Time to pack up and move your school counseling blog

In the last post, The First Steps in the Building A Better School Counseling Blog Series, we looked at some of the needed foundations for moving your free school counseling blog to one that allows you more freedom. In this post – we will look at what it looks like to actually pack up and move your old school counseling blog (whether on Blogger or WordPress.com). We will take a general overview and then focus on Blogger/WordPress.com. Moving is always a bit sentimental and emotional, whether it is in the digital world or real world. If you are anything like me – you have invested time and energy into building your blog to where it is now. Before moving on – I want you to take about 30 minutes and go through your blog with a fine toothed comb.

You are looking for 3 things:

1. What are things/elements/tools you love about your current school counseling blog?

2. What are things that you want to change about your school counseling blog?

3. What are your goals with the new and improved blog once complete?

If you can answer those questions (write them down!), you are on the path to optimizing your best features while getting rid of the ones that are holding you back. One of the biggest strengths of many school counseling blogs are the resources provided. Posts with toolkits, reviews, reproducibles, and handouts (mostly seen at the elementary level) do very well! That said, one of the biggest changes I think bloggers overlook is the usability and visual design of their sites. Educators love cutesy design and fancy fonts – but this creates a terribly difficult blog for reading and using. One tip for re-design is to pay attention to your aesthetics and think readability. My go-to for free stock images is www.freeimages.com and you can find a million fonts at these two resources (you will have to go to geek zone to actually install it on WordPress – email me or Google): www.dafont.com & www.1001freefonts.com.

Get the boxes out

You have taken notes on your current blog and hopefully thought of some ways to update your new platform. Before you do anything – you need to go backup your current blog! If I could make this sentence 3D and spin – I would. Do not skip this step. In fact – do it twice and store the files in two separate locations (i.e. dropbox and your physical hard drive). In WordPress – backing up looks like an Export under the Tools menu in your Admin area and make sure you select all content. In Blogger – you go to settings and then blog tools. Select download blog. (See the bottom of this post for some more in-depth tutorials by other people!)

We have a few backups of your current blog and are ready to start working with WordPress. If you have already purchased your hosting and domain service – great! If not, visit this post to read the first steps. Log into your hosting provider and many of the large names (the two I mentioned: Bluehost and HostGator) have a one click WordPress install. Use it! It will ask for some basic info in most cases, but after a few minutes of installing, it will spit out your results. Copy these down somewhere safe (your username/password), bookmark the admin access (usually www.yourdomain.com/wp-admin), and go to that URL to get into your first look at WordPress.

Did you know you can hire The Geek to help? Click here.

 At this point – if you have been using your own domain already – you will have to look up how to move your nameservers to point to your new domain and note that your old blog will be unavailable until you publish your new blog. Each host should provide a help area – search for moving nameservers to WordPress (or google it) and you will find tons of resources. If not – email or tweet me and I can help.

Unpacking the backup of your blog

For WordPress transitions:

Once logged into your WordPress admin panel, head to the tools area again and hit the import button. Locate the file you downloaded with your blog backup and upload it. It will think for a bit and should spit out any errors. The only ones I came across was a user issue. You can either rename your user you created to the same as you had before or after the fact – go into your user menu and nickname your current admin user as what you called your user on the last platform. All published posts will then be attributed to that name.

*If you come across other errors, chances are others have too. Google what you are seeing (if no results apply – try a different combination of search queries or use quotes for specific search terms i.e. “example search”) and you will find tons of help.

You also have the option for a guided transfer ($129) through WordPress and they take care of all of this.

For Blogger transitions:

Before you begin – head to settings and permalinks. Look at one of your Blogger posts and the URL. Most look like http://myblog.blogspot.com/2011/12/post-name-separated-with-spaces.html – you will want to mirror this on WordPress. You should go to the custom option and enter this: /%year%/%monthnum%/%postname%.html

The steps for moving blogger are similar but you will need to download a specific plugin when you click Blogger in the import menu. Follow the directions as it tells you and just like WordPress – assign all your posts to your admin author.

If you run into issues – see above*.

Plugins – oh the plugins!

One of the huge plusses of moving to your own WordPress install is the huge impact that plugins have. Keep in mind that each one you install takes up server space and makes your site load a bit slower for your visitors. To add and search for plugins, you can go to the plugin menu and hit add new. Searching for them by title usually works best. I will quickly high light a few of my favorite plugins to start with.

iThemes Security

This should be a first install – helps shore up some possible exploits and make sure your site and information is protected from would be hackers. Be sure to follow their directions and I would use their guided walk-through. Some tweaks may take more computer skills and editing some code. Do what you can.

WordPress SEO

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is important to helping your readers find your blog organically (no not hippy bug infested but pesticide free food). Through searches and not referred by another link like Twitter or other blogs. You want to do what you can to optimize your content to help you reach your audience. This plugin helps.

EWWW Image Optimizer

Images are big and while they don’t take up tons of space – time is precious and they take important time to load on your readers browsers. This plugin will optimize your image library in bulk and as you upload new images without losing quality. Take it a step further and optimize plugin/theme elements to save more space!

Broken Link Checker

Broken links happen and broken links are bad. Especially when migrating blogs – these will come up and you will either want to re-direct your links or remove broken links. You may have to spend some time working on this in the beginning of your transition, but once fixed – they all but go away.

Calling it a day

At this point – you can call it a day (or continue on if you choose!). Coming from a wordpress.com blog – you may be able to find the same theme you were using and install it to preserve your style. I challenge you to consider thinking about changing the look up a bit for the better. There are many more free themes available (and some paid great ones like Elegant Themes that I use). Blogger will need a re-design so stay tuned for the next post in the series when I will talk about some great themes, other free resources, and some more plugins.


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