Wednesday, October 10, 2012

To Wordpress or Not To Wordpress: Bloggers Speak!

More and more bloggers are abandoning the Google ship in favor of the foreign waters of Wordpress. I'm considering taking the plunge. In fact, I'm pretty sure I'm going to do it.

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. Today, I'm featuring the experiences of Rebecca of Kindle Fever, Mariya of Mystifying Paranormal Reviews, and Anna of Anna Reads. Stay tuned for the next installment!

*And also thanks to my husband for letting me spend an hour on his computer setting this post up when I should have been making dinner. Sorry we won't be eating until after 9 pm!

1. When did you switch to Wordpress? What prompted you to do it?


Rebecca: Basically I had gotten so sick of Blogger. There were many reasons and most were because of bugs (like the one time a few posts and comments randomly disappeared), but I think the main reason was that it always took hours to format any posts when their editor kept adding or deleting random html codes all the time. I actually tried it almost a year after the move again, and still had issues with it! I know many haven't experienced this though and they're very lucky! On top of this, I also thought the Wordpress sites were a lot prettier when it came to themes, and I'm a sucker for those. LOL.

Mariya: Let's see. It was the end of April to be precise that I switched over. I think there were many things that prompted the switch from Blogger to WP. I know many were making the switch for the fear that google could delete their blog. There were just so many things in the google products I was fed up with. I hate the new changes, yes.

I think I have to list the new blogger interface thing. I have a friend who decided to go with WP and I was learning it with her and I ended up liking it better. And also the freedom you get in WP is another plus. There are things about google I missed at first because I was so use to Blogger, but it's about getting out of your comfort zone and as soon as you use WP constantly, you'll love it!

Anna: I switched to Wordpress in February of this year, at the same time I redesigned my blog. I figured, two-in-one, why not? I'd been thinking about Wordpress for a while...knowing a lot about SEO, I knew that they had better options, and I liked a lot of the plug-in choices as well. Plus, I wanted to host my own blog, having heard a few Google horror stories. I'd played around on Wordpress for a while before making the decision, and it just felt like a better user experience for me personally.

2. Did you have any difficulties during the switch? What’s the best way to minimize problems?


Rebecca: My biggest issue was probably to understand how self-hosting really works and to find a good host! But thanks to some lovely bloggers, I found one I absolutely loved. The move itself was super easy and I'm surprised I managed it so well on my own. As I continued helping people move, it just got easier and easier! The best way to minimize problems is probably to do your research before doing it so you have an idea of how things work and what you're really doing. Talking to someone who's already moved can also be a big help!

Mariya: Oh, god! The switch! I know! The thing everyone is terrified of! Research! PJV made a post on how to do the switch, the exporting of your posts, the whole choosing a web host and importing everything into WP! That is the easy part! I had parts that were a bit confusing which I tweeted her about and anyone who has transferred over are more than happy to help, because of the hell we all went through getting everything all transferred over.

I do have to say the switching and transferring is the easy part, but getting your design from blogger to WP is the killer part. There is NO DESIGN TEMPLATE thing to make it easy. Everything is in HTML/CSS. You have to do your blog designing by hand. I will say this part took longer and quite a bit of time. If you are not familar with Advanced Web Design, I highly recommend you hire someone to get your blog design transferred over if that is something you are worried about. Just a little mistake in the HTML/CSS, if you make a typo, your blog could get an error and you cannot fix it unless you go to your host to remove what you did. SCARY! I know. So I recommend not touching anything in the Design part of your blog unless you are advanced in web design and know all the coding stuff.

I wanna say the best way to minmize problems is to definitely follow PJV tutorial word for word, and ask if you don't understand anything for sure! Always ask! Or hire someone to do the move for you. It will be worth it in the end!

Anna: Luckily, someone else was doing the switch for me, so I could breathe relatively easily. That being said, there were TONS of difficulties. Tears were shed.

From everyone I've talked to, it sounds like that's not uncommon -- the problems just vary from situation to situation. I'm just grateful that I did a TON of research. Even though someone did most of the migration for me, little problems popped up afterward, and it was solely up to me to solve them. So I was glad I at least had a basic knowledge to fall back on so that I knew where I could turn for help.

