As promised in Monday's post, I'm back today with the full tutorial on how I switched my blog from the Blogger platform to self-hosted WordPress! Yes, in spite of what you might be led to believe, it's totally possible to switch your blog from blogger to wordpress all by yourself, even if you know next to nothing about coding or website setup.
Most readers here know that I'm a big do-it-yourselfer, so if it's possible to do something by using information online, I'm probably going to at least give it a try. But, for about a year, I've been incredibly intimidated by the idea of migrating my site from Blogger to WordPress…and I know a decent amount about website structure and coding! I think it's built up as this big deal in the blogging world, when in reality, it isn't all that difficult…it just involves following a specific set of steps to make sure the migration is seamless and complete.
I outlined my reasons for finally switching to WordPress in the last post, but to sum it up…
- WordPress gives my blog so many capabilities that Blogger didn't, like SEO optimization, social networking features, and page customization.
- Being on WordPress gives me the ability to network and troubleshoot with other bloggers, most of whom are making the switch to WordPress if they haven't done so already. There aren't many bloggers left on the Blogger platform, so finding information about the platform is becoming harder and harder to come by.
- I now fully own and control my own content.
My site has been on self-hosted WordPress for about a week now, and so far, I have zero complaints! I believe I'm completely through with the migration (though I'm sure another little addition or two will pop up eventually). The functionality, speed, and optimization of WordPress is worlds above Blogger. I don't regret the switch one bit!
Alright, let's get to why you're here…the tutorial on how to switch your blog from Blogger to self-hosted WordPress! Settle in for a long but pretty easy process…may I recommend a cup of coffee? You might need it. 🙂
(One note: I do recommend self-hosted WordPress as opposed to hosting through WordPress.org for a variety of reasons, namely the ability to monetize your site. I'll be referring to self-hosted WordPress throughout this post.)
(Affiliate links used in this post. Read more about my affiliate link use here.)
1. Set up your hosting so you can switch your blog from Blogger to WordPress.
First thing's first…in order to be self-hosted, you have to purchase your own hosting of course! Luckily, there are a few amazing options out there that aren't expensive at all.
I did so much research about what host I wanted to use before switching to WordPress. Ultimately, I chose Siteground as my host. I've heard incredible things about Siteground in several of the blogging Facebook groups I'm in, including their top-notch customer service and really low amount of downtime. They also have a wide variety of packages available to suit many traffic and storage needs. And, while they're offering their packages for 60% off the regular price, it's a great time to sign up!
Once you follow this link to Siteground, scroll down just a little to see the options for your hosting needs. If you're a new/small blogger, the StartUp package will probably be your best bet…that covers up to 10,000 hits per month, and offers 10GB of web space (I had over 1,600 picture-heavy posts when I migrated and didn't even come close to 10GB, so that should be plenty unless you're storing a ridiculous amount of files). As your blog grows, you can always upgrade to their larger packages if needed. (But, one perk of picking a bigger package right now is that you can lock in that discounted price for up to 36 months. If you upgrade later, you would pay the full monthly rate.)
If you think you're going to need a little bit more storage or are migrating more than one website, the GrowBig or GoGeek packages might be for you. Both of these accommodate more monthly visitors (the GrowBig up to 25,000; the GoGeek up to 100,000) and have double and triple (respectively) the web storage space of the StartUp pack. They also have some nice perks – both of these come with Priority Support (so Siteground's support would be even quicker) and a SG Optimiser solution that makes site load time as much as several times faster (which is great for user experience and SEO rankings).
All blogs have different needs, so it really just depends on what you're wanting to do with your site. All three options are relatively inexpensive (especially with the current 60% discount) and offer incredible speed and service.
Click the “Get Started” button below your package, and you'll be taken to the next page (it might look a little different…I had an account before I started registering, so if you're not signed in it's broken up a little more, but still the same general idea)…
Make sure “Get a new hosting account” is selected at the top and, if you had your own custom domain on Blogger (i.e. your blog address was something like www.yourblog.com), select “I already have a domain” and put in your address. If you didn't have a custom domain (i.e. your address was something like yourblog.blogspot.com), select “Register a New Domain.”
Select your hosting package (depending on your traffic and storage needs) and choose the the amount of months you want to pay for today. You can select 1, 12, 24, or 36 months…I did 12 so I could lock in the 60% off for a full year.
You'll see a couple of extras you can add on…from my experience, the only one you might need if you already own your own domains the domain privacy option. That just makes sure your personal information as the owner of your domain (including street address) isn't listed in online search directories. It isn't 100% necessary (I didn't get it) but, if you blog anonymously or are very private, you might want to consider it. I did a little bit of research about the SG Site Scanner before ordering, and from what I read, it isn't a really necessary addition.
