WordPress based websites are rapidly growing each day for a good reason. Each server account allows users to maintain the best features of social blogging along with more elaborate design concepts that a personal website offers. The software offers several plug-ins that allow for other social integration as well, such as Facebook and Twitter commenting and sharing. The free software also allows for things such as custom menus, pages, image galleries, and shopping carts.
Because you are hosting the website, you may be able to do things with the website that would normally be restricted or banned when going through a blogging host site like Blogger or LiveJournal. The interface and basic setup is also more convenient and user-friendly than Joomla or Drupal is for people with little or no programming knowledge.
Switching to WordPress Has Never Been Easier
Switching over to WordPress is actually quite easy in comparison to completely building a website using traditional coding such as HTML. When some move off of their cookie cutter blog sites and onto a site that requires more programming, they often struggle with installation and confusion using MySQL. With the WordPress structure, the ability to combine templates with their own coding and add custom plug-ins to create their sites with ease, rather than just being reliant on coding. This is also excellent from a design perspective, as browsing the templates and available plug-ins can often spark the imagination.
Before making the switch from any server, creating a backup of previous work is imperative. Most servers will allow a backup to be performed easily, the procedures are just slightly different. By creating a backup onto a hard drive, the integration can be compared again and again.
Though WordPress is the top choice for many bloggers, those thinking about integrating should also review the major blogging services available to them and ensure that WordPress is the best option for their blog.
Comparing Blogging Services
Making the decision to migrate to WordPress should not be taken lightly. Some benefits are available with each blogging website that may not be available once fully integrated into WordPress.
Blogger is a continent choice for users who want to casually blog using services provided through Google. A major benefit of this is less accounts to remember and easier troubleshooting. The blog is fully compatible with Google Docs and Google +. Blogs through Blogger, though limited, can be set up in under five minutes. Another major benefit is that Google will do a large amount of marketing using their search engines and there is a Google Ads feature that allows popular blogs to begin making money quickly, rather than having to go through a secondary company, such as Commission Junction, to create revenue.
The limitation on the account, however, is that templates are much more basic and limiting in comparison to WordPress. While layouts can be changed using a drag and drop format, it is much more difficult to find a unique template on the website. WordPress offers thousands of templates that can be further customized. They also feature better previews on how the blog will look once the template is implemented.
Joomla is a content manager system, or CMS, that helps bloggers to organize their content. The software offers interesting features, however, its website can be quite scary and wordy to a new blogger. Much like WordPress, the software will require installation onto a server. The account set up is slightly more lengthy than that of WordPress, simply because many hosting sites such as GoDaddy offer WordPress installation with the click of a button. Joomla, on the other hand, needs to be installed directly onto the website’s server almost every time.
Aside from that, Joomla is not specifically designed for blogging like WordPress is. The site certainly allows for it but will require a special blog plug-in to be installed into the website.
Drupal is another open-source, community based content manager system. Drupal’s “Open and Ready to Use Blog”, is the easiest comparison to WordPress. The tool, much like Blogger, allows for easy blog creation, social networking integration, and advertising capabilities. Each piece of information, such as a blog post, is stored in a particular block, which is placed according to the layout.
Both WordPress and Drupal offer a wide variety of plug-ins that are community created. So far Drupal has the largest community for plug-ins, but WordPress is much easier for new users to understand and see the plug-in’s practical uses before installation.
LiveJournal is another blog host that is completely focused on blogging. Unlike Blogger, the site has stricter rules regarding content and its user base. For example, LiveJournal strives to keep a family-friendly atmosphere within the site’s community. This is one reason birthdays are recorded among registration and blog posts and comments need to be flagged if they contain mature content. While the site is very user friendly and blogs are relativity easy to set up and search, users who do not want to face these restrictions need to look elsewhere for their blog hosting.
Much like Blogger, the site allows for quick and easy setup, but limits the users to templates that can be customized. While some of the templates are only available for paid accounts, the site offers far more templates than Blogger, but still not to the level that WordPress does.
How to Backup Blogs
There are several paid services that will backup any blog to a local disc drive effortlessly. BackupMyBlog, for example, is a service that checks the blog it’s assigned to and copies the blog posts, photos and comments along with any special coding that has been added, such as HTML, allowing for the backup copy to be displayed properly. A free service alternative is BlogBackupr, which creates backups for any blog that uses an RSS feed.
Manual backups are also relatively easy with practice, although the procedure is different based on the type of blog server being used.
