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?

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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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