building sluiter nation part 2: moving to wordpress

Happy Monday!

Welcome to the second in my three-part series on what I’ve learned about blogging and social media in the almost four years that I have been hanging out around here. The idea for this series came from a post that got WAY more attention than I thought I would.

Last week I wrote about the three years I spent using Blogger.

This week we are talking about my move to WordPress.

First we need to get something straight.  When I talk about WordPress (or WP), I mean wordpress.org.  it is COMPLETELY different than wordpress.com.

WordPress.com is the free site that is the counterpart to Blogger.  It is a BAD idea to move from Blogger to WordPress.com.  If you are looking for free blogging?  Stay on Blogger (or start on WordPress.com).

Ok, so this past fall I moved to WP.org.

I was scared.

I had over three years worth of blogging on my Blogger site.  What if it got lost? What if bad things happened?

I am clearly not the only person who gets a case of cold feet when it comes to moving from one blogging platform to another.  It’s perfectly normal to feel resistance to moving to the unknown.

So I am going to make it a little more known for those of you thinking about switching, and I am going to share my favorite plug-ins with those of you who are already here in WP land.

Why move at all?

I didn’t like the idea that Blogger?  Technically owned my content.  Even though I bought my own url (sluiternation.com), Blogger (who is owned and run by Google)  was my host meaning that Blogger could up and disappear and my blog and all that it is could be gone forever.

That was way scarier to me than any move.

I also was constantly annoyed with little things on Blogger.

It was like a bad relationship where you try to ignore all the millions of annoyances and stick with it even though you know it’s not in your best interest.  I was “comfortable”.  At least in the sense that I knew what I was doing.

And then I met JP.

The Move.

JP Williams is the super awesome husband of Lindsey Williams and together they are one of the most rocking couple on twitter and in the blogosphere.

After months of his convincing me chatting via twitter, we moved our conversation to email and he sent me the options I could choose from IF I decided to move (they are very aptly named, don’t you think?).

He promised my feedburner and my comments and my GFC and everything would move with me.

He promised he would back it up and I could go back to Blogger and I would be refunded if I hated it.

I took the plunge.

And I have NOT looked back.

(for those interested, I went with a custom package–something between Plain Jane and Greedy Greta.)

The move was seamless.

JP not only got everything moved and looking lovely in less than 5 business days, he reassured me and took me through the process step by step so I knew what was happening.

He is very patient, people.

And he has been the “mover” behind a lot of blogs you probably already read.  You can trust your blog with JP.

What I love.

Now that I am all cozy over here, I have learned a few things.

  • I love the dashboard here better.  Everything is in front of me all the time.  It feels MUCH more professional and easy to use.
  • my entire dashboard menu shows no matter what aspect of the blog I am working on.  So if I save a new widget, I can just click to posts from that same screen.  It’s so very user-friendly.
  • I can get a permalink/shortlink to my posts before I post them.  This is SUPER handy for giveaways, but it’s also nice if I am posting something that someone else wants to link to.  I can send them the link before the post actually goes live.
  • I can–and usually DO–draft my posts in full screen mode.  It’s much easier for me to proof and edit when I can see my post filling up the screen instead of in a little draft box.
  • The toolbar has more options than Blogger did.
  • PLUG-INS are the best thing ever invented.

What I use.

Speaking of plug-ins, I promised to tell you my faves.

If you move to WP, Plug-ins are how you get stuff done on the blog.  They are like a Gadget in Blogger, but WAY better.  Plus there are MANY more options in WP for things.  You do have to be careful though.  An addiction to Plug-ins can make for a very slow running, cluttered blog.

If you go to your Add New Plug-ins page, you can search for the following.  I love them.

TweetMeme Retweet: This adds the little RT button at the top of each of my posts.  I use this ALL the time for tweeting my post throughout the day.  Plus I love when blogs have them because they are a quick way for me to share my favorites.  If I have to copy and past your post url into twitter?  I probably won’t share it.  But if you have a RT button?  I am a sharing machine.

LinkWithin: This is the one that shows thumbnails of other posts on Sluiter Nation that you might like.  I feel like it’s good for new readers.  I know if I click over from twitter to a blog I’ve never read, and they have LinkWithin, I am more likely to stay and browse around their site.

