Writer tech: Converting from WordPress.com to WordPress.org

In my continuing indecision regarding whether to make the leap to WordPress.org or not, I’ve been doing some research.  Gemma Hawdon has graciously consented to let me post our conversation.  I’m sure it will be as enlightening for you as it was for me.

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How long were you blogging on WordPress.com before you decided to make the move?

I was only blogging for 6 weeks before I decided to swap to self-hosted WordPress.

What kind of research did you do and what were your considerations?

I started by talking to a few friends who had already taken the plunge into self-hosted blogging. I was lucky to have one friend in particular, Caroline of http://presentimperfection.com – a marketing and communications strategist – she was extremely helpful.  I think it’s important to seek the opinions of others and to have someone you can turn to for help.

I also read information provided on the WordPress site: http://en.support.wordpress.com/com-vs-org/.

Another helpful article was this one by Problogger: http://www.problogger.net/archives/2012/03/04/wordpress-com-or-wordpress-org-which-ones-right-for-you/

In terms of considerations, I wanted to find out which version was more suitable from a long-term point of view. Although a complete beginner, I didn’t like the thought of wasting time and effort building a blog that might restrict me in the future.

What made you decide to take the plunge?

In the end it was the flexibility of self-hosted WordPress (WordPress.org) in terms of wider choice of custom themes and the ability to increase functionality of the blog through plugins (i.e. to enhance SEO, email newsletters etc.) I wanted to build something that I would have full control over creatively and (if in the future I’m lucky enough!) commercially. Have I actually utilized many of these options yet? Absolutely not! I’m a little lost to be honest, finding my feet, tepidly…

Are you with a hosting “farm” where you’re largely in charge of everything, or do you subscribe to a hosting service where they have people who can help you with technical questions?

To be honest, I’m not entirely sure what a hosting farm is! But yes, I am pretty much in charge of everything (terrifying). I chose to host with hostgator.com – who were recommended to me because they have a solid reputation and competitive pricing. I have the Hatchling plan which is only $3.96 p/m unlimited disk space (you can upgrade at any stage). This plan also offers 24×7 technical support.

Mel’s note: If you have technical support, it’s not a farm 😉

From what you mentioned, there are good and bad points about the move.  What are they and what would you do differently if you had the chance?

The main shock after swapping to WordPress.org was the terror of suddenly feeling completely alone! WordPress.com takes care of everything for you. You feel part of a community because they publish your posts across Reader. When I switched to self-hosted I lost a huge chunk of traffic. Previously, I was gaining 5-10 new followers each week – that has fizzled out to 1 if I’m lucky!! Plus it’s amazing how encouraging those simple ‘likes’ can be – you get none of that with WordPress.org.

To help me transfer, I used a friend of a friend because he was incredibly cheap and he did a great job, but initially I lost all of my followers. I had to contact WordPress in the end and they transferred them across for me, but it took several weeks. In the meantime, I had to post from both platforms. I think If I had to do it again I would use WordPress’ own guided transfers – they cost $129 USD.

I’m still feeling lost on the technical side of things. With WordPress.org you’re the one responsible for stopping spam, for creating and maintaining backups and for updating versions of software. I haven’t taken full advantage of the creative freedom yet because it would mean paying someone to build a logo and banner and I can’t justify that right now; however, I’m learning about new things each day and certainly making progress.

One thing that is working for me is having a Feedblitz icon on my site. Feedblitz allows subscribers to view all of their blogs on the one page (a little like WordPress Reader). Followers who subscribe through this software are generally savvy Internet users and bloggers themselves.

I have to keep reminding myself that I’ve only been blogging for 5 months and it takes time and effort to build a solid following. However, I do feel as though I’m finally making progress. I’m rising in the ranks of Google and Twitter and my traffic is increasing! More than anything, I enjoy the creativity of what I’m doing and the fact that I’m the boss of something that is completely mine.