You just have to go in prepared that something WILL go wrong. Do your research and don't be afraid to ask questions. Am I scaring you? Don't be scared...everything got fixed eventually.

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?


Rebecca: Oh no! I mean, sure it always takes a little while until everything is completely in order--just as with any move--but after that they've just gone up! I just kept posting and visiting people as I always had. Of course it's hard to know if it's because of WP or just my blog growing, but I know that the numbers quickly increased after the move. I could definitely see more visiting from Google than before though.

Mariya: I sort of feel like I had to start over in a way. The one things that terrifies us all is loosing GFC! We rely on it too much. It's easy to follow by it, but we just rely on it too much. I know I did. It kind of scared me and terrified me to loose it because I had 1000+ followers on there. I recommend posting a post on Blogger right away, as soon as you can again about the switch so they get a heads up and give them a little time to move go through feedburner, or I guess what subscribtion link you're doing now.

But I felt like my views actually got higher when I switched. I got more comments in the first couple of months than I normally had in Blogger. I was like WOW. I had went back to #FF. It kinda of felt like I was starting over a bit, but kind of not. If you normally get a lot of comments and a good following and give a little heads up to them, no worries they'll get the memo.

Anna: I'm not going to lie, it totally hurt my pageviews. But once I fixed some initial problems with my feeds and Google Reader, they went back up.

Get Google Analytics and Site Meter now, and get used to reading your stats that way. For a while, I only looked at Blogger stats, which are crazy inflated. So when I started to view my stats more regularly through Google Analytics and Site Meter it was...shocking. Get used to it early!

4. Is it harder to get attention from publishers / authors when you can’t rely on a GFC follower count?


Rebecca: I thought it would be when they first closed GFC for non-Blogger sites, but I have to say not at all. Mentioning your subscribers works just as well as GFC did! I actually felt I almost got more attention after that.

Mariya: I haven't requested in a while. I feel like I haven't, because I have been a little MIA lately. But of the books I had requested I had no problems really. I mean I have WP email subscription and had Feedburner and combined, I had a good solid following number/views. I mean as long as you've got the stats, you're fine. I do stat counter too, which shows all sorts of views, which helps.

Anna: Not at all. It's been SOOOOO freeing for me. Besides my new design, I think it's the best thing that's come out of the switch.

My priorities totally shifted since I didn't have that number staring at me every time I looked my blog. I think statistics and follower numbers are important, but without GFC, I find myself thinking more about writing for myself and about making smart content decisions, rather than obsessively tracking views, followers, etc. and comparing myself with other blogs.

If I hadn't already had a really well established blog with great publisher connections, however, I do think it might have been a different story. Publishers already knew me, so I didn't rely on my follower numbers and such in my communications with them. For newer bloggers, it might be an issue.

5. Do you think the SEO opportunities for Wordpress are better than for Blogger?


Rebecca: Oh yeah, I definitely think that. The thing is that you have to do a little work yourself too, in order to get the best result though. You won't have to do everything yourself--there are some fantastic plugins out there (I found and love Yoast SEO for example) where you just have to fix the settings to fit your site and add appropriate information for each post and page. It's not as much work as it sounds though, and definitely worth it in the end!

Anna: Yes, at the time of my switch I believe they were. After I switched, I heard Blogger had come out with new SEO options, but I'm unfamiliar with them so cannot say which is better right now.

Either way, bloggers really do need to make it a point to educate themselves about SEO best practices and options among blogging platforms, as it really does make a huge different in terms of a blog's success on the Internet.

6. What’s the best thing about Wordpress?


Rebecca: Gosh! Hmm... I love that it's easy! To me it's easier to find my way in their dashboard than it ever was on Blogger. It's also completely mine in a way I never felt with Blogger. Then again, I was always scared they would delete my blog. (Something they actually did once after my move!) And of course, we have the plugins that makes it super easy to create professional-looking sites without knowing any coding yourself!

Mariya: The best thing about Wordpress... Hmmm...Like I said earlier, it would definitely be the freedom, you are not limited to do what you want to do. There are plugins for almost anything. Find out what you wanna do and you can definitely google it. And also I love the WP posting platform! Easy to use and lots to do!