Akismet: This catches all your spam.  I don’t know how someone can be on WP without it.

Google Analytics for WP: If you currently use Google Analytics for keeping track of your blog stats, this will help it play nice with your new WP blog.

JetPack: This is actually WP’s analytics.  I have both Google and Jetpack because, well, I am weird about looking at my stats.  To be honest, I don’t always trust Google.  Did I just say that?  YIKES!  They can see me!

Comment Reply Notification: When I comment on someone’s blog, chances are unless it’s one particular blog known for it’s amazing comment section, I am not going to go back and check to see if someone replied, but I do still like to know.  This Plug-in will shoot an email to you when I (or someone else) replies to something you say here on Sluiter Nation.  I do this for you.  I hope you like it.

WP-Polls: This is how you can insert polls to your posts or on your sidebars.

And the winner is…: When I was on Blogger, if I ran a giveaway, I had to use random.org to choose the winner and then COUNT through all the entries until I got to the one that random.org chose.  This plug-in will pick the winner for you by selecting the actual comment.  No counting.  It also closes comments for you when you could to pick.  This makes giveaways SOOO easy.

WP Database Backup: This will back up your blog on a set schedule that you choose to either your computer or in an email it sends you.  I choose to have Sluiter Nation backed up once a week via email.  I have an email folder just for all of my backups.  This makes me feel all safe and lovely.  Especially when I need to update to the latest version of WP.  I know I have a copy of my blog somewhere.

To recap:  WP rules.  JP can get you there.  It’s lovely here.

Are you on WP?  What Plug-ins do you recommend?

*************

The last installment will focus on miscellaneous social media things I have learned while building The Nation.  Let me know if you have any topics you would like me to address.
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About Katie

Just a small town girl...wait no. That is a Journey song. Katie Sluiter is a small town girl, but she is far from living in a lonely world. She is a middle school English teacher, writer, mother, and wife. Life has thrown her a fair share of challenges, but her belief is that writing through them makes her stronger.

Comments

  1. This is awesome. Thanks! I too used JP! I have been looking for more plugins lately. I am stuggling for one to auto post to facebook for me. Anybody got a recommendation for that?

    I do use wordtwit to auto tweet on publish(for scheduled posts…it’s nice) and I use WPTouch to make a nice touch interface for my site on mobile devices!

    • I use WPTouch too. forgot about that one. And I also have an auto tweet set up as well. Like you said, AWESOME for scheduled posts!

      I would also like to know how to make it auto publish to FB. I have it set up that when I link it on my FB fanpage, it auto tweets, but it’d be cook if it went right TO my FB page without the extra step.

    • I use RSS graffiti to publish to FB. Love it and it doesn’t get you caught up in the networked blogs frame.

  2. Thanks friend! I’ll have a forum up soon to help address even more questions.

    Here’s two awesome articles to go along with your article:

    Where to start with WordPress:
    http://codex.wordpress.org/New_To_WordPress_-_Where_to_Start

    WordPress.com vs wordpress.org:
    http://en.support.wordpress.com/com-vs-org/

    • Thanks for the links, you.

      Hopefully you are not cursing my name after you get bombarded with questions and new clients. Or hopefully you don’t think I am lame if no one reads this and takes my advice.

  3. I think I might want to marry you.

    You make it sound easy peasy. I like easy peasy more than anything.

    Thanks so much for sharing this (including JP!)

    • It really was easy. I mean, I was expecting headaches and heartache. It almost completely happened without me noticing. Love.

  4. Love this, so awesome!! I am off to install the majority of the plugins you have listed. Thank you.

    Now I am wondering and hoping perhaps someone reading these comments may be able to help me with a plugin that would allow my to create a page that allows separate posts. For example if I want to create a page for a 365 days of photos project or to track a fitness project where I want to do one post per day. I do not want one huge page but the ability to publish separate posts on the page. Does anyone know of a plugin that does this? I have been searching on and off since Christmas. I can’t afford to pay someone to look for me and so far everything I have found that seems it is what I want turns out not to be.

    • I could be wrong on this, but I think you have to have a subdomain to do that. JP can help with that too. In fact, I have hired him all over again to help me set up a subdomain.