I think it’s important to figure out what you want from your blog and you’re reasons for blogging before you decide which WordPress version to go with.  For me, the benefits of starting with WordPress.com allowed me to experiment before investing any money. I gained an insight into how people responded to my voice and writing and whether there was a demand for my topic or not.

In the end, I think WordPress.org is better for the long-term if you want to build a blog that is completely yours, which you have full control over – no limitations.

I hope this is of some help – Thanks Melanie for your questions – Happy Blogging!

So what do you say, blogophiles?  Will Gemma’s expereince be helpful to you?  I’ll certainly benefit!

I’d love to hear what you have to say.

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Gemma Hawdon

Gemma Hawdon

Gemma Hawdon lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband, two children, one dog and a couple of rabbits. Having always worked in marketing prior to having children, she turned her attention to writing about 4 years ago and has never looked back! Gemma has published articles in parenting magazines across Australia including Melbourne & Sydney Child and Parenting Express and dabbles in writing ghost-articles for extra income, but her most passionate project is the children’s fantasy she is writing which she never seems to get the time to complete! Gemma is also responsible for running the administration and finances for their family-run business in the building industry.

Gemma’s blog, topoftheslushpile.com, documents the challenges, highs and lows of writing a book and getting it ready to tackle the competitive publishing industry.

Caturday Quickies: Oh God, not another … Pupdate

My last mini-pupdate was posted March 17th.

Nuala lounging

Nu lounging on the driveway–her shaved hip is growing in well 🙂

“Let me explain.  No, there is too much.  Let me sum up.”  ~Inigo Montoya, from The Princess Bride

So when last I mentioned her health, Nuala had contracted a urinary tract infection (UTI).  That was addressed with antibiotics, and we would have to go back in 2 weeks’ time to have her urine tested again.  Also at this time, the vet wanted to take another blood sample to see how her liver was recovering after the Metacam.  Her annual exam and shots would be due then as well, so we decided to make a day of it.

While the UTI had cleared up, there was still significant protein in her pee, or proteinuria.  This is an indicator of kidney damage.  Nu’s blood was also analyzed for kidney enzymes, and they were all in perfect balance.  So on one hand, there was evidence of kidney damage, and on the other, there was none.

Nuala's aural haematoma

This shot from the back shows her injured ear. It used to be mostly upright, like the other one.

In the meantime, Nu had somehow ruptured one of the blood vessels in her right ear and had developed an aural haematoma.  We had to get some drops for her ears to treat the ongoing inflammation that likely caused her to rupture the vessel with scratching in the first place, but neither draining nor surgery was recommended (too painful).  Her body will take care of the situation on its own in a few weeks, though her wee ear will never be the same.

Other than having a ridiculously fat ear, she’s doing fine.

The vet wanted her in to test her blood pressure (hypertension in dogs can cause proteinuria) and take some abdominal x-rays to see if a growth of some sort, or kidney stones could be detected.

Nothing abnormal turned up on the x-rays.  No stones, no growths.  On her kidnies, anyway.  What the x-rays did reveal was an enlarged liver and spleen (sweet Jesus).

Nu’s blood pressure was elevated and so a course of ACE inhibitors was started.  She’ll likely be on those for the rest of her life, but we’re going back in a month to have everything checked again.  We are also transitioning her to a new food (a specialized kidney diet) and hoping that her food allergies don’t result in the mange-like fur-loss she’s experienced in the past.

More diagnostics were recommended to establish the reason for the liver and spleen enlargement, involving a trip to Newmarket, the closest town equipped to do veterinary ultrasounds.  Alternatively, our vet could perform a laparoscopic procedure and possible biopsy (if required).

Phil and I discussed it, and even though the option of sedation was offered, the travel would be more torture to Nuala than any resolution the ultrasound might reveal.  She HATES the car.  Even laparoscopic procedures are invasive, though minimally so.  We had to decide where we would draw the line.

