When I started blogging, I had a ton of options to maul over and deciding which format to pick wasn’t an easy one. Finding a web format that you can be comfortable with is the true mystery and if you have never used it, how would you know what’s the best blog format for you? So should you start with Blogger, Headway, Tumblr or WordPress?
If you started with Blogger and tinkering with the idea of migrating over to WordPress and have questions, you might wonder how difficult working with WordPress might be? If your pocket book dictates what your response will be, take heed to your decisions and really think about what you might be getting into.
1. What’s your motivation?
Why: Why do you really want to move to WordPress anyway? Make sure your reasons match your business needs and not the “want” to keep up with another blog you saw online. Blog envy is nothing nice and you could end up in a situation where you’re overwhelmed and frustrated.
Want: We all want a great design and presence, but I have seen this scenario too many times: You purchase everything and then get frustrated when you have no idea how to make anything work. I know the feeling of excitement and buying everything without thinking and end up extremely frustrated.
Need: Is your website in need of updating? Are you comfortable with your current format that you can take on something new?
2. What can you live with and live without?
What do you want to keep with your blog? If you currently use Blogger, you have no hosting fees and are free to add plugins and widgets with no monthly fees. Migrating over to WordPress (hosted) will come with monthly fees, where WordPress.com won’t.
What are you willing to give up if you go with a Free Version of WordPress? WordPress.com is free, but comes with very limited options. Everything isn’t always what it’s “cracked” up to be and jumping on the bandwagon because it’s free might leave you disappointed when you realize what you can’t keep.
What are the Pro’s of WordPress.com?
- It’s Free – If you don’t care for all the frills, banner ads and other sidebar widgets, picking this option might be up your alley. It’s great for those starting out and not serious about the direction they want to go in with blogging. If you’re pondering what blogging is, picking this option is best. The only investment made will be your time.
- Theme options – You can only use themes from their list of templates. You can’t upload any other free themes you find online.
- 24 hour Tech Support – No live support or support forum (don’t expect an immediate response)
- Your domain name for your blog will be (blog name.wordpress.com)
- No software to install
- No worries about backups
- Create a blog in over 50 languages
- Limited Widgets for WordPress.com
- Gravatar (you can sign up for this inside your WordPress Panel)
- Author Box
- Twitter /Facebook Sharing icon in comment section
- Post Rating
- Upgrade to Premium Themes for a nominal fee
- Ads on your site (that aren’t your own…sorry), but if you don’t want any you can upgrade for no ads an additional fee.
- Violation of any rules: will get you deleted. Please read their Terms of Service.
What are the Cons of WordPress.com?
- No ownership of content
- Use of plugins is not allowed
- No ability to load paid/highly customized layouts
- Must use Ad Control once qualified for selling advertising
- No access to custom design themes like Woo themes, Studio Press, or Elegant Themes etc
- No content ownership. Remember it’s housed (hosted) on their server
- Paid upgrades: If you want your own domain name add: $17.00 a year
- Paid upgrades: More space: $19 a year for 5 GB
- Paid upgrades: CSS Design $30 a year
- Paid upgrade: No Ads (Remove all ads from your blog) $29.97
- Or you can purchase blog package with: Domain & Mapping, 5GB Space Upgrade, No Ads, Custom Design and Video Press for $99.00 a year.
What you get with a Hosted WordPress site:
- Complete freedom to customize your theme
- Access to tons of WordPress themes online (outside the wordpress.com themes)
- Ability to add widgets and plugins
- Ownership of your content
- Monthly fee – there are many hosting sites that offer great low fees for hosting your blog
- You are responsible for updates and backing up your site
- Risk of being hacked (it happens)
- Adding additional optional security measures
- Complete control and flexibility
- Requires more time and work to maintain
What is your level of patience? Are you willing to put in the effort to learn how to manage a new epanel or dashboard? WordPress can be a huge learning curve to someone on another blog format wanting to migrate over. Some bloggers make the move on their own, only to get frustrated when they can’t figure out how to make their template look like the one they just purchased.
I have been there, but asked questions and never gave up. Most of what I learned was by accident or simply asking the blog owner how they did something. Before you know it, most end up going back to what was familiar and don’t look back.
What can you afford each month? – A free version of WordPress is wonderful for anyone that isn’t too concerned with other ad ons and no frills. Once you go to a “hosted” format, each month you will be spending anywhere from $4.95 to $8.95 a month to keep your blog hosted on a server not your own.
3. Preparation: What you need to know before you jump
Look: Look at your finances and budget what you can and can’t afford. Each month you have to pay a monthly fee whether you like it or not, so be realistic with your finances.
Know the differences: Make sure you know the differences between WordPress.com / WordPress (hosted) to decide which direction is best for you. WordPress.com (limited options) vs Hosted with endless options. This will help you avoid sudden surprises when you try and add certain plugins or widgets that you have used before.
Practice before you buy: Sign up for a Free WordPress.com site and play around with it to see if it’s for you. It won’t be visible (unless you make it) and you can see and play with different options to at least give yourself a preview of the epanel and get use to its functions. Some areas won’t be visible, but the point here is to “practice”.
Example WordPress.com Template: Notice (Author Box, Ratings and (2) Social Media widgets you get)
Get help: If you are unsure if it’s the right thing, you can hire a web designer you’re familiar with for a nominal fee and they can help give you decide your best option.
If you’re Tech Savvy: If you think you can brave this on your own, then I highly recommend: How To Move From Blogger to WordPress, by Sharon Hujik.
Why get the book? The book gives you step by step instructions with detailed illustrations. This book makes it easy for newbies to be comfortable with a new blog panel. It will also show you how to set up a test blog, before you make the final switch. This book will also explain how to redirect your domain name so that your blog is never down (blogspot.com users too!). If you want to check this out, you can get a discount off $35 by using promo code time4wp to save 20%!
WordPress Beginner Guide
The WP Starter Guide is not only the perfect starter guide for anyone new to WordPress, but it will show you how to make the best use of the dynamic and static functionality so your content is organized in the most logical way for your visitors. This helped me tremendously and I know if it can help you too.
How to Create a Free Website With WordPress.com + Beginner Basics
How to Install WordPress (Hosted- Not Free) via Hostgator with Fantastico
In conclusion, if you try something and find a strong connection with its functionality stick with it, but if you’re ready to migrate over to WordPress, knowing the differences will help you make the right decision and avoid headaches later. Thanks Jan for inspiring this post and I hope you’re able to find the best option for you!
Now I open the floor to readers:
- What did you start out with and end up with once it was all over?
- Do you ever wish you started with another format versus the other?
- Are you contemplating changing formats now?
Disclosure: I am compensated for purchases made via the referral links in this post.