like having “Beginner” plastered all over your blog. Users of WordPress tend to be a little bit more nerdy and advanced than Blogger ones, so on WordPress you tend to be in an advanced community – which shows in the advanced level of plug-ins enthusiasts have produced.

So I am glad I’ve finally made the move, after years of considering it. But, quite frankly, the difference between Blogger and WordPress is MARGINAL. There are lots of things on Blogger which you can do easily – like the simple process of adding a photo to your sidebar, but which takes endless fiddly-faddling in WordPress. Sometimes I think that WordPress, as a piece of software, assumes that all their users have PhDs in Advanced Cybernetics with First Class honours and a side order of Partical Physics.

So unless you want to make a saftisfying but time-consuming hobby out of (a) transferring from Blogger to WordPress in the first place and (b) being on WordPress for the long term, my advice is: DON’T! That is: D-O-N-‘-T!!!!!!!

PS. There is an excellent comparison of Blogger v WordPress here.

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This entry was posted in Online politics.
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16 Comments

  • We’ve just started a local campaign blog and I’ve used WP (www.pimlicolibdems.wordpress.com) just because it seems a bit classier somehow and I wanted to mess around with a new site. I think we’re gradually getting things how we want them. As a newbie I was very impressed at being able to incorporate a Twitter feed and Flickr gallery, though this is probably all old hat to most of you!

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