mattgadient.com

from Blogger.com to self-hosted WordPress

Today I made the switch. I’d been considering moving to WordPress for the last week. First, I’m going to tell you how I switched, and then I’ll tell you why.

How?

Switching is surprisingly easy. WordPress has an import feature built in that will automatically move all the posts from your old blog to your new WordPress blog. Neat, huh? It currently supports importing from LiveJournal, Blogger, Dotclear, MT (Movable Type), Text Pattern, or an RSS Feed.

Importing from Blogger.com (mattgadient.blogspot.com in my case) was really quite simple. All I had to do was enter my username and password, and WordPress automatically logged in to Blogger.com, made a template change, pulled all my posts, and then restored the Blogger site. They of course recommend you back up from blogger first in case something goes awry, but I didn’t, and even though it experienced a time-out during the transfer, it managed to pick up where it left off and finished just fine.

Now it isn’t quite that simple. First you have to install WordPress. If you’re not technically minded, this can be a challenge, as it involves copying files to your host, changing permissions, setting up a database, and editing a couple files. Fortunately, there’s a lot of detail on the WordPress site to help walk you through it. If you’re really lucky, your host might offer WordPress installation through Fantastico, which means it’s a matter of a few easy steps before you’re set up (although you’ll still have to do a few technical things afterwards). Once you’re all set up though, it’s smooth sailing.

Why the switch?

Blogger is honestly great for beginners. You don’t have to really set anything up. If you’ve ever created a Yahoo/Hotmail/Gmail email account, you have enough technical know-how to set up a blog through Blogger. It’s simple. Once you have a grasp of things, you can start learning to make changes to your template, make tweaks to your pages through HTML, etc, but you’re not forced to.
But there are a few sacrifices you make by staying with Blogger.com…

  1. You never really own the site. If for some reason it was ever ‘taken away’ from you, you’d have no recourse.
  2. Sloppy HTML. Every time I go to edit the html of the page I’m working on, I’m confronted with layers of “span” tags. Not a big deal for those who never edit the html directly. Eventually they’ll probably make changes to the editor though to resolve this issue.
  3. Slow servers. Maybe this will change in the future. Lately though, things have been slow… so slow at times that I spent an hour trying to upload an image. I finally gave up and waited until the next day. The server that my blog was hosted on also seemed to go down fairly often. Hosting your own site, you obviously have a little more control in choosing a good host.
  4. Limited Adsense placement. To their credit, they offer easy Adsense integration if you want an ad at the top of the page before the first post. With a little template editing, you can also get ads in the sidebar, footer, between posts, or just above the comments. However, if you try to move an ad inside a post, it won’t work. Unfortunately, within the content is a great position for ads, especially if you have a long post.
  5. Basic, limited options. There isn’t a heck of a lot of flexibility, and you won’t really notice this until you change, or until there’s a feature you want that isn’t available.

Again, Blogger.com is absolutely fantastic for beginners, and for basic blogs. But those who are serious about blogging will undoubtedly find themselves looking for more.

The little things all add up, and hence were the reason for my switch. After experiencing the flexability offered by WordPress, I don’t think I could ever go back. Keep in mind that if you’re thinking of switching yourself, there certainly is a technical curve with hosting your own WordPress site. If you can manage it though, it won’t be a decision you’ll regret.

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