If there is some infection or tumour causing the enlargement of her organs, there’s little that can be done in either case.  Liver and spleen are pretty important and highly vascular organs and several diseases that affect either usually result in internal bleeding, or disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC).

We’d already gone through the heartbreak of hemangiosarcoma with our last dog, and though we authorized surgery, it did little for her other than to confirm that her condition was terminal.  Ultimately internal bleeding was the cause of her demise.

Organ failure is another possibility, but there are no transplant programs for pets.

There’s also a chance that whatever condition she has that’s causing the enlargement of her liver and spleen won’t become an issue in her lifetime.  She’s just passed her eighth birthday and most dogs don’t make it very far into their teens.

You might see this as naive optimism, or unnecessarily harsh, but Phil is Mr. Science and he used to work as a laboratory technician for humans.  He’s well-aware of the potential issues and has shared his insights.

Whatcha got there?

Nuala hoping to scam noms from Phil 🙂

Aside from which, Nu is behaving normally.  Other than a little limp, exacerbated by the leg-tugging required to get a good abdominal x-ray, she’s fine.  In this morning’s snow, she was doing her usual pup-angels and seal impression.  She was also scavenging for dirty tissues and all manner of tasty (to her) garbage.  By all accounts, she’s a happy dog.

It would be different if she was experiencing further pain, or other abnormal behaviour.

We’re going to take things a step at a time.  Use the ACE inhibitors and k/d (Hill’s Kidney Diet) for the month and see if they improve her blood pressure and proteinuria.

For us, it’s a matter of quality of life for Nuala.  The ACL injury we had to do something about.  It caused her a great deal of pain and could have caused other injuries and difficulties in the future.  When she sheared a tooth off, oral surgery was a must.  When she lost patches of fur due to a food allergy, hypoallergenic food was the fix.

Now the kidney diet and ACE inhibitors are necessary.  We’re just about at our limit with what we can reasonably do to ensure Nu’s continued, happy existence, though.

Will let you know how all of this pans out.

How are your animal muses doing these days?  I sincerely hope all is well.

Caturday Quickies

Caturday Quickies: A nod to tragedy

Unless you are completely divorced from all forms of communication (and if you’re here, you obviously aren’t) then you know about the tumultuous events of this week in Boston, Massachusetts and West, Texas.

Skyline of Boston. Picture was taken from a wh...

Skyline of Boston. Picture was taken from a whale watching ferry that left from the aquarium dock. It is the Eastern side of the Boston peninsula. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Every newscast was focused with laser-like intensity on these two communities this week, hanging on every bit of news, legitimate and otherwise.  Twitter was alive with blow-by-blow descriptions of what was being reported during the man-hunt for and capture of the second of the two Marathon Bombers.

I’m not going to repeat any of that.  It’s not my story to tell.  The news channels are still recapping everything and coming out with additional facts (at last) as they become available in any case.

I know no one who lives in either Boston or West.  I’ve never visited either city.  I have no ties to either.  If it hadn’t dominated network and radio news and social media, I probably wouldn’t have a clue what happened in either place this past week.

It’s a testament to the global village we now live in that people everywhere know about and feel for the victims of the bombers, and the explosion of the fertilizer plant.

I have felt for, been engaged by, and responded to these tragedies in my own small ways, but I can’t continue to do that.

I’m just posting this by way of letting you know that I am not ignorant, or uncaring, but I also need to move on.  As I post about my own trivialities, try not to think poorly of me.

To the people of Boston and West, to the friends and families of the victims, my heart has gone out to you, but I need it back now.

Please see Heather Button’s wonderful love letter to Boston.

And Bolton Carley says: Convert tragedies into brownies.

Both are thoughtful reactions to what’s happened in the past week.  In the end, the best victory is to continue to live your most authentic life, to find a way laugh, and otherwise let the bombers of the world know that you have not given in.

Caturday Quickies