Thoughts about moving your blog12 Oct 2016 | by Scott Nesbitt
When you start a blog, the last thing on your mind (assuming it is even on your mind) is when and how to move it. Sometimes, though, you’ll find that you want or need to move your blog — maybe to a new blog platform, or just maybe to a new space on the web.
Since I started blogging in the early 2000s, I’ve moved my blogs three or four times. Here are some lessons I’ve learned and some advice about moving your blog that I’d like to share.
My own moves
You might be curious about the moves I made. If you aren’t then feel free to skip this bit. If you are, here’s an overview of those moves:
- The original version of this blog went from Blogger to self-hosted WordPress to Jekyll (hosted on GitHub Pages)
- My blog about open source started life on self-hosted WordPress, but later moved to Jekyll (hosted on a service called Amazon S3)
- Notes From a Floating Life went from a now-defunct service called scriptogr.am to Jekyll hosted on GitLab Pages
Each of those moves had its own quirks.
Ask yourself why you want to make the move
There are any number of reasons why you’d want to move your blog. Some of the more common ones are:
- You’ve outgrown the blogging platform you’ve been using
- You want to move to a platform with fewer features
- You want more control over your blog by hosting it yourself
- You want to tie your blog more tightly to your business or personal website
I made my recent moves away from WordPress, for example, because WordPress has become a bit too big for my taste. On top of that, I wanted to experiment with moving away from traditional web hosting and installing WordPress wasn’t part of that experiment.
Decide on the type of move you want to make
Do you want to move your blog in its entirety elsewhere, or do you want to start fresh? Making that decision can determine the amount of work that you need to do to make the move.
When I moved this blog in May, 2016, I decided to start fresh. There were several reasons for that, the biggest of which was that moving all my older posts from WordPress to Jekyll would have involved more work that I was willing to put in. That said, I’ve kept a copy of the old version of this blog over at WordPress.com.
Your move will take time
Regardless of which route you take, making the move will take some time. It would be nice if you could just click a button and automagically have everything moved over to your new site.
It doesn’t quite work like that. Migrations can be smooth, but there are still bumps in the road. You often lose something, or you’ll need to update internal links and relink all of your images.
I suggest that no matter what type of move you make, you build new blog first. Pick the platform, the theme, and the layout. Create pages like your About Me and Contact pages. Install any plugins or widgets that you need. Then, migrate your posts and images over from your old blog or start writing new posts if you’re making a fresh start.
When I migrated Notes From a Floating Life, from scriptogr.am to Jekyll as you’ll recall from earlier in this post, the process was pretty straightforward. Both scriptogr.am and Jekyll use Markdown for formatting and both use a header (like the one below) to specify things like the post’s title and its tags.
I just had to make some tweaks to the headers in my posts to make them compatible with Jekyll. Each evening for two or three days, I spent half an hour doing that and I was ready to go.
Remember to redirect
If you’re using a custom domain, then this isn’t a problem. But if you’re moving from, say, your-name.wordpress.com to a custom domain like your-name.net then you’ll:
- Want to keep your old blog active, and
- Include a notice linking to the new blog
You don’t need to keep all your posts at your old blog. You can just have one post on your old blog, pointing to the blog’s new home.
You should only move your blog if you need to. Don’t go hopping around because some so-called SEO guru tells you that you need your blog to be part of your website or because the bells and whistles of the platform du jour have caught your eye.
Most bloggers, whether they know it or not, are fine with what they’re using. But if you really need to move your blog, remember to take your time and be patient. It can be a longer process than you realize, but a move can definitely be worth the time and effort if you actually need to make that move.Thoughts? Let's start a conversation on Twitter.