Have you been thinking about moving your website to a self-hosted platform? I wrestled with the idea for many months before finally taking the plunge. While I am so happy with how the site turned out, I’ve learned a whole lot during the migration process–which I never knew I needed to know. While I am no an expert by any means, I thought I’d offer some tips for you to keep in mind should you find yourself navigating the same process.
1. Do your research: This is an obvious first step for most things, but it’s definitely the right move when you’re switching to a new blog theme or hosting site. Make sure you test the theme out before moving ahead with it and see what the layout looks like not just on a desktop, but iPhone and tablet, too. Most people catch up on reading nowadays on a handheld device, so you want to make sure your content looks good across the board. But don’t just research your theme. Check to see if your new hosting service has a good reputation and if they will be available to answer your questions when you encounter problems. Ask friends or colleagues for recommendations or advice on the subject if you’re unsure. I’ve noticed people in IT love to chat with you on the subject!
2. Back up your content: I actually did not take my own advice here (and was secretly terrified that I was going to have a Carrie Bradshaw moment and lose everything). While most of my content is saved, I likely wouldn’t have been able to locate hundreds of posts and thousands of photographs after four years of blogging had I encountered a serious problem. You’d be wise to start organizing your content well before changing your theme or host. It may take a little more time upfront, but you’ll be glad you did it in the event of a content catastrophe.
3. Know when to hire a pro: I knew that I didn’t have the time or expertise to move my site over myself. So I was delighted when I found Gina of Bella Creative Studio, who agreed to install my site and migrate my content. I felt much better about the move knowing that it was being handled by someone who had done it before. Gina has been great as I’ve poked around and wanted to make changes or had questions after the new site was up. You’ll want someone like that in the early days with your new site.
4. Keep track of plugins that you’ve been using: I mistakenly thought that everything would just transition over when I migrated the site. But after my first post went live, I noticed something glaring–my email subscribers weren’t being notified of the new content on my site. Somehow, my email subscriber list got lost in the shuffle and since my old site had been migrated, I was no longer able to export the list. Fortunately, I emailed Jetpack, the plugin I had been using, and they were able to rectify the issue almost immediately. They gave me step-by-step instructions on how to install the plugin on my new site and then transferred over my email subscriber list. So, email subscribers, we are back in business and I appreciate your patience as I fixed this kink!
5. Tinker away: Once your new site is live, you’ll probably find a few things that you want to customize. I’ve always wanted a logo for the blog, so that was something that I was also working on while Gina was getting the site ready. But since going live, I’ve found things here and there to change. Don’t feel pressured to have your site be perfect when it launches–remember, you can always make improvements as you go along.