Anna: I love the plug-ins. I love viewing my scheduled posts in calendar format, love the SEO options, love so many small things. For me, as someone who works on the Web for her day job, it's just more suited to my needs. For those just starting on the Internet and unfamiliar with a lot of HTML and such, I can see why Blogger might be a more user-friendly platform.

7. What’s the worst thing about Wordpress?


Rebecca: I guess the worst thing is that it is mine and it's on me to take care of it. Backing it up, fixing errors that might occur etc. is on me. (Hosts can usually help with most things, but it's not always free. Of course they can still help with instructions though!) I've never encountered any issues I haven't been able to fix myself though, and the fact that I can e-mail my host for help, advice or any questions I might have, definitely makes me feel a lot better!

Mariya: The worse thing about Wordpress, would have to be the HTML stuff I talked about earlier. One little typo or mistake in the HTML part and your site will go to error mode and you will literally panic because your website won't come back up until you find out how to fix it through your host. It's happened to me a few times, but it is still scary when it happens.

Anna: It does take awhile to learn. I suggest you make a fake blog on Wordpress if you're thinking about switching. Play around with it before you decide.

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!!!!

28 comments:

  1. I switched from blogger to WP in September, and I am very happy with it.
    I am not very good with the SEO stuff yet, though, and that is a little frustrating, but I will figure it out.
    Good luck with making your decision Alison.

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    1. oh, and a little PS, I would love to change the theme of my blog just a little so that I can have two sidebars... I am a little afraid of doing so, though, because I have some CSS set up on my current theme, and I really don't want to lose that if I decide to switch back.

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  2. Ah!!! You know how much I love Wordpress and I'm excited to hear everyones opinion of this! I'm happy to hear that many bloggers just like me actually saw an increase in Pageviews!

    Anna said something important about the Blogger Statistics. When you compare them to Google Analytics they are so different and usually so much higher. I remember back then on Blogger for some time I had more than 1000 Pageviews each day, sometimes 1200. Knowing what I know now, this was insanely wrong.

    I have no idea what blogger does, but it just feels wrong!

    It was awesome talking to you and showing you WP, I truly had a lot of fun and I'm excited seeing you switch!

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  3. I attempted to switch last winter, and was utterly disgusted with trying to get WordPress to work for me. It's not for me.

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  4. I can't seem to find a host I like. All the ones that don't charge an arm and a leg want the yearly payment upfront and I can't swing that right now, so I have to wait. :( Otherwise I probably would've switched already.

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    1. Try Tiger Tech. Bex and I both use that and we pay 7.95 each a month, and it's billed monthly. They also offer a lot of benefits, like site backup and free WHOIS security. They are also extremely responsive.

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  5. Very useful information. Thank you! :)

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  6. This was really informative! Thanks for the great post!!

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  7. I started with Wordpress but found it complicated and switched to Blogger! Maybe if I'd stuck to wordpress i'd become to master it but now... I won't change Blogger for anything.

    I do admit that the wordpress designs are much prettier than blogger though.

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  8. I use WP at work for the library's blog and I hate working with it. Everything takes longer from setting up images just right to linking. I just don't think WP is right for me.

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  9. I started with WP but then moved to Blogger as I found WP hard and couldn't manage to work it as well. But I really love Blogger and find it so easy to use! <3

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  10. Since it seems I'm the only non-Blogger AND non-Wordpress user around, I have to chime in and say major props to Movable Type, my bloggie platform :-)

    Tanya Patrice
    Girlxoxo.com"

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  11. I'm sticking to blogger. I like it and it's easy for me. I'm not sure how wordpress will work out for me.

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  12. Great idea! I'm already on Wordpress. I've always been on Wordpress, so I have not switching advice. The only thing I can say is that I love it much more than Blogger. (I've cohosted a couple of Blogger blogs and hated every minute of it.)

    One piece of advice I can give you is that if you can afford it, buy the Genesis framework. I use it and I know Jamie from Perpetual Page Turner uses it. Genesis makes customizing your layout a lot simpler and is very robust with little bugs and quirks that a lot of poorly written themes have.