Put in your payment information at the bottom of that order page, and you're all set! You now have a self-hosted website.
2. Install WordPress.
Now, let's actually install WordPress on your site. Don't think of WordPress so much as your blog…think of it as the software that makes your site function as a blog. In this step, you'll be putting it on your site to essentially turn it into a blog.
Go to “My Accounts” at the top of your Siteground account, click “cPanel” under your site's address, and select the WordPress icon on your cPanel page. Once you select that, you'll be taken to a page that explains what the software is all about…click “Install Now” on that page. Put in your blog info and desired login info, and that's it…you now own a self-hosted WordPress blog!
But…your blog's url is (probably) still linked to Blogger. If you just registered your domain through Siteground, you can skip this next step, but if you already had a custom domain on Blogger we now need to tell your domain that it's moving.
3. Change your domain to Siteground's DNS settings.
Don't get scared if you don't like things like this – I'm not a big fan of dealing with DNS settings, but this isn't hard!
When you registered with Siteground, you should have gotten an email that listed two different nameserver sites associated with your new Siteground-hosted site (and if you can't find that email for some reason, go to Siteground and check in your cPanel on the left-hand side for those server names). You're simply going to copy and paste those into the account where your domain is registered.
Now, everyone with Blogger is going to have different domain registrars. I registered my domain back in the dark ages when Blogger did it for you, and it turns out, they registered it for me through enom (so that's what I'll be using to explain how to do it). That's different for everyone though, even if Blogger did your registering for you. If you registered it yourself, you should know where it's located. If Blogger did it, check your old emails from Blogger that came through about the time your domain was renewed each year. They normally tell you where your domain is registered, and you can email your registration company to get the login info (note: to get mine, I had to have access to the email address I used to register the domain name with Google in the first place).
Once you get that login info, navigate to your DNS information section (it might say nameserver for the section title, depending on your registrar) and select “custom” if needed. Copy and paste those two nameserver addresses into the top two spots and click save. That's it! Your site now points to the new self-hosted WordPress blog.
One more issue – your Blogger content is nowhere to be seen (yet). Let's fix that in the next step.
(It's going to take up to 72 hours for all of this to update…so if you go right now and type in your site's address, chances are it hasn't transferred over yet. Don't freak out if that's the case! I couldn't even log in to WordPress through my site for 15-20 minutes after I did this. So be patient and do a little bit of housekeeping in Blogger while you're waiting.)
4. Back up your Blogger content before going on.
DO NOT SKIP THIS. If, in some disastrous scenario, the transfer doesn't go as planned, I don't want to be responsible for you losing your blog. This is a really easy step that I think of as insurance.
In your Blogger account, go to “Settings,” then “Other.” You'll see a button at the top that says “Back up Content”…click it, and a file that ends in .xml should download to your computer. That is all of your posts, comments (made in Blogger), and a few other pieces of information that will be needed to construct your posts on WordPress.
You also need to backup your site's theme (i.e. look)…you'll delete this and add a different code a little bit later, so this needs to be save on your computer until you're 100% sure you're not going back to Blogger. To do this in Blogger, go to “Theme,” “Edit HTML,” and copy/paste all of the code you see in the box into a simple text editor on your computer (I used TextEdit on my Mac).
5. Finish up a little bit more Blogger housekeeping before you're done with it.
If you had a custom domain on Blogger, you need to remove it. Go to “Settings,” then “Basic,” and click the X next to your custom domain name that you just switched to WordPress. Click OK when you get this prompt box. This way, there isn't any extra confusion about where your domain is directed.
A little higher up on that same page, click on “Privacy” and select no in both of the prompt boxes. Now, your old blog isn't confusing Google on where to go to find your content.
Still under Settings, go to “Other” section to change your feed. Blogger and WordPress feed links are formatted a little bit differently, so you need to change your Blogger feed (which pushes your content to sites like Feedly and Bloglovin') to import the WordPress feed when you publish a new post at WordPress.
You're going to change this box to “https://www.yoursite.com/feed” instead of what's there right now (probably something like https://yourblog.com/feeds/posts/default).
If you've ever worked with Feedburner (which you probably have if you've been on Blogger for any amount of time), you need to change that feed too. Go to Feedburner.com and sign in with your Google login info if needed, click on your blog, then click “Edit Feed Details…” at the top of the page. Under Original Feed, put in the new feed format (https://www.yoursite.com/feed).
