It’s my WordPress anniversary (ish)! I’d say we’re pretty serious now. Making the move was probably one of the biggest blogging decisions I had to make, the equivalent of moving from a flatshare to a mortgaged, fixer-upper I’d imagine. You may know that I um-ed and ah-ed for ages before taking the plunge and I have no regrets. I’ve not broken anything yet and Blogger feels like a past life.
I’ve been using the platform for just over a year and although I’m no expert, I thought I’d share my honest opinion as to whether the move to self-hosted WordPress is worth it. I know everyone’s situation is different and it’s so useful to know about the nitty gritty details before shelling out. Don’t be like me with my disappearing email address on the launch day!
Plugins – The first thing anyone will mention are all the plugins. This sounded like a party I wasn’t invited to when I was over on Blogger, but once I moved, I found it all a bit overwhelming. Think of them as little recipes you can use to customise your site and make it even more useful. Here’s a few of the basics to start off with:
- Yoast SEO – This has a traffic light style checklist to help you make every single post SEO-friendly. Sometimes I don’t manage to get everything covered, but it reminds me to keep my focus keyword consistent and page title to a suitable length. Chloe Digital goes into more depth here.
- Drafts For Friends – Remember Blogger with their randomly expiring previews? Well Drafts For Friends allows you to create a link to a preview of your post, which you can set for as long as you like. Handy if you’re waiting for it to get approved by a brand, you can extend it and the link stays the same.
- Rel Nofollow Checkbox – A recent discovery that makes it easy to make your links for gifted items and sponsored content Google-friendly.
- Jetpack – This is a must for so many reasons but I mainly use the Publicize feature, which automatically shares my blog posts to Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook and Google Plus.
- Askimet – Banish those spammy comments to the depths of the trash can. No one needs to see 26 lines of gibberish on the Kardashians.
Creating posts – The interface may look complex at first, but I’ve found it so much easier to compose posts on WordPress. For starters it’s easier to link to your own content, just bring up the main dialog box and search for the relevant post to help your inbound linkage situation.
There’s also a built in word count, distraction free mode without all the toolbars plus you can look at past versions of your posts. You’ll also notice a handy navigation bar whenever you’re on your own site, so you can quickly go into editing mode if you spot a typo.
The WordPress app – So I’ve now found out that the Blogger app doesn’t even exist any more (!), but even when it did, it was pretty frustrating. WordPress have got things sorted when it comes to writing on the go. Although I still wouldn’t construct a post from scratch, it’s easy to add links, sort basic formatting and reply to all your comments. Just be sure to check that your publish date is correct, as sometimes it’ll switch from ‘immediately’ to when you first started writing.
Things To Consider
The Cost – As I mentioned in my redesign post, this was definitely the biggest blogging investment I’ve had to make. I really wanted a custom design that encompassed a lot of the functionality I’d been seeing. Of course there are other options and there are many templates you can buy and tweak, it really depends how much having a custom design means to you. If you need any updates, then thats something to consider too.
There’s also monthly hosting to pay for and you have to consider the space you’ll need. I’m with Pixel and they’ve been fine, albeit with one day where my site was completely down. I also have a feeling that I’m paying for my email address twice (don’t ask). If I were to start afresh, I would try and keep my hosting, custom email and domain with one company.
It’s overwhelming – Yes the possibilities are endless but sometimes that means that you don’t know where to start. I’m always slightly cautious when venturing into my settings and afraid that I’m going to break my site if I update anything. I’ve heard so many horror stories and if something goes wrong, it’s an extra expense.
I have figured out how to do some basic tweaks, like adding to my Travel page and updating my social media buttons within the Appearance > Customize section. From there it’s pretty self-explanatory and you can always preview before saving. If you do work with a developer, it’s best to ask how to update all of these elements, so you’re not completely lost when you have to do it.
Some random bugs – Even though I’ve been signing its praises, WordPress does have its moments and is by no means glitch-free. I’ve had issues scheduling posts and the image quality doesn’t ever seem to look the same as when it’s in Lightroom.
Make a plan for moving over – Again, it’s a little bit like moving house. Make sure you allow for testing and getting used to the platform. Here’s another handy checklist:
- Inform Bloglovin to make sure your posts get pulled through.
- Add your Google analytics code, meta descriptions plus any others you need for tracking.
- Update any automated social sharing such as Ifttt.
- Check your site on multiple devices if possible.
- Put your hosting renewal date in your diary, if it’s not automatic.
Are there any other reasons why WordPress floats your boat? Putting this post together has also reminded me of the things I need to tweak for my first update! Although I’m sure I could have had a version of the site I have now with Blogger, it probably wouldn’t have been everything I wanted. Not to mention that the future of Blogger is uncertain (since it’s not Google’s priority) and I feel a lot more secure owning my little corner of the Internet. Anything is possible with WordPress and it’s definitely worth considering if you want to make your blog into something more serious.
Feel free to ask me any more questions about the nitty gritty details!