One month ago I made the decision to move from Blogger to WordPress. In some ways it was a spontaneous, reactionary move after losing my third post in as many months, thanks to changes being rolled out in the editing area. But in other ways, it was a long thought about, much mulled over decision.
Everyone, except Blogger itself, seems to be aware of the commenting issues that many people experience when they try to engage with the platform. However, whenever I looked into moving my blog across, the loss of eleven years worth of hyperlinks outweighed any pain connected to the commenting issue.
I have used WordPress at work and with other blogs I have edited at various times, so I was familiar with the platform. Obviously, after eleven years, I was very comfortable with the Blogger platform, having explored every nook and cranny. I knew what I could and couldn’t do, and where to find everything.
WordPress felt clunkier with it’s doubled-up behind-the-scenes work area – the My Home area that allows you to create posts, work on pages, manage comments and use basic design elements. And the WP Admin area that allows you to create posts, work on pages, manage comments and use basic design elements. At this point in my WP journey, I have no idea why both areas are necessary. Both areas look and feel quite different to each other, yet they basically do the same thing. Why? Update: March 2021: Without any fanfare or warning, My Home and WP Admin pages were merged. There is now only one behind-the-scenes work area. I believe this has all but forced everyone to embrace Block Editor whether they wanted to or not. However if you are unhappy with this state of affairs try going to your account settings – https://wordpress.com/me/account. Scroll down the page until you reach Dashboard appearance and the words Show advanced dashboard pages. Toggle on and save your settings. When you refresh the page, your classic editor options should be available.
A couple of years ago, when the Blogger commenting issue flared up again, with an extreme amount of spammers getting through (why oh why could the spammers always find a way to comment, but blogging friends could not?!), I had a practice run exporting my photography blog to WP. It was apparent straight away, that some formatting issues occurred during the switch. Nothing ghastly, but enough to make it all seem like too much hard work to fix.
I researched how to transfer hyperlinks from Blogger to their corresponding WP posts, but it seemed like it would require either an individual, one-by-one manual changeover, or paying an IT person to do it, with no guarantees that it would be 100% successful.
It took blind fury, the day after Christmas, when I lost another post, for an alternative approach to pop into my mind!
Despite my pent-up anger, the approach was actually quite zen. Why was I so concerned about the hyperlinks? What if I applied the ‘whatever’ philosophy; the ‘it-will-be-what-it-will-be’ approach? What if I changed the wording of my commenting box on Blogger? What if I created a separate menu tab on WP for all the old posts? What if I utilised the category system to organise the old posts from the new?
In the middle of the night, I suddenly saw a way forward. It wouldn’t be perfect, but to my mind, it was a clean, clear way of proceeding. How many people visit my older posts anyway? Just do it!
So, what did I learn?
- First step is to set up or double-check your WP account thoroughly.
- You may want to consider paying to remove the ads from the free version, but you do not have decide this straight away. Start with the free version and see what you think. Changes to your account plan can be made at any time that suits you later on.
- Make sure you have adjusted the time zone and language to your own country/city, before you proceed with the export.
- Back up your Blogger site (settings – manage blog – back up content).
- A download xml file will be sent to your computer (most likely your downloads folder, unless you specify another spot). Depending on the size of your blog, this could take a few minutes.
- The export will NOT take across your Blogger template.
- I was able to get around this by taking a screenshot of my Blogger header (that I liked & wanted to bring with me for the sake of continuity). I simply added the screenshot to my new WP header in the customisation area.
- All the links will be transferred across, however they will not link to the newly created WP posts, they will take any clicker back to the original Blogger post (this was the problem I was ranting about above & have decided to live with).
- Import your old blog into WP (Tools – Import – Blogger – then upload the xml file).
- Most of the external advice sites about changing from Blogger to WP are old and show old graphics for the Blogger platform. They are also keen to get you to buy the business package in WP. Mostly you can work around this – you know Blogger better than these people, so trust your judgement rather than theirs. There is no need to purchase any WP plan to start with. Wait until you’ve used the platform for a while before making any decisions about which plan is best for you.
- My first decision was to update the name of my blog to This Reading Life.
- Second I planned how best to use categories. I only wanted to have a handful of very broad categories. I will use tags to be more specific and detailed.
- ALL my old Brona’s Books posts were added automatically to the Brona’s Book category.
- Going forward, new posts will either be categorised as Read in 2020, Read in 2021, Readalong, Book Tag or This Reading Life.
