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.

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7 thoughts on “Writer tech: Converting from WordPress.com to WordPress.org

  1. Pingback: topoftheslushpile | From WordPress.com To WordPress.Org

  2. Great info! Although, to me at least, it sounded like the change was a hassle and had more negatives than positives… What are some of the pluses of switching? I didn’t really see any mentioned here…

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    • Good question, Becca 😉 This is one of the reasons I wanted to ask Gemma about her experience, because I’m still not sure I want to do it, but the short answer is: freedom and control.
      On WordPress.com, you can’t use add-on or plug-in programs, you’re limited in what you can use for themes, you have to pay not to have advertising placed on your blog, to map your domain, to have any of what they call their “premium services.” With WordPress.org, you can upload any gizmos you want, though you should be careful and research heavily first. Though you no longer have the like and follow options so readily present with WP.com, you can replace these with add-ons (addthis, share, etc.). In short, you can control more of your blogging life on WP.org 😀
      If you want to find out more, I’d recomment following WPBeginner.com, Jami Gold (yes, the paranormal novelist), and Jane Friedman. Though most of Jane’s blogging advice is in her archives, it’s quite good.

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      • Mhm, you don’t have ads there. I didn’t know you had to pay not to have them. Generally, although you have to do more work and apply more techie knowledge, you have more independence. That’s why I don’t move my blog over to .com.

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        • Sorry for the delayed response, Maria. I’ve been told that if you’re logged into WP, that you won’t see the ads 😉 I haven’t been able to test this in any way, but it was one of the premium options I had the choice to purchase when I signed up. Cheapie Mel chose not to. The techie concerns do keep me a bit on the guarded side. I see lots of bloggers who remain on .com (Jenny Hansen, Writers in the Storm, even WANA Queen Kristen Lamb) and Roz Morris decided to move to .com after her self-hosted site was hacked (like me). So there are always cons to consider. There are full service organizations like AuthorMedia, but even their least expensive plan is too expensive for me at the moment. Jami Gold (and others) sing the praises of techsurgeons.com and Michael Hyatt promotes bluehost.com as secure and client-concerned hosting services. I remain undecided and until I have a consolidated bank of time off to explore my options more thoroughly and at leisure, I’m not sure that I will make the move. I still wanted to put this “out there” for anyone like me, who is still in the researching phase.

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  3. Hi! When I started my own blog, I wasn’t even aware of those differences. I use the self-hosted WordPress and have none of the goodies the .com users enjoy. Later, when I came to know more bloggers I found out I was somewhat lonely. Besides, I have no technical knowledge to make the most out of my blog. No one follows it, and I’m sure I’d have at least 10 followers on the .com version. I have no way to check traffic or hits, so I must say I did wrong. But, of course, I wanted it to be self-hosted, and I already had a domain and paid hosting, so when a friend offered to install WP there, I was only too glad to have it. Of course, all the details later… made me realize it’s harder than it is for normal bloggers. The other thing is, our domain got hacked a couple of times and all was lost, so we had to call the techies to take care of it. Not all was saved at my husband’s blog.

    I use plug-ins but always need techies help to set some of them up and I don’t want to disturb my friend and my husband, who usually do the technical stuff over there. But they have their own matters to think about, so it would be much better if I was more able.

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