Blogging Platforms: Deciding To Make The Move

Choosing a blogging platform is one of the most fundamental decisions a publisher must make, which means switching platforms is a pretty big deal.

So when Mediavine publisher/Computer Scientist Laurence Norah of the gorgeous travel blog Finding The Universe volunteered to document his site migration from Blogger to WordPress for us, we jumped at the opportunity to share this wealth of knowledge on our blog.

Laurence Norah of Finding The Universe

This is part 1 of our 3-part blogger platform migration series, written as a collaboration between Laurence and the Mediavine Platform Engineering team. 

Time to switch?

Laurence: At the end of 2017, after nearly seven years of blogging on Google’s Blogger platform, I made the decision to migrate to WordPress. I was frustrated by how hard it was to customize my blog, the glacial nature of the Blogger team to implement essential features like https, and the general feeling that despite the platform not being free, I was probably getting my money’s worth.

I also felt that while the Mediavine team has worked miracles to support Blogger and it’s restrictions, my site would be better off on a platform where I didn’t have to resort to workarounds to implement things like an ads.txt file.

Moving from Blogger to WordPress is not a straightforward process. Despite a background in web development and a degree in Computer Science, it took a couple of months to actually make the switch, from making the decision to going live.

I want to share a few of the things I learned when moving from Blogger to WordPress, to help you make the switch yourself.

Why you should migrate from Blogger to WordPress

Laurence: If you’re on Blogger, you might be wondering why you should switch away. After all, Blogger is free, they host all your images for you, it has pretty much zero downtime and it’s certainly fast. Well, there are a few reasons.

First, unlikely though it may be, Google can shut down your blog on Blogger if they deem you are violating their terms of service. If your blog is your business, that is quite a risk to be taking. On WordPress, you own your database, all your files and theme customizations, and you can host them wherever you want.

Next, customization. Whilst Blogger does come with some customization options, you don’t have real access to the back-end, and doing anything particularly advanced will either involve you battling with the poorly documented Blogger template, or, more likely, just giving up.

WordPress has incredible customization options, with full access to the end to end stack, meaning you can do pretty much anything you want with your website – either through the wide range of plugins available, or by getting your hands dirty with the code itself.

Another big difference between Blogger and WordPress is the potential for SEO optimization. Whilst Blogger has improved in this area, plugins like Yoast on WordPress make managing and improving your SEO so much easier on WordPress.

Finally, speed. Whilst Blogger is fairly fast, you are limited in how much you can optimize it. Things like serving responsively scaled images aren’t possible, and there are a number of default css, image files and scripts that you just can’t turn off. On top of that, things like server-side caching, enabling compression and other best practice speed optimizations aren’t possible.

What to do before you migrate

Laurence: Hopefully my reasons to migrate from Blogger to WordPress have convinced you that it’s a great idea. Now, before you get into the detail, you are going to have to do a few things.

First, you’re going to want to find a host. Unlike Blogger, WordPress requires you to find a hosting provider who will store your website on their servers so people can find you. There are a great many hosting providers out there, and which you choose will vary depending on your level of technical knowledge and expertise. Some options to consider include Flywheel, SiteGround, Performance Foundry, Agathon and WP Engine.

Personally, I have a good relationship with a web development team in the UK and they recommended Flywheel, which is what we went with. I actually have two websites, one of which is already on WordPress, so we moved them both over to a Flywheel VPS for simplicity.

Your next decision is going to be how much of the work you want to do yourself. Whilst most hosts will handle setting up of WordPress for you, that will usually be as much help as they will offer. For the rest of the process, from installing and customizing your new theme through to migrating your Blogger content across, you will either have to do this yourself or work with a competent web developer or content manager.

Personally I did a combination of the two. I have a web developer who set up a staging environment for me, who then left me to it with getting everything ready. When I was ready to go live, they handled the migration to live, managed issuing my SSL certificate and the various DNS changes that needed to be made to redirect visitors from the Blogger site to my new install.

2 cents from a Mediavine Platform Engineer

Jordan Cauley, Mediavine Senior Platform Engineer

Hi, Jordan Cauley joining here. Laurence has put together a great group of posts and I’m just going to chime in along with them to cover some additional issues.

Mediavine, in general recommends WordPress for many of the reasons that Laurence has laid out, customization, extensibility, ownership and control. The other advantage is that my team is working on plugins and tools that will make your website even more powerful and profitable and we can’t deliver those tools to many other platforms.

Mediavine’s development and support teams have the most experience and ability to help with WordPress environments and those teams are growing to provide the best capabilities possible.

As far as migration is concerned Agathon is potentially a one stop shop for hosting and migration capabilities. They have an in house development team that can help move your content from Blogger to WordPress and would love to talk to you, I’m sure.

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