Thinking of moving your blog over to a new platform? It can be a daunting prospect! I’m now a multiple site owner on WordPress and SquareSpace but having moved a blog from Blogger to a self-hosted WordPress site last year I’ve learned a lot including that I didn’t spend enough time doing some things and too long doing others!
There’s was so much to consider – from my overarching blog and social media strategy to the nitty gritty detail of individual image sizes. There’s a lot I wish I’d known beforehand so if you’re considering moving your blog to a self-hosted site (or just transferring to another platform) here’s four time-saving tips to consider before you take the plunge.
#1. Plan ahead
What’s your brand? Think you just have a blog? It’s still your brand. Your header, your style, your voice are all part of brand ‘you’. Are you going to take it with you as it is? Tweak it? Redesign it? Moving is a chance for a fresh start if you want it. I was happy with my overall branding but wanted to make my site cleaner and simpler in its design – making my blog header at the time smaller with more white space around it, for example. I also decided to stop using drop capitals at the beginning of my posts, remove all shadowing from around my photographs and use less illustrations.
How do you want your blog to look and to work? Parenting, technology, fashion, beauty, cooking; the list of blog types is endless. But whatever your niche it may lend itself better to a particular blog style or ‘theme’. A fashion blog might want a gallery widget, a cooking site needs a clear recipe section. Take some time playing with different types and see how they work. On WordPress Elegant Themes has a good selection and the theme for The Joy Chaser is from Bluchic.
Follow the advice of the lovely Lucy from Capture by Lucy and make a scrapbook or Pinterest board of your favourite blogs and their style. What is it you like about them? Use this to help plan your own design.
Plan your navigation – so important. This is how your readers will find their way around your site and if you lose them here they will in all likelihood just click away. When I moved my first site to WordPress I spent time thinking about my categories, looking through my posts and working out descriptors that covered most subjects.
#2. Clear out the clutter before you move
Just like when you move house it’s much easier to clear out any clutter before you leave your old platform. Particularly because you’re just as likely to shove it in a corner and try to forget about it once you’re tucked up in your shiny new home. Also depending on your new theme you might need to resize some of your images as I did. PicMonkey or Canva is great for this.
If you’re been blogging for a while there are probably posts from the past that don’t fit with the way you blog now. But before you start deleting things stop for a moment. There will probably be links back to your site from these posts that aid your Google ranking so consider popping them under an archive category instead.
#3. Get some help
Sticking with the moving home analogy, when you move platforms you can go it alone, shoving your html into the back of a van and hoping it doesn’t get broken on the way to your new place or you can inlist the help of a professional. I’m so grateful to have had Jo from The Geek Fairy to help me make the move over to self-hosting. She listened while I spouted all sorts of ideas, was practical, clear and concise in her advice, made changes quickly and was oh so patient when I changed my mind. Again. And again.
If you can invest in your blog by calling in a pro, it will pay dividends in the long run.
#4. Get fresh eyes on the design
You might love the new look and feel of your site but before you press publish it’s a good idea to get someone else to take a look at it. Major brands spend thousands putting potential new designs in front of customers and prospects to see if they can complete simple tasks.
I’m not suggesting you drag people off the street to test your new blog layout but it’s worth asking a couple of people you trust if they can find how to contact you, navigate their way to the page where you explain how brands or PRs can work with you and find your latest blog posts.
Have you recently made the move to a self-hosted site? Why did you make the jump? What’s your top tip for preparing to go self-hosted?