Blogosphere Travels #7: Moving to WordPress (Lessons Learned)

Posted June 20, 2014 in Blogosphere Travels / 1 Comment

Today I’m going to talk about how I moved from Blogger to self-hosted WordPress, because it was a huge decision to make and it was a really good one.

I was inspired to do it when I heard about the Ultimate Book Blogger plugin created by Ashley of Nose Graze. It looked so amazing. I was disappointed to find that it was only for self-hosted WordPress- it wouldn’t work with Blogger. But still, it was months before I decided to move over to WordPress myself.

I knew it would cost a lot of money, first to find a hosting company and then to buy the plugin. Thankfully I didn’t have to save up to afford it. But it did make me hesitate to make the move for a long time. I also already had my own domain name, so that would add an extra step in moving it over, but it wasn’t too much trouble thanks to the walkthrough.

Initially, I didn’t even want to move. But slowly I came to realize that there were SO MANY MORE options with WordPress, especially self-hosted, and so I really wanted to experiment and see what I could do. And boy I was right. There are a lot more options and it’s so different from Blogger, but still not difficult to figure out.

It may seem really intimidating, but it’s not too different. There’s still a sidebar on the left where you can customize everything. There are still widgets. But now there are also plugins, which can add on tons more options to your site, like widgets but usually more complex. And they are so easy to use!

For the move, I followed Ashley’s walkthrough. It was immensely helpful. Then I scoured the rest of her site for useful tips on working with WordPress. I utilized almost every single one. I really recommend her site. I went with RFE hosting, which she recommended. I had it all set nice and imported all my posts from Blogger.  I went about installing numerous plugins.

And that’s where it all went wrong.

Day 1 was fantastic. I followed Ashley’s tutorial for switching and everything went perfectly. The blog was up and running, the posts were imported, and I had installed a lot of plugins. I had figured out how the site worked enough to where I felt comfortable navigating it and editing the blog. I was very  happy with my decision to switch and eager to continue designing and editing my blog. But then everything went wrong.

Day 2 was hell. I attempted to install a plugin that worked with coding. There were 2 ways to do it. One involved manually inserting the code yourself, and the other was simply installing the plugin. I misunderstood and tried to insert the code after installing the plugin. Then BAM! Fatal error message. I couldn’t see my blog. I couldn’t access the dashboard. Every time I tried to access SOME part of the blog, it gave me the fatal error message. Every blogger’s worst nightmare. So what did I do? I uninstalled WordPress through RFE Hosting. I reinstalled it. Unfortunately, all the work I had done was gone. It was a blank slate. THANKFULLY, I had backed up my blog before the fatal error message. UNTHANKFULLY, I had no idea how to restore it from the backup. I ended up trying 2 methods. The first was through the Control Panel of RFE hosting. They had a Backup option, and you could restore it from there. I did, and it SHOULD have worked, but there was no change on the blog. Then I went through phpMyAdmin, and I imported the backup, but that didn’t work either. I then figured out it was a database issue.

When I uninstalled WP, I uninstalled the database that was my original blog. I’m assuming the restore would only have worked with that particular database, since it was backed up from there. When I reinstalled it, I created a new database that wasn’t compatible with the backup. I think this because when I went through phpMyAdmin to import the backup to the new database file, it said ‘success’, but again, there was no change on the new blog. So basically here we have it: all these things that should have worked didn’t work because either a) who knows or b) database issues that I didn’t know how to fix. I pretty much gave up at that point.

I talked to Ashley and tried to find out what happened. She said the original issue (the error message) would have been an easy fix, but since I deleted the original database, there was no way to fix it. So I had to start over. It took another day, but I got it back where it was and backed it up constantly.

LESSON #1 LEARNED: Do NOT mess with the databases. They are where your blog info is stored. If you delete your database, your blog is gone forever. The end.

LESSON #2 LEARNED: Back up your blog constantly. And don’t try to fix everything yourself if you run into problems. Let an expert handle it before you end up making things worse or un-fixable, like I did.

LESSON #3 LEARNED: This is more blog-related than moving to WordPress-related. FOLLOWERS DON’T MATTER. A lot of you are probably thinking WHAT? Of course they matter. WELL. The thing is- FOLLOWERS don’t matter, but READERS do. See, when I moved to WordPress, there was no simple GFC following option (I had to install that with lots of coding; Ashley’s got a tutorial on that too). Instead, you had to manage all the following options yourself, with outside media as well as RSS feed and email following (which I set up through a plugin!). I had to seriously utilize Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and even got involved in Bloglovin’ (which I had for some reason avoided for a long time). Now, with all these options, how can you tell how many individual followers you have (they might be following in multiple ways)? And how can you tell who’s actually reading your posts? Who’s actually interested? There’s no way to tell for sure. But several bloggers have their own preferred following methods. For instance, if I want to follow just to support a blogger, I’ll do it with GFC or Twitter. But if I’m in love with their blog and don’t want to miss a single post, I’ll follow with Bloglovin’, and if they are one of my absolute FAVORITE bloggers, I’ll follow with email. So I tend to take Bloglovin’ and email followers more seriously.

But with all these media, you have to let go of the idea that followers are everything. They’re not. If you have a select group of blogging buddies or friends who constantly comment and read your posts, then that’s fantastic. If you have a few people that comment every now and then, that’s awesome. If you’re just getting a lot of pageviews, and/or have a few followers, that’s a really good start. But remember, there’s not as much fun in blogging if you have TONS of posts and TONS of followers but no discussion or interaction ever. Comments and discussions are what really make blogging a fun, interactive experience. Well, that’s my opinion. I know I would feel disappointed if I kept posting but no one ever took the time to at least say they read my post and maybe leave a few comments.

So, for my final thoughts? If you’re going to make the move, don’t be intimidated. Keep these lessons in mind. Follow Ashley’s walkthrough to a T. And be aware that you’re making a fantastic decision and there are a bunch of us here to help you with it. Including myself. (:

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