Blogger has a very convenient export feature that creates a back up copy of the blog and places it onto the hard drive. To access this feature, simply click on the settings tab on the back panel. Under the section marked “Basic”, there will be an “Export Blog” link that creates the default XML backup.
Joomla, like WordPress, uses a MySQL database to store its contents. Most people will have to use a tool to aid in the backup process, such as Akeeba. The backup creation will then have to be taken from the server and placed onto the hard drive via download.
Drupal also uses a MySQL database to store files. Because of this, a tool such as phpMyAdmin can be used to create the backup, and then it can be downloaded onto the hard drive.
LiveJournal is very user-friendly and offers a couple different backup methods. The first method is via the Direct Backup Page. Another method is to use the tool LJ Book or LJ Archive which downloads the journal onto the hard drive as a PDF.
One more fool-proof method for a blog back up is to copy and paste the blog texts into a word processor and save them. While this will eliminate many of the basic designs and possibly any coding for the site, this is a useful method of backup for users planning on completely recreating their blogs. Comments can be copied using this method as well but they will lack the same formatting that can be seen with a direct backup using the methods above. Smaller blogs that do not add HTML or any other coding can greatly benefit from this method.
Making the Switch
Creating a New Blog in the WordPress Directory
Manual installs through the directory can be done using the command prompt. Use the following command to create a blog within the chosen directory:
mkdir blog cd blog svn co http://core.svn.wordpress.org/tags/3.4.2 .
The most important piece of the above code is the period at the end, which indicates that the blog be created within the directory, rather than creating a new directory unintentionally.
The initial migration onto WordPress will either be very simple or very complex depending upon how the previous blog is moved. After the backup is complete, take the following steps to complete the process and convert your blog to WordPress.
Blogger, LiveJournal, and RSS Feeds
Both Blogger and LiveJournal have very easy integration into WordPress, and the process is the same for each one. The methods can also be used on any other blog that uses an RSS feed, which is compatible with Joomla and Drupal.
STEP 1: Sign into the WordPress website dashboard.
STEP 2: Click on the "Tools" section on the left side menu. There will be an option for import.
STEP 3: Click on either the Blogger or LiveJournal link and a pop-up menu will appear.
STEP 4: Select the “Install Now” option highlighted in red at the top right of the box.
STEP 5: When the download information appears, there will be an option to “Activate Plugin & Run Importer”. Once clicked, another screen will appear. Click the “Activate” button.
STEP 6: The browser will connect to a login screen. Fill out the login information for the account that needs to be connected, and submit. Then, grant access for WordPress to access the account.
STEP 7: WordPress will then display how many blog posts and comments are available for import. They will not be added to the WordPress website until the “Import” button is selected.
Complete Drupal migration into WordPress is much more complicated then LiveJournal or Blogger. The method involves some programming knowledge, including knowledge using MySQL and PHP. Integration can usually be done in three steps.
STEP 1: Install the WordPress server in the database where Drupal is installed, allowing for both to be installed and running side-by-side temporarily.
STEP 2: If need be, enable PHP using the /drupal/admin/settings/filters path on the Drupal portion of the database.
STEP 3: Change the location of the Drupal database on the server.
Joomla uses a plug-in option to integrate into the WordPress website. This is very convenient and operates in a similar fashion as the LiveJournal and Blogger integration noted above. The only difference is that rather than going to the tools section in the dashboard, simply download the plug-in from the following WordPress Plugins site.
Fixing Design Flaws
Most blogs will integrate seamlessly, requiring only a few minor design changes that can be done from within the WordPress dashboard. Because WordPress is a very user friendly system, there usually isn’t the need to tweak the template codes in order to incorporate the basic functions of a blog. Advanced functions such as social media integration are usually done instantly with plug-ins.
If the blog posts are not displaying correctly due to very minor details such as individual headers or lack of locally stored photos, these posts can be edited individually using the post’s “edit” function. These posts can be displayed visually or in HTML format.
Basic template changes can be made to the template by completing the following:
STEP 1: Login to the WordPress dashboard and click the appearance section on the left to expand it. Different templates can also be selected and applied to the blog under the “templates” section of the menu.
STEP 2: Custom templates can be modified using the “editor” function available in the expanded menu.
STEP 3: On the right hand side, different sections of the template code will display. Select the section individually for editing.
WordPress integration can range in levels of difficulty, but is only limited by the user’s programming skills. As long as the previous blog is successfully backed up, the process can be attempted again and again until it is perfected. By upgrading to the WordPress interface, users will not be as limited in their blog creations.