Switching to Wordpress is a big step for any blogger to take. There's a risk that your content will get lost in the shuffle and most importantly, that your readers might get lost. But there are so many potential benefits - better SEO, more plug-ins, etc. I've been weighing the risks versus benefits for a long time. Danny of Bewitched Bookworms is the main person who swayed my opinion. When I visited her in August, we spent several hours staring at her Wordpress account as she showed me all the cool things she could do with it and how much it had helped her blog (although I think Danny, Pushy, and Heather's hard work helped more than anything).
I'm guessing I'm not alone in thinking about a Wordpress switch. Lots of blogs have fabulous posts about the pro's and con's of Wordpress and great technical information about switching. I wanted to collate the opinions of numerous bloggers who've already made the switch, so you can read multiple opinions in one post.
Thank you to all the bloggers who took the time to answer my Wordpress switch-over questions! There were so many of you that I am splitting this post into two. Last week I featured the experiences of Rebecca of Kindle Fever, Mariya of Mystifying Paranormal Reviews, and Anna of Anna Reads.
This week, we'll be hearing from Danny of Bewitched Bookworms, Jenn of The Bawdy Book Blog, and Missie of The Unread Reader. Pay attention to Missie's responses. She is the only person I've spoken with who's had a bad experience with Wordpress. I'm going to bold her responses. I think it's important to consider the negative.
1. When did you switch to Wordpress? What prompted you to do it?
Missie: I switched over in April. I had been wanting a new blog design, and since I'd been thinking of switching over for a while, it made sense to me to do it all at once, new design, new platform. Since I'd been blogging for over two years, I guess I thought switching over was the next step to take.
Danny: I switched December 2011. But I wanted to switch for nearly a year before that. I was doing research and quite frankly, I was a little scared about moving which is why it too me so long. I was looking on how to do the switch and about what could happen. What made me finally take this step was after finishing my PhD in November I wanted somehow a new start. I didn't have much time 6 month before that and I saw my Pageviews getting lower, so I felt I needed a new start and that this finally was my time for Wordpress!
Jenn: I switched in June/July 2011. I had been blogging about six months when our little group of blogger buds (myself, My Shelf Confessions, Kindle Fever, Book Savvy Babe, Letters Inside Out, etc) decided that Blogger had become unreliable in losing posts, follower counts, and the like. Occasionally Blogger would go down, or would go into maintenance mode at a critical time when a post would need to go live, when we (or at least I) had committed to a post going up, and that was frustrating. Self-hosted Wordpress allowed me the control to schedule when I want, perform maintenance when I want, install the widgets and plugins I want (and more of them!) and really, the only thing I have to worry about is if my web-host goes down, which has only happened once that I can recall. I suppose I also have to worry about the Google services I rely on, like GFC and Feedburner going away, but it was my choice to rely on them, and it's my choice to use something different. It all comes down to choices, and with Blogger, you don't really have many.
2. Did you have any difficulties during the switch? What’s the best way to minimize problems?
Missie: I encountered a ton of problems making the switch. The most devistating was that I lost all of my blog comments. Aside from that, most of my posts didn't carry over the same format, so they looked ugly, and a lot of the links I took the time to include in my posts broke. As for minimizing problems when making the switch, I'm not really sure what to suggest. It seemed like something that was just my bad luck because I hadn't heard of anyone else having such difficulties. One thing that helped me retrieve most of my comments was to upload my blog from Blogger to Wordpress.com, then save it, then transfer that file to Wordpress.org. I'm so not a techie person, so I had to ask for help from Felicia, Geeky Blogger's Book Blog. She was amazing and really helped me figure out what went wrong.
Danny: Nope, it went over so smoothly it was wonderful! And the best decision was to hire someone to do this switch! I found Tanya and she had a great portfolio of switched and she seemed like she knew what she was doing. It was only $80 for moving my blog, including 1 year of hosting! She did everything from setting up hosting, setting up Wordpress and moving everything! I just had to sit there and wait till it was over! I can only recommend hiring someone doing it for you. Those people move blogs all the time and know what to do when something goes wrong!
Jenn: I think the biggest difficulty I had during the switch was moving feeds over, technical things like that. It was way over my head at the time, but I was fortunate to have Bex from Kindle Fever helping me when I needed it. At one point, I just gave her the admin log in to the site and told her to have fun LOL.
3. Did switching to Wordpress hurt your pageviews? How did you get them back up? Do you think that eventually you have more pageviews at least in part because of Wordpress?
