This is a post I thought of writing when I took the decision to migrate from Blogspot to my own hosted domain where I am using WordPress as my blogging platform. By doing so, I hope to encapsulate my experiences and wisdom so that generations of Indian bloggers (after all I am a “wannabe” politician and thus am allowed to be a bit presumptuous and grandiloquent) can benefit from my knowledge.
This post is a bit long. But as we all know, brevity is not a virtue here at RTDM.
1. I like blogspot (blogger). It’s free. Google runs it. And it has a whole lot of satisfied users. Why change?
Indeed. Blogger is an excellent blogging platform for beginners and those who just want to get their feet wet and see if “blogging shogging” is for them—but once you get past that stage and your blog becomes like Shakuntala after her tryst with Dushyanta you will begin to outgrow the services blogger offers you.
In a line: Blogger has poor data management capacities. What that means in plain English is that it does not allow one to categorize one’s posts—so that if you, as a reader, want to just read my Bollywood reviews but do not care for my short stories (yes that means most of my readers) you shall have to manually go through all my 200 posts and find the reviews for yourself.
Which I understand is as frustrating an experience as navigating those “free porn sites” with the maniac pop-ups, the flashing fonts and the dead links before you can get to a topless picture of Scarlett Johansson.
What you really want is just a link that you can click and presto …all my Bollywood reviews are presented to you, one after another. This is called “categories” and blogger, because of the way the technology is implemented, cannot provide support for that. (Some ugly hacks are available for categories in blogger however).
The same technological restrictions are what prevents Blogger from being made more customizable by the addition of 3rd party plugins—with the result that after some time blogging on Blogger makes you feel like a man whose ba….mm…back is itching violently but his hands are tied up in front. In short, extremely unempowering.
2. WordPress.com is free. And it has categories. So why not migrate your blog there?
The problem with WordPress.com is that as of now (it might change later), it does not let you customize your own templates. In other words, you are given a fairly wide selection of templates but you are not allowed to edit the code—-somewhat like strip clubs where you can see the most marvelous specimens of augmented womanhood but cannot tinker around with the implementation details—so as to speak.
And I personally need to have the picture of Shakti Kapoor or orgasmic Mithunda in front of me in order to be truly creative—the aesthetically designed hewed-in-stone WordPress standard templates are just not “demented” enough.
So I decided to use the WordPress blogging platform (which satisfied all my needs—err blogging needs) but hosted on my own webspace so that I have my own harem of design—doing as I wish.
Which brings us to the next question.
3. Where do you host your blog? How do I find a good hosting service?
This is the toughest part of the process—finding a good hosting service. Nothing turns off readers more than a slow-loading blog and frequent 404 Page Errors. So the reliability of the host and the speed at which it can serve pages become of paramount importance.
You also want a host that offers you good bandwidth—you don’t want your readers to be told “Sorry, too many people have visited this page today. Come back tomorrow”.
Of course, we are desis. We have got parents to take care of, hysterical sisters who have to be married off, “phemilies” to start and leather jackets to buy. That is we need to be thrifty.
Here’s the good news. There are gazillions of hosting service providers offering insane amounts of bandwidth, disk space and what-not at bargain basements prices.
Now the bad news. Most of them just cannot offer the level of service (uptime) because in order to be financially viable (thanks to the insane deals they offered you at sign-up) they need to squeeze many users onto one server —like the minibus conductors of Calcutta.
And some of them engage in sharp business practices to boost profits. Once they sign you up, they add on costs for services you couldn’t even dream of (an example: Your blog is using a lot of CPU time on our shared servers—we either remove your site, or you can pay us $obscene-amount to put you on a dedicated server [which is where these host services really make their money]).
Okay you say. So let’s do some net research and read hosting service reviews.
Hah ! Not that simple.
Because there are hundreds of “hosting review sites” which are as close to digital pimps as you can get—“come this way sir, my girls are the best”. These “review sites” (a vast majority of them at least) seemingly write glowing reviews of those providers which give them the best click-through deals–that is if you are referred to a hosting service by these review sites they get a commission. Also some of the webhosting bulletin boards have “disses” against certain companies where the discussants are themselves owners of hosting companies/resellers.
In short, what you shall find about web hosts will be unbiased as Cricinfo is about Sourav Ganguly.
A caveat about other techniques webhosts use—busty models popping their tops (or threatening to)—these advertisements working on the assumption that the guy who is shopping for domain hosting doesn’t get out all that much, leads a hand-to-hand existence and is frustrated enough to be guided by his libido while choosing a place to park his website.
Of course RTDM readers aren’t that silly…are they?
In conclusion, take everything you read on the net as “reviews” and “user stories” with generous dollops of NaCl. If something seems too good to be true, then it usually is. Use your common sense, don’t get swayed by double Ds and always ask yourself—can someone really give me this amount of bandwidth at this price and still stay in business?
So what did I do ? I asked Megha Murthy, Indian blogosphere’s queen of technology/design who had also moved her blog a few months ago. And based on the fact that there was one unbiased person who had a good experience with the said company, I joined Bluehost (I do not get any money for this link). I am yet to be a customer for a sufficient time to tell you about my experiences with them—-maybe an update at a later date is in order.
4. How do you import your old blog to the new one?
WordPress provides an import from Blogger script—-be cautioned that it is not entirely bug-free and “changes” the formatting of your “blogger” blog when the transfer is underway and “restores” it after the transfer is over. Only in my case, they never did the “restoring” part for which all “paragraphs” on my old blog are gone—making every post look like a mangled blob of meat.
5. What’s the downside of migrating your blog? [Question added based on this comment]
Loss of traffic. Its been a few days I have moved and my traffic has gone from 1200 a day to 600. Also my Technorati ranking which was 5,500 has slipped down to a Zimbabwean 1,197,135 . However the more you delay, the more you lose. And I hope to get back my traffic back within a few months—at around the same time I develop six-pack abs.
In conclusion, I would like to doff my hat to Saket (aka Vulturo) for getting me started on WordPress, Megha for answering my myriad queries, my wife for helping me design the headers and all my readers for their constructive/destructive suggestions and offers to help.
Happy blogging everyone !
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