After 9 years of blogging, by far the biggest change I have made was my switch from Blogger to WordPress. It’s not a decision I rushed, I first considered doing it about 5 years ago but like many people felt I couldn’t justify spending on my blog whilst Blogger remained a free platform. So after nearly a decade on the comfy sofa that is Blogger, why did I switch?
Before I answer that I want to list some of the things that are great about Blogger, because it is not as simple as Blogger is bad and WordPress is good.
- Reliability and up time second to none – Being on Google’s servers has it’s advantages, in all the time I have been on Blogger I can only recall a handful of times when my blog went down and even then it was only very brief
- Ease of logging in – Because Blogger users a Google login, most of the time I was already logged in to it and when I wasn’t it remembered my password for me.
- Being part of a community – Blogger hasn’t capitalised on this as much as it could, but I discovered a lot of other bloggers simply because I shared the same platform. Either through the Blogs Of Note feature, by clicking through on my profile to others who shared my location or my using the next blog button.
- Indexing – Being on the same servers as the world’s most used search engine has it’s advantages and posts from Blogger blogs do tend to appear in search results quicker
- Ease of use – Whilst bloggers lack of plug-ins is often the reason people switch to WordPress it also makes using it very easy, perfect for the beginner blogger.
So with all those things in its favour, why did I jump ship?
You will read numerous reasons about why people make the move, but for me they can be condensed into three points. Firstly I think blog design has moved on. With my old design anyone who navigated to my URL saw my most recent post and not a lot else and this was reflected in my high bounce rate.
I tried adding tools designed to help draw people to other content like In Linkz and Popular Posts, but they didn’t work as well as they should. I knew that what I needed was something similar in design to news websites where people see several stories and introductory text above the fold of the home page. So I searched high and low for a Blogger template that could do that job, but even the closest I found, wasn’t quite right. I did however keep finding WordPress themes that were grid based and I realised that Prophoto which I already had a license for excelled at creating grids. It’s early days but I can already see this design change has been reflected in post views continuing to rise for longer, meaning old posts are not disappearing and being forgotten.
The second factor was that I was increasingly having to create work arounds to get past Blogger’s limitations. This is a subtle problem because it grows over the years and you don’t really notice it until you switch and realise how much extra work was required to do the same tasks on Blogger. I used to have to host a lot of images like sidebar buttons on third party websites, or search for CSS code and tutorials to alter templates so I could change spacing between widgets. I could spend hours creating social media buttons, uploading them to Photobucket and then pasting the code into a widget, now I have an amazing plugin that does it all and displays my follower numbers.
And finally one night when I was browsing between my youtube account, Flickr and Google+ a cold shiver went down my spine as I realised that suddenly Google had grown up to own nearly my entire online presence. What would happen if one day I inadvertently upset them on one of those channels? It’s not paranoia, it happens in the most bizarre of circumstances where people post content that is considered inappropriate and their accounts are closed down. What if that happened to me? The answer frighteningly is that Google could shut me down in a heartbeat.
And so that was that. After multiple blogs and nearly a quarter of my life on Blogger (!) I decided to make the switch. In all honesty the most painful part of it was navigating my way through Google Apps to “retrieve” the domain name I had bought via Blogger, a process which involved strange usernames and perplexing control panels, but I got there and the results have, I think, been worth it.
Are you considering making the move? If you have any questions feel free to ask and I’ll respond in the comments. (and if you are reading this on my home page please click through to the post page to comment, due to a temporary glitch with Disqus)