      He is amazingballs at answering questions! On twitter he is @japster24 if you ever want to shoot him a question. (and now he throws things at me! ha!)

    • If you’re talking about a 365 project, I set up a Tumblr account for that. I post my 365 photo on Tumblr and then it pushes to a page linked on my blog.

      For other things, like topical posts, the subdomain route might be easiest.

  5. This is so timely! My WP site is built and ready, but I get shaky when it comes to hitting that import button! I totally have cold feet. I don’t know why.

    I’m making note of al of those plugins you mentioned that I don’t already have installed. Hubs showed me a method of backing up my blog, but that plugin looks like it would be much more efficient.

  6. Great tips, I moved in the fall too and now that i am past the completely overwhelmed state, I love it!

    • I think it might have been ok for me because I do have two blogs on wp.com, so the dashboard and the way things were set up were not new to me.

      It took me a bit to get to know wp from blogger though.

  7. ack, yes, this thing …
    this thing I must do ….

    • i know…i know…ack feels like the right word. but really? It’s an “ahhhh” all nice and cozy-like.

  8. I know I have to go, esp if I am going to take myself seriously about blogging. Stay tuned 2011 is going to be all about change for me. Thanks for this..I love that u are doing ti for us. You ROCK!!!!

  9. You know as I was reading this I was thinking, “I bet I’m familiar with the ones she chooses” and turns out I had no idea about “And the winner is…” Love that I learned something new and thanks for posting this!

    • i wanted to list some pretty standard ones since I had no idea going in what to use…but the “and the winner is…” was an AWESOME find!

  10. WP is heavenly, right? And you were sweet to link to Kristin’s blog. I was unaware of Jet Pack. Do you find much difference between that and GA?

    • it’s lovely because in my dashboard is a quick look just from the day. it updates during the day so you can see how many hits, etc as the day goes on. Also you see your search engine key words that day, etc.

      I feel like it FEELS more reliable than GA.

  11. I have my domain name, but have yet to find someone to help me set up my site/blog… soooo I’ve been using wordpress.com because I was told it would be the easiest to import to my domain once I find someone to help me…. (I used to use blogger, but wanted to try something else). I’m finding this series really interesting. Thank you!

  12. Thanks for the info! I’m actually in the process of having my blog transferred to WP. I’m scared, but SO excited!! I’ll definitely look for these plug ins!

  13. I’m still on the fence about moving. Maybe when life calms down a bit.

    You had me scared because I’m the idiot who didn’t know there was a .com and a .org. But after reading the whole post, it really doesn’t sound scary at all.

  14. This is so awesome Katie. I’m already on wordpress.org but your suggestions for plug ins rock. I have to second you on “& the winner is” whoa its make giveaways so much easier. And I was just looking for the “linkwithin” plug in yesterday but didn’t know the name of it. yay. thank you!

  15. Just installed WP DB Backup and backed up my new site! Thank God there was a plug-in for that – reading through the manual instructions, my brain momentarily flashed, “Incoming! Technical jargon!” and them promptly short-circuited.

  16. P.S. I’ve been trying to install the LinkWithin plugin (which I had on my old Blogger site) with no luck. I can’t figure out what I’m doing wrong.

  17. I love those last few plug-in ideas. I also love the No Right Click and the Blog Protector stuff because I’m weird and I don’t want people being creepy and right clicking to save my pics or highlighting my text. Who would do that? Idk, but I’m weird and like to make sure they couldn’t even if someone wanted to.

  18. Oooh, I’m off to install Jetpack!

    And I’m going to go ahead and shout about how AWESOME JP and Lindsay are for anyone here who’s still reading. Because they are awesome.

  19. Good tips! I use a whole boatload of plugins (agreed – major draw for wp.org). Didn’t know about Tweetmeme – have installed that and Jetpack. Love the idea of having stats more visible.

    I just started using the editorial calendar plugin too – that’s pretty cool.

  20. I am making the switch to WP soon…my designer is a little backed up right now. I’m totally not going to try my hand at the switching on my own either! I can’t wait now that I’ve read this post…although I am still a bit apprehensive! Bookmarking this for future reference once my wp is up & running!