At this point, you should still be able to access your blog on Blogger by typing in your old yourblog.blogspot.com address. Try going to www.yourblog.com/wp-admin and see if the servers have updated enough for you to sign in yet. If you see the screen above, log in…you're ready to move on to the next step! It took maybe 20 minutes for my servers to update to this.
6. Get WordPress ready for your posts.
Once you're in WordPress, you should see your dashboard. Get used to this – you'll be controlling most aspects of your blog through these pages!
If you click your blog name at the top of the page and click “Visit Site,” (or just type in www.yoursite.com), you'll see what your site currently looks like. This is what mine looked like shortly after signing in to WordPress for the first time. If you've registered through Siteground, there are a couple of default posts that will show up.
Go delete those posts by going to “Posts” on the left-hand side of your WordPress dashboard, checking the posts, selecting “Bulk Actions,” then Delete.
Do a teeny little bit of housekeeping in WordPress by going to “Settings,” “General,” and putting in “www” before your URL in the WordPress Address and “Site Address” fields, just to make sure your address points to the right place.
7. Load your Blogger posts.
Now, the exciting part…let's load your Blogger posts into WordPress! This is really one of the easiest parts.
On the left-hand side, go to “Tools,” then “Import.” This page will come up – click the “Install Now” link under Blogger at the very top.
Remember that .xml file you downloaded to your computer back in Step 4? That's what you're going to use to transfer your Blogger posts to WordPress.
On this page, click “Choose File” and find that .xml file wherever you downloaded it on your computer. Click “Upload File and Import.”
After uploading, your posts should be on WordPress! That was easy, right? Now, we need to change the link structure a little to be compatible with your old posts.
8. Change link structure for WordPress posts.
WordPress formats its post links a little bit differently than Blogger. But, chances are your posts are saved all over the Internet with the Blogger structure…so we need to stick with that format. It isn't hard to change it back to the Blogger format!
In your WordPress dashboard on the left-hand side, go to “Settings,” then select “Permalinks.” A screen like the one above will load. Select “Custom Structure” and put in the following format (copy and paste this):
You also need to take care of the length of your links. WordPress allows as many words as you put in the title to show in the post url, whereas Blogger limits it…so, just like with the other url rules, you need to revert to the Blogger rule so your urls that are saved all over the Internet still lead to your posts. This is possible through a plugin. Get excited, you're about to install your first WordPress plugin!
Go to this link and scroll down to this part of the page. Under #2, right click the link and select “download linked file” (or some version of that). Don't simply click to download because you need the file to stay zipped, and I know with my computer, the file will automatically unzip.
Go back to your WordPress dashboard, select Plugins on the left-hand side, and click “Add New.”
At the top of that page, click “Upload Plugin” and select the file you just downloaded.
Once the file uploads, click “Activate Plugin.”
Now, go to Tools on the left-hand side of the dashboard, and you will now see a link that says “Maintain Blogger Permalinks.” Click it.
Just click the button that pops up, and that's it! Problem solved. WAY easier than putting in code in Blogger, right?!
9. Redirect your old Blogger site.
Now, we need to use another Plugin to redirect your old Blogger site to the new WordPress one. This is especially important if you were using a yoursite.blogspot.com address and just purchased your own custom domain (but you still need to do it if you had a custom domain before).
You're going to use a different method of finding the plugin this time. Go to Plugins in your dashboard and click “Add New.” Search for “Blogger 301 redirect” in the search bar that pops up. You'll see these results; select “Install Now” for the first one on the left. Once that is installed, click “Activate.”
Now, go to “Settings” on the left side, and you should see a link that says “Blogger 301 Redirect” (reload your page if you don't). Click it, and this screen will pop up with two sets of code.
When you select this, there are going to be three things the plugin asks you to do. You've already done #2 and #3, and if you haven't set the time zone yet (I really don't know why it asks you to do this), follow the instructions on your page and do it and come back. Now, scroll down the page, don't select any of the options, and copy the code under method 1.
You'll go back to Blogger one more time to paste this code into your Theme area. Go to Theme on the left-hand side of your Blogger dashboard, select “edit html,” delete all of the text in that box (you should have backed this up in step 4, just in case you need it later), and paste the Method 1 content.
Now, try going to yoursite.blogspot.com…it should redirect to your new WordPress site!
10. Change (most) categories to tags.
When your blog imported from Blogger, it automatically made what were labels on your Blogger blog into categories. There are two ways to label your posts in WordPress: categories and tags. Categories are the “big picture” types in your blog posts…there shouldn't be many of these. Tags are the more specific way to label within a category. So, let's say you're a food blogger. You would have a category on your blog for “recipes” and tags for “desserts,” “appetizers,” “side items,” etc.