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  13. I've been contemplating making the switch, but worry about my subscribers and the trouble of re-subscribing. I started a wordpress while still using my blogger, but all my posts and comments are not importing. :( Not to mention my difficulty trying to figure out WP and get it just like I want it. I'm still kind of on the fence with the switch, since blogger is so easy to use.

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  14. Thanks for the post! Like many others, I've been contemplating switching over to Wordpress because Blogger is quite glitchy at times. However, Wordpress seems to be harder to use than Blogger, which I'm not happy about.

    Also it scares me a bit now to switch over because of the use of HTML/CSS in website design, something I'm not good at.

    I've been using Blogger for quite some time now so I'm familiar with it. I'm not sure if I want to switch over to a whole new platform entirely and learn HTML/CSS at the same time..

    Crazy Red Pen

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  15. thanks for this post. I only do my family blog through them and been happy with it so far.
    I like being able to try out a different platform :)

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  16. I've thought about switching but I fear I'm just too lazy. Maybe if someone would do it for me and get it all set up and running...but meh. I don't have that much trouble with Blogger *knocks on wood* But it certainly does give me something to think about! Great post!

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  17. Coincidentally, Blogger reinstated my old Bawdy Books blog on the blogger platform, even though I deleted it in June 2011 and put up a redirect. So now, anyone with the old URL will think something is up with my blog or that I've stopped blogging, because the last post on it is nearly 18 months old.
    I was the one to kill the redirect a couple of months ago because I didn't think it was needed any longer, buuuuut....I guess Blogger thinks I REALLY need or want my old Blogger posts back up.
    They are so unreliable. Deleting blogs, reinstating others. >=(
    THIS is why I am self-hosted on WP.org.

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  18. I don't understand why everyone is switching to WP. I don't think that the designs and layouts are any better than blogger and I don't like how you can't use GFC. I adore GFC.

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  19. I have had no problems with blogger myself. Maybe I just don't do enough, or who knows?? I like blogger and I love being able to follow people through blogger. I finally figured out an easy way to follow people on wordpress! I stopped following them because I had to save all of them in my bookmarks and they were taking up so much space!

    http://domesticrecluse.wordpress.com/2011/06/15/how-to-follow-a-wordpress-blog-using-blogger/

    Angie

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  20. I'm in the process of moving from free WP to self-host WP so this post was really helpful. Thanks!

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  21. Blogger has always worked great for me (touch wood) and I LOVE my blog's design - I can't imagine having to try and duplicate it on WP. It might just be because I'm so familiar with it, but I also can't imagine WP being easier to use then Blogger. Though the SEO/plugin options are tempting.

    But for now, at least, the switch sounds like a lot of work for minimal pay-off.

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  22. Hahaha reading all of the comments is kind of funny. It's like Team Wordpress or Team Blogger?

    I'm using the free wordpress and would love to self host on wordpress.org but I'm a little scared about making the move. I need to do the research though. That and I have no time to figure it out... I barely have time to read books or write posts any more :( And I know I'll be this busy (Probably busier) until early next year.

    I've never used blogger though so I wouldn't be able to compare. Although I am glad that I wouldn't be switching from a completely different platform.

    :)

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  23. I have a backup account on Wordpress, just in case. Once in a while I import all my reactions and posts, but I don't feel fine in Wordpress. I don't know. I don't have so much troubles with blogspot and I'm blogging because I want to have fun, so I don't really care that much about my design and stuff like that. I just want a place to put my thoughts and reviews, so it works fine :) But I can understand why some people would transfer. There are so many pretty standard layouts!

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  24. I've been happy with Blogger for the last 3 years...the only problems I had were with free downloadable designs that usually had a bug or some features stopped working. But overall, I'm ok with it.

    Fingers crossed that your switch goes easy and without problems :)

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  25. I was having a lot of problems with blogger at one point and considered switching to WP but then I started using Live Writer to format my posts and that has gone so well that I don't worry about it anymore.

    I did co-host a site that was on WP and I never had any problems with it but I also didn't see an advantage that would make me switch to it myself.

    one thing I do love about WP over Blogger are the design options. WP blogs just look nicer.

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