- As each year passes, a new Read in 202… category will be created.
- The category This Reading Life is for all those posts that do not fit into any other groups – posts about blogging, book events, shout outs etc. Posts like this.
- Tags are for specifics like names of individual reading challenges, authors, countries, date of publication, themes and genres.
- Next I set up the menu tabs to separate Brona’s Books stuff from This Reading Life.
- Under Brona’s Books I placed all the old pages where I had listed the books read during my time on Blogger.
- The This Reading Life menu now holds all the books read going forward plus four of my main pages for keeping tabs of my TBR piles. As I have time, I will update and re-format these pages.
- The Awards & Prizes and The Classics Club menus are self-explanatory and will also need to be updated as I have time.
- The About menu was the first ‘old’ page updated and refreshed for This Reading Life.
- The hard part was writing a sign off post on my old blog.
- I suggest keeping it simple, short and sweet.
- Make sure you let your readers know where to find you now.
- If you use the ‘featured post’ widget, pop this last post into it.
- Close all comments on your old blog.
- Write a new comment note (Settings – Comments – Comment Form Message) letting people know they can comment on posts by visiting the new blog. It’s possible to use the <a href=”URL”>word</a> hyperlink code in the comment form message to make it as easy as possible for people to find you. (See my second last post and comment form here.)
- Make sure your SEARCH box is at the top of your new WP blog, so any new arrivals can easily search for the post they were interested in.
- A number of bloggers like to subscribe by email to follow your WP blog. Include these follow buttons together somewhere on your blog that suits you (header, footer or sidebar).
- Social media buttons are nice, but not obligatory. It’s up to you.
- As someone who uses a few different platforms for blogging and other book related stuff, I strongly suggest using the same avatar across all platforms (i.e. a purple dragonfly). This is a really simple, effective way to help people find you and recognise you.
- Update your Blogger profile by adding your new WP blog URL to the My Web Page section.
- Update your blog URL on any social media accounts you may use where people can contact you about books – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Feedly, Goodreads, Netgalley etc.
- Once you’re ready to start writing and posting, I urge you to check out Karen @BookerTalk’s fabulous blogging tips.
- Embrace block editor.
- There has been lots of angst in the WP world about block editor. As we in Bloggerland worried about the changes happening behind-the-scenes, the WP folk were going through their own changes.
- The first few times I used block editor, I found it clunky, unwieldy and not very intuitive. I’m still learning, but it is a much cleaner, neater way of putting together a post.
- You simply have to decide which block to use.
- I started this post with the list block a few weeks ago as I started to make notes about the things I wanted to discuss. But when I came to write the post, I realised I needed an image at the top. I simply added an image block to the bottom of the page, added the image, then clicked the move up button to position it at the top of the page. To write the piece underneath the image, I added a paragraph block.
- I have experienced some glitches with draft posts (and pages) brought over from the old blog.
- To fix saving and publishing errors – copy & paste the entire draft post into a new post/page. Once it has saved or published satisfactorily, you can delete the failed draft post.
- Formatting problems will be due to CLASSIC mode being the default option for imported posts.
- I have found two ways to address this problem.
- Click on paragraph drop down box and highlight text to be fixed, then select PREFORMATTED.
- Fix issues, then select fixed areas and go back to PARAGRAPH mode.
- It’s clunky but it will tidy things up enough.
- The second way is to go to WP admin, find post/page you want to work on and select CLASSIC EDITOR option underneath the heading.
- As you may have noticed by now, I decided to buy one of the basic WP plans. I wanted to remove the ads from my blog and use my own domain name. I’m still working out what this means I can and cannot do.
- I miss the familiarity and ease of the Blogger platform. I enjoyed tweeking stuff behind the scenes with coding. WP does a few of these things automatically (like adding hyperlinks in comments), which is nice, but I’m glad I also know how to do them myself.
- Commenting is definitely a much smoother process on WP. I now enjoy threaded discussions on most of my posts, something that rarely happened on Blogger.
- On your phone, the WP app is your friend – it allows you to stop email notifications of new comments/likes etc clogging up your inbox – by having them in the app feed instead. And it is the only easy, reliable way I have found to reply to comments on WP blogs whilst on my phone.
Finally, let me say thank you to all of you, who have stuck by me through the Blogger years and who have found me here, as I learn to navigate WP.
For any other Blogger wishing to make the change, I hope the above is helpful.
But for now,