Missie: I have to admit, traffic monitoring features are much better on Wordpress, but the numbers are always different, depending on which plugin you're using, so I don't really pay attention to them. Since switching over to Wordpress, I haven't been as dedicated to blogging as I once was. Blogging just isn't as fun for me as it used to be, so I think that is the main reason why my stats went down.
Danny: Actually I was surprise that it didn't affect my page views, I was prepared for a drop and ready to invest time to get them up. But honestly, it was also the time I spend more time with blogging and investing in my blog anyway so it was a smoothness transition. Even more, I think that eventually I got more page views. Also because I got a new layout, which is always something they helps enormously since people love to spend time on a pretty blog. So in the end my page views went up because if a combination of things, wordpress, time and a new professional layout.
Jenn: It didn't really hurt my page views. There's a handy plugin called Blogger to Wordpress Redirect that, if set up correctly, redirects anyone that goes to your old blogger domain to your new Wordpress domain, so no one really gets lost or thinks you've disappeared. Everything I've heard tells me it's easier to get page views on your own Wordpress domain, because SEO likes WP more....don't quote me on that though, others with more knowledge can tell you if that's accurate.
4. Is it harder to get attention from publishers / authors when you can’t rely on a GFC follower count?
Missie: Not sure. I've never been one to actively try to contact publishers/authors, but I did notice an increase in those contacting me.
Danny: Seriously, I have no idea. I know that a lot of publishers also check things like Alexa Ratings and there we do extremely well. Interestingly, I found that GFC numbers mean nothing in the end. When I compare our blog to well established blogs with more than 4000 GFC Followers, we have a much higher Alexa Rating. Then, there are Blogs with only 2000 GFC who have a much higher Alexa Rating than we have. So in the end, GFC means nothing in terms of page views in the end. To get back to the point, now I do not think that not having GFC follower numbers affects my relationship with publishers.
Jenn: Not at all. I've only received more attention from them. I don't have the highest unique follower counts and pageviews, but I get enough repeat visits, and I network enough that the pubs know me and GFC hasn't mattered a lick. And I'll tell you what....when Google walled off their little GFC garden to WP users, I was initially mad, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized I was relying on a number and not on networking to get The Bawdy Book Blog name out there. It forced me to network and mingle more. I think I've done better without GFC than I would have with it.
5. Do you think the SEO opportunities for Wordpress are better than for Blogger?
Missie: Yes, they are, but again, I don't really mess with that stuff.
Danny: Oh hell yes! Even though it's funny considering that blogger is owned by google. But still there are plugins for SEO optimization and it works awesome! I can define keywords for each blog posts and I finally see my blog posts coming in Google searches up.
Jenn: I'm a really terrible person to ask about SEO, because I suck so horribly at it. I'll let one of the other ladies answer.
6. What’s the best thing about Wordpress?
Missie: Can't think of anything I'd say is the "best".
Danny: The full control I have over my blog and the more professional look! With WP I can define my blog with plugins and have full control over my site. If you want a list of plugins that are unique for WP, I'd happy to provide them to you!
Jenn: The full control you have over your content, the timing of the content, the widgets and plugins, how it looks, absolutely everything is customizable to the experience YOU want to deliver.
7. What’s the worst thing about Wordpress?
Missie: Having to pay for hosting. The constant way links become disabled. The constant plugin updates that cause downtime on your blog. The constant Wordpress updates that make your posts disappear completely.
Danny: Well, if something goes wrong it's on you to fix it. for instance if you install a plugin that crashes your site (can happen) then you have to fix it on your own. But, with a great host you can rely on their service hotline to get help. So far, I got everything fixed pretty soon. Honestly? That is a price I pay happily for all the advantages I gain with WP!
Jenn: It's not free, but the cost is nominal. I pay $7.95 a month for my own domain. The learning curve can be a little rough if you've been with Blogger for awhile, and sometimes formatting posts is a pain, because what you see is not always what you get (but you learn how to work around that). But I say don't let that stop you.
Also, not everything will migrate. I had some problems with my link structures and had to manually fix those all. Plus, some posts will be lost in migration. You have to go in and figure out which ones were lost, repost them, etc. It was time-consuming!
Have you thought about switching to Wordpress? What concerns do you have?
If you've already switched to Wordpress, are you happy about it? Any tips to offer?
Stay tuned for the next batch of Wordpress switch-over advice!!!!