I have learned SO MUCH in the past three weeks about blogging and the internet. Welcome to the official grand opening of my new blog! It looks a lot like the old blog on the outside, but on the inside I have a lot more control and a lot more potential to go places with my writing and sharing. This post is how I did it!
Step One: find help.
I am working with the Influencer program at Your Blog Consultants (see my last post for details). You don’t necessarily have to have a real person to call on, but the internet is such a wealth of knowledge. I joined several WordPress Facebook groups and read a lot of other people’s blog posts on launching blogs of their own, including why they went with WordPress instead of Blogger. Ultimately I wanted to do more with my website than Blogger allowed, and I am beginning to realize that paying money for control of my own data is a big deal to me.
Step 1B: Create a document to keep track of the plethora of logins and passwords you are about to create.
I learned a lot of blogging vocabulary I wasn’t clear on before:
Platform: Blogger or WordPress. This is the “software” of sorts – like if I typed a document in Microsoft Word. I still need a computer to use Word on, but Word would be my “platform.” It’s still online so I don’t download an actual program, although the word “install” comes up surprisingly frequently in this whole adventure.
Hosting: This is where my actual content will live even when I’m not looking at it. They have the server that stores my data, and for the most part they protect my data from hackers. When I used Blogger, Google was also my host. The most popular hosting companies for sites today are SiteGround, HostGator, and BlueHost. I went with SiteGround because of the ChooseFI podcast about starting a blog, and several other sites lauding their phenomenal customer service.
Theme: The layout of my website. While this has a technical side, it’s mostly cosmetic if you’re like me and aren’t really sure what you’re doing yet. I have a real estate metaphor in my head: My home builder is my platform; the land itself is my hosting company. I could build an identical house on a different lot, just like many hosting sites allow for WordPress. My decorating and floor plan is my theme. WordPress has a bunch of different themes available for free, but Alissa at YBC recommended I purchase one of my own. This way I get support if I don’t understand something, and I own it; it can’t be deleted randomly and my whole website collapses.
Landing Page: This is the first page you see when you go to a website. Often the home page, it should be very clear to a viewer what my site is about and how to navigate easily. I never had one of these on Blogger (my only page was the main blog site), and I need to continue to work on tweaking navigation on this site now that I have this functionality. If a viewer doesn’t understand my landing page or it takes too long to load, they will leave. In real estate terms, this is my curb appeal.
Domain/URL: The domain is what goes between the “www.” and the “.com”. The real estate metaphor breaks down here; instead of physical address, recall to the era of landlines, where if you moved in town you could move your landline to your new address and keep the same number. My domain is helariouslizzy.com, which I pay for, instead of helariouslizzy.blogspot.com or helariouslizzy.wordpress.com. It’s cleaner. Domain usually run about $11-$15/year.
Step Two & Three: Purchase hosting and sign up for WordPress.
There are two types of WordPress sites: WordPress.com, which is the free version many bloggers start out with (which will also have “wordpress” in the URL), and WordPress.org, which is the paid self-hosting site that works with other host companies. I paid for two years of hosting up front from SiteGround for $3.95/month. I had to do some troubleshooting to disconnect my domain name from Blogger and GoDaddy and transfer to SiteGround, but their customer service really is amazing. I chatted with two different guys live online and in less than twenty minutes I had my site up and running. It was way easier than I thought it would be. They even found a workaround for a domain issue I had, where I can’t by law transfer it within 60 days of renewal (who knew? I didn’t!).
Step Four: Surf themes, color schemes, and fonts.
The YBC ladies were awesome at directing me to some fun resources: DesignSeeds.com for color palettes, Restored316, Studiopress or AngieMakes for themes, The Hungry JPEG or FontBundles for fonts, or surf Pinterest! I found two free fonts I easily downloaded to my Mac called Soria and Digory Doodles that I wanted to play with. The theme I purchased is from Restored316 called “Captivating,” and it cost $75 (but I got 10% off for signing up for her emails). I also needed to purchase something called the “Genesis Framework” from StudioPress to make the theme work, but this just seems to be at “thing” that I’ve never heard of before. I missed out a discount because I did not create an account before checking out on StudioPress, so don’t do that if you try this. Ultimately these design decisions will help me “brand” myself online, like any other marketing campaign.
Step Five: Install theme and move posts over.
The Restored316 theme came with very clear, easy-to-follow instructions and videos for installing the theme on WordPress. Now I have to figure out how to use the platform, because it is so much more involved than Blogger. However, it was ridiculously easy to move my posts over from Blogger; this helpful first-line Google search site walked me through it (the video is too long though; the actual how-to part starts about 7 minutes in). It took less than five minutes to move SIX YEARS worth of posts over. Downside? I have to update a whole bunch of my internal hyperlinks since I had added the domain name. But that’s way better than copying and pasting 350+ posts!
Step Six: BE PROUD OF YOURSELF!
I still recommend Blogger to new writers and those without a comfort in web design. It’s very simple and links so seamlessly with other Google apps and has nothing to distract. Still, I am excited for this next venture and all the learning I’m doing moving to WordPress. I have a long way to go as I figure out email subscriptions, page layouts, Pinterest promotions, and so many other ways to launch hELArious Lizzy into the blogosphere properly. But for now, thanks for joining the ride!