Last month I moved my blog to WordPress.org after nine years on another platform. I also moved my shop from Big Cartel to my new WordPress site. The decision to move was a hard one to make and meant a big investment in both time and money. I know that I wasn’t alone in wondering whether it was worth it and now that it’s complete (and I’m so happy!) I thought I’d help you evaluate whether you should move, too. Everyone raves about WordPress, but should you really take the plunge? And if you don’t yet have a blog, should you start there?
My site was on Typepad (I used Fantasktic to migrate because they specialize in this especially tricky migration), but I think there are far more people who are currently using Blogger who are asking themselves these same questions right now. To learn more about evaluating a move from Blogger to WordPress I talked with WordPress developer, Sarah Bailey.
Sarah is not only a WordPress developer. She’s also a sewist. She comes to her developer role with a unique understanding of sewing and craft blogs and she does WordPress work for many sewing bloggers whose names you’ll recognize including Rachael of ImagineGnats, Sara of SewSweetness, and Stephanie of the Modern Sewciety podcast. Sarah helped me set up my shop here on my new site and I found her to be amazing to work with: highly responsive, very knowledgable and straightforward, and affordable, too. I’ve been recommending her to everyone I know!
Here’s what Sarah told me about how to evaluate whether you should move your blog from Blogger to WordPress:
Blogger is a popular choice for people new to blogging. When most people set out to create a blog, they typically have little to no website experience. Coupled with general Blogger popularity, it does seem like the easiest free choice. Lots of people use it, people create templates for it, and it’s moderately customizable while still being usable.
Figure Out Your Goals
As to whether Blogger is the wisest choice when you’re first starting out, that really depends on your goals. If you start blogging with the intent of opening an online shop in the near future, skip Blogger, start with WordPress.com. Also, if you think that moving to a self-hosted WordPress site is even a remote possibility in the future, I encourage you to start with a WordPress.com blog instead. It makes migrating so much easier. (Read more about the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org here).
If you want to blog to document your sewing projects and maybe have a place for friends and family to see what you’re up to, Blogger is probably a good choice.
Think About Ecommerce
Many of my clients have been extremely popular bloggers using Blogger so it is definitely possible, but I’m not sure how sustainable it is long-term. Popular is a fairly vague word, but I’m referring to at least 3,000 hits a day on average, and 6,000 during peak events. There are some advantages to Blogger, even for those with huge followings – Blogger handles all of your SEO, for example. The server capacity is also excellent.
Unfortunately you can’t really easily integrate an online shop. You have to outsource those to something like Craftsy, Etsy, Big Cartel or e-Junkie. Then you find yourself managing your products in multiple places and paying lots of transaction fees. Add that on top of the frustration related to customization and you end up spending a lot of your time just managing your blog, instead of actually blogging.
Indicators that a Switch is in Order
Here are my top 3 indicators that you should probably switch to a self-hosted WordPress site:
- You’re annoyed with Blogger. Restrictions, difficulty of use, up-time, customization. All of it is really bugging you.
- You spend more time managing your blog than working on the creating new blog posts.
- You want to integrate a shop into your blog and you’re tired of paying fees for it.
Going From a Free Platform to a Paid Platform
A self-hosted WordPress site isn’t free like Blogger. You should expect to spend at least $100/year just keeping a self-hosted WordPress blog up and running, much more if you’re getting more than 1500 hits a day, so ideally your blog will bring in at least enough money to support itself if you’re going to move. If you’re getting less than 500 hits a day, give or take, or if you’re just not sure if you want to continue with this blogging thing, instead, try beefing up on other social platforms that take less time to manage like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
When you are using a developer like myself it’s not necessarily hard, but requires some organization and some learning is definitely required on the part of the user. However, the #1 thing you can do to make your transition easy for yourself is choose the right developer. Make sure you choose someone that has done several Blogger -> WordPress migrations and can provide references. This is not the time to give your cousin’s boyfriend a leg up, this is your business. There are a lot of tiny steps that add up to a perfect migration, and if one step is missed it can mean hours of backtracking and clean up (trust me, I know!), so make sure your developer knows what s/he is doing.
Outside of choosing the wrong developer, by far, the #1 issue I run into with clients is indecision. They can’t pick a theme they like, or need to reorganize the site content but don’t know what the structure should be. I’ve got a limited amount of time dedicated to a single client, so if you can’t make up your mind by the time I’m scheduled to start it throws the timing out of whack. I do also occasionally get truly technically challenged clients who have a hard time learning a new platform, but they usually work it out over time with some hand-holding.
Making the Transition as Smooth as Possible
If you want to switch to WordPress using a developer, here’s how you can make the process go much more smoothly:
- Know what you want. Send your developer some sites that you like, and think about how you’d like your content structured before you start work. Do some googling on good and bad WordPress themes, and think about an overall style and feeling you like. A good developer will be able to recommend some themes based on your preferences, and they should also be able to tell you whether a theme will be good for you or not before purchasing.
- Learn how to use WordPress, at least the basics, before you make the transition. It’s so much easier and faster for a developer to say “go edit your categories to make more sense for your site” than to explain how to do it, or research links to videos or articles on how to do it. Think of it another way: you are paying them quite a lot of money to google a set of instructions for you, or even worse, write instructions for you. There are lots of beginner WordPress tutorials. Go find some!
- Clean up your blog before you begin the transition. Delete old drafts, delete old pages you don’t need anymore. Get rid of stuff in the sidebar you don’t want to carry over. These are all things your developer will have to sort through, so the less cruft, the better.
Let’s Hear from Someone Who Did It!
When I started blogging I chose Blogger because it was easy to use and I had no clue what I was doing. I wasn’t necessarily unhappy with Blogger when I decided to change. My switch to WordPress was the result of my decision to change my blog name. I wanted to take my blog in a new direction and I knew I wouldn’t be able to do that on my own. When I found Sarah, I decided to not only change my blog name but to also make the switch to WordPress.”
Sarah helped me step by step through the whole process and made it very easy. She was very professional and informative and helped guide me in the right direction. She was even able to set up a new online store for me which will save me a lot of money each month. My new site is everything I wanted it to be. I was worried that WordPress would be difficult but it’s not. It’s been a very easy transition for me and I love my new blog home!
If you’re thinking of making the switch to WordPress, do it! I have no regrets and I’m very glad I did it. I wish I had done it sooner.
How to Hire Sarah
My rate is $77.50/hour. A basic Blogger to WordPress migration with me costs about $385 with minimal changes to the WordPress theme and includes SEO, follower migration, and caching setup, and adding a shop costs roughly $100 extra. You can expect large design houses to charge around $100-$120/hour.
You should never pay less than $300 for a migration. If you do, you’re probably going to have a bad experience. I’ve seen a few developers offering migrations for $129 each, and I can guarantee you the clients are rarely satisfied and definitely aren’t getting personalized service. Some of those clients have come to me to clean up the mess they made. Beware of deals. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
Check out Sarah Bailey’s website, SpunMonkey. Have a particular question or ready to get started? Email her: Sarah at SpunMonkey dot com.
Have you moved your site from one blogging platform to another? What was the experience like?
If you have any questions for Sarah, please ask! She’ll happily answer in the comments.