If you're like me, you had a ton of labels in Blogger (as you should have – these are great for SEO!). When you have a lot of categories that aren't necessary on WordPress, it can slow your blog down, so you want to minimize the number of categories you have as much as possible. Luckily, there's a plugin for that (of course)!
Go to “Plugins,” “Add New,” and search “tag converter”…select the plugin shown and install/activate. You'll find the plugin under tools >> import, then select the “Categories to Tags Converter.”
You'll see all of your categories listed…just select the ones you want to turn into tags and press the button! And, if you decide later that you want to turn a tag back into a category, you can do that by going to “Tags to Categories” at the top of the page.
11. (Optional) Import your Blogger photos into Siteground.
If you're keeping your Blogger account and blog active (which you really should), this isn't required…your photos are still on the Blogger hosts, so they'll show with no issue on your WordPress blog. But, if you're really just wanting to get away from Blogger as much as possible and you want to be able to use some of the image plugins in WordPress (many only work with self-hosted WordPress image links), you may want to do this.
To do this, go to this link and download the plugin using the right-click method (so your file will stay zipped). Go back to WordPress and install the plugin by selecting Plugins >> Add New >> Upload Plugin.
Now go to Tools >> Blogger Image Import. Set the Max Imports as high as you have time for (I did a few thousand at a time and it only took 10 minutes or so) and click “Start Import.” And that's it! Your photos will upload to Siteground automatically and change image url links in your posts without you doing anything else.
One note: this plugin isn't perfect. It skipped a decent number of my images for some reason and wouldn't import files that were named a same thing (I went through a phase where I named all of my images for the blog “blog123.jpg,” so this was a problem when I was importing). While it didn't get 100% of the job done, it is the best solution I've found so far. I'll update this post if I find a better option!
You also might want to test out 50 images or so if you had large image file sizes on Blogger. I have been adjusting my file sizes for years on my images, so all of the photos I imported only took up a GB or two. But, that might be significantly more if you didn't resize images. I would hate to eat up all of your storage space on Siteground with something that isn't all that necessary, so test a few images first if you're unsure! You can see your disk space usage and what's left of it by going to Siteground and selecting your cPanel for this blog…on the left-hand side, you'll see your disk usage stats.
12. Set up your theme.
This is another fun part…setting up the look and functionality of your blog!
I did a ton of research on this aspect too, because there are so many options out there for what framework to use to set up your WordPress blog. To shape what features your blog will have and its overall layout, you'll need to purchase a theme. Many, many bloggers I know and love use the Genesis framework as their theme…it's super-solid coding that many readers are familiar with (to make for easy navigation) and allows for a lot of customization. Think of Genesis as the foundation, bricks, and framing of your new house (can you tell I'm in house-building mode right now? ?)…it gives a solid structure that has great, optimized coding. It's one of the most popular themes for a reason!
To purchase that, click here and complete the checkout process. Once you get a download link, make sure to do the right click/download linked file process so your copy stays zipped (you might also want to download an additional version that you can unzip on your computer for future use).
Now, go back to WordPress, click “Appearance” on the left-hand side, and click “Themes.” Now, select “Upload Theme,” upload the zipped file you just downloaded…and voila, you have Genesis! Easy peasy.
You could stick with Genesis as your look, but as is, it's kind of boring. Great coding, but kind of boring. So I chose to add a child theme that makes it pretty. A child theme is the design elements that shape how the blog looks. There are SO many options for child themes out there…my first theme was with Pretty Darn Cute designs because I had heard great things about their solid coding and I fell in love with their Pretty Happy child theme.
This follows the same process as purchasing/installing the Genesis theme…purchase here, download the zipped file, then go to your WordPress dashboard and click “Appearance” on the left-hand side, and click “Themes.” Now, select “Upload Theme,” upload the zipped file you just downloaded. After you do this, you can go to “Appearance” then “Customize” to change around your child theme's colors, sizes, etc…you can make it yours!
I'm currently using a child theme from 17th Avenue Designs – I love their responsive coding and massive amount of features packed into their themes. My Clover theme includes a Woocommerce template (so I can sell items directly from my site) and so many customizable sections – I've been so impressed!
I've also heard amazing things about Restored 316 Designs…it's a similar business that has gorgeous, feminine-themed WordPress themes that have solid coding and great support. They were definitely in the running when deciding on my theme.
And just like that, you have a WordPress blog…congratulations! Told you it wasn't difficult to transfer your blog from blogger to wordpress. I promise you that you won't regret this transition for a second. You just gave your blog so much functionality and power (not to mention rock-solid coding). Enjoy your new WordPress blog!
(Looking to start a WordPress blog from scratch? Click here for that tutorial!)
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