Hi guys! As you may have noticed, I recently redesigned my blog and moved to WordPress from Blogger. I thought it might be helpful to share some of the things I’ve learned during this process since it can be really confusing and feel a little overwhelming once you go down the rabbit hole of online tutorials. I think a lot of us want to make changes and let our blogs grow and evolve, but may be intimidated by some of the more technical aspects of web development (I know I was!)
I’m not going to talk too much about the design end since this is pretty personal and really depends on your style and blog identity. Rather, today I am going to focus on the technical side of moving from a blogspot address to a custom URL, and some basic information about other blogging platforms if you are considering making a move.
Blogger is a really wonderful platform when you are starting a blog. It’s free, simple to customize and has a user-friendly interface. There are many beautiful blogs on Blogger and I don’t want to disparage it, but I realized it was no longer right for me as Closet Case Files started to evolve, especially since I am an insanely picky designer who needs to have total control over everything.
My number one piece of advice to Blogger users who want to grow their blog is to switch from a blogspot.com address to a custom URL, even if you do not intend to switch blogging platforms.
- It looks better and more professional as a web address. I always hated the blogspot.com at the end of my URL. When people used to ask me for my website I would say “Closet Case Files dot *whispering* blogspot dot com”. It felt like saying “Geocities” or “Angelfire” (‘member the 90’s, people?!)
- A custom web address is easier for people to remember.
- If you ever move to another web platform, it will be ten times easier to transfer your content since you will be keeping your permalink structure (more on that shortly).
- There is no guarantee that Blogger as a service that will be around forever. It is owned by Google, and we all know what happened to Google Reader (RIP old friend). Setting yourself up to make a quick switch if you need to is in your best interest!
- Down the road you may decide to purchase your domain name and realize someone got to it first. Beat those cybersquatters to the punch!
You can go the easy route and follow this detailed tutorial which walks you through moving from blogspot to a custom url very easily using the Blogger interface. That tutorial also includes a discount code to switch to a custom domain for only $1.99 (it generally runs around $15-20 a year). You can still continue to use Blogger as your platform – you just won’t have the blogspot suffix anymore. Blogger will automatically redirect your web traffic (from bookmarks, Pinterest, web searches etc.) but you will still have to update your RSS feed link (keep reading for more on that….)
WHAT ARE PERMALINKS AND WHY DO I CARE?
A permalink is the “permanent” link to all your individual blog content. Even if you change the name of a post later on, the permalink stays the same. For example, you write a post called “Sewing Buttonholes” on your blogspot address. Once you create that post, the permalink becomes:
The non-italicized part is your web domain address. The italicized part is the permalink for each post or page. In order to make transfers between blogging platforms easier, it is better to have a non-Blogspot address so your permalinks never change. Instead of:
it would be:
If you ever import your blog history into a new platform, the links to all your pages and posts stay exactly the same. This is really important for things like maintaining web traffic, keeping your “Google juice” and making sure links from other sources like Pinterest keep working. I know all this stuff because I imported my Blogger blog directly into WordPress without doing a custom URL first and it created some headaches down the road. I had to use a plugin to reroute traffic and pay my web developer to help me manually move a few stubborn links; it’s not an ideal situation but it was my only option. Save yourself the aggravation and get your custom URL set-up BEFORE you make any other moves!
For anyone moving to WordPress, you will have to change your permalink structure in WordPress to mimic your old Blogger permalink structure. The tutorials I link to below explain that in more detail.
I recently discovered Feedburner and HALLELULAH! If you are interested in keeping tabs on who is subscribing to you via rss, this is a lifesaver. It is essentially a feed management system which creates a simple place for users to subscribe to your blog via their rss reader of choice. You can see what my Feedburner page looks like here. Providing a link on your blog to your Feedburner page makes it really easy for people to subscribe to your content, and allows you to track followers which is nice to know (and also may be helpful if you are interested in providing reader statistics to possible advertisers down the road). It only takes a minute to sign up.
If you decide to move from a blogspot address to a custom URL, you will have to update your rss feed address in Blogger so all your followers are automatically rerouted to your new rss feed. There is a simple tutorial here. Again, it only takes a moment. Please note Feedburner does not include Bloglovin’ as a subscription service! You will have to email the customer support team at Bloglovin’ and let them know your url has changed; they will update it automatically for you. They explain how to do that here.
ON CHANGING PLATFORMS….
There are pros and cons to all of the popular blog hosting services. I did a ton of research before I moved over to WordPress and I’ll be honest… it’s not for everyone. I’m very grateful to Blogger for creating a super easy-to-use interface that let me focus on my content when I started writing Closet Case Files. I probably would have continued to use it if I wasn’t building a business and discovering how much more functionality I required.
WordPress is great in that it offers limitless creative potential IF you have some money and time to invest. You’ll need to pay for monthly web hosting (Bluehost is around $7/month), find a good template (which range from $20-100), and unless you are technically inclined and very patient, may need help from a professional developer to tweak things here and there (if you are a nitty gritty perfectionist like myself). I spent a lot of time researching arcane CSS and HTML tutorials and in the end, it was much easier for me to hire a professional to do the heavy lifting. I think it is definitely possible to go full DIY, but you will definitely be googling things you never imagined.
Squarespace is another great option. They have BEAUTIFUL templates and once you get the hang of it, the interface is easy to use. I came very close to using Squarespace for my blog, but in the end I decided I needed more design flexibility and better plug-in options. It is a fun, affordable option if you want something polished without a lot of hassle.
Please note that not all of their templates have the option to add a blog sidebar, which is pretty important to most bloggers. The following templates have sidebar capability: Beatrice, Dovetail, Hudson, Montauk, Avenue, Frontrow, Forte, Ishimoto, and Galapagos. If you’re curious about checking them out, Squarespace has a free two week trial period and SUPER helpful customer service. It will run you about $8 a month all included (google discount codes since they often have specials).
If you decide to switch platforms there are lots of great online tutorials for handling the transfer. I referred to this one and this one. One thing to keep in mind is that if you make the switch, your tinkering will be “live” so it’s wise to either:
a) Refine your blog design before importing posts OR
b) Set-up a “test” blog on a subdomain and play around there before going live. There are dozens of resources online explaining how to do this.
This is only a small portion of things I discovered in this process but I think I’ll leave it at that for today. My apologies if you’re bored out of your skull. I just wanted to share some hard earned lessons and save you from some of the “head banging against wall” I’ve been doing the last few months. Hope this helps anyone thinking about upgrading from their .blogspot address! It takes a little time and effort but I think owning your own domain is definitely worth it!