I’ve been on this self-hosted WordPress site for nearly two months now. If I could go back and do it all again, would I?
Bet you thought I’d shout, “OF COURSE I WOULD. It’s awesome, it’s great, it’s everything I thought it would be!”
Only it isn’t.
First things first, I was cautious about the entire move. I pondered it for months, practically a year. I wanted to be in complete control of my site, so I finally decided to make the leap. After that, I thought extra long about changing my blog name — that was a big stickler. It’s tricky to change branding on something you’ve been building for six years. I’m very happy with the change, however slight (from the oh-so-slightly-drab color of Little Gray Pixel to the sparkling color of Little Gold Pixel), but it definitely was not an easy choice to make.
The next step was researching hosting companies. I went with Bluehost, and I have nothing but good things to say about them. They have very good customer service. The handful of times I completely broke my site they were able to fix it in a jiffy, all via online chat. No, you did not mis-read that. At one point I couldn’t even access my site, I effed it up so completely.
Then I started playing around with Wordpress.org’s interface, and I experienced one of the steepest learning curves of my life. I probably should’ve saved a play-by-play, but at the time I was treading water so rapidly I was scared I’d drown if I stopped.
Things I Wish I Knew Before Switching to WordPress
1. The migration might not work perfectly. I have thousands of posts. I expected the migration of my photos to take a while. It took forever. And then I realized the migration was stuck. And I had to abort. Now 2/3 of my posts do not have images attached. Sorting out my archives is an ongoing, tedious endeavor that I would not wish on my worst enemy. Adding all the photos that didn’t migrate is just one thing. The other is …
2. SEO is a bitch. Like I said, I have thousands of posts. And thanks to my SEO plug-in, I now have thousands of posts with bad SEO. This isn’t much of a surprise, considering the Blogger platform never really encouraged or helped with SEO. On the flip side, thinking about SEO and keywords was something I never did before switching to WordPress. Now it adds at least 15 minutes to my posting time because I’m detail-oriented and can’t leave a box unchecked or a keyword unturned.
3. There’s a steep learning curve. There are a lot of things I do not know about websites and coding. I am more than happy to learn, but it is a rabbit hole. One thing always leads to another, and before I know it I am spending five hours trying to repair one broken thing only to end up breaking something completely different. These are hours I could spend writing content.
4. Crickets. Where did everybody go? I have hundreds of spam comments, but the level of real engagement — from the longtime readers I’ve grown to know and love — dipped drastically after switching to WordPress. Did everyone hate the change and decide to flip Little Gold Pixel the bird? I wish I knew what happened there.
5. Customization is difficult. So many plug-ins, and most of them are crap. I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent testing and chucking plug-ins and widgets that failed to live up to expectations.
6. Plug-ins break your blog. So many times when something went awry on my site, it turned out to be the last widget/plug-in I installed. I would de-activate it, and voila! Site is up and running again.
7. Plug-ins don’t work with every theme. If you’re in love with your theme (and I very much am), you have to come to grips with the fact that it doesn’t support every plug-in you want to use. It just doesn’t.
8. It’s expensive. Domain fees + hosting fees + drain on my time. This blog has become a part-time job in time commitment alone. Not only am I not getting paid, I’m paying someone else! I’m in the negative here. They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results, but I think we can shorten the definition to “insanity = blogging.”
Do you feel my pain? Anyone recently switch to WordPress? What did you find most difficult?