The WordPress Process is a series of posts at Newsome.Org, documenting my forced march from the comfort of Blogger to the uncharted territories of WordPress. Parts 1 & 2 are here, Part 3 is here, Part 4 is here, and Part 5 is here.
At long last, we have arrived at the Promised Land. Newsome.Org is up and running on WordPress. Most (I have identified one casualty so far, and there may be a few more) of my 1600+ posts made the trip, and we have preserved the permalinks (more on that below). While I was able to get WordPress installed, hack-up a theme and generally get the system operational, the hardest and most important step is the importation of old blog posts and the preservation of your existing inbound links.
In that regard, there are two important things those moving established blogs from FTP published Blogger to WordPress need to consider.
It’s Easy to Do it Wrong
I imported my old posts in a way that I thought would preserve all of my permalinks. It looked like it worked, and I started going back through old posts and adding Categories and Tags. But, of course, my approach didn’t preserve the links correctly, so we had to start the importation process over.
By we, I mean Aaron Brazell, of Technosailor, who I hired to help me with the importation and permalink preservation part. Aaron is extremely knowledgeable (and by that I mean Jedi-like) with respect to all things WordPress. In fact, he literally wrote the book (WordPress Bible; purchase at Amazon). I bought and am reading Aaron’s book, and highly recommend him for those in need of a WordPress guru. Aaron was able to fix my mess correctly and preserve the permalinks. As punishment, I got to start over on the Categories and Tags job. After a month or so, we are going to change the permalink structure to the default WordPress form and do 301 redirects to forward old-style links to the new WordPress-style pages. I’ll write about that in a future installment of this series.
Use Care When Hacking
While I crashed and burned when I tried to handle the post importation and permalink work by myself, I am pretty good with html, css and most scripts. I got my theme installed easily, and once I explored a bit I felt pretty comfortable hacking the various files to change the look and layout of my pages.
The problem with this, as with any coding, is that it’s always all good, until it ain’t. I got too confident, stopped saving incremental back-ups and promptly trashed my header (the part at the top where the Newsome.Org logo and photo banner are located). A little help from my friend Steven Hodson and some surgery by Aaron got things back up and running. The moral is to use caution when hacking your WordPress files and to always make a back up before you change anything.
I was able to get get Disqus comment and reaction numbers to show on the main WordPress pages, with some great help from the Disqus team. One helpful tip, and something I stupidly failed to notice: if your comment numbers aren’t displaying properly, go to Settings>DISQUS>Advanced Options in your WordPress Dashboard and check this box:
I could have saved me and the Disqus guys some time if I had seen that earlier. Disqus is a pretty amazing service. If you don’t use it, you should. For sure.
So what’s left to do? Here are a few things I know of.
1. Finalize the permalinks, and make sure the old links are properly redirected, and then coordinate my URL structure with Google Webmaster Tools. I learned my lesson, and will let Aaron advise me on this.
2. Identify any posts that didn’t get imported and, if I can’t live without them, add them manually. I only know of one so far, so hopefully this will be a small job.
3. I noticed that some applicable posts that got imported do not show up in the appropriate monthly archives. I’ll consult with Aaron and see what can be done about that.
4. Decide whether to install the All in One SEO Pack. Again, I’ll consult with Aaron on this.
5. Consider what additional plugins I want to install. Part 7 of this series will cover plugins, so we’ll address current and future plugins then. In the meantime, good plugin suggestions are encouraged via the comments.
6. Delete the old FTP Blogger-created directories on my server. But only when Aaron tells me it’s OK. I have to resist my techy inclination to jump first and worry about the parachute later.
7. Delete the old Newsome.Org Blogger blog, which currently resides at Blogspot, as part of the post importation process.
That’s where we are so far.
Any other tips from veteran WordPress users?